Tag Archives: jeff bridges

TRON: Legacy (2010)

Note: This film was the main topic of discussion on Episode 1 of my podcast, The Cinescope Podcast. Give it a listen for a more in-depth discussion!

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Back in 1982, Disney released a film that proved to leave a lasting impact in the world of film, making strides in advanced computer graphics technology and laser trail bikes. One of the more notable effects this film had in the industry was showing John Lasseter the possibilities of computer graphics and leading to the eventual success of Pixar. Nearly 30 years after the release of TRON, first-time director Joseph Kosinski was hired to direct the almost $200 million sequel to the dated film, challenged with continuing the story and dazzling with another technological marvel…and he succeeded.

TRON: Legacy opens with young ENCOM CEO Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) explaining to his son Sam the origin of The Grid – a “digital frontier” that resembles a city, a place where programs are anthropomorphized and live their own lives, and where Tron, a protector, and a clone of Flynn called C.L.U. – Codified Likeness Utility  – work together to create and to explore this digital landscape. However, later that night, Flynn disappears from the world without a trace. 20 years pass, and now Sam (Garrett Hedlund), who has distanced himself from his father’s company save for an annual prank, has received a tip from his father’s friend Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) that something may be going on in his father’s office at the now-abandoned arcade that he owned. Upon investigating, something extraordinary happens, thrusting him into the very world that his father described to him as a boy. It becomes a race against time to escape back to the real world, with new faces Quorra (Olivia Wilde) and Castor (Michael Sheen) showing up along the way during Sam’s journey home.

*mild spoilers ahead*

To get it out of the way, I’ll start with the obvious: this film is quite the spectacle to behold, from the glowing blue skyscrapers, to the intimidating flying Recognizers (appearing as a significant upgrade from their original appearance 30 years ago), to the fantastic score composed by Daft Punk and Joseph Trapanese (my review). These are the things that people agree on regarding this film: that it is a visual and auditory treat, showing that every cent of the $200 million budget was put to good use. Concepts introduced in the first film – disc wars, light cycle races, a world that pulses with a vivid energy – are magnified to the nth degree here and, paired with Daft Punk’s infectious music, provide some of the more extravagant action sequences made with digital effects in the last decade. In this movie and in his second feature, Oblivion (my review), director Joseph Kosinski proves he has an talent for creating visuals that are wonders to behold

What people agree on less when it comes to this movie is everything outside of what appeals to the senses: that is, to put it simply, the story and acting. But I would disagree with the majority in saying that there are some great, moving performances that feature here.

At its core, TRON: Legacy is a father/son movie. Garrett Hedlund’s Sam exudes a confidence that masks his vulnerability; after all, this is a character who lost his father when he was 7 years old, and as the film goes on, it is revealed how much he misses him. In a scene where Alan tells Sam of a mysterious message he received from Flynn’s former office, Hedlund’s face expresses so well the pain he feels in wishing that his father was around but knowing that he’s gone forever. Likewise, Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn portrays a father who is willing to sacrifice anything for the protection and well-being of his son. In their heartfelt reunion, it’s difficult to not feel a pang when Flynn turns around to instantly recognize his son who was only a child the last time he saw him, collapsing into his arms in a deep embrace. It’s a powerful moment. As the film progresses, so does their relationship, and though they face some tough moments, they prove that they’re there for each other and, more importantly, that they love each other.

Most of the emotional core of this movie comes from those two characters, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Jeff Bridges’ other character, C.L.U., who is our villain. As mentioned before, he is essentially a clone of Flynn, and as such he represents Flynn’s flaws at the time of his inception, namely an inability to recognize that perfection is not an attainable goal. It’s this flaw that helps us to empathize with the character – he’s only doing what he feels is right because it’s what he was created to do, even if it’s contrary to what Flynn himself came to realize as he aged and matured. Despite the motion capture work that doesn’t age quite as well as the rest of the effects in the film, Bridges communicates this conflict very well, culminating in the final bridge scene that shows C.L.U.’s desperation to fulfill his purpose.

