Saturday, 21 April 2012

2 Weeks of Movies - Tron Legacy, or Daft Punk: The Movie

Tron Legacy - 8/10

(potential small spoilers!)

I’ll start by saying that I haven’t seen the original 1982 film Tron, so I wasn’t going into this with any nostalgia or protective feelings. I know that a lot of fans of the original were left cold by this new one. I can’t comment on whether the original was better, but I thought this one was very enjoyable.

The first and most overwhelming thing that needs mentioning about Tron is the music. Holy crap, the soundtrack for this film is awesome! In fact, the music alone pushes it up a whole star rating for me. And I don’t normally pay attention to movie music. When other people are raving about how amazing the score for a particular film was, I’m the one who can’t even remember it. Unless it’s actually a musical, I tend to think of film music as something that adds atmosphere but remains largely in the background.

But all the way through this film I couldn’t stop noticing how amazing the music was. Combined with the visuals, the experience was intense. Those visuals were stunning, really creating a sense of a unique, computerised world evolving on its own terms. I loved how important light was; it seemed to power the whole world while also providing beautiful shots and a constant ethereal glow that matched the mood of the world so well. The design of the sets and costumes, the beautiful architecture of the world, and the general feel of it all was amazing. The synthesised music felt 80s and modern at the same time, and very computery, with heart-pumping beats that suited the electric, cyber-punk atmosphere perfectly. At the same time, there was a mysterious, haunting and almost religious quality to both music and visuals, connecting to the idea of the users as ‘gods.’ Bizarrely, the music and visuals reminded me so much of the Mass Effect series, I have to wonder if someone in the process was influenced by the games? Or perhaps the games were influenced by the original Tron, if that had a similar look and sound? Either way, it just added a whole new level of awesome to the movie for me.

Unfortunately, the story didn’t come anywhere close to matching the style of the film. It was pretty bog standard for an actiony-sci-fi. Hero falls into strange new world, has to find a way out while escaping the evil bad guy who’s trying to stop him. Evil bad guy is also trying to take over the world, and to exterminate a whole new race for good measure. There’s the obligatory love interest, the search for a missing father, growing up and accepting responsibility, etc. It felt a little lazy to be honest. Not bad, by any means, but it could have been better.

Having said that, however, there were some nice touches. There are some amazing action sequences and fight scenes, particularly in the games at the beginning of the film. The acting was good. The aforementioned obligatory love interest was really likeable, and the romance was kept to an absolute minimum. I’m not saying romance is bad, but it can all too often be the ruin of an otherwise-good action movie that it has no real place in. The bad guy was also surprisingly sympathetic. There were some ironic moments of real humanity in him when he revealed his feelings of betrayal, and Jeff Bridges acted both roles so brilliantly. CLU is not just Flynn’s flawed creation, he is Flynn, and embodies all of his mistakes and naivety. Flynn knows this, but there is nothing he can do to help him. CLU sees Flynn as a father figure, a friend and a creator who turned on him for doing the very thing he was created to do. This is a more complex villain than most action or sci-fi movies attempt to create. There are also some interesting religious overtones that work all the better for not being forced down the viewer’s throat.

In most cases, an average story will bring an otherwise good movie down. In this case, I think all the other elements brought it up. The music and visuals alone jumped it up an extra point for me. Don’t go into it expecting something mind-bending; it’s a sci-fi driven by concept, visuals and atmosphere more than by a unique story. But that is actually not a criticism. It works. More than anything, it’s very entertaining.

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