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Tron: Legacy

  • Written by  Jen JP
  • Published in Film

Disney's budget-buster takes special effects to spectacular and stylish new heights.

Tron arrived in cinemas at exactly the right time back in 1982. It was the start of the video game era, with games like Space Invaders and Pac-Man eating up kids' hard- earned pocket money; advances in microchip technology meant that computers were no longer hulking great monsters- home computers were looking to become a realistic option, and thanks to cinema visionaries such as George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, movie special effects were advancing at an impressive rate. At the time, Tron and its special effects were absolutely state-of-the art, and the subject matter- virtual reality and super fast, super sophisticated computers were in the forefront of people's imaginations.

Fast forward to 2010 and everything, from computers to video games to CGI have advanced at a staggering rate. So it was only natural that the exciting virtual world explored in the original Tron movie benefited from our leaps and bounds in technology.

Tron: Legacy sees Sam Flynn, (Garrett Hedlund) the son of the original protagonist, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) pulled unwittingly into the virtual world of The Grid, twenty years after his father went missing. Things have changed a lot since we left The Grid, and not for the better. Flynn Sr's virtual reality alter-ego, Clu, has become a megalomaniacal tyrant and has shaped the computer driven world as he sees fit. On the run, Sam is rescued by foxy Quorra (Olivia Wilde) a program who is the protege of his father. Reunited at last with his aged dad, the three start out on a huge adventure to get back to the real world before Clu can find a way to escape from The Grid and wreck havoc on the real world.

The special effects in Tron: Legacy are unbelievable. The film cost in the area of 200 million dollars to make, and it's easy to see where all that cash went. The action scenes are dynamic, spectacular and over-the-top in a way that is thoroughly enjoyable and never, ever boring. The MOCAP-based CGI effects for the younger version of Kevin Flynn are spot on. At times you can almost tell you're looking at a CGI character, but being that this character is a computer-generated image of The Grid, that illusion works perfectly. The facial expressions, the wicked glint in his eye, the textures of his hair and skin are so flawless that you will forget that the younger Jeff Bridges you're looking at isn't totally the real thing. The visual production isn't all just special effects, though- the film retains a great 1980's design sensibility in some of the hair and make-up touches. The costumes look fantastically high-tech while retaining the cool original aesthetic, and the whole lot is complimented by a soundtrack from the French electronic music act Daft Punk. The plot is well paced and stops short of being too convoluted or high tech. While there are a lot of high-concept themes on offer, they are given something of a Disney treatment, and don't get in the way of the action-packed story.

Garrett Hedlund is suitably brooding, energetic and cocky as Sam Flynn; Olivia Wilde is big-eyed, slinky-suited loveliness as Quorra, a program anomaly who kicks some serious butt; Michael Sheen has a wonderfully camp role as the David Bowie-esque program Castor; Tron original Bruce Boxleitner is looking good as he reprises his role as Alan Bradley. The real star of the show is undoubtedly Jeff Bridges, who plays senior Flynn as a man who has spent a lot of time meditating on the mistakes he has made in his life and is well capable of making amends. In addition, he spends plenty of screen time in CGI for as a much younger version of himself reprising the original role of Clu.

There really is something for everyone in this film. There are fight scenes, motorbike chases, flying machines battles, eye-popping special effects and even a few laughs. The film also benefits hugely from the advances in 3D production in recent years, which definitely add something special to the virtual reality landscapes of The Grid. While the original Tron didn't totally set the box office on fire, there's no doubt Tron: Legacy will be an enormous and well deserved hit over the school holidays.

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