Why exactly is a first time director helming one of the most expensive films of all time? That was what I was asking myself before seeing TRON: Legacy and am now asking myself even more so, after having viewed the film. Actually, I was asking myself that question during the film (as well as a number of other exercises to keep from falling asleep or leaving the cinema before the completely unnecessary 125 minutes were up). It seems the titular 'Legacy' is to carry on the tradition of the 1982 snoozefest by making a film that makes watching paint dry seem a far more attractive option.
In 1989 Kevin Flynn, software pioneer and CEO of ENCOM (Jeff Bridges) disappears. Twenty years later his son, Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund, a poor man's James Franco) goes after him, entering the virtual world inside a computer. The underwritten scripting of Sam is only surpassed by the lack of snap and zest he brings to the role. Actually, this is also surpassed by first timer, Joseph Kosinski's direction who directs these early sequences with all the excitement of an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. (One of the weaker episodes.) Once inside we do get to see some excitement as Sam is forced to battle gladiator-style for his life. For a short period we, the audience, are actually entertained. Following this we're severely short-changed on action. (Although there are short bursts.) The bulk of the rest of the film tortures you with excruciating expositional dialogue. I would expand on this but frankly, life is too short.
To be fair to TRON: Legacy, it's a good looking film. The production design is also good but, teasingly, just short of great. The special effects are pretty good, too. Although, the CGI'd young Jeff Bridges is horribly jarring which is a shame because him as bad guy, Clu is a neat concept. The early action sequences in the computer are directed solidly but it seems Kosinski relies on the "oohs" and "aahs" expected from viewer reaction to bright, shiny things. Without the dazzling spectacle, were he directing something visually simpler (e.g. police procedural) he may just be shown up to be downright clunky - something of an anti-Midas where everything he touches turns to lead. Although this notion is unlikely, with his re-imagining of 1979's The Black Hole in the offing. Then again as TRON: Legacy is still limping toward re-couping it's production and marketing budget, three weeks after its release, who knows? Joseph Kosinski may be forced to direct something a lot less bright and shiny...