It’s a competition, sometimes. James and I have a bit of an ongoing battle to see who can come up with the wittiest or most knowing title for a review. Sometimes, if pressed, we’ll just use something generic and get on with the business of writing. With Tron: Legacy (2010), I really couldn’t be bothered to waste my time racking my brains to come up with something creative, as it’s evident the production crew and writers couldn’t be bothered to come up with an entertaining and worthwhile sequel. The 19-year-old me (work it out for yourselves, if you’re interested) watched in awe as the original Tron (1982) unfolded, my head full of the possibilities of a cyber future filled with Tron-like cyberscapes that would make life so hyper-real real as to make William Gibson look like a Luddite.
Let me first address what I considered to be the good bits. The way in which Bridges’ face was de-aged and digitally enhanced was near-perfect. There were a couple of truly dodgy lip-sync moments but overall the SFX guys and gals did a stand-up job of making it believable. Some hated it, I personally thought it was acceptable. The soundtrack. A score exclusively containing arrangements by the French synthpop/house/electro (OK, they’re hard to pigeonhole) band Daft Punk. Accomplished musicians as they are, they brought several musical elements together to provide a coherent, intelligent and, above all, texturally fitting score to the piece. Better yet, it stands alone very well and was immediately shown the respect of being remixed and spent some time at the top of the UK dance chart in its original format.
So, on to the bad stuff. First and foremost, I would apply the word “insipid” to the whole thing – soundtrack excepted, of course. When I found out that shooting time was around sixty days and that over a year was spent in post-production, I realized what the problem was. They had metaphorically sucked the very soul out of it. The entire piece looked surprisingly washed-out compared to the lurid Super Mario colours of the original. As a side note, I’d better explain that as I feel that as this is supposed to be a sequel, it should be at least something a little bit like it. It isn’t, not really.
The script is clunky and irritating. While the story was linear enough, concessions seem to have been made in order to work in some old characters and pay at least a little homage to the old Tron. Quite honestly, it would have been better if they hadn’t bothered. It would have been better to introduce different characters but to keep the same feel of the universe, a little like Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986) (but not Alien³ (1992), oh no). For a huge-budget film that’s supposed to be accessible to all ages and audiences, it was a terribly muddy affair in places – a thing that stuck out like a sore thumb when you have to watch stars like Jeff Bridges and Michael Sheen struggle to deliver a frankly piss-poor script that apparently took six different people to bring to life. Awful.
The other thing to watch out for is normality. Things are so normal it’s wrong. The mechanics and metrics of the light bikes are like those of the real world, they make noises and turn and skid. Light bikes make sharp, angular turns and frighten the bejeesus out of you. There’s water, tramps, unheard-of tribes, wind, rain, blood – this is all utterly wrong. The world of Tron was electric, stark, angular, neon and just, well, other. Trying to make it more like the real world is an exercise in futility. Why would you want to suspend disbelief and immerse yourself in a new world when you can look out of the window and see the same thing?
The whole thing is a concept that was designed by a committee and had a shitload of cash thrown at it to make it work. That the investors got paid and the studio turned a few shekels does not make a film a success. As it stands, it appears that the whole shebang was an excuse to foist more crappy 3D nonsense onto us, the ticket-buying public, while at the same time shoehorning some glaringly obvious product placement into a sow’s ear very much made up to be a silk purse. If all that sounded a little garbled, imagine how I felt after watching it. I made some popcorn and opened a beer while watching this, and that was easily the best part of the evening.