Tuesday, 11 October 2011

"Tron" Review

Tron (1982)
Dir: Steven Lisberger

I shouldn't have written all of those tank programs.”

After having gotten the 2 disc special edition some time ago, I finally decided to pop Tron in the DVD Player last night. I had heard people discuss how they grew up watching this film in the ‘80s and that the special effects, at the time, were cutting edge.

Let me just say right now: I do not really like CGI. Most of the time the object that is created in a computer has no weight or tangibility. I much prefer a bad prosthetic effect to something made up of 1s and 0s.

So, even when CGI is done well, I am not the biggest fan; and in Tron… it ain’t done well. I understand that it was the ‘80s and that computer technology had not progressed to the point it has now, and I’m sure that the visuals that are achieved in Tron must have been very impressive, but that doesn’t excuse the horrible storytelling and ugly presentation. There were so many terrible things about this movie that I don’t even know where to begin.

Maybe I’ll start at the beginning. The first 15 minutes of this movie were confusing as fuck. I had no idea what was going on. Jeff Bridges was sitting in front of a computer typing messages to a miniature Jeff Bridges that was in the ‘cyber space’ in some sort of tank searching for something and then there were people playing an arcade game and the camera zoomed in on the game and the playing field became infinitely large and there were tiny people in there. Holy shit, what the fuck?

As the film progressed I kind of understood it a little better, but it still didn’t make sense. Humans write programs, which are humans inside the computer and each program looks like it’s creator and the laws of physics seem to still apply inside the cyber world and programs feel pain and get high off energy juice that just happens to appear at random places in the cyber world like a watering hole in the desert. I could go on…

Next, the visual style. Ugly, stupid and lacking any sort of defining detail. There was more drama and tension in the CGI mock ups that Peter Jackson used to block scenes in "King Kong" (2005); the one that he showed on the special DVDs that he released about the making of the film. Some people may say that of course Peter Jackson in the late 2000s will have better computer technology than Steven Lisberger in 1982. Fair enough, but if the CGI image is that bad, don’t fucking have it in your movie. Any scene that was completely CGI in Tron was a travesty. It undercut any drama that the film may have built up by looking jarringly out of place. The CGI environments lacked any definition and detail. It would have looked more convincing if it was hand drawn. I get that it may have been an exercise in pushing the limit of the available technology, but if it’s not in service of story of character I’m not interested.

I guess as a positive I could mention that the costumes and any real props that were used to represent the cyber space were quite enjoyable. And I liked the idea behind the fluoro colours, but from what I can tell from the trailer, I much prefer the look of "Tron: Legacy" (2010).

I must say that I didn’t go into the film expecting to hate it, actually quite the opposite. I thought that it would have a fairly light story and enjoyable characters presented in a visually interesting way. I haven’t been this wrong since Avatar.

Top 5 Things About Tron
5. When it fucking ended.
4. Jeff Bridges.
3. When I paused it and went to the toilet to take a Tron.
2. The concept behind the lacrosse rip-off game.
1. That guy getting tortured.


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