Saturday, March 05, 2011

Tron Legacy (2010)

Given how remarkably original the 1982 film was, it was startling to note just how derivative this update was determined to me. This isn't just an homage to earlier graphics chips and a pre-grizzled Jeff Bridges, it is acutely conscious of so much that has happened since from The Matrix to the Star Wars prequels. Tron himself has morphed into a kind of Darth Maul, Boba Fet hybrid who gurgles like a Predator. The less said about Michael Sheen's impersonation of night club empresario Zuse the better..

As a sound and light show Tron Legacy is often utterly captivating, but whenever the dramatic tension appears to be building up some steam, and the objectives being pursued by protagonists and antagonists alike have come into sharper focus, the writers dump us back into immobility, usually via the kind of low-energy dialogue that had me wondering whether even Shia LeBeouf would have made a more charismatic lead than Garrett Hedlund.

One is acutely aware of missed opportunities on almost every level. The set piece games are great, but seemingly gone in an instant. Just when we think we're up for a really cool martial arts sequence, it's over. Flynn senior starts spouting some orientalist profundities about perfection...which turn out to be stillborn.

As ever, Jeff's presence is probably worth the ticket price for those who can't get off on effects alone, but his performance here is somewhat benumbed by the presence of his digitally-rejuvenated yet facially-impliable doppelgänger Clu, who bears a disturbing resemblance to some sort of CGI Baldwin brother.

Grade: B(+)

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