Review: Tron Legacy
Tron, when it arrived on the scene in 1982 was a groundbreaking picture. Whilst it didn’t perform particularly well at the box office, it was the first step on the road to CGI in cinemas, which for better or for worse, is now highly common place in the world of cinema. Tron was indeed influential and now in 2010 the long awaited sequel has finally arrived.
Directed by Joseph Kosinski And starring Garrett Hedlund and Jeff Bridges, Tron Legacy picks up on the story twenty years on and delivers a visually stunning and entertaining next gen style reimagining of what proceeded before.
The plot is rather by the numbers and follows an establishment, action, development, action, finale set-up, action, finale kind of structure; in short there’s quite an emphasis on action. Despite being relatively standard action movie fare as far as a plot is concerned – especially considering the narrative will normally take a back seat in a film like this, usually to the detriment of the film as a whole (stand up please Transformers and Michael Bay) – the writers have done a good job to balance the quality of the two well without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. True, it is not a perfect film as far as story goes, and there are a few cheese ball lines thrown into the dialogue too, but what is on offer is compelling and engaging enough.
The story is relatively easy to explain, simply imagine the Third Reich but set in the Matrix and run by an evil Jeff Bridges-alike, who’s fond of gladiatorial/arcade style combat. Sam Flynn, the son of Bridges’ character from Tron, enters the grid believing he’s been contacted by his long lost father who disappeared in 1989, (into the grid as it would happen) however, there is deception afoot. It is then up to Sam to save the grid and the programmes inhabiting it from Clu, a rogue computer clone of Bridges (who has been given a CGI makeover to look 20 years younger although looks slightly too shiny to be an accurate copy of the man).
Of course what Tron Legacy is all about is visuals and big splashy CGI scenes, that’s what the original did well and that is precisely what the “son of Tron” does too. There are amazing moments of excitement when Sam takes part in a light cycle race, which will have fans of the original juddering with glee, and the world is eye-poppingly glorious to behold.
The casting is decent enough, if a little vanilla at times. Bridges does a good enough reprisal of his original character Kevin Flynn. Garrett Hedlund plays his son and flips between whooping and hollering during the action scenes, to whispering in a low toned growl for the rest. Playing the female lead is Olivia Wilde, who is ok if unspectacular. Still all credit to the filmmakers for not needlessly bolting on romantic subplot to a character that doesn’t need it - a rare show of restraint from Hollywood.
A real dishonourable mention however, goes to the usually excellent Michael Sheen, who plays the dazzlingly annoying Castor, who gnashes his teeth through the beautifully digitised scenery in blazing display of buffoonery whilst dressed as a Ziggy Stardust-alike. Maybe he needs to find another character based on a real live person to play (and no! Bowie doesn’t count in this instance)?
The soundtrack of the film deserves the highest praise though. The soundtrack by Daft Punk is nothing short of breath taking and mixes the right level of orchestral music with ‘bingy bongy’ sounding 80s techno.
Tron Legacy overall is a solid enough sequel and is definitely a 7 star movie. It’s by no means a movie of the year but it is good all round entertainment and is undemanding without just being dumb and loud.