Predicting the Tron critical reception

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by RAMA, Dec 12, 2010.

  1. Nardpuncher

    Nardpuncher Rear Admiral

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    I use critics' responses by weight.

    If a lot of them say a movie sucks...it likely sucks.

    There are some movies that doesn't work for, like the fan favorite but critically panned Highlander.
     
  2. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    Exactly, Tron circa 2010 AD in 3D...what's not to like?

    Well it still looks cooler than anything I've ever seen. :lol:

    On a serious note...I don't think Tron(1982) is a great drama, nor does it have to be, but the characters were likable and I didn't feel it was cold or soulless at all. The new movie looks populated with a megabyte-load of colorful characters (forgive the pun), and Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner should add some life. Is it going to get an Oscar for Best Picture? Well no, but it should be a pretty good adventure.

    RAMA
     
  3. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    I look at reviews but my opinion is weighted by whether I see it or not and like it. I don't let others make the decision for me. Perfect example: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen..critics hated it, and I think its a lot of fun.

    No I haven't even been to Rotten Tomatoes since the 2009 Star Trek movie came out. How does it have so many reviews already? I'm surprised that its generally positive.

    RAMA
     
  4. LitmusDragon

    LitmusDragon Commodore Commodore

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    It's been screened already, and the early buzz was very positive. I expect the reviews would follow suit.

    edit:
    Oh nevermind, there are actual reviews up now so this remark is kind of pointless. :p
     
  5. Saga

    Saga Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    i'm more interested what my fellow geeks/nerds think of a movie. the opinion of a 'movie critic' has no bearing on if i watch a movie or not. i'm gonna let Roger Ebert tell me a movie is rubbish? the same Roger Ebert who wrote Beyond The Valley of The Dolls? i think not.
     
  6. Kaijima

    Kaijima Captain Captain

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    Based on the word of Nerds on the Street who saw early preview screenings a few days ago, the movie actually pays homage to the original film in ways more subtle than glowing lines and blacklight - it duplicates the framing and cinematography of the computer world scenes, and it also duplicates the pacing of the original film to a surprising degree.

    That's not sitting well with some folks who have seen it... on the other hand, a few of those guys are would-be film critics fresh out of a college course on "how to shoot a movie 101". I'm becoming increasingly suspicious of this sort of film criticism because I get the impression that such fans, and even pro critics, just run down a check list to determine whether or not a film is "made the right way".

    I've heard some very positive reviews too, from normal joes. One recurring theme is that the movie is an experience and lead character Sam is a purposeful cipher... there to act as the POV for the audience but not biasing what they see with his own emotions or spin. A grand tour of the idea of the electronic world, hung around the basic framework of the hero's journey in a workmanlike sense. Not trying to be some form of great storytelling art, but definitely trying (and succeeding) to be /something/.

    Also, part of what may leave people lost when trying to connect with the film, is that I have read it is really a lot tighter of a sequel to the original Tron than you may expect. But there's a big gulf of time separating the two, and if you haven't seen the original recently, the themes in Legacy may not fully resonate on first pass.

    Most importantly, one fellow made the claim that there are indeed things to think about after you leave the theater, and that re-watching it will likely bring a little bit of a new interpretation to some stuff. On the first pass however, I fear it is likely that many or most people will just glaze over at the neon action battles and not even try to pay attention to any subtleties that may be hidden away in the story.

    I think part of the problem with modern film criticism is that there's a bit of an open faced lie in the idea that the critic should be able to critique "any" film fairly because he is An Expert. That's just plain unrealistic, and much criticism is falling apart in the last decade or so as we see a sharp rise in the number of sci-fi and fantasy films, and films for a fresh generation, be they drama, action, or comedies.

