FILM RATING: 3.5 stars
I saw Tron: Legacy (2010) on the big screen on opening day a few weeks ago. The visual architecture of the film is simply breathtaking. The music and sound of the film is deep, powerful, and incredible. Daft Punk created an incredible score for this film, worthy of checking out on its own. I’m absolutely amazed at how this digital world was imagined and created. Director Joseph Kosinski, with his education and background in architecture, was clearly the brilliant Architect of the Tron: Legacy world in his directorial debut. I can’t believe Kosinski was trusted with this massive film in his first outing as a director. There are scenes that are simply EPIC and will live on forever in cinematic history. I had goosebumps and chills at times in anticipation from the visuals and music. But as an overall film, Tron: Legacy didn’t quite live up to my high expectations from watching the trailers over the last year. It’s a good film…very much worthy of seeing on the big screen for its spectacle and digital wonderland. But beyond its eye- and aural-candy, the movie felt a bit empty. It tried so hard to have the soul of a great film. But like the lesson it tries to teach through its story, it’s imperfection that is perfect…not perfection. Perfection is actually imperfect. And Tron: Legacy tries to be a little too perfect.
I give Tron:Legacy 3.5 stars out of 5. It’s definitely entertaining in many ways, as I mentioned above. The marketing for the film worked for me, because I’ve been anticipating this film for over a year and I just had to see it in the theater opening day…even though I was never a fan of the original film. I think the biggest flaws in the movie are the writing, acting, and directing. Neither fulfill on the promise that seemed possible in the trailers for this sequel to the original Tron (1982). Jeff Bridges and Garrett Hedlund, as father and son, do their best to bring life to the story and the relationship between them. But it’s all just too cold and empty. Both actors spurt out blips and blurbs but do nothing to tie what their saying to anything. Hedlund’s lines especially are just filled with cheap one-line bits, that lose their humor after awhile.
Again, it’s like the film is so “perfectly” scripted that it doesn’t allow for emotional imperfection to be portrayed on the big screen. I don’t really buy into the stories of the two main characters or their relationship. Hedlund, as Sam Flynn, doesn’t convey any emotion with his father Kevin (Jeff Bridges). His father’s been missing for years and years and yet there is no release of the incredible tension and emotion that one would think would be present between them. They just kind of waive off all those years and move on instantly, because that get’s us into more visual effects scenes. The story worked in the first act of the film, where it attempts to develop a relationship between father and son, but midway through the plot just fell apart. It became all about the chase and the action between the good guys and the bad guys. It fell into typical Hollywood blockbuster action and special effects mode with a hollow center.
As an Architect myself, I’ve spent much of my life looking at “perfect” photos of buildings, spaces, and landscapes. And for many years, I never paid attention to what was missing in all those photos. Instead, I always oohed and awed over the building’s structure, materials, details, etc. I’d notice the furniture, the light fixtures, the plants, the artwork, the door hardware, and all the things that go into creating architecture. What was missing? People. People are imperfect…so they are almost always left out of architectural photos. But people are who use architecture. People are who design and build and enjoy the buildings and spaces that we architects create. “The Grid” in the world of Tron feels more like an architecture photo to me than a movie. I oohed and awed while I looked at Tron’s incredible structures, materials, and details. But after being satisfied as an Architect, I became dissatisfied as a Cinephile and a person. Movies ultimately are about people and their stories and their emotions and their imperfections. Architecture is an incredible art and I love being an Architect, creating things from nothing but my imagination. But it’s people who are important both on the screen, behind the screen, and in front of the screen. And it’s our stories that keep us interested in the screen. I think Director/Architect Joseph Kosinski naively got lost in creating buildings, spaces, and the world of Tron, like most architects would, and didn’t spend enough time creating the people, characters and emotions to inhabit that incredible world. I’ll be curious to see what he creates next time.