REVIEW: TRON Legacy: An IMAX 3D Experience

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

THE FILM

It’s taken me a while to write this review.  At first, I had so many issues with the film: its lack of color compared to the first one, its sacrifice of a lighthearted romp through the computer world for a grand quest, and Garrett Hedlund’s monotone performance.  But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I see in the film.  This is a good movie, as all good films make you think about what you’ve seen.

I’ve come to a simple hypothesis.  Sam Flynn, like Neo in The Matrix trilogy and Deckard in Blade Runner, is a program.  What this film lacked was humor.  Kevin Flynn, in the original TRON would joke about just about anything.  In this film, Sam Flynn is as dull as can be.  Just like Neo and Decker.

Like The Matrix and Blade Runner, TRON Legacy is a Pinocchio story – a quest to find true meaning and ultimately, to reunite with the father.  Each of these films has a villan who plays Cain to the hero’s Abel.  And each of these films, just like Pinocchio, has an oddball or flamboyant character who turns out to make things more difficult for the protagonist of the story.  In The Matrix, it was the Merovingian, in Blade Runner,  Sebastian.   In TRON Legacy, Michael Sheen’s Castor takes on the part.

I originally took issue with how much of the original TRON world had changed, in my opinion becoming both slicker and duller.  The more I researched and watched Joseph Kosinski’s television commercials, the more I realized that Disney took the same approach to TRON as FOX did with the Alien films.  Just as Scott, Cameron, Fincher, and Jeunet were allowed to infuse their individual films with their personal artistic styles, Disney allowed Lisberger and Kosinski to each create their own vision of TRON.

There is one thing I’m quite upset about though.  The screenwriters included the son of Ed Dillinger, villain of the first film, but there was absolutely no mention of Jet Bradley, Allan Bradley’s son, who was sucked into the grid in the video game TRON 2.0, Disney’s first official sequel to the 1982 film.  But I guess forgetting a key character in the lexicon is possible in a “world of infinite possibilities.”

TRON Legacy gets a 4/5.

IMAX 1570

LOCATION: ESQUIRE IMAX THEATRE, SACRAMENTO

SCREEN SIZE: 59 x 76

We received a good indication of just how big this screen is during the full-screen preview for “Born to be Wild.” Patrons arrived late and when they pushed through the front row to get to their seats, they put the 6-story screen in perspective.  We also had late arriving patrons at the digital theater, but the effect was much less drastic.

Image and sound were very immersive.  Unlike TRON Night, where the sound was cranked up to the point we couldn’t understand the computer programs with their synthesized speech, everything here was perfect.  The film pushed down during the extended scenes to reveal what appeared to be an additional five to six feet of viewing area on the screen.  3D was top-notch, mostly negative-z, with a few positive-z elements thrown in.  The overall size of the image maintained the immersive factor throughout the screening.

IMAX 15/70 brings the rating up to 5/5.

IMAX Digital

LOCATION: REGAL EL DORADO HILLS STADIUM 14 AND IMAX

SCREEN SIZE: UNKNOWN

Yes, I still don’t know the exact screen size.  The staff doesn’t know, the manager didn’t know, Regal and IMAX won’t give it.  What we do know is that it’s “floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall,” except that it’s not.  There’s an emergency door on the right side of the theater, so the screen has been shifted a few feet to the audience’s left.  We learned from theater management that it’s the biggest in the region other than the 1570 screen in Downtown Sacramento.  They told us that it’s even bigger than the two Cinemark 😄 screens just installed in the market, although the Regal management didn’t know the dimensions of those screens either.

Suffice to say, the screen is much smaller than the 1570.  Patrons we spoke with said they prefer the larger screen, but head to the smaller one because it’s more convenient.  An internet search brought up multiple comments to the same effect.  The screen does stretch floor to ceiling, but the effect is much different than in 1570.  In the larger, traditional theaters, the back rows usually match up with the center or just above the center of the screen.  In this theater, you can touch the ceiling from the back row, meaning your sightline is almost to the top of the screen.  It’s also a bit awkward to see the “think big” logo play on a screen that we believe to be little larger than a number of conventional screens in the market.

Image and sound rated high in this theater.  During the expanded scenes, the film pushed up from the bottom, adding about a foot to the image on the screen.  The high resolution image and sound compensated for the lack of screen immersion.  We were also on the far right of the row, the side of the theater where the emergency exit was.  With the center of the screen shifted farther to our left, we had a much less desirable experience than we would have had had the screen actually been wall-to-wall.

IMAX digital bumps TRON Legacy up to a 4.5/5.

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