    Generally, when most critics agree a film is great, or terrible, I tend to think it's really a sign that the film isn't challenging anything in any direction. It's ether solidly and meticulously "pleasant" to the eyes and ears of what critics expect to represent "correct" filmmaking, or it's solidly impenetrable to most critics - whether it's "good or bad". In other words, anymore, you can't trust critics as a group to tell you whether a film is actually exceptional or just impressive in following all the rules to make a critic happy that he knows those rules and can apply his refined judgement. And you can't trust them to determine whether a film is genuinely awful and utterly uninteresting in any way, or whether they just don't get it.

    Edit: as long as I'm yakking so much, I forgot to add the thought... naturally, due to law of averages, at least a slight majority of most stuff coming out is going to be genuinely bland and uninteresting, and just poorly made. This causes negative critical consensus to appear reliable because it still gets it "right" so much of the time. But I do believe we're seeing more and more false positives on the critical radar. Was chatting about this topic with a friend yesterday; so many films of the last decade have been savaged by critics with the "Star Wars" response only to go on and become generally approved of by fans of their genre and even become long-term successes on DVD. We joked anymore that if most of the critics pan a major new genre film, that probably means it's really good - if anything, a lot of these guys just seem tired of the fact that there's all these sorts of films showing up lately and you can almost hear them thinking "this is what my generation thought was lowbrow and the stuff of nerdishness. Can't it just go away?"
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2010
  7. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This is interesting to hear, considering Disney has an embargo on the original as discussed in the other thread. If people haven't seen the original before seeing the sequel and it isn't currently for sale, then it might have a reverse effect of what they intended as it only seems to be holding them back. It seems to be poor planning on their part, considering the original movie was released so long ago. You just can't expect people to remember what happened in it.


    I agree. Personally, myself, I find ratings so subjective to the point that they really don't mean much anymore. It's more like a popularity contest to get a movie noticed. I've often seen critically acclaimed movies and thought nothing much of them, and if I browse my guide, I've often seen movies rated at 1 or 2 stars be more entertaining than 4 stars, and often the case is, I'll feel that a movie got passed by unnoticed but deserved much more than it got. So yeah ratings aren't all that.
     
  8. Kaijima

    Kaijima Captain Captain

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    Once I read the advice to film critics that mediocre criticism is merely writing about why a movie is and is not "made correctly", as if this is supposed to justify why you didn't like it. But that is a crutch; we all like what we like for more than just its mechanical components. Critics must remember that they're human, too. More useful to the reader is to describe your experience of watching the film, and if it meant anything to you.

    One particularly nasty review of Tron Legacy I read couldn't stop going on about how the dialog was terrible and cringeworthy in almost every line. But what does that really mean? Just saying "the dialog is terrible" doesn't actually communicate anything useful by itself, because it is subjective. What sounds natural or believable to one person may sound strange and nonsensical to another depending on their expectations and even life experiences.
     
  9. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Speaking as someone who reviews TV and movies for kicks and giggles, I can honestly say that my own ratings are meant to be fun. Also, I make no bones about my bias in favor of shows that mean something -- either in terms of character or theme -- beyond the confines of the story (in other words, does the film have meaning beyond what its characters want). I also assume that readers take my reviews for what they are: just a single point of view and opinion. Nothing more, nothing less.

    I think we quite naturally seek out the opinions of others -- it's why whenever you go to the movies, the first thing after the credits roll is to turn to your mates and ask what they thought of it, and to share your thoughts. It's a mistake to make critics out to be some sort of monolithic force -- they're individuals watching movies the same as everyone else. The only difference is that they bother to write up and "publish" their opinions (which makes the reviews subject to evaluation the same as the movies that are being evaluated).

    Kinda like what we all do on message boards.
     
  10. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Right, but the difference is that they're paid for it and they often go along with the popular opinion and often trash it because it's popular to be doing for particular movies. These days, the media is also owned by companies that might have advantages in how movies are reviewed, like say, Warner Brothers and TIME, or Disney and ABC and any publications under that umbrella giving their movies acclaim, making people want to see them. So, likely opinion is swayed quite a bit, and so then opinion is not so much an honest opinion anymore but more of a shill piece.
     
