A Double Picture Show

Once again I’m back with a lack of progress on the Skyrim mod front. This time, it wasn’t my fault though: I set aside yesterday to work on it, but the Creation Kit website with the tutorials I’ve been following was down. Not something that happens much these days!

Instead, I watched a pair of films: Tron Legacy and Only God Forgives. One of them was an overstylised mess that forgot basic things like “characterisation” in favour of a trying and failing to make a statement and…..well, the other one was the same but had a Daft Punk soundtrack.

I had high hopes for Only God Forgives. I really like Drive, by the same director but I have to conclude that he learned all the wrong lessons about why that film was a success. Only God Forgives is hugely overstylized and over saturated to the point of being unnecessarily hard to follow (I think this is a dream sequence…wait, he’s never met, seen or even to my knowledge been told about that guy how so is he dreaming about him. OK now we’re getting properly Freudian- wait she’s actually there and the dream bit ended??). Characters were also poor. Most characterization was a flat “Is a bad person” with the main characters getting as far as “is a messed-up bad person”. Ryan Gosling again barely speaks, but unlike Drive I don’t think that trick works here.

The only character I remotely cared about was the retired Thai police captain (I only found that’s what he was by googling the film afterwards. He just sort of…shows up in the film itself.) and that’s because his one-dimensional “Only Justice” schtick was the least awful character in the film. Actually, two-dimensional. His love of karaoke gives him two things he cares about, so by default he’s best characterized.

The last thing about the film is the violence level. In Drive, the shocking level of violence worked because it seemed realistic in a fairly grounded film, it communicated the consequences of the choices the Driver made. In Only God Forgives, it doesn’t come off that way- the hyperstylization makes it lose the groundedness and it just comes off as unnecessary and nasty. It’s a specific example of the director drawing the wrong conclusions as to why Drive worked.

Overall, my advice is to avoid it. I don’t say this very often but it’s really not worth watching: it doesn’t say anything and it doesn’t look good either.

Tron Legacy is a much better film, but still not a great film. Unfortunately, the best way to describe it is “all CGI, no heart”. Gone are the endearingly low-fi graphics of the original, replaced with glossy CGI setpieces and leather-clad female leads that wouldn’t look out of place in the Matrix. In fact, the makers of Tron seem to have taken much more inspiration from those films than it’s own prequel. The computer world is now less a strange alien landscape and instead is more “relatable” to the real world, like the nightclub location run, of course, by a character dressed all in white. I do have to say that the nightclub proprietor’s camp overacting is far more fun to watch than the equivalent Matrix character’s staid philosophising would have been, however.

The most damning aspect of the film is that it’s supposed to be about a father-son relationship, but they hardly ever relate. Despite ample opportunity for genuine feelings, the film doesn’t ever give them enough time to develop as characters; they just seem to switch to feeling like the plot demands for that sequence.  At least Disney learned and did a much better parent-child interaction a few years later with Brave.

However, I wouldn’t recommend actively avoiding Tron, so that’s a ringing endorsement compared to Only God Forgives! Just maybe don’t go out of your way to watch it, but do give the soundtrack a go. Specifically mentioning Daft Punk at the start was warranted, they did a great job.

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