Tron Legacy: 3D – sequel-ish rebooty mish mash, in relation to the original sci-fi epic Tron; and almost 30 years in the making. First off, the story is atrocious, convoluted and a shoddy excuse to bombard your eyes with cutting-edge special effects. Not necessarily a bad thing as the CGI is great, and there’s plenty of sly little nods to the definitive Sci Fi flicks; Matrix, 2001, Blade Runner, original Tron etc. The 3D element (particularly in the computer) was impressive and added to the big, loud, bold & fast action sequences. I enjoyed how the Technical/I.T./Computing terminology and detail is still tight, however this is a bit of problem because the film tries to balance this (appealing to the sub-culture of computer geeks – like the original) with a blockbuster movie – which was alienating to technophobes as it doesn’t hold back with the jargon. The story also relies on viewers seeing & understanding the original to fully ‘get it’. Bridges is alright but essentially plays a watered-down PG version of the Dude. CGI Bridges was so life-like that I bet some people couldn’t tell he wasn’t real. Oh, and Michael Sheen was ridiculous as a Bowie rip-off. The Daft Punk soundtrack was spot on; booming and atmospheric in all the right places. Despite the visual opulence, for an epic big-budget studio film it all feels quite hollow, and purely there for aesthetic reasons / franchise-based ticket sales. Other than the action sequences (essentially graphically updated from Tron), and a couple of scenes that make you think “awesome!” there’s not a whole lot else to take away from Tron Legacy.
In Time: the currency in 2161 is time, and on your 25th birthday you stop ageing… but only have one year left unless you work, beg, steal, borrow or inherit more. Most importantly, this is a well-realised vision of the future, not too ridiculous or unbelievable (Cars, buildings, technology, even the cool designer clothes). The concept is also strong, and quite unsettling that everyone looks fairly young – although not always under 25! Casting’s very clever, JT is more than watchable, Seyfried makes a great damsel with attitude, Cillian‘s a naturally magnetic authority and Pettyfer and his goons make for good pantomime baddies. There’s an interesting parallel/undertone of the current financial crisis, but it’s never the main focus, and due to the subject, there’s also a lot of ‘ticking clock’ situations, which are always visceral. The only downside is that the film has two main settings; standard and turbo. Standard is the great concept/story being played out in quite a mechanical, baggy, and fairly obvious way, however, at least a third of the film is in Turbo mode; the big reveals, pivotal moments and action sequences are all on an air-punching level. Put it all together and you have a well-designed, well-planned, neat, powerful, original and immersive sci-fi film – that’s more than just an update of Logan’s Run!
The Next Three Days: When his wife is sent to prison for a murder she didn’t commit, an everyman embarks on a long-winded jailbreak from the county’s most secure prison. The brunt of the film is Crowe scoping out the prison and dealing with Pittsburgh’s criminal underbelly – making it essentially the Russell Crowe show; which is great because he’s Russell Crowe, but bad because he’s one of those superb actors that manages to elevate otherwise average films above their natural place (see State of Play). The tone jumps up and down, with up to 30 minutes of slow-moving planning, then Crowe getting his action on for a minute or two. When you’re watching it, most of it seems plausible at a stretch, then you think back to everything that a sleepy English lecturer actually did… and feel violated! Also, unless I’m an idiot, they didn’t reveal one question: how did the blood get on to the back of her jacket?! Despite being pretty well made you get the sense that everyone here’s underachieving, and that it’s a film for the sake of being a film, with some big names… for the sake of having the big names (Neeson is in one scene, yet gets 3rd billing.) It’s also more about The First Three Years than The Next Three Days!!