For anyone who missed it, here’s the skinny. Basically, what I’m presenting here is my attempt to chart a whole year’s worth of film-watching – something I have wanted to do for some time now. The aim is to post frequently, chronicling every film I watch this year – both offering reviews and setting myself the ultimate goal of watching (and writing about) as many films as humanly possible…
Sorry, running a little behind with the writing schedule (blame the weather, it’s ballsed everything else up), but I have four more films to add to the Diary as fast as my stubby little fingers can work, starting with a sequel I never thought necessary, but which swept me up in the tidal wave of pre-release excitement all the same…
Film #9 Tron Legacy
Who’d have thought I would come out of the cinema thinking of Tron Legacy as one of the best looking films I have ever seen, and almost certainly the best sounding one. The second fact was less than a revelation: the decision to go to Daft Punk for the film’s soundtrack must rate as one of the greatest choices in soundtrack history, and the fact that they didn’t simply produce a new Daft Punk album and tag the Tron name onto it speaks volumes of their value to the final product. Only Hans Zimmer’s Inception soundtrack comes close in terms of quality, but Daft Punk’s outstrips even that glorious body of work thanks to a tangible authenticity that makes the created sound perfectly matched to the spirit of the film.
And even the revelation that the film looked so good wasn’t all that much of a surprise: after all it had to. Back in 1982, to mass audiences at least, Tron looked nothing like anything that had come before – it was aesthetically unique (and pretty fucking brave as well) and set a precedent for innovation that Legacy had to address as a matter of priority. And they did it bloody marvelously – though not quite innovative, the film is startlingly atypical in its visual manifesto and the effect is incredible. The one reservation I have with the visuals is the slight clunkiness of the CGI used to de-age Jeff Bridges - there simply aren’t enough imperfections in the CG-clone’s face to really convey humanity, and until the problems are ironed out I just don’t see the dream of bringing dead stars back to life as a viable possibility.
It’s just a shame the storyline doesn’t quite match up to the visuals or the sound. Tron was accused of similarly being empty, strung together by a very silly plot that even the critics who loved its style couldn’t stomach and it seems that Legacy fits that trend, whether consciously or otherwise. Stripped back, it’s essentially a very similar circuitry chase plot to The Matrix, but too little time is spent on any one element of the story to make it substantial, so instead the experience of watching it is something similar to walking through a museum, it’s very arresting and the individual exhibits are great in themselves, but its definitely a fragmented experience.
The other problem I couldn’t shrug off was an issue of characterisation – first off, Jeff Bridges seems to be playing a slightly mellow Dude, rather than an older Flynn (which in itself isn’t a huge issue), but then Michael Sheen explodes onto screen in an apparent flamboyant tribute to David Bowie that is way too pantomimey by half.
Still, this is one occasion where the visuals and the sound were enough for me, and were it not for time constraints (the film’s British run ends very soon) I would be seeing it again on the big screen. I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that the experience won’t be the same when it hits the home video market.
This article was first posted on January 12, 2011