Thursday, December 23, 2010

TRON: LEGACY Advanced Review - 8 Stars

There are no spoilers in this review, but you are open to discuss anything you wish in the comments section.

Click on the images to enlarge.

I just revamped my Star Analysis movie review categories
to include stereoscopic 3D and some other minor tweaks and here is the final result that I will be using to review future S3D movies.

TRON: LEGACY delivered on my "Most Anticipated Movie of 2010" from my list of last February. If you haven't seen this movie, do it. If AVATAR was the first bleep on the live action 3D radar screen (quite a massive blip!), then TRON: LEGACY would be the second. Massive tent poles like these will ensure the continued growth of 3D until ubiquity.

Fine 3D conversions and animations certainly play a key role in the success that S3D has been enjoying, especially ALICE IN WONDERLAND, TOY STORY 3 and HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. But live action 3D is the crown. We need these projects and we have been getting them steadily. TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON, THE HOBBIT, TINTIN, the Marvel and DC comic universes all are apart of the future.

Stereoscopic 3D (10 stars):
TRON: LEGACY proudly joins this list with the best S3D visuals since AVATAR. In many ways it is superior to AVATAR - next generation technology was used and the geometry of The Grid allowed for outrageously wonderful 3D shots. I have the same urge to go back to see LEGACY many times, just as I did for AVATAR. When that happens, its magic. The Vince Pace / James Cameron FUSION 3D camera system was used with some small additional post production work done by Prime Focus as is customary in most live action 3D productions.

Story (7 stars):
It could have been much better thought out. Right from the moment that I heard (in the trailers) Bruce Boxleitner say that he got paged from a number that was disconnected 20 years ago I had issues. Phone companies reuse phone numbers after a small waiting period. This little fact bothered me quite a bit. The story itself was not fully fleshed out and is more skeletal than anything else. It picks you up and delivers you, but not in the ride that you would have expected with such a tentpole. The story has ties to past atrocities and some will say even STAR WARS. It may cause some cringing because of those similarities. I cringed. Still, in the end I was smiling.

Acting (7.5 Stars):
Sub par. We all know Bridges can deliver the goods with true grit, but something was missing. Hedlund was ok. Not great. Olivia Wilde carried the movie for the most part - she was an amazing casting choice. I will say I enjoyed Michael Sheen channeling Ziggy Stardust tremendously, unfortunately it was too brief.

Character Development (6 Stars):
Almost absent. The most disappointing element to the movie for me. Not enough visual storytelling as the director seemed to be taking the easy way out of telling the audience what to believe rather than showing them. TRON: LEGACY is a visual masterpiece but it could have been even better had they worked in visual character development WITH the spectacle. A wasted opportunity.

Suspension of Disbelief (9 Stars):
Well done! It all felt very authentic because of the wonderful level of CGI and stereoscopic work that was achieved. That is a not a trivial thing to accomplish either as you have to get audiences to forget the fact that these characters are inside a virtual game world. My hat is tipped.

Directing (7 Stars):
For a first directorial effort, Joseph Kosinski hit a home run I believe. It could have been a spectacular flame out but in true Disney magic all is good. Again, there are flaws but this is a massive production - items slipped through the cracks. I believe Disney should have hired someone with a little more tentpole pedigree than Kosinski but it certainly was not a failure. I will say that he needs to focus more on his character development for future projects.

Sound / Score (9.5 Stars):
Wow. Stunning score wasn't it? Daft Punk smacked us in the head over and over again with riveting audio moments that truly matched perfectly with LEGACY's taste and tempo. Well done.

Cinematography (8.5 Stars):
Claudio Miranda (THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON) did a wonderful job. Of course many of the shots were green screened and the work must have been staggering. Again, my hat is tipped.

Special Effects / Stunts (9 Stars):
Digital Domain, Mr. X, Prime Focus and Quantum Creation FX (specialty costumes and lighting effects) all worked on the movie with the lions share going to Digital Domain. What can I say? Go see the movie and you will see the magic that was achieved. In my opinion you NEED to see this in the theater at least once. Home theater will then trigger awe inspiring memories for you later :-)

**The system I used to derive my star ratings is not all that complex but should cover the bases. Essentially I assigned a weight to each classification that I deem important for a GOOD movie. So I am saying that a good story is over 3 times more important than good 3D. Of course bad 3D can ruin a movie and for that reason I will allow NEGATIVE scores (ratings that will reflect unprofessional finished work - like the 3D CLASH OF THE TITANS).

Note that each category gains its star rating via the success factor column: A success score of 100% earns a 10 star nod. The Stars Rating is merely used to generate the total star rating (after weight considerations) for the entire movie.

Like to see some other categories included in future reviews? Let me know what you think is important to you in the comments!

Special thanks to Empire Theatres for the IMAX screening.

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Jim Dorey
jim (at) marketsaw (dot) com

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