TRON's legacy continues

TRON Legacy has to be one of the most ancipated sequels ever. And one with the longest gap from the original – aside from the prequel Star Wars films – but we don’t like to talk about those. And now there is TRON Legacy 28 years later…

This has to be one of the most ancipated sequels ever. And one with the longest gap from the original – aside from the prequel Star Wars films – but we don’t like to talk about those.

The original film was loved by critics and cinema goers alike when it was released in 1982, but slipped off the mainstream radar to exist on the cult circuit. For many years it was difficult to even get the film on video, and there was a recent re-release in time for its 25th anniversary. Still hard to find nonetheless.

I could go into the ground-breaking animation that Disney certainly took a risk with nearly 30 years ago now with a young director Steven Lisberger. He and his studio had been quietly working on the concepts away from the usual animation stomping grounds of California, in his hometown of Boston. They had never done a full length film before and even after the idea had been sold to Disney, they were really very unsure how they were actually going to technically do the film itself.

Loosely of course the film was about a programmer/gamer Kevin Flynn who finds himself inside a computer, called "The Grid’ with the computer programs themselves in a constructed human form. He becomes part of a game for control of the entire computer. He fights alongside the protagonist TRON in the gladiatorial games all the while trying not to be ‘de-rezzed’ (killed). Eventually they win and Flynn goes back to his life in the real world. Geek though I am, I am not able to understand the workings of the most simple of computer functions, so I would imagine much of the story is wasted on me… yet I loved the ‘backlit’ animation technique they used combined with live action and animation all combined to make the completely ‘otherworldly’ feel to the film. It was a slow film, with the pace not what we would be used to now.

And now there is TRON Legacy 28 years later. I am going to try very hard not to rave about this film, but it is going to be pretty much impossible to disguise how much I enjoyed it. I know there will be people who have a lot to say about, again, the pace, and the range of the acting and possibly the lack of coherancy in the story, but I just loved it. It had that perfect quality of feeling completely ‘in another dimension’ for want of a better phrase. All the scenes filmed in our reality are shot in 2D. This film has had the luxury of being filmed using 3D right from the start. It is not one of those films where the 3D sequences where filmed at the last minute and thrown into the mix. All the sequences shot in the computer, were done in 3D. And those sequences are extraordinary. It would be like the mind bending shots from ‘Inception’ – that were so amazing – also being shot in 3D. That said – I wonder whether it would also still work simply as 2D. You felt like you could completely ‘suspend your disbelief’ and simply inhabit the movie.

The soundtrack by Daft Punk was a huge part of the film. Much like Inception actually. We saw it in the IMAX in 3D – it was like your head being blown off – but in a good way! Most of the film is shot on a black background with the incredible machines created for this film literally jumping out at you. The bike sequences, fight sequences and flying sequences – just awesome. Jeff Bridges gets to play himself, and also an earlier version of himself as CLU the computer programme who wishes to create too perfect a world. The technology that enabled them to create this spooky younger version of Jeff Bridges was strange to watch as it is close, but not close enough to a human face. Which in the end actually worked in its favour. You really have to see it to see what I mean.

Olivia Wilde is well cast as the character Quorra – and I liked that there was none of the inevitable romantic stuff – even if it is hinted it. Her make up was designed by MAC (see the accompanying article on on TRON make-up here).

Garrett Hedlund is cast as the 27 year old son of Kevin Flynn. We get to see him as a boy as he says goodnight to his father (the very young, computer generated Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn) before he leaves his son and never returns. We then skip forward in time to the present where he is now the largest shareholder in his father’s company ENCOM. He wants nothing to do with the large corporate entity that it has become – wishing that computers would simply make lives better – and that the technology should be accessible to all. He is watched over by his ‘Uncle’ Alan Bradley reprising his role from the original film as Kevin’s friend and programmer. We get to see TRON (played again by Bruce Boxleitner) VERY briefly – which I thought was a real pity.

My favourite character was the flamboyant Castor played by Martin Sheen. He is this wonderful 70’s glam rock, Ziggy Stardust character who owns a nightclub (the DJ’s are of course Daft Punk). He appeared to have a brilliant time playing the role and it definitely is one of the highlights of the film.

If I have a criticisim at all – it is that the visual point of view changes constantly and added to the 3D – there are a few people like me who really struggle with optical issues – I even ended up feeling a bit queasy.

Surely sometimes films are simply about entertainment. A chance to live somewhere else for two hours, to be part of something else for a few hours. Sometimes we don’t need to overthink things – just enjoy a damned good journey. And leave the theatre smiling from ear to ear. This is the film to do it.

With the upcoming release of the movie Walt Disney Studios has released a cool video about the fashion featuring in the movie. The film’s costumes are a must-see.

Please click here to watch the clip:

You can download the video by clicking on the below link:

By Anya Brighouse, 16 December 2010.


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