Critics Consensus: Tron Legacy Looks Great, But Feels Cold

Plus, nay to Yogi Bear and How Do You Know, and The Fighter and Black Swan are Certified Fresh.

This week at the movies, we?ve got a combative computer (Tron Legacy, starring Jeff Bridges and Garrett Hedlund), buffoonish bears (Yogi Bear, starring Dan Akroyd and Justin Timberlake), a rollicking romance (How Do You Know, starring Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd), a promising pugilist (The Fighter, starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale), and brooding ballerinas (Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis). What do the critics have to say?


51%
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Rotten

Tron Legacy

Upon its release in 1982, TRON was hailed as a technical marvel; its status as one of the first films to rely prominently on computer-generated images helped to cover the fact that the plot was a little goofy. Now, the long gestating and heavily-anticipated sequel Tron Legacy is here, and critics say it has the opposite problem: its dazzling visuals and stellar production design do a good job of distracting you from the fact that it's a little too self-serious. Garrett Hedlund stars as a young techie on a mission to find out why his father (Jeff Bridges) disappeared; soon, he's sucked into the same tech vortex that claimed his old man, and with the help of a cyber-warrior (Olivia Wilde), they must navigate the increasingly precarious digital terrain and defeat an updated version of dad's old computer program. The pundits say Tron Legacy is the virtual definition of a feast for the eyes, with sleek visuals and a killer score from Daft Punk. However, others say that while the imagery is immersive, the movie's a little too long and not always dramatically satisfying. (Check out this week's Total Recall, which runs down some of the highlights of movie computing, as well as our interviews with stars Wilde and Michael Sheen and our list of the movie games we wish we could play.)


13%
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Rotten

Yogi Bear

Hey, Boo-Boo! Did you hear there's a new live action/CGI movie starring everyone's favorite Jellystone Park-dwelling bruin? Well, there is, though critics say Yogi Bear is no pic-a-nic -- indeed, its script isn't as smart as your average family comedy, leaving its talented voice cast stranded. Yogi (voiced by Dan Aykroyd) is his usual mischievous self, stealing picnic lunches with the help of his faithful sidekick Boo-Boo (Justin Timberlake). However, the unusually intelligent ursine's days may be numbered, as his beloved Jellystone may be up for sale to nefarious logging interests. The pundits say Yogi Bear is thoroughly mediocre, depending almost entirely on Yogi's amiability and ancient plot devices to stretch the film to feature length.


32%
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Rotten

How Do You Know

Once upon a time, James L. Brooks was one of Hollywood's most skilled purveyors of smart romantic comedies. He can still capture witty banter from time to time, but critics say How Do You Know plays like a sitcom, with its all-star cast reduced to contrived behavior. Reese Witherspoon stars as a star softball player who's torn between two charming guys: a goofy, arrogant major leaguer (Owen Wilson) and a down-on-his-luck financial wiz (Paul Rudd) with a dictatorial father (Jack Nicholson). Which one will she choose? The pundits say it doesn't much matter, since the characters are both paper-thin and hopelessly narcissistic, even as the actors work mightily to give them some charm.


91%
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Fresh

The Fighter

If you've seen one boxing movie, you've seen them all, right? Maybe so, but that's not necessarily a bad thing -- at least according to critics -- when it comes to David O. Russell's The Fighter, a biopic about the rise of boxer "Irish" Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his relationship with his troubled half-brother Dicky Ecklund (Christian Bale). When Dicky, an aspiring boxer, suffers a humiliating loss and falls into a life of drugs and crime, Micky dons his own pair of gloves and struggles to pull his family back together by becoming a winner himself. While the Certified Fresh The Fighter covers some familiar ground in the inspirational sports genre, critics are so far impressed by the performances not only from Wahlberg and Bale, but also from co-star Amy Adams, and the result has been some significant awards season buzz. (check out Amy Adams's Five Favorite Films here).


87%
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Fresh

Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky acquired an early following with films like Pi and Requiem for a Dream, but he made a mainstream name for himself with 2008's The Wrestler. That trend looks to continue with the Certified Fresh Black Swan, a dark psychological drama set in the world of professional ballet. Natalie Portman stars as Nina, a gifted dancer who can't quite pull off the Black Swan half of the lead role in Swan Lake and, in the face of competition from a new dancer (Mila Kunis), embarks on an ominous path of self-discovery. The critics have been impressed with Portman's powerhouse performance and with Aronofsky's work as director, and the result is an intense and passionate film that boldly showcases the talent of its actors.


Also opening this week in limited release:

Comments

Stepping Razor

Stepping Razor

That's what I was worried about in terms of Tron. That's too bad. Another opportunity squandered by big, corporate Hollywood. They should and need to know better.

Dec 16 - 05:12 PM

Confounded

Matthew Bertram

What opportunity? Make a visual masterpiece to showcase Disney's technical brilliance? Seems like the managed that. Hype up a film to the point of frenzy for the holiday season? Think they got it right there too. How about surpass the original for a new generation? Despite the low tomatometer, the general concensus seems to be they accomplished that as well.

