The critics on the KPBS Film Club of the Air discuss "TRON: Legacy."
Related Story: Review: 'TRON: Legacy'
ALISON ST. JOHN: And you're back on Film Club of the Air on KPBS, with Beth Accomando, Scott Marks, and Anders Wright. Let's move on to "TRON: Legacy"
BETH ACCOMANDO: Moving down. Way down.
SCOTT MARKS: Oh, boy.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay. The original movie was Tron, in 1982, and it was ahead of its time in special effects. And it's a story about a hacker who gets sucked into a virtual world. It was very beloved by computer geeks and sci-fi fans, and now these fans get to revisit the obsession 30 years later, called "TRON: Legacy." It stars Jeff Bridges following up the role he created in the original film. You're in a good position to tell us what your impressions were. Beth?
BETH ACCOMANDO: Oh, my God. It was so bad. And to say it's in 3D is false advertising. For one thing, they actually have a disclaimer on the film, which says not all of this was shot in 3D, and it was intended that way. And even what was shot in 3D doesn't look very good at all.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Isn't it kind of neat the way they use the 3D where it comes in in the movie?
SCOTT MARKS: Oh, boy. No.
ACCOMANDO: No. Here's the thing, first of all, I think a lot of people remember Tron with more affection than if they were to see it again right now. What was cool with Tron wasn't so much that it was really state of the art effects or that it was this really great film. But it was the first film that really put you inside of a game, into a gaming world, and they had cool toys, and when you're a kid that kind of stuff is appeals. But if you go back and watch the film, it was slow, and the effects were kind of cheesy. And this film does not improve on anything, even with all the new technology. I mean, there are some things that look kind of pretty. But it's slow, it's pretentious, I mean Jeff Bridges, you know, youthened, is terrifying.
ANDERS WRIGHT: It's just digital.
ACCOMANDO: Digital. And it actually rips off a lot from star wars, some of the fight scenes, the, like, dog fight, yeah, I know you hate that.
MARKS: Oh, boy.
ALISON ST. JOHN: All right, Scott.
MARKS: Lasers in here just like Star Wars?
ACCOMANDO: No, not lasers. What are the races -- some of the fighter stuff was either like the pod race in Phantom Menace or it was the dog fight [CHECK AUDIO].
MARKS: That's frightening.
ALISON ST. JOHN: So Scott what was your impression of it.
MARKS: This thing is unwatchable.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Oh.
MARKS: These people should be jailed for making a movie as bas as this. You ever wonder what -- what it would be like if Ingmar Bergman directed a live action Disney film?
MARKS: This is so cold and so boring and unengaging, it's like watching guys throw a lighted frisbee among Tivoli lights for two hours.
ALISON ST. JOHN: And Anders?
MARKS: I think you underestimated the original Tron. That was a major breakthrough in digital film making, whether it was good or not. That was [CHECK AUDIO].
ALISON ST. JOHN: So Anders were you a fan of the original one?
WRIGHT: Yeah, absolutely, and I was a kid when it came out. I was absolutely the perfect target audience for it, and I loved it am and I have a lot of affection for if, and I certainly, like, grew up playing that video game too. The big problem here is that people who want to enjoy this movie are really going to enjoy it because they're not gonna really care, but it's really all style over substance.
ACCOMANDO: It's not even style.
MARKS: Style? Where?
ALISON ST. JOHN: It was such a big deal, up, Comic-Con, they promoted this thing up. They have been trotting this thing out at Comic-Con for years, this is, like, the third or fourth year in a row. And I saw some footage at Comic-Con, and it got me kind of excited for it. But the fact is that the story is really what's lacking.
ACCOMANDO: You came out at Comic-Con all pumped up.
WRIGHT: Yeah, I was.
ACCOMANDO: The panel and then the Tron party.
WRIGHT: The Tron party was terrific. But, you know, the story just gets more and more and more ridiculous as it goes on. Because, you know, if you're gonna create a world like this, you've gotta make everything that's inside it make sense of it's all got to be true to the world that exists.
ALISON ST. JOHN: And it is moving into a virtual world, right? And that's where the 3D comes in.
MARKS: They try to do the wizard of oz, where it's flat, and as soon as they go into the computer game, it's 3D.
ACCOMANDO: It barely looked 3D. I recommend seeing it in Imax [CHECK AUDIO].
THE COURT: But you were saying that far Jeff Bridges was better in this movie than in true grit.
ACCOMANDO: That's a meager comparison. But yes, he is better in this.
WRIGHT: Here's the thing. This is occupying what Avatar did a year ago. It's the big 3D tent pull movie of the year. And that movie, Avatar, no matter what you think of it, it was an immersive 3D experience. Of this really isn't. It's still like you're looking at it instead of being in it.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Any good action sequences at all in this movie.
ACCOMANDO: They pretend there are.
WRIGHT: Actually early on, there are some light cycle battles that are pretty cool.
MARKS: I never knew what restless leg syndrome until I sat true this thing.
ALISON ST. JOHN: What about the director?
MARKS: Who? Who directed it?
ALISON ST. JOHN: Joseph Kosinski.
MARKS: Never heard of him, and I hope I never hear from him again.
ACCOMANDO: Oh, who he is, he's gonna do the remake of the black hole, which came out around the same time as Tron, from Disney, another one of these big kind of bloated Sci-fi films.
WRIGHT: What's really disappointing is this movie will make a bucket and a half a money.
MARKS: Don't be so sure. I think the first week gonna kill them, it's gonna be like the tourist.
ACCOMANDO: It is gonna do a huge opening week, and [CHECK AUDIO].
WRIGHT: There are people there who loved. The person who I took, people are sort of determined to like this, to enjoy themselves. And maybe they should be because they're dropping 15 bucks to see it in 3D.
ACCOMANDO: Your not gonna talk anyone who was a fan of the first Tron out of skiing should sequel.
ALISON ST. JOHN: In your view, was that a topnotch movie in its own right.
ACCOMANDO: I didn't think so.
WRIGHT: The kid in me will tell you that the time it came out, and the anal I was at, I absolutely adored it.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Uh-huh and have you gone back and seen it again.
WRIGHT: It's been at least ten years.
MARKS: But the original Tron did do that well in the box office, so why Disney 30 years after the fact? Because someone at Comi-Con is a big fan of Tron.
WRIGHT: No, they're basically saying, look, we've got this 3D technology, what better place to put it than into the computer. It makes sense of however that doesn't mean you can skip on the story.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay, well, Tron legacy opens everywhere on Friday. So you'll have a chance to make up your own mind. I'd like to thank you you guys for coming up. We have had Beth Accomando, KPBS film critic, thanks Beth..
ACCOMANDO: Thank you.
ST. JOHN: Scott Marks, author of the film blog, Emulsioncompulsion.com. Scott.
MARKS: Nice seeing you again.
ALISON ST. JOHN: And Anders Wright, film critic for the San Diego City Beat. Anders, great to have you.
WRIGHT: Good to see you, Alison.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Thanks so much for listening, I'm Alison St. John in for Maureen Cavanaugh.