Open your eyes: see breathtaking visuals that aren't just there for the purpose of action. At times, they're digital paintings in motion. Crystal blue visions of the future. Art direction, digital effects and costumes converge to form an almost overpowering whole. Visually, this is the 21st century's answer to Fritz Lang's Metropolis.
Open your ears: hear Daft Punk's rapturous score that blends electronic bleeps with orchestra to create a warm kiss to the 1980s- and an invitation to a sparkling future. Of mainstream films from the last five years, few boast music that is so organic and married to the story. And its not just the music. The sound design is stellar.
Now let your mind follow some rather intriguing themes that seem to hint at a cyber-spiritualism. The first Tron did this. Legacy goes even further. Big issues here that go beyond the standard plot mechanics. Some viewers may be so focused on either the visuals or the sound, that they lose focus of the whole. It is when the viewer, to quote something Kevin Flynn might say, finds his Zen between the two that he really will understand what Tron Legacy is all about.
This has a lot to do with the groundbreaking look of the film: the mix of black and white film stock with neon computer generated imagery. There hasn't been anything quiet like it since, but it's influenced the look of countless movies AND video games. One would think a film with such a groundbreaking look would be critically hailed, but Tron still remains mostly ignored in cinematic circles. It's knocked down for it's story, character development, etc; I personally find the story inspiring.
The sound of Tron is almost as great as the look. Wendy Carlos' score takes electronic synthesizer music to a sublime and other-worldly high.
Cinephiles praise Fritz Lang's Metropolis for its groundbreaking look(as they should.) But, please note: they're not praising Metropolis for its story, characters or acting; it's all about the cinematic vision. Isn't Tron basically a digital age reboot of Metropolis? Metropolis ushered in the age of early sci-fi; Tron ushered in the DIGITAL age of sci-fi cinema. It's time Tron got the respect it deserves.
**Note- the current 25th Anniversary DVD does not do justice to this film. It is not presented in the correct aspect ratio. The image has been cleaned to a degree, but there is too much digitization. Considering the significance of Fox and the Hound in the history of Disney animation, it deserves a two disc, widescreen DVD release.
Despite some flaws, when all six films are finished, George Lucas will have given an amazing gift to the world of film and the world in general. BTW, how is it possible for someone who thinks AOTC is slow and boring can label Godfather 2 as one of their favorites; it's called film discrimiantion, an ugly thing indeed.
Any of you ever read the original reviews of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi? They're good for a laugh. Variety basically called Empire a plotless retread of Star Wars. Hmm. Now, of course, it is considered a masterpiece. Some people didn't have vision then and some people have no vision now.
George Lucas has vision. He is in control of HIS Star Wars universe and he knows where he wants it to go. Trust the guy. He has big plans for Episodes 2 and 3. Sure, Phantom Menace has flaws, but it is still a very good movie. Not a classic on its own, but definatly not the dumb, effects-laden monster its critics call it. For those that have no vision, I have compiled the following list of things to consider when viewing The Phantom Menace. They're spoilers, so look out.
1. Darth Maul is not the Phantom Menace. He is NOT the central villain. That is why he has so little screen time. Darth Sidious is. Sidious is the cloaked Sith who gives Darth Maul his orders. Sidious is also Senator Palpatine, the slimy politician from the Queen's home planet.
2. Sidious is a grand puppetmaster. He manipulates both The Republic and the Trade Federation to get what he wants, which is to be elected as Grand Chancellor. The Federation, The Queen, The Jedi and the Republic are merely puppets that he moves around. The happy ending at the end isn't a happy ending at all- it's the beginning of the end.
3. Midiclorians- those little bugs inside you that communicate with the force. These things don't discredit the power of the force. Their introduction is a plot-point that will play out over the next two films. There's probably a reason why they aren't mentioned in the original trilogy. The jedi's belief in these things will help lead to their own downfall and cause the Clone Wars.
4. Anakin is supposed to be a happy go lucky child in this film. If he were portrayed as an evil child, his downfall during the next two films would mean nothing. Anakin is not born evil; he will turn to evil for reasons we will soon know.
5. All the characters, except Yoda, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Palpatine will be dead by the end of Episode three. Think about that when you cringe at Jar's Jar's antics. After you witness him die in Episode three, you'll think fondly upon his foolishness you first saw six years ago.
It's a grand story that Georgie-boy is telling and Phantom Menace is just the beginning.