Tron: Legacy - A Review


Tron Poster
Well, looks like I was right. The good folks at ShowFilmFirst did treat us to an advanced screening of Tron: Legacy. They specifically asked us to embargo our reviews until 2200 tonight. That's given me plenty of time to ruminate on just how disappointed this movie left me.

This review is spoiler free. By which I mean, there's so little plot, there's not much to spoil. Neo goes into the Matrix, fights Boba Fett, recovers Excalibur, Learns A Valuable Lesson, gets the girl.

WARNING! This review contains EXCESSIVE CAPITALISATION. Tron Legacy isn't the sort of movie to do RESTRAINT or NUANCE. So, in homage, neither will this review.

But First, A Word From Our Sponsors

BUY A NOKIA N8!
RIDE A DUCATI MOTORBIKE!

I know I'm over-sensitive to product placement of phones - working in that industry - but the brand placement is just so blatant.
A shot of a cool new phone doing something technically implausible isn't the worst crime in cinema - but the movie pauses for a few minutes near the end so that the characters can chat about how great their Ducati motorbike is!

NOW DRINK SOME COORS BEER! IT'S DELICIOUS!

Daft Punk

Did you know that Daft Punk did the music for this film? The soundtrack is stonkingly good and terrifyingly loud. And Daft Punk have a cameo. Well, I say a cameo. The camera practically freezes on them while big neon signs flash out saying

"HEY KIDS! IT'S DAFT PUNK! LOOK! RIGHT THERE! SEE! DAFT PUNK DO THE MUSIC AND ARE IN THE FILM!! IT'S INTERTEXTUAL!"

Daft Punk in Tron
The cameo is symbolic of everything wrong with this movie. Whereas you may have to watch a Hitchcock movie a few times to find the great director's cameo - here it is splashed on the screen repeatedly. There is no subtlety, no nuance, everything is in gaudy technicolour. It is son et lumière - without the storytelling grace or skill of the Lumière brothers.

Special Effects

This was the first feature-length 3D film that I've seen. There's no doubt that the Dolby 3D system is astonishing. The fact that the glasses are so expensive you need to be virtually frisked as you leave the cinema shouldn't give you cause for concern. Nor should the fact that every pair also gets a sanitary wipe to help remove the previous patron's fingerprints, their sweat, and germs.
Dolby 3D Glasses

The director does a good job of not abusing the 3D. There is the occasional pan which seems to be there purely to show off the technology - but there are no gratuitous shots of things being thrown at the audience merely to make them jump.

Which, ironically, is a pity. The 3D only exists behind the silver screen. It never seems to trouble the audience with its presence. The 3D Disney title sequence is the exception to this - it gathered a round of applause from the audience but, from then on, the 3D just faded into the background.

Had the majority of scenes been in 2D, the 3D sequences would have been significantly more effective. As it is, they're about as interesting as surround sound - or even colour.

One stand out effect is that of the Young Jeff Bridges.
How long before they rejuvinate Sidney Poitier and put him in Big Momma's House 4?
Essentially, they've digitally removed his beard and given him virtual botox - but the total the effect is seamless. I can see this technology being used to rejuvenate some aged screen greats for the modern age.

Fem-Bots

LOOK! LADIES IN SKIN TIGHT COSTUMES!
Serinda Swan in Tron
Yes yes. Olivia Wilde is rather pretty. And skin-tight costumes are very attractive on her. And on the other ladies. Remember, girls are only there to serve teenaged-boys masturbatory fantasies.
Olivia Wilde in Tron
There's some nonsense about Olivia Wilde being a Eloi - but essentially all she does is pose around in her catsuit. What a waste of a talented actor.

Now What?

It seems the height of churlishness for me to dump on a film preview that I saw on the cheap. True, it wasn't the worst way to spend a few hours. The special effects are really great. Michael Sheen is the only actor who seems to relish in his role - although it's always a pleasure to see Captain Sheridan on screen again.

But that's not enough.

If you want to spend millions of dollars and thousands of man-years, you'd better have something decent to show for it. If they'd spent a little less on hype and a little more on a screenwriter, this might not have been the gigantic disaster that it is. A loud, flabby mess of a film which will succeed purely due to the huge marketing push behind it.

If you want to watch a film with cutting edge special effects, a thin plot, laughable characters, and atrocious dialogue, I suggest you watch this instead.

It has the advantage of being shorter, much more enjoyable, and culturally significant.

Verdict? If you prefer pretty flashing lights and booming sound over plot, direction, and a tight script - you'll still walk away from Tron thinking "was that it?"

Postscript - a special message to Empire Cinema

Having security goons literally screaming at the audience to switch off their phones doesn't make for a very pleasant atmosphere.
A PA announcement or gentle reminder from the hosts is enough for most film fans. Aggravating your audience by shouting at them continuously really sours the mood.
I don't expect to be yelled at like that in a restaurant, or any other place of business. Why you think that sort of aggression is warranted for movie reviewers is beyond me.

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