Tron: Legacy

It’s already been an interesting start to the year for me, but try as I might, I can’t just watch a film without letting everyone know what I thought of it. So, I’m back here again, tippity-tapping my views down on my own slice of the ‘net. Anyway, I done seen some films so, let’s Tron it up.

Tron: Legacy (2010)
Now, I don’t know if you’ve seen the original Tron. If you have, I’m sure you’ll agree that despite its fun concept, it has aged badly. Of course it has- it’s an 80’s film which pioneered the use of computer graphics, I’d be very worried if it hadn’t. Still- it has a cult following (a phrase which instantly makes me think of sweaty nerds refusing to accept that whatever they like is shit) and after a very well-received Comic Con mock-up trailer, Tron: Legacy was born.
The Grid. A digital frontier. I tried to picture clusters of information as they moved through the computer. What did they look like? Ships, motorcycles? Were the circuits like freeways? I kept dreaming of a world I thought I’d never see. And then, one day…” 

The basic story goes thusly: Cyber Jesus Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) has disappeared leaving his son, Sam an orphan. After 20 years, the now adult and conventionally attractive Sam (Garrett Hedlund) goes looking for his missing father after familar face Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) receives a mysterious page from Flynn Snr. Whilst snooping around, Sam gets sucked into The Grid, a dangerous computer world, which not only reunites him with his father and his new warrior sidekick Quorra (Olivia Wilde), but introduces him to a Fascistic, younger version of Kev named Clu (also Jeff Bridges) who wants to take over the computer world or some such bollocks. Now, by the very nature of being a sequel, the plot won’t feel fresh, but that aside, this path still seems very well-trodden indeed. I kept thinking of Jumanji and various other kids’ films I’ve damaged my brain with over the years. Of course, this isn’t bad– but it doesn’t win any points for originality. Jeff Bridges was pretty good as Kevin Flynn, although a bit too much effort went into making Flynn sound like The Dude from The Big Lebowski, what with ending almost every sciencey-babbly sentence with the word “man”. Garrett Hedlund is just a hairstyle and a marketable face and could have easily been played by any other actor like Chris Pine. I’m sure if you put a cow carcass in a cool-looking glowy suit, you’d have a similar portrayal, perhaps with less so-called badass lines before an action sequence kicks off. Olivia Wilde is the distractingly pretty equivalent of Hedlund, really, spending most of her screentime draped over/on things.

Tron: Legacy is quite a frustrating film. After the decent stylistic choice to not have the entire film in 3D (the dimensional shite starts when Sam enters The Grid) I was on board with what it seemed to be bringing to the table. The film didn’t seem to be in a hurry to get to The Grid and had a proper (albeit simplistic) story focus. The digi-shite hits the fan after the first couple of action sequences. The film seems to blow its load way too soon, with all the genuinely fun stuff happening soon after Sam’s arrival. After seeing the proper trailer, I was most excited for the updated lightcycle action. Whilst it was fun, it was too short to actually get into. I was expecting some kind of epic fight halfway through the film, but was let down by over-eagerness on the film’s part. The Disc Wars part was fun too. Well, the parts I saw. The combination of the spastic camerawork as well as the 3D made it quite hard to tell who was who. When Sam first fights a program, the fact that they’re wearing very similar suits made it tough to get what exactly was going on. Yes, it was cool when they started fighting on the ceiling, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that the sequence was badly shot and edited by some slack-jawed wanker.
I’m tempted to just tear apart how Clu was executed, but I can’t. Yes, he looks weird, yes he’s clearly a CGI creation, but the fact is human beings are very, very good at recognising our own. If there’s something amiss, we’ll find it, which is why kids at school always pick on the tall or short or fat or ugly. The de-ageing of Bridges is undeniably impressive, but it isn’t going to fool anyone. The sooner I accepted that, the sooner I started to enjoy Bridges’ performance as Clu. The one major problem I had was the fact that there’s a long train journey about three quarters of the way through that just seems to be there to explain some needless plot addition (think The Fifth Element). Firstly, to escape The Grid is meant to be difficult, so why the shit is there a dedicated train service? Secondly, the sheer volume of dialogue at this point is punishing. Instead of drip-feeding us plot-relevant information throughout, the film uses this time to infodump all of the things we need to know (plus several things we don’t), with the result that I simply didn’t care.
Now for the good points. I chose to get most of my whinging out in one block and end on something fairly positive, because Tron really doesn’t deserve the hate it has garnered from some corners of the Internet. The film’s visuals are genuinely stunning. I loved the look of The Grid and its inhabitants-everything looked either very chic, very flashy and just damn cool, even though the ol’ orange/blue look still somehow finds its way in. The use of 3D is almost justifiable here- which is probably the most I’m going to be impressed by 3D. The soundtrack, by Gallic robots Daft Punk, is fantastic too- mixing orchestral sounds and electronica like it ain’t no thang. I liked Michael Sheen’s Castor- a kind of whitewashed David Bowie character with echoes of The Riddler, even though he’s barely in it. The inevitable love stuff between Sam and Quorra is actually subtlely done and not once does the film decide to have them passionately neck each other or anything. In a film where recognising stuff from other films is a problem, I’m glad I didn’t have “standard lacklustre love story” to add to the list.
“Change the scheme! Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you’d be so kind.”
As I said, Tron: Legacy doesn’t warrant the e-bashing it has got. It is definitely an imbalanced film, with too much of the fun action weighted towards the start of the film (I know there is a climactic Lightjet dogfight, but I wasn’t really that impressed by it), but it’s really not bad. I definitely enjoyed parts of it, which was made all the better by the visuals. I suppose though, it is quite an average film in a very shiny wrapper (where have I heard that before?) and therefore I must score it as such:

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