Christian Bale as Dickie Eklund and Mark Wahlberg as 'Irish' Mickey Ward in "The Fighter." (Daily Pilot / December 23, 2010)

Like a boxer who gets floored, I was knocked out by the energy and Oscar-worthy ensemble acting in "The Fighter." This is more than a terrific boxing movie — this is a story of family dynamics, redemption and love; a true-life and edgier "Rocky."

Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) is a struggling Beantown welterweight, trained his entire life by half-brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) to be the next "Pride of Lowell." Dicky's claim to fame was the time he supposedly knocked Sugar Ray Leonard off his feet back in the '80s. But now it's 1993, Dicky is a crack addict and Mickey's biggest liability.

It doesn't help that mom Alice (Melissa Leo) and her chorus of big-haired daughters are always in Dicky's corner. Is Mickey willing to cut his family loose to reach his potential as a fighter and as a man?

Bale, who has again transformed himself physically for a role, is electric. His energy — sometimes manic, sometimes funny, often pathetic — is the driving force of the film. Wahlberg grounds it with his quiet humility.

The title refers to Mickey but there are equally fierce female fighters here, including Melissa Leo and Amy Adams (as Mickey's girlfriend). Hell hath no fury.

 

 

The original "Tron" (1982) was the first big-budget movie to use computer-generated special effects. While ground breaking for its time, the new version of "Tron" fully advances its images into the 21st century. The Disney studio uses the highest level of CGI graphics available in "Tron: The Legacy" to create a visual feast for the eyes.

The story picks up with Jeff Bridges playing two versions of his character decades apart in age and experience. He's trapped inside the computer world he created in the 1980s. To escape, he must confront the clone of himself he brought into existence to shape his new cyberspace reality.

His grown son, played by Garret Hedlund, finds a way to enter his dad's domain from the physical world. The portal he opens leads to a death race between his father and his clone to reach the real world. The old fashioned sci-fi Good-vs.-Evil story has been done a thousand times before. The basic plot of "Star Wars" easily comes to mind. It's not profound, but it will satisfy those looking for state-of-the-art technical thrills on the screen.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a financial services company.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.