Deadly Dodgeball and Daft Punk: A Review of Tron: Legacy

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It’s pretty unusual for a sequel to be made 28 years after the original was released. Disney clearly think so too; they’ve been trying their very best to pretend it never existed in the first place. It’s almost impossible to track down a copy of the film on DVD, strange considering it’s status as a real cult-classic. Indeed, Disney seem more or less ashamed of the original Tron‘s primitive CGI and have decided it’s best we all imagine Tron: Legacy as a completely new franchise. And since the amazing visuals are the chief selling point of the new film, you can see why Disney are pulling such a cheap trick.

Tron: Legacy tells the story of Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), who is investigating the disappearance of his father, Kevin (Jeff Bridges) who went missing 25 years ago. In the process, Sam manages to get sucked in to the dangerous, digitised universe – The Grid – where his father is being held captive. It can all be a bit hard to follow if you haven’t seen the original, since it throws a lot of light on the returning characters, but it’s not essential viewing to enjoy Tron: Legacy.

The story has potential; after all, it’s not that often your dad gets trapped by his own deranged, digital doppelganger. Sadly, the dialogue is rather limp, and you start to wonder if Hedlund was delivered a notebook of cheesy quips instead of the final working script. Bridges, on the other hand, is decent but spends half of his time waffling on about the power of meditation in a digital world, and the other half looking spaced out.

The film is built almost entirely on its visuals and they are utterly breathtaking. It must take considerable breadth of vision to have conceived of a world as unique as this, and in terms of spectacle, the film takes us to a whole new level. The world of Tron is even stranger than that of Pandora from last year’s Avatar, and in that regard, the movie is an assured success (although the 3D effect is arguably still negligible). The only problem with the visuals are that the film’s villain, Clu 2.0, a digital recreation of a much younger Jeff Bridges, unfortunately teeters on the brink of the uncanny valley.

Daft Punk provide an equally mesmerising soundtrack that really lifts the film up from its decidedly average script. It’s hard to think of a band more suited to scoring sci-fi – this is the best film soundtrack I have heard all year. The French duo even make a cheeky cameo; watch out for the pair scratching disks in The Grid’s very own nightclub.

I was genuinely excited about seeing Tron: Legacy. The film isn’t the empty spectacle it could have been, but it is none the less disappointing. The current face of science-fiction is impressive to behold, and taking it all in is a jaw-dropping experience worth catching on the big screen. Just don’t expect the story or characterisation to make waves.

6/10

Good Points: The CGI is, in a word, awesome; the Tron universe is a work of art.

Bad Points: Intergalactic dodgeball can’t cover for dull scripting.

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