State-of-the-art, but with dialogue that only a motherboard could love
‘The game has changed,’ announces the poster for Disney’s blockbuster offering for 2010, but despite 3D and innumerable upgrades, Tron-Legacy remains a very similar proposition to 1982’s super-culty box-office flop. With dialogue that only a motherboard could love, derivative plotting and the airless atmosphere of Steven Lisberger’s original, director Joseph Kosinski faithfully recreates the original film. This rehash of the life-as-a-computer-game theme, however, has the saving grace of dazzling 3D that makes the original look flat in comparison.
The film picks up with Sam (Garrett Hedlund), the son of missing games designer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), finding himself disassembled in his father’s arcade, only to pop up inside an immense virtual world. Once there, Sam is forced to take part in a series of gladiatorial video games, including the familiar Frisbee tennis and light-cycle races his father once played. Sam also finds himself a pawn in a virtual war between his father and Clu (also played by Bridges), the vicious programme his peace-loving father invented. Father and son soon join forces to stop Clu’s virtual army from taking over the real world.
Any synopsis that makes sense of the incessant babble of Tron-Legacy’s plot runs the risk of giving it too much credit. Sporting a labyrinthine back-story that defies understanding, there’s none of the simple accessibility of Avatar’s ‘cowboys and aliens’ scenario, and even the character of Tron itself barely gets a mention. Yet for much of the time, the lack of a coherent centre doesn’t matter; Kosinski and his army of CGI-animators have splurged some $200m on a visually sumptuous production that boasts extravagant 3D action scenes. Light cycles shatter the glass walls of huge virtual vistas, opponents crumble into shards of glass, and Jeff Bridges is ingeniously rendered as both his youthful self and his current grizzled appearance.
A working definition of state-of-the-art, Tron-Legacy is a gaudy, meaningless confection, buoyed up with a few breezy jokes and a thunderous Daft Punk soundtrack. It’s certainly a must-see for fans of the original, but most will leave wishing that such Herculean efforts had gone into upgrading a more worthwhile property.
General release, Fri 17 Dec.