I few minutes ago I broke the hearts of many a geek by announcing that TRON Legacy was awful. Before i’m lynched for this, I thought i’d give a few reasons why.
TRON Legacy starts well with an amusing boardroom scene at the dastardly ENCOM, a company that seems to inherit all the worst traits of Microsoft and Apple. While the directors meet, our hero Sam Flynn breaks into the building Ethan Hunt style, and performs a largely pointless prank. Cillian Murphy is fantastic in an uncredited cameo that is all too brief. So we meet the hero, a plucky young thing who can ride the hell out of a motorcyle. Remember that, it could come in handy later.
He seems engaging enough, even though he looks a little too close to Anniken Skywalker for comfort. Soon enough he’s sucked away from this interesting set-up and into the shit boring, neon heavy world of TRON. Creator of TRON and mentor to Sam is his father, Kevin Flynn, played by Old Jeff Bridges. Old Jeff Bridges is great. His character is half The Dude, half Obi Wan Kenobi. It’s an interesting mix, and Jeff looks like he’s enjoying himself but the pages of exposition he is forced to read are dull and make little sense. CG Jeff Bridges as the villan is just this side of the uncanny valley. In wide shots his head is passable, but any close-ups immediately shatter the illusion and feel like a cut scene from a video game. Animating hard consonants, d’s, p’s and b’s seem especially difficult. This wouldn’t be a deal breaker, the movie is set in a computer so in a better movie I could’ve excused the head as a stylistic choice. But this isn’t a better movie.
Oliva Wilde has nothing to work with. Her character is somewhere between The Matrix and Minority Report, says fuck all and is somehow the saviour of the world. To be honest, I stopped paying attention to her story, but she sure looks pretty in latex and neon. Michael Sheen has a bizarre cameo, channeling David Bowie from The Labyrinth as he struts around his Matrix Revolutions nightclub. It’s actually embarrassing to watch, but the cameo from Daft Punk is amusing enough.
When all is said and done, TRON Legacy tries too hard. All it had to do was have a vaguely passable plot and a shitload of light-cycle scenes and I would’ve been happy. Instead, all the TRON action we came for is in one confused slow scene at the start of the film, then the next hour and a half is spent watching these terrible characters talk. And talk. And catch a train. Then talk some more. The final battle steals much from Star Wars (the good ones) in action and cheekily enough, set design. But with neon. The few action scenes are a dark, badly shot mess. You really can’t tell what’s going on or who’s life is in danger, and for the most part you just don’t care. No character is real anyway, and certainly none are interesting enough to worry about whether they’ll live or die.
There’s a reason I’ve peppered this review with references from so many other movies. It’s because TRON Legacy plays like a pastiche of scenes from better movies. The only movie it forgets to steal from, it seems, its the fun cheesy glory that was TRON. Oh, and the 3D adds nothing. But who cares, TRON will no doubt make a squillion bucks. TRON opens Next Thursday in cinemas everywhere.