TRON: Legacy (2010)
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Written by: Adam Horowitz, Bonnie MacBird, Brian Klugman, Edward Kitsis, Lee Sternthal, Steven Lisberger
Starring: Garrett Hedlund, Jeff Bridges, Michael Sheen, Olivia Wilde
Kevin Flynn is the CEO of Encom and the world’s best video game developer. One night he simply vanishes without a trace and leaves his company in chaos and his young son. Fast-forward twenty years, Sam Flynn is a rebellious twenty seven year old and a thorn in the side of Richard Mackey, a suit trying to take over his father’s company. Though Sam is the heir, he refuses to play an active role in the decision-making process. Alan Bradley meets him one night with the news that he has received a page from Kevin Flynn’s arcade – a number that has been disconnected for twenty years. Sam ventures to the arcade and transports himself into the world his father has created and been trapped in for decades.
I was never really a fan of the original Tron. I didn’t see it at the cinema, which would have been undoubtably the place to see it, and only saw it on video many years later. To be honest [and apologies to Mr Gillespie who I know is a fan!], I was not too impressed and just found it a little dull, while the effect were already dated. Still, I did my best to get excited for Tron:Legacy [even if the trailer didn’t exactly wow me], because at the very least the effects would be pretty awesome, wouldn’t they? Sad to say, I found Tron:Legacy to be a real damp squid of a movie, which has a pretty dreadful script and, surprisingly, mediocre graphics. Put the two things together in a film of this nature and you don’t really have much at all except a fairly mediocre sci fi action movie which plays like a poor, more child friendly variation on a Matrix film without the invention and the intriguing concepts.
I knew I was in trouble from the first few minutues where Kevin tells the very young Sam about what happened to him during the events of the original Tron, supposedly a great way of doing a recap to people, like me, who don’t remember the original too well or who haven’t even seen it. However, t he techno babble Jeff Bridges was delivering didn’t really tell me much at all because I couldn’t understand what the hell he was saying. Then we flash forward and Sam is a typical ‘screw the system’ kind of young man. We are supposed to be on his side as he pirates a load of material from Encom, yet I’m sure Disney would hate it if I found a copy of Tron:Legacy and copied it. I didn’t really care about this terribly cliched character especially as played by the uncharismatic Garrett Hedlund. Still, I thought, once things get inside the video game the movie will catch fire. Well, I was totally wrong. Obviously the filmmakers wanted to stay partially true to the original film and just kind of upgrade things, but what one sees is nowhere near as stunning as we had been led to made out. I don’t know what I expected, but it was certainly far more than the endless parade of uninventive graphics and run-of-the-mill design I got. Considering what one can do with computer effects nowadays, I was incredibly disappointed and not once was I blown away. Will it’s endless blacks and blues with bits of orange, it all just looks like 8os stuff upgraded. Yes, I know that was probably the intention, but it results in a visually very repetetive film and I started to wish for something more interesting to look at.
The plot is basically very simple, but as with the opening it’s disguised at times as something more complex. There’s a scene about half way through where Kevin explains what has happened in his ‘world’ and we are shown flashback images, but it’s almost incoherent even though the actual information given out is probably quite simple. The film is faster paced and more action packed than the first movie but most of what we see is rehashed stuff from it. The disc throwing fighting is reasonably well staged but the Light Cycle chase compares badly to scenes in Speed Racer and The Phantom Menace [yes, I said The Phantom Menace!]. Like much of the rest of the film, it looks like not much effort was made and at times deteriorates into an incoherent mess with the obligatory flashy editing. Although I was unable to view the first Tron again prior to seeing the second, I was able to watch the Light Cycle sequence from it and I actually preferred it. It was just clearer and more fun in my opinion. The climactic aerial chase is pretty impressive though. As the crafts spin around trailing colour….something, I was quite riveted and it’s the only scene in the film which approached what I thought it should have been like.
As said before, Hedlund is a dull lead and bizarrely doesn’t seem that surprised when he ends up inside the video game. Bridges is as charismatic as ever but gives the same stoned performance as he usually does these days. The CG used to make him look young isn’t really convincing. One of the biggest disappointments for me was Daft Punk’s soundtrack, which apart from the odd track [there’s a great one during a nightclub fight] is distinctly mediocre and often seems like a Hans Zimmer rip off. I expected them to really be inspired by the movie [especially as they partially took the look of their act from Tron], but they weren’t. Actually maybe it’s not that surprising at all considering how uninteresting much of the film is. Another big disappointment is the 3D. Tron:Legacy was supposedly shot in 3D, as opppsed to the 3D being added in post production, but then why the hell is everything still considerably darker than it should be? The process really isn’t exploited much here, and I reckon that you could watch this in 2D and not notice much of a difference. There’s not even much depth of field, and to all those who say it’ s nice and subtle this way-3D is a gimmick [and one that hasn’t even been perfected yet!]. And, as with most gimmicks, it should be used to it’s full capacity! I wasn’t much impressed with Avatar, but at least that had a few terrific uses of 3D. With this movie, I don’t know why they bothered. Much like the film in general really. It’s never exactly terrible, it does just about pass muster as a family action movie with a twist, but could and should have been so much better. I think there’s great scope for a really imaginative, mind blowing film set inside a video game or a computer or whatever. This certainly isn’t it.