Thin As A Silicon Wafer: Tron Legacy Review

Don’t get me wrong – I liked Tron: Legacy. I even liked it as a 3D spectacle, and I actually do not like the industry’s faddish usage of 3D all that much. It does help that the film was deliberately optimized for the platform, even learning a few key lessons from James Cameron’s “Avatar” (ie: focal points – don’t fuck with ’em).

But a 3D spectacle was all it was.

It’s a popcorn film. It may very well be the Popcorn Film of 2010. I would not be terribly surprised if it won some major technical awards – the film is jaw-droppingly pretty, just oozing with style and glamor. Packed with a rather… different flavor of Daft Punk than DP’s fans are used to (they take many, many cues from Hans Zimmer, and the film is all the better for it), and you have a visual and audio extravaganza that does an excellent job of ending the 2010 movie year on a high technical note.

It’s just that there was barely any story into it.

Oh, sure. AI revolt, father/son relationships, etc. There was some plot to it. But mostly there were lost opportunities. More commentary on big software corporations and the punks that hack them; more to do with “clean” and “scruffy” AIs. Or even just some demonstration of why it matters that there’s self-developing AI. Actually, more demonstration and less talk would go a long ways. A significant part of the film is spent talking about, rather than showing, the things that drive what scant plot exists.

There was basically just enough plot to make the movie cohesive. And not a whit more.

That’s fine, quite frankly. Not every movie needs to be a nuanced discourse on the human condition. Some films might even suffer from it. Arguably, if Tron: Legacy tried too hard, it would’ve just been unfavorably compared to the Matrix – and it wasn’t as if the original had much substance to back its then-cutting-edge style either. Tron: Legacy is enormously enjoyable even without it, and I fully encourage anybody still waffling on whether or not to see it to go ahead and plunk down the extra $5 for the 3D version – you’ll be quite happy you did, especially when it comes to the lightcycle combat.

I just find it a bit regretful that the potential shown in the film’s going to be left to the fanfiction writers.


~ by Gonzo Mehum on December 22, 2010.

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