Today, I finally got to see Tron: Legacy after quite a wait. Having thoroughly enjoyed the original Tron back in 1982, in the days of arcade games and clunky computers, I was thrilled at the prospect of Tron and Clu brought up to date with stunning 3D visuals. In other words, I was ready to re-enter The Grid. I went to the extended preview, I watched the trailers, I was swept along with the expectation. I even resisted the initial hostile reviews because I thought that a film that was all about two hours of innovative and epic special effects (with Jeff Bridges no less) could not deserve such hasty dismissal.
I was wrong.
There are a few minutes in the first third of the film that it would be unfair of me to judge – I nodded off – but otherwise I can state that Tron: Legacy is my biggest film disappointment of the year. There have been films that I’ve liked less (I’m trying hard to think of more than The Ghost), but this is a film that I had huge hopes for and which had a campaign that sucked me in – to the state where I could not believe the reviews I was reading.
Tron: Legacy continues the story of Tron twenty-odd years later. Flynn (Jeff Bridges), the creator, as we know from the original, has been sucked into the Grid. Now, his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) follows him into the game and comes face to face with his father, rogue programmes, alter egos and attractive women with structured hair. And that is the plot – there is nothing more to it.
The film starts off promisingly enough but you soon realise that that is because all of the action from the trailers – with the odd unexceptional exception – can be found in the first half hour of the film. The film floats in and out of 3D but when it does take you into the Grid the action looks crystal clear and vibrant, with a stunning use of colour and light. The well-received soundtrack by Daft Punk is fantastic and, for me, it was the true highlight and legacy of the film.
So that’s the positives… Now for the negatives (in no particular order).
Garrett Hedlund is terrible. He may as well have been a cardboard cutout. The same could be said for Clu. This digitally recreated younger Jeff Bridges is so unrealistic and so creepy it spoiled the film for me. Every time I looked at him I was reminded of the artifice of the film. Michael Sheen was beyond appalling. I could barely look at the screen when he was on it.
Jeff Bridges was fine, Olivia Wilde was fine, as was Beau Garrett, but it needed more than fine. The plot could have been supplemented with far more of the chase scenes that still stand out so memorably from the original Tron. The ending was timid and dull, as befitting a movie that stretched on forever and left one feeling that Tron belonged in the 80s, tucked away in that arcade game world of escapism. I had fancied seeing the original again but now I feel that I should leave it where it is – as a nostalgic and happy memory, like my Rubik’s cube and Commodore 64.
The hype surrounding Tron: Legacy means that we all, or a big chunk of us, want to see the film for ourselves. Unfortunately, this means a big disappointment for many of us. On the upside, at least it can’t possibly be as bad as Yogi Bear…