Thursday, 9 September 2010
When I was a kid, we would rent videos from the little shop in the village. There wasn't a wide selection, but my and my brother were happy with watching a "Star Wars" or "Indiana Jones" for the seventeenth time. We would get a chocolate bar or treat of some kind and settle in for an afternoon in front of some adventure film or other.
One such occasion was a viewing of "Tron". My only memory of which is that a giant face blasted a man against a wall, the man then screamed and got dissolved.
It was at this point that I stopped watching. The intensity of the agony on the man's face and his screams had shaken my childish resolve and I decided I would rather go upstairs and eat a Kit-Kat than watch a scary film.
This was most likely in the mid-late eighties. I would never watch "Tron" again.
Fast forward twenty-odd years, and there is a new, state-of-the-art "Tron" film coming out, getting rapturous receptions at nerd-fests and lighting up the internet with groovy neon flashiness. I have lived through "Tron" references in movies and tv shows, seen the film go from box-office failure to cult film to massive summer blockbuster sequel fodder, and never once revisited it.
So, I'm in Blockbuster the other night, with my brother and my sister (my sister didn't even exist at the time of my first "Tron" viewing attempt), looking at new releases. As usual there's bugger all out, so after picking up "Kick-Ass", my brother wanders into the rapidly diminishing "Old Film" section. He sees a 2-Disc deluxe DVD edition of "Tron" that was released about eight years ago. He saw a copy of "Super Mario Bros" first, but that's not really relevant to this story.
So we go home for the traditional film night, sitting round the telly like "The Royle Family", and fire up some hot "Tron" action.
The man-dissolvey scene takes place in the first five/ten minutes or so of the film and is, of course, nowhere near as Kit-Kat necessitatingly scary as my childhood-trauma suggested. The tension of waiting for that scene to appear now released, I was entering unknown territory...
And here's the thing. Cult-favourite, well-loved, culturally significant, seminal CG movie "Tron" is a load of shit.
It starts out confusingly jumping between the real world and the computer realm, never actually establishing a world for us to engage in. Characters drift into the narrative, spouting exposition laden with techno-babble computer jargon, performances range from bad to fucking ridiculous, with only The Dude and David Warner injecting anything approaching personality into their characters, there is little logic in the plotting, the dialogue frequently has to announce what just happened or is happening due to the barrage of nonsense on screen, and the whole thing is dull, flat and uninvolving.
The only thing that sets this film apart is the look. The pioneering CGI is amusing to behold, though it renders the action scenes stilted and slow moving, and the green-screen sets and wacky costumes help define the iconic style of the film, although the fact remains that this is merely a sub-"Krull" 80s adventure film with unusual special effects.
A friend of mine said that this is how people will react to "Avatar" in twenty years time.
We put "Super Mario Bros" on after "Tron", and Hoskins and Leguizamo were infinitely better company than Bridges and his digital buddies for an hour and a half.
Let's hope they actually try to make "Tron: Legacy" a film instead of a CG showreel.