Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Case for Tronnage

My first 3D movie at the Embassy (still the greatest cinema in the Universe that I have visited) was the sequel to the 1980s techno-dud movie Tron. The house of mouse decided, evidently many years later, that the concept of the original film was deserving of another outing, especially in this electronically enlightened age where computer generated imagery and an improved third dimension in film can add so much more.

Hence, Tron: Legacy. Visually, this film is amazing, with the outfits, the light cycles and blocky ships from the original updated with noughties sensibilities. Jeff Bridges (as Kevin Flynn) is digitised and his "youthful" doubles are either great (in that they look "young") or crap (in that they look fake) depending on your point of view - and I am definitely in the latter camp, though even I have to admit that, besides the face, the movements are captured pretty well. The 3D really kicks the visuals up a notch, coming into play when the film enters the cyber realm, though by the end of the film the 3D receptors in my brain had kind of "switched off" so I wasn't really aware that it was on (or not) at all.

Story wise.... Let's not mince words: it's rubbish. Rubbing salt into that gaping wound: it's slow. When the action bits get underway, no matter how ponderous they might be (and there are a few "let's take this slow to show the wow factor" scenes), they are at least impressive. However, while the visuals may be three dimensional, the characters can barely scrape up one. Sam Flynn, son of Kevin and this movie's "gamer", spends most of the first quarter of the film talking to himself (and there are no Hamlet-like profundities that come out, it has to be said). When he finally meets Kevin, in one of those Scrubs like moments, the internal monologue gets passed between them and its up to Kevin to say anything of interest, not that he really does.

I was lulled into a false sense of promise early on when the normally excellent Cillian Murphy showed up at an ENCOM board meeting, and I began to think that there might be a "real world" side story. But these hopes were not fulfilled and the whole scene was just wasted. Michael Sheen shows up at some point too, and while he can be a great actor, he was set to "annoying" this time around and I was wishing for his electronic execution within 30 seconds of his apparition. And Bruce Boxleitner, as the original movie's hero Alan Bradley, also comes back and is also "youthfully rendered", though the use of his youngified self is nowhere near as jarring, as it is used discretely and mercifully sparingly.

But back to the main film... nah, there's not much point. I can't say that the film is unsatisfying, mainly as at the end of the 2 and a bit hour running time, my senses were so deadened by the lack of emotion or interest in the storyline or the soundtrack that I barely felt anything at all.

But the 3D was pretty cool - and the Embassy cinema is always awesome.

Verdict: Tron: Legacy builds on top of what its predecessor achieved, but in 2 dimensional space, you don't really notice anything going "upwards", so it's all a bit of wasted effort really. Conceptually cool, it is like watching a screensaver at a techno dance club. But not even the pot wafting around the place I had dinner was able to make the experience a real trip. 3 light cycles out of 10.

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