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Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010 12:26 am

Ghosts of futures past haunt Tron

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While this certainly wasn’t what director Joseph Kosinski intended, I couldn’t help but regard Tron: Legacy merely as an interesting artifact. Obviously, much has changed since the release of the original Tron in 1982, a film that served as a template upon which today’s digital effects were built. What’s odd and somewhat comforting is that many of the visuals employed by Kosinski look very much the same, and it’s as if nothing has changed within the mainframe that serves as a gladiator arena where programs that serve the system do battle with those meant for free use.

To be sure, the film’s 3-D effects give it a sense of distinction as we witness Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) get zapped into the system where his father Kevin (Jeff Bridges) went missing and the reunited father and son rage against the machine to escape. The effects, which are mostly simply lighted outlines of various objects and infinite digital vistas, work well and don’t call attention to themselves. They seem part and parcel of the Tron world. It’s a fully integrated aesthetic that needs to be seen in 3-D.

That being said, the film is about 20 minutes too long. There are few surprises as the Flynns battle Kevin’s doppelganger Clu on the glorified Lite-Brite grid. World domination is the goal, massive armies are amassed and a satisfying and well-done conclusion are all in place. Knowledgeable viewers will catch the allusions to Metropolis, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner and Tron itself. In a sense, time has not only stood still on Flynn’s grid but with this franchise. Nothing much new happens here, but inertia never looked so good.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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