TRON: Legacy - Blu-ray Review

'Blade Runner re-envisioned by The Black Eyed Peas'

Six months after its cinema release it's a touch surprising to find that TRON: Legacy has maintained a healthy 7.0/10 IMDb average. Having been maligned by most critics the film seems to have hit some sort of note with audiences, sitting as it does just outside of the World Box Office Top 100 and continuing to score healthily on audience-generated ratings charts.

The most interesting thing about Joseph Kosinski's film is what it adds to the notional debate about how far a movie can go on visuals alone. The script by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz wavers from awful to clich├ęd and back to awful. The plot is interesting and diverse enough to secure surface-level engagement but Kitsis and Horowitz' dialogue - which sees Garrett Hedlund trotting out nonsense lines like 'you gotta be kidding me' every two minutes - is almost without reprieve. There appears to have been some attempt by the writers to make Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) sound something like The Dude, which rather hilariously results in several lines which mix ultra-serious philosophy with anti-corporate hippie doublespeak (best example: 'disease, philosophy, history; biological jazz, man!').

What emerges in the background whilst this garbled mess of language falls from people's mouths like enforced vomiting is a spectacular light and music show, the likes of which have arguably never been seen on a big screen before. In the arthouse, this is apparently applaudable. In the multiplex, it's apparently abhorrent. The reality is that it is somewhere in between.

Kosinski directs the entire thing like a music video. Witness the scene where Sam (Hedlund) is dressed by four of the ladies of TRON. They all move like robots; gracefully, to a beat, in a circular room. It's like Blade Runner re-envisioned by The Black Eyed Peas. At this point it would help the argument to point out that Kosinski has a music video background. He doesn't, which rather suggests that these consistent artistic decisions have been sagely made to highlight TRON's sensory splendour, rather than to play up to the director's strengths.

In the end this sensory splendour is enough recommend Kosinski's film. TRON looks and -thanks to the best score of last year by Daft Punk - sounds incomparable. Disney's usual excellence with Blu-ray transfers isn't missing here either and the conversion from the big screen is handled beautifully. The atrocious script is notable on more than one occasion (famously when Sam tries to describe the sun to Quorra (Olivia Wilde)) but the core plot moves by with pace enough to ensure you can forget the lines and lines of drivel in time to enjoy the next piece of electronica genius, complemented by the director's love of, and adherence to, neon-flecked scenes of beauty.




Look further...

'not the clunker many would have you think it is. It became a bit of a whipping boy for some reason from the nerd public, while garnering mixed reviews, but it’s well-acted... well-directed and edited' - Lost In The Multiplex

7 comments:

  1. I must admit that this bored me stiff!! But I will give kudos where it is due because it is visually stunning. The lighting and colour is um...ah...well..hmm...nothing but sumptuous!!
    You are right as some of the lines were absolute clangers and I think half of my home town could have heard me groan that night!! Three out of five I think is fair, as it isn't bad but neither is it remarkable. Again it is a mainstream movie that could have been more.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The big thing it has against it on the boredom front is its length which is 15-minutes or so too much but other than that it kept my attention fairly well. Agree with the sentiment that it could have been more. A sharper script would have done wonders for its standing in my eyes.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think you are right it was too long. A 'sharper' script as you say would have done wonders. I felt Bridges was just onboard to add a bit of oompf and prestige in the acting stakes but he was given a pretty mediocre script and character to really work with. But the colours...did I mention them?!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I watched this last month and was pretty underwhelmed overall. Daft Punk's soundtrack was awesome and the movie was gorgeous, but everything else just fell flat. Nice call on referencing the "sun" scene -- good god, that was horrible.

    ReplyDelete
  5. BRENT - there's always the colours!

    Eric - the sun scene is awful but there are other moments too when Sam just comes out with meaningless 'action speak' garbage. Despite this I found enough to enjoy. Thought the action sequences (the light cycles, the disc fights) were well directed and engaging.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I was fortunate enough to see TRON LEGACY in 3D at the Printworks IMAX in Manchester on the films release weekend. The ODEON boasts that this screen is their biggest and best yet, with a floor to ceiling screen 18.8m high and 26.3m wide, and 1,000 speakers around the auditorium.
    From the second the film started to the very last credit rolled, all I could think was that THIS was the best music video Daft Punk could ever have made. The opening thirty minutes or so were bright enough and loud enough to grab the attention of not just original Tron fans (like myself), but also newcomers (like my girlfriend who came with me). The world that the films creators and director had conceived was so beautiful on the eye that you almost forgave the ever declining quality of the dialogue.
    When the film moved into its second act (after the arena scene), the introduction of characters and exposition seemed to throw the film off course, and - in my humble opinion - it was only the fact that Jeff Bridges was on screen (as Flynn and as CLU) that kept my attention.
    I would like to give the writers credit though for one particular aspect: the inclusion of the Isos and of digital evolution was an interesting concept, but the fact that the film was rated as a PG and primarily aimed at a younger audience by its Disney financiers, you can see why it was so easily introduced and brushed aside as too complex to develop further.
    The final act of the film was a sad experience for my girlfriend as she had long lost interest, but was better for myself as I was a big enough fan to see this one through to the end. I particularly liked the relationship conclusion between both of Bridges' characters, as it was explained to CLU that he had not failed in his primary objective to make a 'perfect' Grid using his machine-like efficiency and computer logic that could not be influenced by emotion, but that Flynn himself had failed to realise that the construction of a perfect world could indeed never happen in the first place.
    I agree with your 3 out of 5 rating, and can only hope that the third film will improve on its clunky dialogue and emphatic exposition.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great piece of summary Lee, thanks for stopping by to post it. I've never been to the Printworks IMAX but often wanted to - I imagine this would have been a great experience there and you're absolutely right on the DP/music video analogy.

    There is certainly a lot of deeper philosophising that the could have gone into but I understand why they didn't: I imagine even some of the included bits would have been too much for a younger audience.

    I'm looking forward to the third film. Hopefully they'll stick to the same sort of formula but improve the scripting. I'll try and make it to the IMAX this time too!

    ReplyDelete