If you think their intention was to make a quality film to win awards for acting, directing, or screenplay; then you're missing the point. It's a live-action Disney movie, made with a first-time director, 3 decades after the original (which was notoriously bad in the story department as well). That, once it turns a profit, will be greenlit for a sequel. Seems like they took the opportunity to me.

Dec 17 - 06:28 AM

AniMill

Curtis Sponsler

Agreed, I never thought this would have a "deep" script or acting, that it would be all dazzle. But I am bummed since Pixar is so rooted in original TRON inventors/designers. I was concerned about the first-time director thing might muck things up - but I'm not surprised... I just hope I'm not disappointed when I see it.

Dec 17 - 06:39 AM

yintagh

Moishe McTavish

You're quite right,as I was watching the end of it,it seemed to me that it was ripe for a sequel.

Dec 18 - 12:00 AM

Confounded

Matthew Bertram

I apologize. I didn't mean that to sound as douchey as it came off. Let me phrase it this way. The first Star Wars sits at 94% on the tomatometer. This is the consensus: "The action and special effects are first rate." That's it. Legacy has basically the exact same consensus, yet it sits below 50%. If anyone alive thinks that Star Wars had good acting, good direction, and didn't have story holes so big you can fly a Millenium Falcon through them; then they are deluding themselves. It's a beloved movie, but it's a BAD movie. (Don't misread me, I love Star Wars).

And yes, I understand the actual story is better. But is having a poorly executed story as opposed to not having a good story to start what separates a classic from a disappointment? Or maybe the expectations of today's critics are a bit skewed. What ever happened to basing judgements on the expectations of the film itself? Pirahna 3-D is at 74% precisely because critics got that it was never trying to take itself seriously.

Tron wasn't supposed to try and be The Godfather on the Grid. Or Avatar. Or anything more than a holiday popcorn adventure with great effects, pumping soundtrack, and a theater full of nostalgic fans grinning ear to ear along with their kids.

I'm going to revel in the visual feast, and a week later I'll go see True Grit to get my Jeff Bridges quality.

Dec 17 - 07:05 AM

doomzdavo

Doomz Davo

I disagree. A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back were both Good movies. Any Star Wars after those i support your theory. But im fond of all them. I'm not really a fan of crazy dance numbers in jabba's palace, ewoks, jar jar binks, a cheesy love story (anakin and padme), or star wars prequel politics, but all of the movies bring something to the table that i enjoy.

Dec 17 - 10:00 AM

Confounded

Matthew Bertram

My problem with A New Hope is George Lucas. He's a lot like Michael Bay. He can direct sequences but not people. The acting in it is awful. Every time Mark Hamill is on screen, I cringe. The dialogue makes me laugh when it's not supposed to. Here's more food for thought, Empire is actually rating better on the tomatometer at 97%, but the consensus is "It has the great visuals of the original but lacks the entertainment." Sometimes the system just doesn't work when you try and look at it objectively. The only major awards the movies won were in design/music. And while Daft Punk is no John Williams, I think you can see some of the similarities in strengths/weaknesses of Star Wars and Tron.

Dec 17 - 10:23 AM

dj Mark

Mark Marquis

I agree with you Doomzdavo about Episodes VI, I, & II. The puppets, CGI, bad acting, brain-dead politics serve to dampen my enjoyment of those movies. However, Lucas (in my opinion) figured a way to make all that work in Episode III. I even found the politics fascinating. Padme's line "so this is how liberty dies" gave me goosebumps. The symbolism of the Emperor laying waste to the Senate chamber was pretty spectacular. I just wish Lucas had rediscovered his mojo a lot sooner.

Dec 17 - 10:43 AM

doomzdavo

Doomz Davo

Well I just recently rewatched all three of the original trilogy last week, and i thought the acting was decent enough. A little B movie cheese, but it all mixed well with the special effects and likeable characters. I noticed that Han Solo got softer as the series went on, but he was still a pimp. Luke had lost all personality by Return of the Jedi, and Leia got a bit sexier each installment. The movies have their faults, but they are still great. Revenge of the Sith was awesome. Only real problem I had with that one was the dialogue between Anakin and Padme. Everything else rocked.

Dec 17 - 06:24 PM

Clint D.

Clint Davis

You are forgetting a major point in that Star Wars was one of the first films to pull off the SFX as perfectly as they still are today. That movie was put together with glue and tape because there was no such things as SFX houses back then. It is truly a miracle of film that it is as great of a film as it is.
Fast forward 33 years later to Tron 2 who has all of the technology that Star Wars spawned at its disposal and its just not as special.

Dec 17 - 10:30 AM

dj Mark

Mark Marquis

Great point. I think both you and Confounded have effectively shown that context makes film critique a tricky endeavor.

Dec 17 - 10:46 AM

Confounded

Matthew Bertram

I will never deny that Star Wars was a benchmark in SFX for its time (much like the original Tron). I guess I find myself wondering why, if glue/tape/midgets/John Williams is a formula for classic cinema, Tron and Legacy are getting shot down because of poor storytelling.

