Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Video review: "TRON: Legacy"

Like its predecessor nearly three decades back, "TRON: Legacy" is a silly movie wrapped in a bubble-gum package of dazzling computer-generated imagery.

But unlike 1982's "TRON," this new Disney movie takes itself a little too seriously at times, going all apocalyptic and Deep Thoughts on us when what the audience really craves is light-bike races and discus fights between warriors limned in neon.

Fortunately, there's enough of the latter in "TRON: Legacy" to make the former bearable.
Twenty years after the disappearance of rogue video game designer-turned CEO Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) gets zapped into the same world of computer programs, where everything looks sleek and shiny.

It seems Flynn's quest to achieve a utopian world with the help of a program he created called Clu -- also played by Bridges, aged backwards using CGI -- has backfired miserably. Sam's mission: Find his dad, defeat Clu and remake this universe in a kinder, gentler fashion.

The movie gets downright turgid when Flynn starts talking about "Isos," special computer programs that supposedly will even solve our healthcare woes. (Take that, individual mandate!)

Thankfully, there's always another blissfully fun scene around the corner, such as when the gang invades a nightclub run by a Ziggy Stardust clone (Michael Sheen).

"TRON: Legacy" is at its best when it thinks the least.

Extras are a little on the underwhelming side.

The DVD version has only two featurettes running just over 10 minutes each: One about casting the film, the other about the cutting-edge computerized visual effects.

When you move up to the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, you add another 10-minute featurette on how the sequel came together. It's interesting mostly in the revelation that showing a few minutes of test footage at a Comic-Con convention helped secure backing to make the final film.

There's no commentary track or digital copy, which grates. There is a "Disney Second Screen" interactive feature that allows you to learn more about the film as you watch it -- but it's only available as an iPad app, or on a computer equipped with a Blu-ray player.

Cutting people out of the experience because they lack the favored technology just seems so ... un-Tron-like.

Movie: 3 stars out of four
Extras: 2.5 stars

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