Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Tron Legacy

Twenty Seven years ago. That's when I saw Tron, and I remember being really blown away by it. The Light Cycles (in all their right-angle turning glory!), the disc battles and all the state of the art computer graphics! My love of the film was enhanced by my possession of a ViewMaster with the Tron collection, which my Mum was able to instantly put her hand on last week (best Christmas present this year!):

So I was torn between really wanting to see Tron Legacy, and not wanting to get too excited. But I wasn't not going to see it, and I wasn't really disappointed. I did enjoy it, a very fun film which I don't think tried to take itself too seriously, but also tried to tie in nicely with the first film (if we remembered what happened!).

Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), having escaped from "The Grid" at the end of the first film now has a seven-year-old son. One night while tucking him into bed, Kevin is telling the story of Tron, and promises his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) that he will take him to the arcade tomorrow. He then goes to "The Office" to work through the night, but disappears!

Not seeing his Dad for 10 years or so, Sam grows up still having a stake in his Dad's company: software company Encom, but not really having a interest in it. That is until his Dad's friend (also on the Encom board) tells Sam about his Dad's arcade. Sam discovers his Dad's "Office" below the arcade (hidden behind the Tron game), and gets zapped into The Grid.

Sam is captured and forced into the Gladiatorial arena, fighting with discs and the notorious Light Cycle chase. He is noticed by Clu (computer programme developed in his own image by Kevin Flynn in the first film) who looks like a younger version of Kevin. Clu tells Sam that he is not his father, but that he is pleased to see him. During the Light Cycle race, Sam is rescued by Quorra (Olivia Wilde) who takes Sam to meet his father.

There is then some exposition where Dad Flynn explains to Sam/us that Clu looks like him because he is a programme created by him to create the perfect world, and now he wants the disc from Pa Flynn to be able to send his army into the real world. By sending the army into the real world Clu of course wants to apply his idea of a perfect civilisation to the world, which would most likely destroy us. The only way to get over this is for Sam to make his way back to the portal which will send him back to the real world, so he can shut down Clu from outside.

Essentially that is the plot. Sam trying to get back to the real world and shut Clu down. That's it, oh and if Kevin Flynn and Clu ever merge, then everything in the Grid will be destroyed. Mmmm, important plot point?! But, despite the plot being fairly thin on the ground, and Garrett Hedlund coming from the Hayden Christensen Attack of the Clones school of acting, the film is still really good fun. And I think that's how the film should be taken, simply as being fun.

Clearly the special effects are better than the 1982 Tron, and the 3D does lend itself to this kind of film (though I don't really think it added anything extra over seeing it in 2D, except perhaps the Light Cycle race). The musical score by Daft Punk was great, fitting perfectly with a digital world, and it was LOUD!

Jeff Bridges was by far the best actor, his performance seemed effortless compared to the others. I know that the Cohen Brothers wrote the character of The Dude imagining Jeff, but it's amazing how much like The Dude Jeff really is; I don't think there will be another film with Bridges in that doesn't make some nod to The Big Lebowski! Of course Bridges has to undergo youngification to appear as Clu; and the effects are brought to us by the same people responsible for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Jeff's face is great, there is no doubt that Clu is a younger version of Kevin Flynn, the only thing that let's it down is the lip sync. Sometimes it is perfect, more often it looks like his lips can't articulate properly; much like women who have had too much collagen put in their lips and consequently can't talk properly! But I guess this is only a minor gripe; far less intrusive than the crap cg cold breath in The Social Network!

I must also mention Michael Sheen who was also great. He just has the uncanny ability to bring credibility to whatever role he plays, whether he is a Werewolf, David Frost, Tony Blair, or in this case Zuse: a club owner/respectable programme with contacts in high places. And he based his performance on David Bowie!!

There was one clever little plot twist; the fact that Sam believes that the new Encom OS should be freeware and that the company should not charge for it. Nicely echoed by the fact that Clu wants his army to break out to the real world and that his perfect world would be available to all.

There are only a few niggles about this film regards plot, wooden main character (much like Christian Bale in Batman); but the chance to see Tron, on a  big screen, in 3D, with a pumping soundtrack, just like I imagine Tron should have been (I think seeing original Tron now would shatter my illusions of how good it was), is just great.

Light Cycles. Cool!

Olivia Wilde. Very Nice!