Directed by Joseph Kosinkski
Indebted to the 1982 film for its staggering aesthetic, it has been a long time since a mainstream Hollywood release has been as visually dynamic. Avatar’s humoid creatures and pastel coloured flower world cannot even begin to compete with the stark modernism of the monochromic Tron design. Further enhance by Daft Punk’s energetic and pulsating score, Tron:Legacy is without a doubt the cinematic experience of the year.
As an experience, it is purely one of the senses. The film will not necessarily tug at your heart strings, though it certainly has a few interesting, if not shallowly developed ideas. It is completely invasive and immersive and to not give credit to first time filmmaker Joseph Kosinki would be a crime. There are many films in recent years that reach for similar science fiction aesthetics and all of them have fallen short. They lack the inherent self-awareness and the understanding of the slight nuances in human versus non-human motion. The film, unfortunately, somewhat ruins this illusion by including the computer generated Jeff Bridges in the prologue, while his presence in the Grid is somewhat justified by the surroundings and digital environment, he is quite obviously out of place in the “real world”.
Not merely a stunning visual design, the parts are brought together with a strong editing form. It has been a long time since action scenes have leapt off the screen with respect to spatial realities – even ones that do not obey the laws of our world. Unlike many films, the characters seem to be constantly on the verge of death. Even early on, many scenes seem to hint very obviously at the fallibility of the “human” characters. This is entirely consistent with Jeff Bridges’ original quest for perfection and his spiritual awakening that opened up the possibility for imperfect adoration. Though some all too obvious and not entirely well integrated allusions to mythic and biblical ideas and figures, the core idea about the pursuit of perfection at the expense of humanity and spirituality is touching as delivered by the most loveable man in cinema – Jeff Bridges. If only the film were able to perfect match its visual schema with its emotionality and themes, like Blade Runner, Tron: Legacy could have been without a doubt the strongest film of the year. The film’s introspection often comes across as somewhat silly but is appreciated for it’s Lebowski- like zen quality.
Unfortunately, as with most blockbuster’s, depth is forgone in favour of universal appeal. Not that this film will necessarily appeal to mainstream audiences, but it is somewhat tainted by its by-the-numbers quest plot. Its camp appeal does alienate it somewhat from its contemporaries, but a bit of self-conscious humor is always welcome in a genre saturated by overt seriousness and macho-hetero one liners – though a few of those sneak in as well. The film is watching if only for the incredible combination of Daft Punk and crazy light imagery, will easily be one of the few enduring blockbuster vehicles for our age. It will not make as much money as Avatar, but it will be remembered far more fondly.