Why is it that 3D and basic storytelling seem to be such uncomfortable bed fellows? The reasons aren’t obvious: other than having more things falling and flying, 3D shouldn’t affect the way that films are made. And yet it seems that it does, with TRON: Legacy once again proving that no amount of fancy visuals cannot pave over the cracks in a weak script or a weak general idea.
Now I will state for the record, before I really get going, that I haven’t seen the original TRON. But, despite the fact that this is nominally a sequel, that shouldn’t be an issue. The target audience for the new film is the same target audience for the first film: over excited teenagers (with possibly some nostalgic hangers on). So why did I feel like I was completely lost for comprehension the moment that Sam Flynn stepped onto The Grid? Because the filmmakers took it for granted that I’d have some general idea about the rules of that crazy, crazy world.
Are they physically inside the game or are they just avatars? If they die in the grid, do they die in real life? Why are they all immediately awesome at fighting and doing ‘grid stuff’ as soon as they step inside? Why is no one really freaked out about it? These were just some of the questions that were swirling round my head as I watched the massive planes, bikes and buildings (curiously bedecked in the retro light striping of the original) popping out at me from their 3D haunches. Comprehension wasn’t assisted by Garrett Hedlund’s smug turn as Sam Flynn (as an actor he is totally lacking in star quality) or in Jeff Bridges desultory flashbacks (who/what even is TRON?). So my enjoyment of this film crucially came down to whether or not I was willing to forgive the film’s shortcomings and concentrate on its stunning visuals (by which I mean Olivia Wilde). Unfortunately I was not.
Another brutal example of why 3D needs to sort itself out before it gets stereotyped alongside movies with barely a semblance of plotting. A fine mess.