Thursday, 20 October 2011

Film Review: Tron Legacy

Title: Tron Legacy
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Rating: PG
Runtime: 127 Minutes

Ah, remember Tron? With Jeff Bridges and, er, that other chap? And, of course, the pioneering use of computer animation as the films characters are subsumed into an electronic world, some two decades before computer generated worlds became the norm rather than the exception?
Well, I don’t, and neither do you, because except for the features described above, the original Disney movie, technically and aesthetically innovative as it may have been in 1982- and, yes, it was that long ago- was an especially dull and poorly written film, awash with a dense and convoluted plot designed to swamp it’s multitudinous physical impossibilities.
In 2010, Tron: Legacy, is no different. If, anything, it is more conceptually preposterous than the first, however, to the modern movie goer, computer generated cinescapes are pedestrian, as is the convention of spectacle to distract from narrative contrivances. For a generation that not only endured but embraced the mucky, muddled, pseudo-philosophical sludge that framed the gratuitous special-effects of the Matrix trilogy, attempts by Tron: Legacy are, by comparison, more than a little obvious and even less effective.
While audiences will be so bewildered by the convoluted plot, and lower-end comic book physics will leave them disinterested in the film’s purpose and characters at an early stage, the protracted efforts by script-writers to contrive both credibility and significance to the film deprives it of much of the superficial fun that could otherwise be had. The moody CGI landscape is matched by brooding characters grappling with the vapid vague complexities of purpose that the writers themselves do not understand. The only relief from the unending cod-earnestness comes in the shape of Michael Sheen as some sort of electronic high-camp fixer, and who seems to be the only actor with sufficient skill and charisma to, all too briefly, realise the abject silliness of all that’s around him.
None of this, of course, will matter to the film’s makers; the considerable wealth of nostalgia and cult status of the original, coupled with the fact that, as mentioned, few people can actually recall its absurdity, mean there will be a vast bedrock of consumers. And, also, in part due to the culture of film making Tron helped to engender, the convention of treating both the art and craft of film making as an inconvenient occasion to dazzle and distract with special effects which has led cinema through the door to 3D.
Serious doubts must exist whether this sort of “simulator” experience even constitutes film in the conventional sense, as it has more common elements with virtual reality simulators or computer games- most of which, incidentally, possess more coherent narratives than Tron: Legacy. Certainly, considered as a film, it is tedious, vapid and inept. As a spectacle of a new immersive medium? I am not qualified to say.

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