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"Tron: Legacy" Sets A New Standard For 3D

Ryan Nunez |
December 15, 2010 | 11:28 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

 Legacy (Walt Disney Pictures)
Legacy (Walt Disney Pictures)
Epic and subtle at the same time: This is what 3D is supposed to be.

And Disney has done it.

"Tron: Legacy" assaults the senses in ways that “Inception” could only dream of, engulfing the audience in a sea of genius, without alienating them with an overly long and complex movie.

The film seemingly syncs with its viewers’ minds via 2D and 3D manipulation. The “real” world sequences have been filmed in 2D and the digital frontier created by Jeff Bridges’ Kevin Flynn is the film’s 3D playground.  

"Tron: Legacy" audiences are comforted by the 2D world and then thrown head first into the digital frontier. Thus, they are plagued by an uneasiness brought on by being strangers in a strange land. The feeling of being a true foreigner has them leaning back in their seats, muscles tensed, wondering what’s around the corner.

This well thought out treatment gives the very real illusion that the film transports audiences into a new, strange world and gives the film a rightful claim to the term sci-fi thriller.

And as for the young, non-believers who will surely enter the theater wondering how Jeff “The Dude” Bridges ever became a legendary, leading man in Hollywood, that question is answered the minute they lay eyes on the “man” known as Clu. 

The audience is taken aback by the imposing presence of the “young” Bridges and, truth be told, it is the crowning visual achievement of "Tron: Legacy." Of all the mind-boggling visuals thrown the viewers’ way, nearly everyone outside of the theaters will be referring to Clu when they say, “How did they do that?”

Clu, like everything else, is the creation of Flynn, a digital simulation of himself, programmed to create the perfect system and to maintain order when Flynn leaves the grid. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, even for digital incarnates, and chaos ensues.

The above paragraph makes it clear that talking about the specifics of Tron’s plotline is as futile as trying to explain what makes the sun so amazing. One just needs to see it, to truly understand.  

The film is sci-fi to the core, one-third genius, one-third vague and one-third cheesy, which makes it not for everyone. But "Tron: Legacy" wisely avoids completely wedging itself into that audience-limiting box.

Fundamentally, the movie is really the story of Sam Flynn, played masterfully by Garrett Hedlund. Sam is a son seemingly abandoned by his overly ambitious father, then trapped in a recurring nightmare by his omnipresent aura, personal achievements and behemoth Fortune 500 company. 

With apologies to the magnificent chameleon Castor, a.k.a. Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon), Hedlund is the true revelation and cements himself as the new “It” guy, with his depiction of Sam.

Equally entrancing is Olivia Wilde’s Quorra, a simple character who, like the film itself, is also far too complex to explain. Only true fans of hers will notice that Wilde’s ravishing beauty is muted (as much as possible) for "Tron: Legacy," a tactic that contributes to the reality of her combat scenes and ensures that she steals no thunder from her leading men (as little as possible, anyway).

Like an infant discovering his hand for the first time, audiences are finally enlightened as to the true possibilities of 3D with "Tron: Legacy." In the end, they are hurled out of theaters with a newfound fascination for the 3D vividness surrounding them in their own lives.

The fact that "Tron: Legacy" is Joseph Kosinski’s feature film directorial debut really deserves its own article.  One just hopes, for selfish reasons, that "Tron: Legacy" is not his masterpiece.

Now that would be something.

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