Sunday, December 19, 2010

I've Had It Up To Here With Computers! (For The Moment)

Waiting for a six-thousand punch-card return tweet, 1950's

I just went to see Tron: Legacy.

At first, it felt like a great aesthetic sugar rush. Then, a wash of cyclamate. By the end - unfortunately, a heap of rebaudioside A.

How can a thrill twenty-eight years in the making - with a budget of one approximately hundred and seventy million dollars - be so uneven and unsatisfying? I know it's Disney (conventionally chaste, deeply sanitary), so we're not expecting Lynch, VonTrier or even John Guillerman. But it would have been gratifying to have a movie with some deep glimmers of invention filling out the screen under all those new visuals. It's got that over-processed flavour that all the big-box movies seem to be coming in lately: a texture both frantic and turgid.

I suppose I'm disappointed that with the immense resources at it's disposal, the studio could have tapped the best thinkers, visionaries and prognosticators out there to make a film that would not only be current, but prescient - and great fun. Nope! The main bulk of the film doesn't even address the internet - it takes place in a box hidden under someone's desk. In an age where digital media, connectivity and access are rewriting so many social norms, this is a staggering oversight, and calls into question the imaginative capabilities of the writers. If there was ever a time or opportunity to have a movie that looked at the internet from a wholly unique angle, now would be a good time to have it.
New abstracts, mystery, open poetry. But the flick demands that huge lumps of it be taken with a peculiar literalism. It skims breathtakingly through its own hermetic designs. But they don't connect back to anything here.
It made me feel revved, but it didn't satisfy.

That statement we hear so consistently these days, "The Special Effects Are Great!" - isn't it becoming such a dull refrain? A worrisome commonplace? One that gives people of good conscience pause? I think what's interesting, is that movies have been using this tactic to lure us back since, uh, forever. With the money studios have, they could make It Conguered The World look good. Still, we're such suckers for it.

I find this constant propaganda that we should get used to living with/in/as computers to be a bit depressing. I didn't feel uplifted after this latest round. The visuals are unnaturally sweet. But that doesn't get rid of that disagreeable metallic aftertaste.

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