  11. Kaijima

    Kaijima Captain Captain

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    Actually, while you describe this as your personal bias, it is a perspective that I feel is missing more in general criticism and would assert it's a reason why criticism in general is losing its relevancy.

    A problem I feel with many critics' methodology is that while they do compare a work against other works and history, they seem to go in expecting a work - be it a movie, tv show, computer game, album, or book - to impress a significant meaning on them entirely by itself. I don't think this is realistic. "Meaning" is arbitrary, and a human construct. Nothing means anything by itself. Things mean something to people.

    So, critics these days often seem to take a work, and find it lacking because it doesn't somehow do something for them, inject a sense of meaning in them, for them. It seems akin to cynics (in the modern sense) lamenting that culture has become meaningless, when it is in fact the cynic who has retreated from deciding on what has meaning. Is it related that so many today who take it on themselves to be critics, are highly cynical? Seems likely.

    With genre work, using sci-fi films as an example, I believe mainstream critics fail to see all sides of the works because they have no inherent interest in the themes that the genre work incorporate. They don't care about space exploration and technology, transhumanism and hypothetical frameworks of fictional worlds. The most the average mainstream critic will go is finding Star Wars a rousing good time, because it's really a human adventure with sci-fi trappings that don't go too deep and are mainly colorful and funny.

    But for the critic who doesn't really care (or ever even think) about such things, the average genre piece is an oddity where people walk around in tin suits going "beep beep". When such a work gets a good mainstream review, it seems it is usually because it incorporates and emphasizes a traditional story of human drama that really doesn't require the genre setting to play to another audience. And that's the framework that the mainstream observer couches their critique in, because it is the one part they have some connection with.

    There's nothing wrong with that, and such works allow a wider audience to find something to identify in them. But it does leave the average genre work just a bunch of nonsense to an uninterested observer.

    In my rambling way, I suppose I'm pondering is that many contemporary critics seem blind to this or never to have considered it; worse, in some cases they may consciously operate from the perspective that their world - whatever it is they consider the mainstream - is both dominate and the only perspective of any real value, and in those cases, it does reflect in their opinions which are frequently asinine and condescending.

    It's funny; some of this came up a few weeks ago when I was discussing the original Tron with a couple folks. I observed that a good deal of what makes Tron a classic film isn't anything contained just within its surface story, which is a simple hero's journey told simply. Aside from its groundbreaking VFX work. Rather, it was how by both accident and design Tron's framework slotted in with eerie timing and prophesy to the coming age of information wars, corporatism, art vs business, and the garage creations of the first generation of technohackers and computer pioneers' own creations getting away from them. To a person reviewing Tron even today based upon the most generic mainstream criteria, it is a boring movie with creative but strange costumes and sets, and The Love Story is poorly done (because there is, after all, always A Love Story). It's a strange curio piece that doesn't mean anything.

    To another set of people however, Tron's virtually a holy artifact out of time, with that quasi-religious aura reserved for events that seem to transcend the order of things to human senses. And the MCP as the literal malignant spirit of a corporation gone wrong is one of the most vivid metaphors in history.

    When looking at the reviews for this Tron sequel, my own thought isn't "how good is the acting", but "will it have another subversively delivered theme that only becomes apparent as time passes, or will it be "merely" a good sequel to Tron?"

    That's the sort of thing that requires a different order of consideration from how films are typically reviewed to fit the 500 word quota, and keep up appearances to one's peers.
     
  12. OdoWanKenobi

    OdoWanKenobi Admiral Admiral

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    Fellow geeks and nerds are a vicious bunch, though. They will rip to shreds movies that don't deserve it. Movies like Avatar, The Dark Knight, Iron Man 2, etc. that were all very entertaining films, and were well received critically will get you ostracized if you say that you liked them.
     
  13. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You may be entirely correct. I certainly am ignorant about the "business" of criticism. And I don't doubt that there are at least some "critics" who function purely in a "Mouth of Sauron" role. Which is a shame. It's not like criticism is an exact science. And, like I said, I think people are genuinely curious about what others think about films and TV -- particularly if it's someone whose judgment (and bias) is consistent.

