Wednesday, 5 January 2011


Okay, it's not Christmas any more but I felt the urge to write about something other than Disco for once... Girls can safely look away now: it's about the new Tron.


Okay, it’s not remotely a movie.
It’s really not a blockbuster kids popcorn Harry Potter Narnia thing. It’s not even the endless, dismal Avatar.
Should it be?

I guess, given how much Tron Legacy probably cost, the answer is yes. But there are positives here – for the viewer, if not the investor.

I saw the thing in 3D on a big screen, which is the only way a viewer can honestly expect to get any joy out of the experience. When I walked out of the cinema after two hours of numbing visuals tied into a barmy Eurythmics-on-ecstasy soundtrack, I can’t say I was entertained.

What I was: was calm. I’d watched something that cleared my brain in the way good art (or drugs) is supposed to.

Anybody remember The Lawnmower Man? Of course not, yet at the time it had ‘ground-breaking’ computer visuals etc. Only it attached them to a crappy sub-B movie plot with Pierce Brosnan, rendering the whole film redundant. The story got in the way of the visual experience. Far better I think to choose the Tron Legacy route and forget everything but the art.

Of course, it would have been nice to see the Tron Legacy people had in their heads, the film they wanted. Intelligent, lightning fast, monumental, gripping, funny and weird but alas, Inception is already out there.


Unencumbered by plot, character, story or drama, Tron Legacy is a formalist art piece, exploring the dynamics of vortices, colour and perspective. It’s like a 60s Communist Czech cartoon on a giant screen with pop music instead of progressive jazz.

Apart from Michael Sheen’s ludicrous Ziggy, the frictionless non-existence of characters, acting and chemistry means the viewer puts these out of their mind and concentrates on the two qualities that matter: visuals and sound. And what else is pure film for? If Michael Hanneke had made Tron Legacy, we’d be calling it a work of twisted genius. JG Ballard would have loved its formality – assuming they bunged in a bit of violent cyber-sex, obvs.


Let’s face it first Tron was never a good film. Deadly boring, apart from the brilliantly stupid set-up of imagining a digital world and sending a normal man into that world, the film lacks pace and after sixty minutes stops even pretending to have a story.

There is only David Warner, a god-like actor fatally missed in the sequel (would love to have seen him CG’d up back to his youth) and a proto-Dude Jeff Bridges – who comes back to haunt us in the sequel, in a naff way.

However, Tron’s genius is its sui generis visuals. No other film before or since looks like this. And if you watch the fascinating ‘making-of’ on DVD, you realise no other film was ever made like this before or since. A technique of genius animation never utilised again.
And some great light-cycle chases. Which Tron Legacy takes one step further by even making that dull.


As an old man, I think Tron Legacy is a film about computer gamers – sorry, ‘video’ gamers – and I think in years to come, they’ll see that.

The main guy, that faceless kid, wotsisname, is not a character. He’s a gamer as they like to be in games. And like all heroes in computer games he’s invulnerable, brilliant at everything, great looking and nothing emotional ever touches him. The hands-off approach to emotion and sex in Tron Legacy is designed to appeal to the gamer, I’m sure. The perfunctory love story between the main guy and whatever that girl was supposed to be is reduced to its game essentials: tight leather costumes and kicking baddies heads in.

The reality: that gamers are prematurely obese terrified chair-bound teenage boys hiding behind sarcastic, violent homophobic put-downs, unable to talk to the opposite gender, is not recognised in the Tron-iverse. And for that they will ultimately be truly thankful.


So did I love Tron Legacy? Did I even rate it?

Sadly no, for one specific, rather pathetic, reason: I find anything with a movie nightclub scene and especially ‘DJ’s’ too cringe-worthy to handle. That’s because I’m old.

(One day, I’ll list all the films ruined by setting a scene in a rubbish nightclub – from Terminator to, er, Tron Legacy. No I won’t.)

So there you have it, a redundant review of Tron Legacy. It’s not about anything but hopefully it’s full of relaxing words.