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Cinema Reviews Thoughts

Tron: Legacy

After 28 years, the Tron franchise is resurrected with a visually stunning but emotionally hollow update to the original film.

The first film was about a brilliant software engineer, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who enters into a virtual world whilst this sequel picks up many years later as his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) tries to solve the disappearance of his father.

Responding to a mysterious message he finds himself pulled into the world where Kevin has been trapped.

Aided by a female warrior Quorra (Olivia Wilde), father and son have to escape the new digital universe and the clutches of those who now rule it.

The original film was by no means a huge hit, but it was a pioneering film that used computer graphics and live action in a way that foreshadowed the revolution in CGI over the last 30 years.

Disney’s decision to reboot Tron for a new generation, seems to be an attempt to engage audiences who remember it and to adapt the technology driven story for the current digital age, utilising cutting edge 3D and digital effects.

On a purely technical level, the film largely succeeds.

Director Joseph Kosinski has a background in architecture and commercials and the look of the film is remarkable.

Not only are the individual visual effects impressive, but the alternate digital world of ‘The Grid’ is brilliantly realised by the effects team from Digital Domain.

The dark, neon lit landscape is a dazzling upgrade from the first film and the stylised costumes, light cycles, discs and various vehicles all provide a feast for the eyes in both the action sequences and calmer moments.

Utilising a similar 3D camera system on which Avatar was shot has paid off, using the frame in an immersive, considered way which contrasts with recent productions which unwisely opted for retrofitted 3D in post-production.

The one visual misstep involves a digital version of Bridges, which only serves to highlight the difficulty in crossing the ‘uncanny valley‘ when using motion capture characters on screen.

But there is a deeper problem at the heart of Tron: Legacy, which is the chasm between the pioneering visuals and the writing.

The script by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis feels clunky and episodic, like episodes of TV show cobbled together in a rush or levels on a computer game that are just there to be completed.

This leads to an inherent lack of drama and consequence to the material, despite the visual pyrotechnics that make it so captivating to look at. It also means the performances suffer, as the characters are often just cogs in a wheel.

Hedlund is a generic young lead who lacks charisma; in contrast, Bridges has presence and gravitas as the elder Flynn, whilst these qualities are absent in his younger alter-ego C.L.U.; Wilde looks and feels right for her part, but has little to do except kick some obligatory butt.

In supporting roles Michael Sheen seems to be doing a camper version of David Frost as a mysterious club owner and actors such as James Frain and Beau Garrett also feel like elaborate props rather than actual characters.

Despite these fundamental drawbacks, the score by Daft Punk is absolutely epic: a wonderful mixture of their trademark electronica with a full orchestra that gives the whole film an extra kick.

It is curious to predict how audiences will react to Tron: Legacy as it references a lot of the original film and yet at the same time feels quite different.

Disney have opted not to re-release the original, so its presence lingers over this sequel in a strange way: are they worried about it looking dated in comparison or just planning for releasing both films on Blu-ray and DVD at a later date?

Certainly the original, whilst groundbreaking, wasn’t a huge hit and there has to be a concern that a new generation might be a little confused as to why this new film exists and why it took nearly thirty years to warrant a sequel.

If you look closely at the end credits you’ll see the filmmakers thank the fans of Hall H at Comic-Con, the annual convention which has held such a sway over Hollywood in recent years.

This film has been a fixture there since 2008 when Joseph Kosinski and producer Sean Bailey gauged interest for the project with test footage and even earlier this year where they recorded audio from the crowd, presumably for the arena sequence.

But is there a danger of Hollywood pandering to the geek-fuelled fantasies of Comic-Con?

Given that Disney has spent a rumoured $200 million on this film, they will be anxiously hoping that mainstream audiences are as passionate as fans in Hall H.

The finished film reflects the strange journey it has had to the screen, as it is both technically dazzling and structurally disjointed.

Although Disney can expect a big opening, the film’s shortcomings as a drama and possible confusion as to what it actually is (a sequel to a semi-cult 1982 film) could mean it struggles to have an impact on the wider culture.

> Official site
> Reviews of Tron Legacy at Metacritic
> Find out more about Tron at Wikipedia
> Details on the Daft Punk score

Categories
Behind The Scenes Interesting music

Tron Legacy Soundtrack Preview on KCRW

KCRW recently presented a preview of the Tron: Legacy soundtrack which included a lengthy chat between director Joseph Kosinski and Jason Bentley.

Daft Punk’s score for the upcoming film is one of the most anticpated of the year and Bentley was instrumental in getting the French duo on board.

A lot of secrecy has surrounded the project but Bentley and Kosinski discuss various elements of the soundtrack in this 55-minute program.

Hollywood Records have also streamed 20 minutes of the soundtrack on MySpace:

Tron: Legacy is out at cinemas on December 17th

> Transcript of the show at KCRW
> Buy the Tron Legacy soundtrack or download the MP3 version from Amazon UK
> More details on the soundtrack
> This is the studio in London where Daft Punk recorded the soundtrack

Categories
Soundtracks

Daft Punk Tron Legacy Soundtrack

New details and samples of Daft Punk‘s hotly anticipated soundtrack to Tron: Legacy have surfaced online.

One of the more unlikely collaborations in recent years, it sees the French duo provide some seriously hip music to a film released by the studio that gave us Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers.

As a film studio Disney have in recent times increasingly focused on their family friendly cash-cows but Tron: Legacy is something of an exception.

A live-action sequel to the 1982 film about a computer hacker trapped inside a virtual world, it sees Jeff Bridges reprise his role from the original film and Garrett Hedlund play his son.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski, who has carved out a considerable reputation making acclaimed CGI-driven commercials, it is one of the major cinema releases this Christmas.

Kosinski was keen to have Daft Punk compose the film score, saying:

“How could you not at least go to those guys?”

They recorded it with a 100-piece orchestra at AIR Lyndhurst Studios in London and it mixes electronic and orchestral elements.

A teaser trailer for the film featured the duo and showcased the track “Derezzed” from the soundtrack.

On the official Facebook page for the soundtrack, two samples have been posted of ‘Derezzed’ and ‘The Game Has Changed’.

Recently on Radio 1 Annie Mac played the track ‘Tron Legacy (End Titles)’, much to the delight of fans.

Tron Legacy – End Titles by Mr HBF

Disney also released this six minute sample of the soundtrack on their site for the upcoming awards season:

[audio:http://www.waltdisneystudiosawards.com/audio/tron-soundtrack.mp3]

This is the track list for “Tron: Legacy”:

  1. Overture
  2. The Grid
  3. The Son Of Flynn
  4. Recognizer
  5. Armory
  6. Arena
  7. Rinzler
  8. The Game Has Changed
  9. Outlands
  10. Adagio For Tron
  11. Nocturne
  12. End Of Line
  13. Derezzed
  14. Fall
  15. Solar Sailer
  16. Rectifier
  17. Disc Wars
  18. C.L.U.
  19. Arrival
  20. Flynn Lives
  21. Tron Legacy (End Titles)
  22. Finale

The album is available for pre-order in standard and deluxe editions tronsoundtrack.com or tronsoundtrack.co.uk

The 22-track disc will is out on December 7th, with the Disney film arriving in theaters on December 17th.

> Pre-order the Tron: Legacy soundtrack on Amazon UK
> Official site for the soundtrack
> Find out more about Tron: Legacy at Wikipedia