Film Fanatic: Guilty pleasures

The Beek tries to come to terms with his unlikely love affair with Tron: Legacy

There’s no two ways about it, 2010 will be remembered as a vintage year for modern cinema. Toy Story 3, Winter’s Bone, The Social Network, Inception, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, Kick-Ass, Piranha 3D, The Illusionist, Buried, Mother and Easy A all broke cover at the UK box office that year, while the likes of True Grit and Black Swan were making a late bow in the US, ready to leap across the Atlantic in the New Year.

All of the above are films that I both admire and adore. They’re films that thrilled me with their audacity and spectacle, made me laugh and cry, or simply challenged me in ways I wasn’t expecting but ended up relishing. So, given all of that, why is it that the one film made in 2010 that I’ve found myself returning to more than any of the others is Tron: Legacy?

Let’s get this out of the way right now – I don’t think Tron: Legacy is a great film. Heck, with all of its narrative and pacing issues it’s lucky to scrape by as a good one. But there’s something about this particularl piece of sci-fi that keeps me coming back for more – far more frequently than its smarter or more successful brethren (Inception, anyone?) have ever managed.


It certainly doesn’t hurt that Tron: Legacy makes such a good impression as a Blu-ray release. The high-definition visuals – in both the AVC ‘flat’ presentation and MVC stereoscopic version – are mind-bogglingly sharp and vibrant. This is particularly true of the incredible IMAX scenes that see the aspect ratio switch from 2.40:1 to 1.78:1 (and there’s none of the off-putting edge enhancement that afflicted the Blu-ray release of The Dark Knight, which employed a similar mix of 35mm and IMAX footage).

Just as thrilling, if not more so, is the disc’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio. Not only is it a wonderfully rich and dynamic mix that makes complete use of the enhanced soundfield (one of the benefits of being mixed for 7.1 in the first place, rather than upmixed from a 5.1 source), but it also works wonders with the score.

Ah yes, here comes another big piece of the puzzle – Daft Punk. The French duo’s bizarre blend of orchestral and electronic music is one of the best movie scores I’ve ever heard. Traditional and experimental, futuristic and retro, it’s an unqualified success that works just as well as a standalone album (trust me, I’ve spun up the CD a lot) as it does accompanying the film’s visuals.

But even state-of-the-art hi-def picture and audio aren’t enough to have me repeatedly returning to a disc regardless of the quality of the film itself. If they were, then Avatar would be up there with the most-watched platters in my collection (and what a ghastly thought that is).

Nor is it one of those ‘It’s so awful, it’s brilliant’ things, like my unhealthy fascination with Jaws 3 
(I think I’m more excited about the rumoured 3D Blu-ray release of that film than I am about Spielberg’s original classic getting a hi-def release at last).

No, the truth is that I actually rather enjoy Tron: Legacy. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not a brilliant movie and has of problems in terms of storytelling and structure. But each time I whack it in my BD-spinner I can’t help thinking that there’s a better film struggling to burst out, one that surfaces every now and again to tease and entice me. And it’s those moments that mean I can’t stop watching it, wondering if the great film they promise is buried within...

Which films do you find yourself surprisingly fond of?
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This column first appeared in the June 2012 issue of Home Cinema Choice