I went to see Tron: Legacy in the theatre and recently rented it, too. I mentioned earlier I picked up the soundtrack and, if I haven’t already said so, admire the depth and breadth of Jeff Bridges‘ acting abilities. (Incidentally, he’s also done quite a bit of charity work and founded the End Hunger Initiative.)
For me, a soundtrack can really make or break a film. I had issues with The Transporter because the music didn’t jive well. Sound is always what I focus on, and it’s something that really stands out to me. The sound and choreography is what made the film for me, because Tron: Legacy isn’t a movie so much as it is a performance piece.
Having played Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts: II, Tron was pretty fresh in my mind. (Each game has a story embedded within it, that allows you to play in that world.) A lot of critics mentioned that the movie focused on the special effects and the action moreso than the human part of the story. I agree to some extent, but I also feel that the attention to philosophy overshadowed the character relationships. In some ways, I would classify this as an “epic” science fiction film, much in the same way that The Matrix wound up being.
In defense of the film, I feel there was no other way this movie could have been produced because there are several challenges that had to have been addressed. First, you have the problem of revisiting cutting edge technology that was portrayed at a time when special effects weren’t as advanced as they are now. You need a reason — within the story — for the world to have evolved. I felt this was handled well, so no problem there. Second, you have the challenge of treating Kevin Flynn’s character. What did he do inside the grid for that amount of time? Did he go insane? No, he focused on meditation so he wouldn’t. In some ways, his philosophical nature is completely justified. Again, problem solved.
Where it gets more complex, is when you start adding those relationships between father and son, son and love interest, student and teacher, teacher and creation, creation and world, etc. The way those relationships are portrayed doesn’t always come down to the actor. (I should note that I felt the casting was extremely well done.) For me, the script would have been stronger if Olivia didn’t exist, but at the same time, I enjoyed having a female character in the movie and expanding the world a bit, so I can understand why that was necessary. It leaves more room for sequels and the continuation of the story.
To sum up, I agree with the critics that there was a lot of focus on the shiny. But I also think that with the advances in technology and the volume of expansive films out there, we (e.g. the audience) is getting a lot more critical. My only hope is that Disney continues to venture into the science fiction and fantasy film making territories. There’s a lot of room for exploration and growth in the genres and I enjoy some of the more recent films they made. So, despite its flaws, I liked Tron: Legacy and would definitely see it again.