16 December 2010 | dvc5159
A dazzling and spectacular special effects extravaganza, despite its flaws.
Right off the bat I'm going to say that I didn't see the first film. Obviously I've heard from a lot of people saying that they need to see the first film before watching this one, seeing as this is a direct sequel to a nearly 30 year old cult sci-fi film. But, seeing that I didn't have time, I decided to watch the sequel anyway.
Now keep in mind that Disney took a HUGE risk in making a sequel to a movie that is not very often talked about when it comes to movies as opposed to many blockbusters today. The first TRON had no famous franchise to speak of (apart from the real games inspired by it). Adding to the danger is the film's budget - reportedly between US$ 200 - 300 million. With that kind of money you'll wonder what exactly was Disney hoping for with this film.
Nevermind the fact that the story is a bit unfocused and could be rounded up in a more polished way. Nevermind too that the fantastic world and great ideas aren't expanded upon some more, as well as the fact that the script could use a little bit more originality.
Also, not forgetting some good (in Jeff Bridges' case, great as always as he plays two very different characters with perfect emotional resonance - proving that he still has the chops to carry a big movie) performances by the cast - with Garrett Hedlund showing great leading man potential and Olivia Wilde looking great and cute to boot. Michael Sheen, Beau Garrett and Bruce Boxleitner (apparently returning to his role from the first film, so it seems) all give good support.
No sir-ee, what you pay for - and what you get in spades - are the special/visual effects. Goodness me, this is quite possibly the best special effects I've seen all year, and that's saying something. I have to admit though, the CGI that makes Jeff Bridges young look jarring, but that is overshadowed by the compelling, groundbreaking special/visual effects that really bring you into the cybernetic world. Who doesn't want to take a ride on one of those fantastic, futuristic vehicles? Who doesn't want those awesome light-cycles or one of those dueling/data discs? It is possible that, like "Avatar" a year ago, this film can be a game-changer for special/visual effects alone.
It's a real treat for the eyes, and it's even better in 3D which is splendidly used to flesh out the dimensions and graphics of the cyber world bring you even deeper into the world instead of things merely flying out to you and post-production conversion like in SO many 3D movies (Note that in the 3D version, there's a disclaimer before the film starts, saying that parts of the film are filmed in both natural 2D and 3D as they way they should be. Just so you know, this shows that the filmmakers care for what they want to give you).
Very ambitious architect-and-designer-turned-first-time-filmmaker Joseph Kosinski hit a home run with this film, crafting an extraordinary and spellbinding world of escapism that looks slick, stylish and extremely cool to watch. Kosinski and the production team fill the cyber world with heaps of imagination and the result is what you see on screen. And here I thought Hollywood would recycle certain design patterns (plot patterns still need work though). Kosinski is a truly visionary filmmaker that one really has to keep an eye on.
The production design is on par with the special effects, it is nothing short of spectacular and perfect. The cinematography which is big and wide and best of all NOT shaky allows you to savor every moment of SFX goodness. The superb sound effects serve to complement the visuals and the electronic world, and all for the better. Daft Punk's varying but atmospheric electronic/orchestral score all but suits the film's mood perfectly with its techno beats and soaring string during moments.
Overall, this is perhaps a fine way to end the blockbuster season of 2010, and this is a definite must watch for all looking for an escape. The special effects alone are worth the price of TWO movie tickets, and with that I say, give this one a try, even if you haven't seen the first one. It aims to entertain and to dazzle the audience, and it succeeds brilliantly. Excuse me while I rent the first one now.
Overall rating: 75/100