Archive for the 2.5 Stars Category

Tron Legacy Review

Posted in 2.5 Stars, New Movie, Review, Sci-Fi, video games with tags , , , , , , , on December 22, 2010 by russellsreviews

The original Tron motion picture has a very special place in many peoples hearts. Tron never reached Star Wars like fandom or Blade Runner critical success, but remains a classic to this day. Tons of fans wanted a sequel, and would line up to see what the world of Tron could look like using today’s graphics. Disney is finally giving them what they wanted and betting fans will fill the seats. Can Tron Legacy live up to the hype that’s been building for over 28 years?

Tron Legacy tries its best to reconnect you to the first film and does a fairy good considering the first film came out in 1982. After years building his company Encom into the Tech giant of the world is very close to inventing something that could change the world even more.  Expect for an unknown reason he disappears abruptly, and leaves his only son Sam behind. Sam grows up never really getting to know his father other from all the stories of this computer world he always talked about making which leads him to try to harm the company that he feels that kept his Dad away from him. Shortly after this cry for help, Sam finds out from a close family friend that there is a slim chance that his Dad could be still around just hiding out in his old arcade building he used to run. Sam investigates and doesn’t find his father, but accidentally gets digitize in the very world that his dad told him stories about.

The movie does a good job shifting focus from Kevin to his son Sam, but not long after the awe and the excitement of seeing the world of Tron in 3D wears off that you start to see that Tron Legacy has been stripped of what makes the original so memorable. If you have seen any trailer for the movie then you pretty much know what almost every fight scene and plot point that’s going to happen in the first hour. The only mystery is why Kevin Flynn got trapped there. Your not shocked when Sam finds his father alive 40 minutes in because well you saw him in the first five seconds of the trailer. This development takes too much time in the first act that the movie plot would of benefited from simply the teaser trailers. The first Tron had tons of wonderment and you never knew what or who could be coming at you next in this computerize world. Yes, this being the sequel your obviously not going to have the same awe, but literally if you have see the trailer, minus a flying battle and a guest appearance of the music group daft punk, you have seen everything the movie has to offer. You have a new disc battle and light cycle to look forward to, buy both are quick and over in the first 30 minutes. The original Tron was ahead of its time handling tough topics of what could happen if computers got to powerful (which by the way Tron came out way before Terminator), what it means to be human, and makes you think about religion. Tron Legacy never goes deeper than the chase. Tron had an interesting villain that was relative and somehow made sense to be a threat in our world and the computer world. Tron legacy’s Clu was interesting concept, but never fully emotionally fleshed out besides a couple lines of meaningful dialogue at the end of the film. Not to mention that Tron, the program himself, is hugely misused. The first Tron was exactly Shakespeare either, but made most of its fans from the fantasy of what a world would be like living in the computer. So if the graphics and world lived up the movie could still work right?

Right, however in my opinion that doesn’t measure up either. The 3D really added nothing to the experience, and the world never felt realized. Tron was a little silly and campy in the graphics, but for its time it was mind blowing. It started new techniques that even creator of Pixar gives credit for helping him start CGI like graphics. Tron Legacy is very paint by the numbers graphics. You never feel like your in another world. Everything is too dark and the characters and world just look like ours just with neon lights everywhere. Legacy does nothing overly special or groundbreaking. The first movie did a better job in making you feel in a computer world and it was made 28 years ago. Clu, the villain of the film, is a CGI recreation of a young Jeff Bridges that looks good in the Tron world, but very plastic in the real one.

Tron Legacy ties into the original well at the start, but very slowly through its run time disappoints. If you have never seen the original there is still stuff to enjoy, but most you will likely be a little confused and wonder what all the hype was about. Tron Legacy isn’t necessarily a bad movie, it just hurts when you think what the movie could have been.  It could have been Terminator 2 good, instead we got Terminator 3. Its still well made and enjoyable and the new character Quorra is cool and interesting. It’s still worth seeing if you have a lot of fond memories of the original, but greatly lower your expectations and maybe wait till you can rent it and save the money.

2.5 STARS

The Reader Review

Posted in 2.5 Stars, Drama, Review, Romantic on June 17, 2009 by russellsreviews

The Reader is a tough review. It’s trying to be thought provoking and mature and everything indie film lovers crave. No doubt many critics and viewers will be swallowed up by the drama, but the reality is The Reader is incoherent and never really established any idea long enough to really understand the point of the film.

In the 1940’s Germany, one day when a boy is walking home from school he falls very ill and is helped by a tram conductor Hanna Schmitz. Once he recovers he decides to return to Hanna’s place and thank her. When the boy, Micheal, gets caught looking at Hanna undress runs away flustered. Part curiosity and part wanting to apologize, Micheal visits Hanna again, only this time being pushed away Hanna Seduces him. They fall in love and Micheal lovingly reads to her everday, but its clear this relationship won’t last. See Hannah is in her 30’s and Micheal is 15. Not only does this cause obvious problems, but its hard to really get caught up in the couple when its so wrong for them to be together in the first place.

When Hanna leaves Micheal the movie jumps ahead in the 60’s and now Micheal is in college and studying law. One of the trails he is studying is a case where many former women Nazi prison guards, one of which is Hanna, are being tried for their crimes during the holocaust. Then during this middle part of the film The Reader shifts from a dramatic love story into a court room drama. The film goes into deeper territory here and really shows the hypocrisy and huge guilt leftover from the German people. The trial has the more interesting scenes of the movie, but they abruptly end and switches back focusing on Hanna and Micheal’s sad relationship which makes one wonder why the trial was even necessary.

The real crutch of the film is bad character motivations and reactions. One night Micheal surprises Hanna at work in the last tram car, but Hanna doesn’t seem amused. When they meet back at home Hanna yells and criticizes him not because he showed up, but because he went to the back car instead of the car she was in. The Reader is filled with weird reactions like this. The worst of these is the tag line of the movie,”How far would you go to protect a secret.” Well, Danna’s secret is she can’t read. She joins the Nazi party because she can’t read. Every life choice she makes is because she is trying to hide the fact she can’t read. She even could have gotten a not guilty verdict in the trial if she just, guess what, admit she can’t read. This is totally irrational. At the end of the film, only after she has been serving the rest of her life in prison, then she gets the great idea to try learn how to read. Why she didn’t try to learn before the end of her life only adds to the insanity of her decision.

The Reader is a good movie, but its filled with these illogical decisions that just bogs the film down and takes you out of the experience. There is a lot of subtle emotions present, but character motivations are lost on the viewer in most cases. I’m sure the book that the film is based of fills in the gaps, but unless your just in a mood for something depressing you can skip the movie.

2.5 STARS