About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tron: Legacy

Tron: Legacy is... well, it's interesting. Kind of like I'd say the first movie was interesting. There's something about it which endures even though I saw it decades and decades ago and never looked back at it.

Certainly the thing of interest here is the look and feel of it. Not terribly original. Borrows from the first film, obviously. But well beyond that. There are lots of things that look like clear references to 2001, like the white room where Jeff Bridges holes up, or that long thing ship of the mind that's a clearly updated version of the Discovery. Other ships wouldn't be out of place subbing for Tie Fighters in a Star Wars movie. However all of the borrowing is presented through a prism that is so clearly Tron that the look of the film is entirely on it's own. It's those glow-in-the-dark lines and the shimmering colors. 2001 has this hardware fixation going, metal as beauty object, Star Wars like a grown up version of a kid playing with his model kit spaceship, and then there's Tron with a look all distinctively it's own. This is also one movie where overdone effects that look like a video game are actually supposed to, unlike a Transformers or 2nd Narnia movie or the Peter Jackson King Kong

Considering the ancestry you would also hope for ths film to take maximum advantage of the 3D, and it does. Most movies are 2D sorts of things no matter how many dimensions they're screened in, the 3D is used to exaggerate some of the back and forth, but there isn't anything really different from the flatness of 2D. Here, things move in layers with more of a sinuous grace,

Alas, the script is in two dimensions, like the five cent head that goes with Nuke LaLoosh's million dollar arm. There's this kid who does things impetuously which makes things worse. But his dad forgives him and he comes through in the end. The only original lines are the ones that uniquely reference Tron mythology. We did the "kid laced up in spacesuit" thing with The Last Starfighter.

Sadly, the acting is as dull as the script, and we need to blame the director some for that. Jeff Bridges needed to bring his inner Ricardo Montalban from Wrath of Khan go bear on lines where he's talking about having his zen thing ruined. These are lines that should work but end up flat as a bad joke in a late nite monologue. When it's an actor like Bridges who could bring brio and isn't, not the actor who forgot. Especially when all the other acting is as lifeless. Garrett Hedlund? Is he this stiff because he can't act or because everyone was told to be stiff, to carry that video game motif to it's sad 1980s conclusion that PacMan and the Berzerk robots didn't act and neither does anyone in Tron. There's only one exception. David Bowie was maybe asked to be in the first movie and said "no" so as revenge the British actor Michael Sheen gets to do some kind of David Bowie impersonation that looks like it came from some other movie and should have stayed in some other movie.

And yet for all my fault-finding the film held my interest most of the time, kept me awake. Which is more than I could say for Avatar.

Final note on the score by Daft Punk. This is excellent. It's intended to and does have the musical palette of a video game from 1980 +/- a few but manages to do amazing things within that limited palette. It always reminds you of but never sounds like that thing from three decades ago.

I saw this at the wonderful Uptown in DC. This may be the first film to be shown in modern 3D on it's big curved screen. There were some aspect ratio problems as a result, sections at the edges where the 3D image doesn't fully fill each inch of the curved screen maybe because the 3D needs to be flatter, but it was mostly a big crisp image and happily the 3D didn't diminish the grandeur of the view from the balcony.

1 comment:

Myke said...

I don't think I've ever been to a movie with you where you didn't fall asleep. I think that has more to do with your busy workday and your insistence on walking anywhere than it does with the quality of any movie.