Saturday, 8 January 2011

TRON: Legacy

TRON: Legacy needs little introduction; if you didn't see the original TRON movie, you must have picked up on the hysteria surrounding this one. I'm not always one to buy into sequels, especially after a long delay, but recent years have delivered Terminator: Salvation, Predators, and now TRON: Legacy - and all have done justice to their lineage.

It's great to see Jeff Bridges back as Kevin Flynn - rest assured this is more than a cameo appearance and Bridges hasn't lost it, 30 years on from the first film. But Garrett Hedlund also does a fine job of taking the mantle as this instalment's lead character, Flynn's son Sam. An almost unrecognisable Olivia Wilde adds the main female presence as Quora, with Beau Garrett appearing as Jem - both characters providing beauty and strength in equal measures in a film where nobody is there purely to look at.

How Does it Look?

I had the pleasure of seeing TRON: Legacy in an eight-storey 3D IMAX screen, and I'm delighted that was the case. It's the first film I've seen that's designed to be watched in 3D all the way through, with the exception of a handful of scenes that work better in two dimensions. From the opening shots of Kevin Flynn and the young Sam talking in their home, viewed through the window in the style of a peeping Tom, the third dimension adds real depth and helps to draw the eye to the action.

Once into the true TRON world of the Grid, everything changes again. The special effects demand a world that looks both believable and computer-generated, and the team on TRON: Legacy struck a fine balance. The Grid itself has all the logic and structure one might expect, at the hub of a world that shows the wilderness and battle scars of the three-decade history leading up to this instalment's storyline.

How Does It Sound?

The Daft Punk soundtrack to TRON: Legacy has been one of the real headline grabbers of this movie. That's often a bad thing - more than one film in the past has become dominated by its soundtrack at the expense of the enjoyment of the story itself - but here there's no danger of that. Like the epic computer-generated landscapes, Daft Punk's tracks provide a soundscape that supports the on-screen action while evoking memories of the original TRON.

You can also be assured that the classic 1980s style of TRON is apparent throughout, both in the visuals - the return to Flynn's arcade in the real world and the familiar Grid in the synthetic universe - and in the general style of the soundtrack. Yet the album release has gone under the radar with some people - one woman leaving our screening at the end of the film said "I wonder if you can buy the soundtrack? You probably can..."

TRON: Legacy - Daft Punk

The Verdict

I'm an 80s geek, as regular readers will know, so a new TRON movie made me giddy from the first moment I heard about it. There were problems though - how do you keep Jeff Bridges involved without ageing the movie? How do you bring back the title character, Tron, while moving the story forwards? I don't want to give away too much of what actually happens in TRON: Legacy, to any of you who still haven't seen it, but it's safe to say these issues are dealt with effectively.

There's also an extra 80s bonus in the form of Michael Sheen's performance as Castor, which is a carbon copy of David Bowie's Goblin King Jareth in Labyrinth. I genuinely spent most of his screen time trying to work out how they'd made David Bowie look like that - the voice is spot-on. Given that Sheen has spoken of how he based his performance on Bowie, I can only assume it's a deliberate 80s reference - and to be fair, although it's a little confusing, it works well in context.

In summary, TRON: Legacy stands alone for anyone who has not seen the original, with all the necessary back-story filled in using brilliant Bridges monologues. For fans of the originial, there's new Light Cycle action and all the elements you'd hope for. And in its own right, the movie retains the visionary aspects of the original with a timeless style that leaves me counting the seconds until the third instalment hits the screens.

Final Score: 94%

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