Thursday, 27 January 2011

Tron: Legacy (2010) - Joseph Kosinski

I'm old enough to have seen the original Tron at the cinema as a film mad nine year old. Back then it ticked pretty much every box for me, since all I required was something that zipped along at a reasonable speed and looked great (and in the era of Pac Man Tron really did look the balls). I had no real interest in story lines or heaven forbid story arcs, or any of that other stuff that makes films so watchable for me now. In fact in later years having rewatched so many of those beloved films of my pre-teens, I have wondered if I even understood what was going on up on the screen. Somehow I doubt it. I liked seeing Bruce Lee and Clint Eastwood kicking the bad guys arse, all the rest of it was padding until they did it again I'm guessing. Anyway when Tron came out on DVD I got all excited having not seen it for almost twenty years. Settling down to watch it I was kind of shocked just how poor the film was, and just how great it looked. I haven't ever bothered watching it again since then, some things are better left in the past. So cut to the here and now, and Tron is being heralded as having predicted everything from the internet to just about anything else involving digital technology. Which quite frankly it didn't, what it did do (or at least tried to) was harness the potential of computer graphics in films. And that's pretty much it.

So here we are almost thirty years after the original with a much belated sequel playing at our multiplexes. In 3D no less. Now I'm not going to bang on about 3D and how little respect I have for it as a revolution in film culture, well not too much. Let's just see how it goes shall we? I approached watching Tron: Legacy with more than a little caution and without massive expectations. All I wanted was some good looking excitement, if it had a decent story too, well that would be a bonus, but not necessarily something I expected.

I'll say upfront that it didn't really cut the mustard for me. I don't really want to go into what the whole film was about, not for fear of spoiling anything for people that haven't seen it, but more for the fact that beyond it being a father and son story there wasn't much else going on. Sure there are plenty of gobbledygook phrases and terminology bandied about to try and pretend that some deep thought has gone into the script, look Jeff Bridges is all zen and everything, but it's all nonsense, the story is pitiful.

The film starts with a disclaimer that not all of the film is in 3D which was a bit of a downer. However it soon becomes clear that the real world is presented (mainly) in 2D, and the digital world in the 'much heightened 3D everything looks weird and fake but were in a computer so it makes sense' style. Which does make sense, and for the most part works well. What doesn't work is any sort of emotional relationship between any of the characters on screen. Bridges plays Kevin Flynn (aforementioned father) and Clu (a digital version of himself in the digital world), Flynn is a flimsy 2D character, when he meets his son for the first time in twenty years there is no massive emotional scene, we just get the back story of what happened to him. It's all a little odd since as I said earlier the whole crux of the film is this whole father son thing.

Still where it does work is the glorious eye candy that is literally thrown at us from the screen. I wouldn't say it's particularly well directed (set pieces would have benefited immensely from a master shot just to give us a clue of where we are), but it does look lush. It also sounds great, the soundtrack by Daft Punk really comes alive when heard at maximum volume in a cinema. Their cameo in the film was the only moment that made me feel any twinge of excitement. Which is a bit of a worry, since if there is one area that Tron: Legacy should deliver it's excitement. The little ten year old chappie that I sat next to, calmly munched away on his popcorn throughout the film. I kept waiting for him to go mental from the sheer rush of coolness he must be feeling via his 3D glasses, but we might as well have both been watching Cocoon: The Return.

The acting in Tron: Legacy is woeful, Bridges seemed to be on autopilot and the much talked about digital version of a young Jeff wouldn't fool my cats, especially on a big screen where his lifeless eyes are so huge you can't help but see that he's not human. Michael Sheen admittedly has some fun mixing together Ziggy Stardust and Alex Delarge, he's very over the top and incredibly camp. In other words perfect for this film. Shame this ended up being my first cinema trip of 2011, still it could have been worse, as the trailers I saw before the film (Green Lantern, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Fighter) all proved.

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