2011 now offers film makers the technology to achieve whatever they want and director Joseph Kosinski certainly has a gigantic technological toy box of tricks from which to choose.
The film starts with a short prologue where Kevin Flynn (Bridges) tucks his young son in for the night, nothing odd in that perhaps but Bridges looks like his former self in 1982. His face, motion captured and placed within the film digitally. So Jeff bridges acting and talking now but looking thirty years younger, weird.
A taste of what’s to come – Indiana Jones 9 anyone?
Flynn is quickly AWOL leaving his son to career out of control, whilst ostensibly being head of the company Encom that Flynn created.
A few sly digs at Microsoft later, Sam Flynn (Garett Heldlund) responds to a page that takes him to his deserted fathers arcade, where he eventually manages to access the grid.
From this point on the world becomes almost totally digital, in the sense nothing is real and is almost total CGI.
This is both good and bad.
The effects of course are awesome, the sound and animation is superb (even in 2D), lightcycles always were cool and they remain so here. We also get nifty dune type buggies and majestic spaceships all existing within a world reminiscent of “Bladerunner“.
It’s good to see Olivia Wilde (Quorra – known to you maybe as House’s “#13”) and we have the odd screen pairing of old and young Bridges. This is where the “youthing” effect is most exposed, it just does not look quite right. Saddled with almost a perma grin in places, the subtle inflections a human face can portray just do not appear correct, close but not quite there yet.
Hedlund does reasonably well, managing to put a little bit of humanity into his character. Not easy when you are probably acting against green screens and talking to stand in floor mops for correct CGI eye levels, for hours on end.
Special mention must be made of Michael Sheen, playing Casto/Zuse. Portraying him almost like a inter galactic Freddie Mercury (Queen) but without the inhibition and shyness. Presumably this is intentional but certainly does jar with the rest of the movie. Kudos also to James Frain wearing the most ridiculous helmet since Gary Oldman in “The Fifth Element”.
The plot loosely follows on from the earlier film with Flynn stuck in in his own creation, unable to get back to the real world and his son. “People” he had trusted/created have run with his idea have become his dark side alter ego, leading the grid to places he never expected or hoped for. Beautiful grid creations “Iso’s“, are considered imperfections to be destroyed by Clu, with a faceless mega army, which is now almost a prerequisite in modern Sci-Fi movies.
There is not a lot of depth on offer but the visuals are fantastic, a standout Light-cycle sequence and thundering sound effects carry a large segment of the film. A loose plot of redemption and reconciliation for Flynn are somewhat half hearted but that is not what most people want to see.
Think more Light-cycles, tight leather outfits with subtle lighting and monolithic spaceships that would not shame George Lucas.
Hi Tech fun with excellent special effects and visuals.
Story tends more to low tech and the intricacies are not always easy to follow with no fore knowledge but no matter, if you are in the mood for a imaginative digital mind candy sugar rush, this is your film.