peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2010 12 22 TronLegacy

TRON: Legacy

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I promised Sandy and Albert a long time ago that we'd go see this. As it turned out, Sandy was in Melbourne with her parents, so I ended up going with Albert, Rob and his mate Nick to a cheapie 3D session at The Ritz.

This is not a movie to reflect on deeply; if it wasn't trading on the TRON brand I doubt it would have pulled a crowd at all. I wonder if it will make back the $US170M it cost for all that digital wizzbangery.

The brand really is all they're trading on; there is little of the TRON aesthetic here beyond the luminescent lines on the clothing, and Jeff Bridges, I guess. So many of the plot devices don't amount to anything: the army, the game grid, the "perfection" that Clu is charged with finding and enforcing. While I grant that genocide is more emotive than tax evasion ala Star Wars, the isos aren't given an opportunity to show what makes them special; they are as risible as reducing the Force to something in the bloodstream. Towards the end I hoped they'd switch to vaudeville, with Sam downloading the iso DNA into his iThing and flogging it to the Japanese sex robot industry, neatly dovetailing with Bridges' neo-zen and his primary competition from the 1980s.

I liked the original aesthetic; some deride it as the best that could be done in 1983, but like Art Deco and the rest of modernity I think it strikes a good bargain with the limitations of the day. That world was flood-filled, sharp-edged, digital, a partially-successful metaphor for what goes on in those then-new machines. This movie disposes of all that in trying to be realer than real, as Rob said: it is continuous, with light cycles bouncing around like Arnie in Terminator 2, rather than switching at grid points, and the planes stall like in Iron Man. Vale inventive, speculative metaphysics, hello lazy script writing.

The worst part of the whole thing is how derivative it is: we have the useless Orc army from The Lord of the Rings (how could our heroes stand against those? — don't you worry about that), and that climactic "Thou shall not pass" Gandalf guff, the Discovery-as-freight-train from 2001, "I am not your father" from one of the Star Wars, Tony Blair as Michael Sheen, camping it up as the albino who got rejected from the Matrix. Everyone's into their martial arts, which is completely unexplained as Sam does little to show he can do any of this in meatspace; Larry Fishburne is just a cop now. They missed the Genesis part of the story, and in doing so reduced this to no more than a demonstration of 3D technology in 2010, doubtlessly already surpassed. If I'd seen Inception then I could probably complain about what a crap ride through inner space this is.

Dana Stevens was even less impressed.