VOD film review: TRON: Legacy
Daft Punk score7
Ivan Radford | On 18, Jun 2014
Director: Joe Kosinski
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen
Watch TRON: Legacy in the UK: Disney+ / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Apple TV (iTunes) / Rakuten TV / Google Play
The word “ground-breaking” gets thrown around like a frisbee these days. This sequel to Disney’s 1982 effects-smashing TRON looks impressive enough to claim such a moniker, but it’s duller than dunking a Digestive in a cup of lukewarm tea. Yes, it’s shiny, and yes, it’s blue, but the most accurate adjective here is “soggy” – if we’re keeping with the biscuit analogy.
Custard Creams wish they were as technologically advanced as Joseph Kosinski’s sandwich of CGI, no plot, and more CGI. Years after Kevin Flynn (Bridges) disappeared from the real world into shiny, blue virtual world, his son Sam (Hedlund – called Sam because he’s basically playing Sam Worthington) gets sucked into The Grid. Given a light disc and kitted out by white lycra-sporting Sirens, he’s a Bourbon Cream in a sea of Jammie Dodgers. The king of the Jammie Dodgers? Jeff Bridges’ digital clone. He’s the Garibaldi of the piece – pretty distinguished at a distance, but look closely enough and you spot all the dead pixels.
The Bourbon takes on the Dodgers with Light Cycles for the first part of the piece, and the chase sequences burn your retinas in a way not seen since 2008’s Speed Racer; a psychotropic marijuana cookie, if ever there was one. But Tron’s excitement never quite heats up enough to melt the Bourbon’s squidgy filling, mainly because first-time director Joe Kosinski has everything set to slow-mo. If half the action was sped up by 50 per cent, you’d be hooked like a kid on Oreos.
Then there’s the screenplay. A frazzled burnt-out husk of an idea, it’s as flimsy as a Rich Tea and riddled with holes. Long conversations use vague terms but never soak up much substance. Characters turn up (hello, Michael Sheen) to perform pointless plot functions, but aren’t programmed to have any more depth that that. At one point we even take time out towards the climax to sit on a dull train ride for 10 minutes. It’s like viewing The Matrix in code form but being forced to study a Malted Milk. Presuming one of those Malted Malks looks a lot like David Bowie.
At least we have Jeff Bridges and Olivia Wilde on board. Chocolate Hobnobs dream of being as sexy as Quorra (Wilde), Sam’s sidekick who defines superb costume design. And The Dude is as commanding a presence as ever – the Ginger Nut of the whole barrel. It’s just a shame his barrel is loaded with those rubbish, coconut-flavoured Nice biscuits instead of good old chunky shortbread. And no matter how much of Daft Punk’s fantastic score you play over the top, Nice biscuits ain’t ever going to taste of anything other than Nice biscuits.
Of course, in blockbuster land, nobody cares what biscuits they’re baking, as long as they sell. Kosinski has crafted a detailed wafer of an idea that screams out love and attention – it’s the prettiest biscuit you’ll ever see – but Lost writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz have dumped a lump of dough on top that smothers it completely. The fact that it didn’t sell like hot cakes says it all. Instead, we’re left with a half-risen finger of a film, one that wants to be an exceedingly good Jaffa Cake but is closer to those pink wafer things you get in variety packs. And no one knows what they’re called.
TRON Legacy is available on Disney+ UK, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription or a £79.99 yearly subscription.