It would be a shame if I didn’t give a shoutout to Olivia Wilde’s wonderfully naïve Quorra, who represents the childlike wonder in all of us. One scene has her asking for the description of the sun because she’s never had the chance to experience it, and this pays off in the end of the film when we see her basking in the glow of a warm sunrise. Worth mentioning is Michael Sheen’s quirky Castor, who does little more than strut around talking strangely, but he’s a fun character who appears during one of the film’s dry spells to further along the plot.

TRON: Legacy isn’t a masterpiece of a film that delves into the human condition or anything “deep” like that, but it does have characters whose interactions with each other give us something to connect with. The concept of The Grid and the activities that lie therein are fascinating to me – the very concept of the world is *concept* itself – and the execution of these are what pushes this film into the realm of “enjoyable” for me. While the main attractions certainly are these spectacles and the outstanding soundtrack, if you look for it, there are some great human moments that might make you feel something along the way.

-Chad

RECOMMEND!

MPAA: PG – for sequences of sci-fi action violence and brief mild language


R.I.P.D. (2013)

NOTE: Review originally written for and posted at MovieByte.com. To see this post and check out the guys over at MovieByte, click here!
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One word: WHY.

R.I.P.D. tells the story of Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds), a police officer who opens the film with the burying of some mysterious pieces of gold under an orange tree in his backyard. We quickly learn that the gold was found by him and his partner, Bobby (Kevin Bacon), during a drug bust, but Nick tells Bobby that he has decided to return the gold. Later that day, during a raid, Bobby shoots Nick, killing him and sending him to the office of Mildred Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), head of the Rest In Peace Department, or R.I.P.D. for short. The organization’s purpose is to find dead people, called “deados,” and capture them. Nick is partnered with veteran R.I.P.D. officer Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges), who is not too keen to have a partner. As the two work together on Earth in their avatar forms (Roy as an attractive woman and Nick as an elderly Chinese man), they uncover a plot to start what amounts to an apocalypse, so they must learn to work together in order to prevent the coming of the end of the world.

From the very start of the film, when a voiceover from Nick tells us about how “3 or 4 days ago” he didn’t even know about the R.I.P.D., to the “jokes” that were intended to make us laugh to the choice of the avatars for the two lead characters, everything had me asking, “WHY?!” Why is any of that necessary? Why not just start the film by telling the story rather than with a weird opening that shows us something that happens later in the film? Why make Roy’s avatar an attractive woman (for a reason other than “LOL BECAUSE IT’S FUNNY SINCE HE’S REALLY A DUDE!”)? Nothing in this film made much sense to me, whether it was any of these issues already mentioned or why I was supposed to care about any of the characters or why they made such stupid, obviously incorrect decisions (i.e. apprehending a bad guy and taking him into custody when he obviously wanted to be captured). (I’ll try to minimize my use of the word “why” now…I’m sure you get the idea).

Jeff Bridges does his best Rooster Cogburn impression as Roy: an officer who speaks in a difficult-to-understand “cowboy drawl” with a criticized penchant for killing people rather than capturing them and is also opposed to having a partner. Though Bridges is inherently likable in every role, his general likability doesn’t keep his character here from being lame and uninteresting. Ryan Reynolds, while not necessarily bad, doesn’t bring anything special to the table here, so I didn’t care about him or his wife, even when the two are brought together for what I’m sure is meant to be an “emotional” moment at the end of the film. Kevin Bacon is appropriately sinister as the villain, but, again, his lack of interesting motivation, or anything interesting at all, really, makes his character flat and non-threatening to the audience.

The “jokes” in the film are unfunny (I don’t think I laughed or did anything more than crack a slight smile even once), and the absence of any sort of creativity whatsoever (“deados?” Really?) makes this film fall short of any sort of expectations I had, which, believe it or not, were actually moderately positive. I didn’t expect this film to be super fantastic, but I also didn’t expect it to be on the complete opposite side of the spectrum from that, either. I’m pretty sure that my facial expressions while watching alternated between a general scowl and “what the heck.” R.I.P.D. may look slightly entertaining in the trailers, but don’t be fooled; the movie is more dead than the “deados.”

-Chad

Rating: 1.5  (out of 5)

MPAA: PG-13 – for violence, sci-fi/fantasy action, some sensuality, and language including sex references