Confession: I have not seen the original Tron, the 1982 film which has subsequently become a cult classic, chiefly amongst (I'm guessing) those of a computer persuasion. Unlike those *cough* geeks *cough*, and many who have a nostalgic, childhood fondness for the film, I approached the sequel with no expectations one way or the other. So I can't say that Tron: Legacy disappointed me. How could it? But bore me? That it did.
Visually the film is impressive but I expected that going in. And there are better people than I who can expound on the technical marvels of this film – the creation of an alternate reality, the soundscape, and the CGI-youthified Jeff Bridges, returning from the original – which are all rendered in 3D (for mine, to little or no effect: I hate 3D!).
And to be honest, I probably knew that it would not be so creative narratively; that first time director Joseph Kosinski, who hails from a career in making commercials, would be more focussed on the look of his film rather than that of the dialogue. It's not necessarily clunky but there's lots of exposition, quasi philosophical talk about creating new worlds and saving mankind through technology. There's also a lot of quasi-religious stuff, too: references to The Father, and the Son of the Creator come to save this world.
That father/creator is Kevin Flynn (Bridges), who has been trapped in the world of Tron for almost 20 years. That would probably go some way to explaining why he talks like a hippie and dresses like a cyber monk. His son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), a rebel without a cause, a chip on his shoulder and a pile of millions to cry into thanks to inheriting his missing father's computer company, inadvertently discovers a way into Tron, is reunited with daddy and aims to get them both home safely.
In their way is Clu, a program created in the young Kevin's image (like God created man?) and resembling Jeff Bridges circa 1982. But Clu has gone rogue, taking over the world of Tron, forcing Kevin into the role of outcast (hence his inability to return home), and has plans to enter the human world, some way or another (how exactly may have been explained during one of my micro-sleeps).
For Clu, I had suspected Kosinski to have used similar technology employed by David Fincher to create the Winklevi in The Social Network; grafting the young Bridges' face onto a body double. But apparently they've used a reverse-aging effect similar to that used (also by Fincher) on Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). Either way, the result is at once impressive and eerie.
But performance wise (and, generally, overall) the highlight of the film was Michael Sheen, camping it up as the David Bowie-esque Castor; owner of a night club where French duo Daft Punk (who provide the film's soundtrack) just happen to be the house DJs. Sheen proves that once he finally exhausts his Tony Blair impersonation, he'd make a great Ziggy Stardust in a biopic of the flamboyant rocker.
Sadly, Sheen wasn't around long enough to sustain my interest. Immediately upon seeing Tron: Legacy, I tweeted (hastily, perhaps?) that it was my 'worst film of the year'. There are definitely more poorly written and constructed films, and plenty more that were just intellectually insulting, to have been released in 2010. But Tron: Legacy bored me, and to be boring is one of the worst crimes a film – costing $200 million and starring two Jeff Bridges – can commit.
For those who want to visit alternate realities and have their minds bent this summer, I'd suggest revisiting Inception, out now on DVD and Blu-ray.