Monday, January 17, 2011

Film Review - Tron Legacy

28 years after the film Tron graced cinemas, its sequel finally comes out, along with one of the biggest viral campaigns in history, second only to The Dark Knight’s legendary advertising behemoth. Receiving rave peek-previews at the San Diego Comic Con three years in a row, this film has clearly been a labour of love for newcomer director Joseph Kosinski. But does that make it worth the wait?

Tron Legacy begins roughly 8 years after the end of Tron. Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is putting his son Sam to bed, all the while telling the story of the first film. It’s a warm and comfortable intro that invokes nostalgia in fans of the origi… Oh sweet Christ-on-a-bike its Shrek!


Wow, for a film with a huge effects budget, the de-aging effect used on Jeff Bridges is simply woeful. While you may forgive this effect later when the film moves to inside the virtual world of Tron, here in the supposed real world it is terrifying, the marked uncanny-valley effect being scarier then anything in Paranormal Activities 2. Why does the world of Tron look so amazing yet de-aged Jeff Bridges look like he belongs in a cartoon?

Ahem, so after that rather unsettling opening we cut to 20 years later. Kevin mysteriously vanished long ago and we are introduced to grown-up Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund). Sam is now the majority Stockholder of Encom, his fathers old company. This doesn’t seem to stop him breaking into it and stealing technology he technically already owns. Sadly, this is the most minor plot-hole the film will expect us to over-look.

One mysterious beeper message later and Sam is off to his father’s old arcade where he discovers how to access Tron by mistake. Sadly, some things have changed in 28 years. Clu, the once benevolent program from the first film, has become a dictator striving for a perfect utopia. Kevin Flynn is now a fugitive and the character of Tron is nowhere to be seen…

One of the great things about the original Tron was how far it pushed boundaries, not just technological ones either. Questions ranging from the nature of technology itself to the basis of religious superstition were all asked. So could the sequel, as well as highlighting the huge jumps in technology, potentially ask even more questions about technology and the human condition? Could Tron Legacy prove itself a blockbuster with smarts, an Inception 2.0 if you will?

Oh goodness no.

Instead it’s just another loud, flashy and very pretty piece of popcorn cinema. Sizable portions of the world established in the original Tron are not referenced here. Everything from the concept of programs unwinding at gladiatorial-style games to Martin Sheen’s appearance as a David Bowie-esque nightclub owner all seem silly inside a fascist perfection-obsessed virtual world. A potential interesting side-story about internal program genocide is passed over quickly. Characters allegiances are switched without any real forewarning. The film is awash with plot-holes that range from irritating to almost insulting. While Quorra (Olivia Wilde) is a pretty and ass-kicking addition to the cast, it’s never good when a central character with a tragic past is given little to do beyond look pretty.

Admittedly the visuals are breath taking, particularly during the cyber-cycle scenes. The score by Daft Punk (who have a fun cameo) is also excellent, up there with The Social Network as the best score of 2010. While the film does have its plot issues, they never become bad enough to derail it, mostly down to a brisk pace and several smart little scenes, including a form of cyber-surgery that is strangely beautiful. The greatest strength of Tron Legacy is Bridges however, who runs away with the film by playing Kevin Flynn as though he were the Dude 2.0 (now with added Zen protocols) from The Big Lebowski. Its a glorious nod to Bridge's most famous performance that could almost make a grown nerd cry.

"What The Fuck Has Anything Got To Do With Tron?!"

It’s not like Tron Legacy is a hard or unpleasant film to watch. There is fun to be had and set pieces to enjoy. It’s a treat for the eyes and a 127-minute smoke break for the mind. However it falls far short of its potential and is an inferior sequel to Tron, which you’d be better off catching instead.

Final Score : 3 out of 5 - Apologies For A Late Review (Sorry!)
See If You Like : Tron, The Dude, The Best In French Techno.

Til next time!

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