2010’s Ending Movies

Toward the end of 2010, I watched two high-heralded movies.  One fantasy, one sci-fi.  One animated, the other live-action.  One fantastic, the other a flop.  And both with characters named Flynn.  Today I give you reviews of both.

Because I’m fairly certain everyone has their own definition of what _ number of stars mean, I’ll give you mine.  It strictly deals with whether or not to watch it, since I think that is the point of reviews.

😡 1 Star –  This is a complete, utter waste of time.
😕 2 Stars – Watch only if you have nothing better to do.
😐 3 Stars –  Watch if you want a couple hours of no-brainer entertainment.
🙂 4 Stars – Must watch.
😀 5 Stars – Watch it again and again, memorize the script, and add it to your library.

On to the reviews!  Since I like to end on a positive note, you’ll get my rant on the flop first.

 

Tron: Legacy

A generation after the original Tron, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) has disappeared while exploring the Grid in hopes of creating the perfect world.  Twenty years later his son, Sam (Garret Hedlung), is prompted by Kevin’s old partner to look into an old arcade where the digitizer is kept.  In the Grid, Sam finds his father has been trapped by Clu, (Jeff Bridges) the new dictator of this cyber world.  Time is running short as Clu wants to trap Sam as well.

I really wanted to like this.  I’m very partial to sci-fi.  But I just couldn’t.  The Tron: Legacy poster breathes sequel, mirroring the original Tron poster’s format.  Then it goes and does everything a sequel shouldn’t, and few things any movie shouldn’t.

A disillusioned young man is zapped into the Grid.  He is caught by the dictator’s guards and put on the Game Grid.  During a game he escapes with some friends and sets out for an input-output tower, which holds the only key to defeat the dictator, who we have now learned plans to invade the real world.

Tron?  Yes, but also Tron: Legacy.  The first thing Legacy does that no sequel should do is create a sense of de ja vu in the plot.  I mean, seriously, you have to get the kid zapped into the Grid, and OK, he gets on the Game Grid, but do you have to follow the original’s plot so tightly?

Sam finds his dad, Kevin, now aged.  (Side note:  I’m not going to complain about the aging of a supposed program or about the atmosphere in a computer world or the “programs” who act and look exactly like people.  In reality, not only is “digitizing” laughable, but programs do not interact at the level these characters do.  Think of the Grid is another universe and the digitizer as a portal and you’re fine.  I think the producers realized this, as they eliminated many of the stage-setting elements of Tron, such as the jargon.)  Aged, sure, but revamped? This isn’t the Kevin Flynn from Tron.  This is a tame, meditative man who goes by the same name.

Sequels shouldn’t revamp characters from the original.

Now for the things movies in general should never do.

Cheesy dialogue.  “You want me to play?  I’ll play,” says Sam.  You want me to watch this?  Nope.

Unexplained, unexplained, and unexplained.  The original Tron wasn’t so hot on this one either.  Sam digitizing himself is obviously an accident, but how does it happen?  Does he click the wrong thing?  Is Clue controlling the digitizer? (In which case we have more plot mimicking.)  And about Clu.  We’re told he was created to help Kevin turn the Grid into a utopia.  How does Clu get from that to exalted dictator?

Unimaginative.  The original Tron left a lot to the imagination.  They showed the Grid, some landscape, and the MCP’s hideout.  Everything else – which Legacy explores – is up to the imagination.  For the sake of the exotic setting, they really should come up with something at least unusual.  Instead we have the most usual thing there is:  our world in a much sleeker, cleaner format, right down the the fireplace in Kevin’s house.

There are two things I can give Tron: Legacy.  One, the music was quite unique, even more interesting than the plot.  If you want to skip the movie and hear the music, check out http://www.playlist.com/searchbeta/tracks#tron%20legacy/all/1.  Two, special effects.  They really went all-out with the latest in technology.  It’s beautiful eye-candy.  I would call the effects the saving grace, bumping this movie from one to two stars out of five.

In conclusion, if you’re too sick to move and have already watched all your other movies (twice!) feel free to Google “watch tron legacy online.”  Otherwise, leave it alone.

My Rating: 2 Stars 😕
MPAA Rating:  Rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and brief mild language.

 

Tangled

When the bandit Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) takes cover in an out-of-the-way tower, he finds it already occupied by Rapunzel (Mandy Moor), an insistent teen with 70 feet of hair who sees him as her guide to freedom.  Pursued by Flynn’s ex-partners, Mother Gothel, (Donna Murphy) and the royal guard, the duo sets out into the wide world.

To me, a movie must have three things to really be enjoyable:  well-rounded characters, an interesting plot without holes, and pleasing aesthetics.  Tangled delivers all three, plus humor, which flows naturally throughout.  What could be better?

