Thursday, 6 January 2011

Film Review: Tron - Legacy (2010)

To begin, a confession; I've never liked Disney's 1982 Tron. I remember very little of it but do recall avoiding it as a child and generally having no interest in it. Needless to say this did not give me high hopes for Tron - Legacy, as I pictured yet more dull characters in a world that, well, looks a bit silly. Perhaps the low expectations helped as I was very pleasantly surprised with this updated, action packed and visually stunning sequel. So much so I'm actually considering watching the 1982 film again to give it another chance - who knows, maybe this time I'll "get it".

If you're not familiar with the original fear not, there are plenty of reminders of what went before, though those that know the original story will likely get a lot more from the sight of a CGI young Bruce Boxleitner as the eponymous character and his interactions with a likewise young looking Jeff Bridges. In fact the CGI work is astounding on these two actors and while it isn't perfect is convincing enough to carry you along. Jeff Bridges plays Kevin Flynn, who has built the ultimate in virtual reality - a game world that feels entirely real. In this game world there are
programmes, each of whom have a purpose inside this reality, Tron included. Originally Flynn was drawn into this world against his will but after defeating the Master Control progamme he sets out to improve his design and create the perfect world. To assist him in this Flynn brings back a programme originally destroyed by the Master Control programme, named Clu, who is tasked with creating the perfect system. He also happens to be a duplicate of Flynn himself. But Clu takes his instructions to their ultimate logical conclusion so usurps Flynn, trapping him in the game world.

Meanwhile back here in the real world Kevin Flynn's son grows up without his father, never forgetting the man who promised to show him "the grid". Feckless and with no real purpose he's never fully recovered from the abandonment he experienced as a child. When he accidentally comes across his father's work room he too is thrown into this new world and must seek out his old man so they can both escape - and protect a miracle along the way...

Though the story of Tron - Legacy is simple on the surface there are in fact a lot of undertones running through it: the responsibility of the maker for his creations, as well as for his children, the difficulties in father son relations, and the sacredness of life in all it's forms. Obviously this is a Disney film so the themes aren't deeply explored but they are there and give a depth to an otherwise largely shallow film. The characters are okay, though the shining star is Jeff Bridges who gets to play the ultimate cool dude with god like powers. And he gets to say "radical". It's a great moment, and the role only goes to increase my huge admiration for an actor I feel has often been undervalued.

Yes, this is Jeff Bridges - post CGI
Lastly, I would highly recommend seeing this film in the 3D version. I've never been a huge 3D fan, as it's often gimmicky and used just for the sake of it. But this is the first film I've seen that uses it to it's full effect - by not using it all the time. In our real world everything is in 2D, and it only flips to the 3D visuals when we enter the grid. It works brilliantly. The visuals are arresting and with the 3D are made even more involving and emphasises the "otherness" of this world to our own. I only hope that other film makers take note and realise you do not need to use 3D ad nauseum - a little careful application can go a long way and Tron - Legacy is proof that less is definitely more.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate your review. I too, never found the 1982 version to be a must see, despite seeing it in the theater when it was first released.

    That said, I don't think I'm going to pull the trigger and go see the movie just yet. I think I'll hold out until it pops onto Blu-Ray. Spending a hundred bucks to take the family to go see it just seems like too much to ask.

    Good luck on the 2011 goals.