Tron: Legacy


Review by Patrick Garland

When I first heard that Disney was making “Tron: Legacy” I remember letting out an audible “ooh” in front of those around me. This, of course, once again proved how much of a sci-fi geek I really am. But I didn’t care. All I could think about were my memories of watching the original “Tron” as a kid. I recall thinking how cool the light cycles were and how I wished I had one. I also thought the fight scenes were awesome, the red and blue suits they wore were groovy, and the glowing water that made you strong when you drank it was righteous. Not only did I really dig that movie, I also loved the arcade game. I used to spend hours at my local mall dropping quarters into that game.

Those days are long gone and now 28 years later we have a sequel. Not a reboot but an actual sequel. Which I think is kind of cool because it is so rare nowadays. They pretty much reboot everything. So I took my memories and headed to the theater to see “Tron: Legacy”. I went in with dreams of Bruce Boxleitner and early-Eighties computer graphics dancing in my head.

Let me say right away that “Tron: Legacy” has a lot going for it. The visual experience is outstanding. It’s a really cool-looking 3D movie. The effects employed to create a younger looking version of Jeff Bridges are amazing and completely effective. The movie as a whole is pristine-looking and you really have to concentrate to take it all in.

This is what leads to a weakness of “Tron: Legacy”. While you are busy basking in the visual you might miss the plot that at best is sort of half baked. Of course, that is not necessarily a bad thing. It works for Jeff Bridges, who portrays the character Kevin Flynn as a half baked, hippie, guru, computer genius. But for many it may come across as confusing or nonexistent. Long story short, ENCOM CEO Kevin Flynn has gone missing from the real world. His son Sam, played by Garrett Hedlund, goes looking for answers and ends up zapped in the computer world, or The Grid, as it is called here. Once there, he meets some hot-looking computer program babes, fights in the game arena, is saved by another hot-looking computer babe played by lead actress Olivia Wilde, and is reunited with his long lost dad who gives him the lowdown on what has gone wrong on The Grid. A lot more happens after that. Some of it makes sense and some of it not so much. But is any of that the point? No, not really.

When you go into a film like this you have to let yourself go just a bit. I admit that maybe the plot could use some work. But if your willing to let yourself believe that our hero can be zapped into a virtual computer world, that programs inside said world look like sexy models, and that these sexy computer program models like to hang out at virtual night clubs drinking virtual cocktails while be entertained by two MP3 programs played by Daft Punk then does it really matter why a program named Clu who looks exactly like Flynn went bad and wants to destroy, destroy, destroy all in the name of progress?

“Tron: Legacy” is about state-of-the-art effects with a little story thrown in to go along with it. It seems obvious Disney is hoping for a new franchise. They even give you a set up in the beginning with a cameo by Cillian Murphy as Edward Dillinger Jr, the son of the villain of the original “Tron” Ed Dillinger. So maybe we will get more of a plot in the sequel to this film which I’m sure will be green-lit any second now.

So I went in with my memories of 80’s special effect coolness and came out with amazement of 21st century special effect achievement. The way I see it, that’s not such a bad thing.

Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Release Date: December 17, 2011
Run Time: 125 minutes
Country: USA
Rated: PG
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures


3 thoughts on “TRON: LEGACY

  1. Patrick, great review! I would argue one point very strongly. You say you have to “let go” when going to a movie like this. Yes, you do. It has been coined as the “willing suspension of disbelief.” For instance, Star Wars is not real right now. We can fly ships in space, but we are light years away from light speed and lightsabers. Yet, each and every element in (original) Star Wars is believable (the audience can indeed “let go” and let the plausibility of this world be real) because the story supports those elements. Yet, in TRON:Legacy, I would have been fine with much of what happened if it was supported by the WRITING! An example, Sam goes into the virtual world. Ok, that is actually not hard for audiences to grasp. It is written into the story that the technology has been created to do that. So you “let go” and let it be that he is IN the computer game world. And I can easily believe in sexy models at night clubs, etc. – all of it was potentially believable. BUT, when he gets there, he is AMAZING not only at the game itself, against players who LIVE and play it daily for decades, but he is a world class athlete. And THAT would have been ok if it was simply JUSTIFIED within the WRITING. I.E. – give me a scene that lasts SECONDS in which he gets off the parallel bars at gymnastic school. Let me see him win a triathalon, or work out with million dollar trainers at a super high tech gym. Give me SOMETHING to suggest he is an elite athlete. Also, give me a few seconds of him actually PLAYING the TRON game. Maybe show him at the end of wining an international competition of TRON gaming geeks. He is the son of Flynn so he plays a lot and wins against all comers. Then, when he wins in the TRON world, it makes SENSE! The movie doesn’t work for me because Sam enters this world, and, with almost ZERO fear, heroically defeats the other characters with almost NOTHING at stake. I felt not an ounce of care for him as he played/fought because he didn’t feel anything except absolute cocky sureness that he would win. There is nothing HUMAN about that. There is also nothing at STAKE. ITs like when young Annakin saves everyone in the latest Star Wars by accident, shooting at the core of the station by randomly pushing a button. So what. There is no loss, no sacrifice. And, in the least, there is no hard work to achieve victory. You never see Sam train for or play these games or athleticism in general. He just simply “can.” That is writing and narrative at its laziest and worst. I.E. I loved all the places the TRON movie took me to. The visuals and ideas were great. Just use some SIMPLE narrative elements to GET ME THERE. Yes, this comment is full of CAPITAL LETTER WORDS be cause I am PI#$$#%#@ at the makers of this movie for being visually stunning and narratively lazy.

  2. Steve,
    Don’t forget that when you say we are light years away from light speed and lightsabers, that STAR WARS technology is not in our future, it was a long time ago…

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