The poster promises a hilarious fairytale, and it delivers.  Though not a Pixar film, the quality is the same, providing a beautiful and bright fairy tale setting for Repunzel to drag her hair and Flynn to wield frying pans.

I found all characters (yes, including the frog on Rapunzel’s head) believable and delightful, especially our dear Repunzel.  Such well-rounded characters are very appreciated.

The plot is just as believable – if you can use that word for fantasy – as the characters.  Like any fairytale, the romance tumbles in unannounced, but that’s a genre trademark.  Nothing was predictable except the happy ending, and even though we know the ultimate resolution almost from the beginning, danger and excitement abound until the last moment.

Indeed, the only real trouble I have with this movie is a theme in one scene, where Rapunzel and Flynn justify her running away from Gothel.  Flynn calls rebelling from her “mom” “natural” and “part of growing up.”   It didn’t ruin the movie for me, and some people I’ve talked to didn’t see this theme at all.  If you plan on seeing this with your nine-year-old sister, you might want to be prepared to talk about it.

Still, I’d give this movie five of five stars.  It’s one of the better Disney Princess movies.  Snow White, Aurora, Cinderella, Belle, and Ariel may just have a new friend.

My rating:  5 Stars 😀
MPAA rating:  Rated PG for brief mild violence.

 

Have you seen Tron: Legacy or Tangled?  What did you think?

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About Kathrine Roid

I'm an science fiction and fantasy author living in Texas with an undead parakeet and teleporting cat. Think about that for a moment.

Posted on January 14, 2011, in Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. I saw Tron: Legacy, and didn’t know about Tron before Tron: Legacy was coming out, soI don’t know about the similarites, but I liked it.
    Going to watch Tangled now, though!

  2. Tron: Legacy is one of the most awesome films ever!

  3. Abby aka PrincessoftheKing

    I’ve never seen Tron:Legacy, so I can’t give my opinion on that one, but I loved Tangled. It has definitely made it to my list of favorite movies. The characters were great, and the plot was very fairytale-ish, but not too predictable.

    The whole rebellion scene didn’t bother me too much, because we know that the only reason Flynn gave those reasons was because he wanted what Rapunzel had.

    And Max was awesome. 😀

  4. I have seen Tangled twice and loved it. In my opinion, Disney Princesses haven’t really been that good since the Hunchback of Notre Dame or maybe Mulan. But now I can’t say that anymore because Tangled. Is. Awesome. ‘Nuff said.

  5. ~
    I hadn’t either, Louisa. I saw a trailor for Tron: Legacy, and my mom started laughing about how they could make a sequel for Tron. So, to see what my mom was laughing about and to get the background, I went on Blinkx and watched the original. It’s incredible how much computer technology has changed in 15 years!

    ~
    Nimsky, it’s odd. Google “tron legacy review” and you’ll get one of two responses: “This is fantastic” or “This was awful except for the special effects.” I’m with the latter.
    BTW, this will sound strange, how in the world do I know you? Obviously your username on whichever forum we met is different from what you’re using now. 😉

    ~
    Don’t we all love a good fairy tale every now and again?
    Agreed about Max, Abby. Dogs playing horse and horses playing dog: a Disney trademark. And all in one year! (Remember Toy Story 3?)

    ~
    ‘Nuff said indeed. 🙂

  6. I saw Tangled, and thought that Disney Princess had actually made a decent movie. Disney needed a spunky, tomboyish, and yet still feminine princess to add to their line of otherwise girly characters. (Well, Mulan isn’t girly, but other than that…) I ♥ed Tangled.

  7. I so want to see Tangled! Sounds so awesome. 😉 (Did you see the Disney movie about the princess and the frog? Epic!) 😀

  8. Fantastic article! An enjoyable read. I haven’t seen either of these yet, but I’m eager to see Tangled. I’ve heard a lot of good (and controversial) things about it.

    But, the Pixar geek in me must bicker… Tangled wasn’t a Pixar Studios film. Just Disney. 😉

  9. ~
    I think Rapunzel’s combined spunk and innocence endear us to her, Draags. I really liked what Disney did with the characters’ characters. 😉

    ~
    That was my goal, Nick! It’s definitely worth it if you like fairy tale-style movies. I didn’t see the Princess and the Frog for a couple reasons, so I can’t say anything about it.

    ~
    Sqahg!
    A quick Google search confirms this, Phila, although I wasn’t the only one to be fooled. Disney and Pixar are tightly equated. Editing. . . Thank you very much.

  10. Hey can I copy and paste this post on my web site? What references must I give? You might give this info for other people too.

    • Yes you can, on the condition that you respect my moral property rights (use my name, Kathrine Roid, and do not change my work) and link back to my blog. I’m glad you are interested in reposting my work! I would appreciate a link when it is up.

      ~Kathrine

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