Dec 17 - 12:03 PM

Bryan L.

Bryan Long

Don't believe everything you read on this website, Tron was the best movie on this list besides black swan.

Dec 18 - 12:38 PM

James T.

James Tallman

Tron Legacy probably looks spectacular on the big screen in 3D, but I guess fails in developing a quality story to go with it. I might check it out, but I'll wait for right now. I saw The Fighter last night and thats a movie worth watching. I thought Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale played excellent roles in the film.

Dec 18 - 01:09 PM

Corr

Alexander Sciury

I don't really think the critics are going to change my mind on Tron: Legacy, I still think I'm going to enjoy it a lot.
I knew Yogi Bear was going to be a bad movie. I just hope it bombs at the Box Office so Hollywood will get the message, and stop making these kind of things.

Dec 16 - 05:27 PM

Draic K.

Draic Kin

I hope 'Tron' bombs at the Box Office so Hollywood will get the message, and stop making this garbage.

Dec 18 - 07:41 AM

Michael M.

Michael Morse

In before the butthurt Tron: Legacy fanboys start panning all the critics for hating on Tron: Legacy and liking Avatar. As if its some big conspiracy theory akin to the grassy knoll...

Or maybe Tron's screenplay just sucked, and had no common themes or emotional punch.

Dec 16 - 05:30 PM

Evan D.

Evan Dang

Read the Hitfix review on it, it's a great review on how both the original Tron holds up and how they both suffer from the same flaws. I'd probably see it, because( like Scott Pilgrim) it tells Hollywood that nerds are a viable demographic

Dec 16 - 06:52 PM

Clint D.

Clint Davis

Didn't Scott Pilgrim die a horrible death at the box office?

Dec 17 - 10:32 AM

doomzdavo

Doomz Davo

yea a wrongful death.

Dec 17 - 06:29 PM

Lumbergh Phucter

Jamie Eakins

You're such a pre-emptive rebel, you. Show nobody who cares what's what. Yay backlash.

Dec 19 - 02:55 AM

TheMovieNerd

Tumelo Drametu

I don't really care what the critics think. I think that i will still enjoy Tron: Legacy. I enjoyed the first film and i think that this film will be just as good as the first.

Dec 16 - 05:33 PM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

I'm disappointed in tron. I never thought it be great, but I thought it would at least stay over 60. I'm guessing it makes 40-50 million this weekend. I'm also hoping yogi bear makes less then 10 million.

Dec 16 - 05:57 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

Damn, 49 for Tron is a harsh! I was expecting somewhere around 63-ish... I knew the plot would suck but didn't think it would be this bad.
I'll still see it, though, primarily cos I've seen Black Swan so I only got 2 movies to watch - Fighter & Tron.

Dec 16 - 06:02 PM

Bye bye

Steven Bailey

Im not surprised at all by this. I never understood all the hype going into this film tbh.

Dec 16 - 06:07 PM

Manuel G.

Manuel Granados

I am a geek and nerd and I don't understand the extreme love for the original fim. Yes, it's an entertaining film but it's not like it defined a generation or anything. Just had a lot of special effects.
It's like being a fanboy to death of Transformers or something like that.

Dec 17 - 12:06 PM

David

David Roberts

Whenever I think of Tron, the Simpsons come to mind with Homer going behind the book case stumbling into the alternate universe.

"Did anyone see the movie Tron?"

"No... No... No... Yes, I mean No."

So I can't say I understand it either.

Dec 17 - 12:45 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Whether or not the critics like something or not should never be much of a factor anymore that if I feel like watching something then I should just go and watch it despite what critics think! Man, I thought Statham's Death Race was kind of an awesome film despite the bad rating from the critics which detered me from seeing it myself on theatre!

Dec 16 - 06:13 PM

August M.

Agustin Macias

Even the bad ratings praised the effects and visuals of Tron: Legacy. I'm still going to see it and (Hopefully) enjoy it.

Dec 16 - 06:40 PM

Evan D.

Evan Dang

Read the Hitfix review on it, it's a great review on how both the original Tron holds up and how they both suffer from the same flaws. I'd probably see it, because( like Scott Pilgrim) it tells Hollywood that nerds are a viable demographic

Dec 16 - 06:52 PM

Clint D.

Clint Davis

Didn't Scott Pilgrim die a horrible death at the box office?

Dec 17 - 10:32 AM

doomzdavo

Doomz Davo

yea a wrongful death.

Dec 17 - 06:29 PM

filmfanatic

Chris Stanton

I'm still going to see tron despite the reviews. Critics don't know what audiences are looking for and instead base their reviews off their own lucrative opinions.

Dec 16 - 07:27 PM

And The Answer Is 42

VJ Perry

Well that's the point of a critic, to state their opinions...

Dec 18 - 12:34 PM

filmfanatic

Chris Stanton

I'm still going to see tron despite the reviews. Critics don't know what audiences are looking for and instead base their reviews off their own lucrative opinions.

Dec 16 - 07:27 PM

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