    Kajima, a lot of what you say is true. But I'd be cautious about assigning an "agenda" to the vast majority of critics. Owain Taggart pointed out that there are likely some (many?) critics who function merely as industry mouthpieces. But it's dangerous painting with too broad a brush. I think many critics of "adventure" films (by that I mean sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, period films, etc.) are simply fans of other kinds of films and are judging the "adventure" films based on their own personal "rubrics" if you will -- criteria which don't often share the same priorities of "classic" adventure film -- without any explicit agenda or bias against adventure movies in general.

    If there's a fault, I think it's in critics not being able to judge a film based on the intent of its makers. Is TRON: Legacy trying to the next Forrest Gump? Or North By Northwest? Of course not. So it ought not to be judged on the same criteria. Still, speaking personally of course, it's worth assessing whether or not a film can transcend its genre and appeal to viewers who may or may not be aficionados of a particular genre. For example, despite its relatively pedestrian story, Avatar transcended the science fiction genre -- mostly because of its visuals. Will TRON do the same? Was it wrong to criticize Avatar for having a derivative plot and cliché dialogue? I tend to think those are questions without easy answers -- and get to the heart of your critique of critics in general.
     
  14. Saga

    Saga Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    true, but i can argue with you guys. i can't tell Roger Ebert he's a moron.
     
  15. Kaijima

    Kaijima Captain Captain

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    The dark side of turning to geeks for opinions is running into misplaced counterculture anger and agendas. Fan does, after all, stand for fanatic. And geeks can be too fanatical to be rational.

    Ironically, there's already some geek backlash against Tron Legacy even before the film is out; the counterculture and geek critics are primed and ready to shoot it down as they did Avatar, etc.To a degree, I think there is sour grapes with at least some of them; a certain sort of geek / nerd person doesn't like it when the mainstream gives what they like attention, ironically enough.
     
  16. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    I actually recall someone saying on a comic book site the movie will suck even before the script was written.

    What was worse was so many people agreed with him...
    :wtf:
     
  17. Neroon

    Neroon Mod of Balance Moderator

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    I just got back from a sneak preview of the film, and I can give it a positive rating. Just how much I'm unsure at the moment. While Olivia Wilde was pleasant to see, she was blessedly not a distraction. Perhaps my favorite aspect I will say is seeing Bruce Boxleitner getting a nice part in this film. A good actor and a good man.

    There will no doubt be people who savage the film, in a vain effort to elevate their own personal image in the geek community. That's a shame for many reasons already cited. Personally, I went into it with an open mind and not all that much in expectations.
     
  18. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Oh, don't get me wrong, I agree with you. I prefer bloggers who just do it for fun and aren't hired by anybody except for independent sites. I ran a review blog for a few years before I got tired of it. You just can't be too sure anymore since many sites end up being gobbled up by corporations. My comments are based on what I feel and what I've seen. I've noticed these past few years that a lot of corporations like to put out sites that look independent but really aren't in order to look trendy.
     
  19. Kaijima

    Kaijima Captain Captain

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    It's good to hear positive impressions of the film, but on the count of geeks saying it would suck before it was even written... lemme put it this way. I think the original film is one of the greatest cult classics of all time, and it is full of one of a kind elements that stand the test of time purely out of sheer uniqueness. But judged "as a film", there's all kinds of things "wrong" with it.

    To put it simply, you could trip over a rock in hollywood today and end up with a film that had a more cohesive script than the original Tron. Legacy doesn't have to try very hard to maintain the quality of the original ;)
     
  20. ElimParra

    ElimParra Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I sometimes look at what sites like RT say, but I generally see certain reviewers here say. Yet to see what reviewers I follow have said here. But enjoyed seeing the film earlier. All thou I was a little disappointed by the 3D elements, but the film was worth seeing in 3D.