Sunday 26 March 2017

Tron more than just visual feast

MOVIE REVIEWS

Hilary A White

Tron: Legacy

Cert PG

Although a moderate box-office success, Tron broke new ground in 1982 with its futuristic graphics and digital-dimension setting. Twenty-eight years later, this lavish sequel is timely, given the ubiquitous grip of technology on the planet, and after many years of speculation, sci-fi buffs should be happy with the fruits of Disney's labour.

With the weight of responsibility on his shoulders, Joseph Kosinski's directorial debut is slick and ultra-modern, but doesn't forget that you need a human hand to plug the whole thing in.

The intro has the look and feel of a Christopher Nolan project -- stylish and serious, with some moody strings and a Cillian Murphy appearance. We meet Sam (a so-so Garrett Hedlund), the tearaway son of missing super-hacker Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges). Their family business is now an all-conquering video-game goliath run by cut-throat executives, and Sam, eschewing any involvement in the company, is intent on discovering his father's whereabouts.

A tip-off leads him to a secret portal, through which he is sucked into the dimension of light cycles, humanoid computer programmes and, ultimately, his father. He is captured by evil clone Clu (a digitally de-aged Bridges) and made to jump through some dazzling gladiatorial hoops. When the snazzy looking Quorra (Olivia Wilde) reunites son with dad, they set about trying to escape to reality.

Despite the de-aged Bridges' waxy finish and Michael Sheen's ridiculous turn as a camp nightclub owner, Tron: Legacy has much going for it besides the visual feast. Bridges seldom puts a foot wrong these days, and is calmly enigmatic as the father/creator figure. Irish passport holder Wilde, meanwhile, is a pleasing blend of fire and ice.

A sequel is hinted at, and, if so, Disney must insist on such quality ingredients again.

Now showing nationwide

Catfish

Cert 12A

The Social Network depicted Facebook's unsavoury genesis and the throats cut in the name of helping us all "find friends" online. Now, an unforgettable Sundance-courting documentary shows us what may await us out there in the vast universe of social media.

It's excruciating how little can be given away about Catfish -- even its promo campaign urges "don't let anyone tell you what it is". The following, however, can be revealed with minimum risk: Nev Schulman is a young, talented and handsome New York photographer. His filmmaker brother Ariel and sidekick Henry Joost begin shooting him after he receives a painting of one of his photos by a prodigal young girl called Abby. Nev begins a long-distance Facebook correspondence with Abby, her mother Angela and her older half-sister Megan. He and Megan hit it off in a big way, and an online romance blossoms.

Then something happens. That "something" marks a shift in Catfish's tone and focus, which is so dramatic that the very scene in which you feel it will be remembered days after.

As filmmakers, Schulman and Joost follow the "shoot everything, all the time" formula, meaning that in any technical sense this is more a triumph of editing. However, amid the clicks and keyboard taps, something warm, mammalian and tragic in a way fundamental to mankind is found.

The authenticity of the whole plot and situation has come under question -- it's all too linear and convenient, query the critics -- and while it's hard to imagine fiction as good as this reality, there is always the slight chance it may all come out in the wash as a hoax.

If so, Catfish will still deserve a place in the annals for providing a reminder of how emotionally exposed cyberspace can leave us.

Now showing nationwide

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