December 23, 2010

Nano Film Review #30 - Tron: Legacy, the film and soundtrack

Tron: Legacy is a movie that shouldn't exist. But I'm glad it does.

It's a sequel to a groundbreaking (in terms of technology) film . . . that's 30 years old. A film that doesn't hold up well if watched today (unlike the original Star Wars which, aside from some hair styles, holds up well because it was a ground breaking film that relied on physical models, not computer graphics). But the original is a good little film, if you watch it saying to yourself, "It was ground breaking 30 years ago."

Rumor has it that Disney has tried to bury the original Tron so young viewers won't think "they made a sequel to that rubbish?" and choose to spend their money on another movie instead. This is actually probably a good plan, whether they did it intentionally or not.

Tron: Legacy is also a solid film. It's got breath-taking visuals. Even watching the trailer, you can see deliberate symmetry in almost every shot. The graphics are mesmerizing, the action has a fluid motion that you don't find in other movies like this.*

The story is a weak spot. It's not terribly deep or complex, but it has an emotion and an energy absent in other movies like this.*

The characters are likable. Quorra, Sam, and Jeff Bridges as Flynn are all people I wouldn't mind spending time with (Quorra and Flynn more than Sam). The bad guys are cool, and the background characters are strange and interesting.

I saw it in 3D, which was cool and natural. I didn't feel like the 3D got in the way of the storytelling, but it also wasn't needed. I would have liked it just as well in 2D, I think. We'll see. If I see it again.

But the real star, to me, was the soundtrack. I've written about it before. I know nothing about Daft Punk, except that people got excited that Daft Punk was doing the soundtrack. But when I started hearing snippets, I started liking what I was hearing. And now the Tron: Legacy soundtrack has a permanent place in my regular rotation of atmospheric music and soundtrack albums. It's big. It's cool. It gets the blood pumping. And it fits the movie like a glove. To me, the movie almost becomes a visual showcase for the music. Daft Punk actually appear in the movie:

So, do I recommend the movie? Yes, if you want a visually stunning film with a great soundtrack and some fun characters. But Inception this ain't. It ain't meant to be. And that's one thing that I've taken away from the film. Just let your story be what it's going to be. They don't try to make it into something that it's not. It is what it is: a cool, sleek, elegant film with a cool, sleek, elegant soundtrack and cool, sleek, elegant characters. It's a popcorn film, it won't change your life, it's not changing cinema.

Do I recommend the soundtrack? Do you even need to ask?

Speaking of symmetry, I love the way the old poster (below) and the new poster (above) go together.

~ Ben

*When I say "other movies like this" I'm looking squarely at the Matrix sequels, and the first Matrix movie out of the corner of my eye . . .

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