Saturday, 18 December 2010

'TRON: Legacy' Review

‘TRON: Legacy' (dir: Joseph Konsinski, 2010), Cert: PG

Click Poster for Trailer

It’s one of 2010’s most anticipated movies and it arrives right at the end of the year. Film fans have been waiting a massive 28 years for the sequel to the hugely ambitious and technically advance ‘TRON’ which blew audiences away in 1982. The original film paved the way for computerised filmmaking; Pixar’s lead animator and Disney CEO John Lasseter has frequently expressed his thanks to director Steven Lisberger for being so courageous when creating this feature. But now its present day and ‘TRON: Legacy’ is finally here. This film has a new director in debut filmmaker Joseph Konsinski, it was created with the highest and latest technologies and it’s been frequently labelled “The 3D Motion Picture Event of the Year”; so is it actually any good?
Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), the son of ENCOM founder Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is a reckless 27 year-old. The mysterious disappearance of his father has shaped his life and his attitude. When Sam becomes aware that a page has been sent from his dad’s old office at his Arcade, he heads there to investigate. Soon Sam finds the source of the page but in discovering it, he has opened a portal to a cyber world called ‘The Grid’. This world is a beautiful landscape of neon lights and rows of digital projections, but it’s also a place of great danger and is under the control of the evil CLU (also Bridges); a clone of Kevin whose good deeds are non-existent. Sam discovers that his father has been trapped here for the last 20 years when he meets a fearless ‘program’ warrior called Quorra (Olivia Wilde). Soon father and son are re-united and now the three of them must battle their way across this damaged land and return to safety and normality.
 To start, let’s talk style. ‘TRON: Legacy’ as a visual experience is utterly incredible; the streaming glows from the light cycles, the rushing whites that absorb the cold dark greys and the vacant spaces that glisten with digital beauty, this film is a real feast for the eyes. For any filmmaker this movie is a marvellous achievement, but for a debut director, it’s totally astonishing. In many ways in terms of style, this film reminded me of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (dir: Victor Fleming, 1939); now before readers jump at this remark, I’m not saying this film is anyway near the stature of ‘Oz’, but in how the cyber world is presented bares various similarities; for starters Konsinski has left all the footage in the ‘real’ world in 2D but filmed all the footage in ‘The Grid’ in 3D, so the viewer can really see the transition in screen projection, much like when Dorothy is in Kansas, we view in black and white, but upon her arrival to Oz, huge pallets of Technicolor fill the screen. Plus the true feeling of fantasy and the unknown is available here; the huge jump between what’s old and new is very daunting for Sam, just how Dorothy feels in her adventure. But this film isn’t just about its style, although many critics are seeing it that way. ‘TRON: Legacy’, much like it’s older brother is about the future and how much technology is advancing; from the story revolving around a computer programmer and his world, to a ray of unbelievably beautiful cinematography and it’s striking and mouth-opening action sequences, everything about these movies boasts futurism.
 The 3D in general is pleasing but not totally essential, it’s a great addition for the transition in location and depth of field and it certainly enhances some scenes, but seeing as how beautiful the colours are in this film, it would have been nicer to view them without the specs. Still, it’s definitely one of 2010s best 3D pictures, and seeing as this is a futuristic movie; it kind of had to be in three dimensions.

Still from 'TRON: Legacy' (dir: Joseph Konsinski, 2010)

The narrative is based and held together by a strong father-son tale that has the usual ups and downs, but what’s extraordinary is that even though it’s set in a space-age world, they still have time to sit down with Quorra for a hog roast dinner, which is one of my favourite scenes in the film because it shows humanity still exists here. The awkwardness, the lack of conversation and the numerous shots of rolling eyes really presents a true family dynamic in such a bizarre and dream-like setting. Many critics have snubbed this movie for lacking substance but I feel this is a misinterpretation of what ‘TRON’ really means.

 However, one of the main attractions for this film is the music, which as most know was composed and performed by the incredible French dance duo Daft Punk. Now I am bias because Daft Punk is my favourite band but the score in general is mesmerising. For some tracks, the pair manages to blend their signature electronica with a brilliant orchestra to form an enriching and fresh sound. Tracks such as ‘Derezzed’ and ‘End of Line’ are stand-out but the score as a whole supports this film like a dream. The duo also makes a brief cameo in the movie too which was great fun.
 The performances are great; Bridges is equally good as the aging, wise and noble Kevin, and the strapping, youthful villain CLU (they used digital mapping to re-create Bridges’ face and then project it onto another body to form a younger double of him, which in my books is rather impressive). Bridges understands character acting and he shows all his tricks from the bag here. Hedlund plays Sam with conviction and manages to blend the feeling of awe and terror perfectly; his punchy nature and his ambition to succeed collaborates wonderfully with his dread and fear for his father and himself. Michael Sheen is fantastic in his brief performance as nightclub owner Castor, he provides great comedy with his overly-camp nature, but for me, Wilde is the star as the incredibly brave yet slightly naive Quorra. She is a warrior through and through who puts herself out for all, but underneath she’s a woman who really wants to know another life. In one scene when she asks Sam what the Sun is like, her facial expressions and her vocal tone are pitch-perfect and in doing this, she captures a little bit of your heart.  
 So yes, ‘TRON: Legacy’ is an incredibly good film that will massively entertain and dazzle throughout. It’s a work of sheer cinematic beauty that needs to be experienced on the biggest screen possible. If you can see it in IMAX 3D, do it, you won’t regret it. This film is a visual masterwork that stuns its audience with its technological dream world, but equally engrosses viewers with it’s tale of a re-united father and son.
Verdict: 5 out of 5 – What a way to end a year. ‘TRON: Legacy’ sends 2010 off with a humongous bang that all will remember. Plus the light cycles are ridiculously cool.
By Chris Haydon

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