Tron: Legacy

Greetings, Programs!

Usually when you see Hollywood reboot a classic franchise from over twenty years ago, you’ll find yourself with a palm on your face and lacking a sigh. We’ve all seen too many greats ruined over the last decade and it’s taken its toll on all of us; consider Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Halloween, Transformers, G.I. Joe, and The A-Team, to name a few. Where is it that they’ve gone wrong?  Well, the developers of Tron: Legacy sure seem to have it all figured out. The sequel to the 1982 classic remains true to the original without being afraid to take a few leaps and bounds of its own. If you haven’t figured it out already, I loved this movie.

It would seem that the majority of people (that is, the majority that isn’t simply eating up everything they’re shown) have lost faith in reboots that it would seem that even the briefest mention of one has critics sharpening their teeth. But something about Tron: Legacy was different, and that allowed it to be the perfect update for the new era of movie-making and computer technology. So, enough build-up! Lets get into why this long-awaited sequel was so deserving of the classic Tron.

In 1989, seven years after the events of the original Tron, Kevin Flynn disappears, leaving behind an orphan son, Sam. Now grown up, Sam owns a majority share of his father’s legacy, ENCOM; however, rather that leaving off where is father left off, Sam distances himself from the money-hungry corporate suits now in control of ENCOM, and instead pirates their software in order to make it freely available, as his father had intended. One day, Alan Bradley, an old friend of Kevin’s (not to mention the creator of the original Tron program), visits Sam, informing him of a page he received from Kevin’s office at his arcade. A little skeptical, yet curious, Sam investigates the arcade and stumbles upon a secret office in the basement. Within the office, Sam is sucked into the computer-generated world of The Grid, and he slowly discovers what happened to his father over twenty years ago.

As expected from any movie daring to call itself a sequel to Tron, the graphics are breathtaking. As the original was a breakthrough in computer animation and raised the bar for special effects in cinema, Tron: Legacy takes up the torch and delivers a new generation of visual aesthetics. It totally recreates The Grid into a sleek, stylish new environment that rivals the original. If anything, the visual environment alone could make this movie simply amazing, however it doesn’t end there. I would have really liked to have seen more high aerial shots of the light cycle scenes; the way it was shot made it hard to interpret the entire scene.

One of the boldest moves it makes is taking a time machine on reverse and putting Jeff Bridge’s head in it. During the film we get flashbacks to a young Kevin Flynn, not to mention that the film’s antagonist, Clu, is an ageless program designed in Kevin’s image. While the CG-Jeff isn’t convincing at all, they didn’t do a bad job. You have to admire the effort they put into it, and even if it looked corny as hell, just remember that original Tron was extremely corny as well. You also have to respect that they didn’t cower out of showing the extremely fake-looking face; they didn’t try to keep the suspension of disbelief by obscuring his face, or only briefly flashing it. They legitimately try to pass it as the real thing, and that’s damn admirable.

What had really caught my eye about this movie first and foremost was that it was, in fact, a sequel and not a remake. This was really heartening, because I honestly wouldn’t know where to begin with tearing apart this movie had it been a remake. A sequel is much more appropriate for this kind of movie, and certainly a smart decision on the part of the producers. This way we also get to book Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner to reprise their characters— geekgasm!

The several references and homages to the original movie also had me ecstatic during the length of the film, and I’m glad I had re-watched the original the prior night or else I would have missed half of the allusions. While most of them were just little one-liners such as, “Now that’s a big door,” and, “You’re ruining my zen thing, man!” and others were purely visual, they really gave a kind of campy, nostalgic feeling that made me really enjoy the movie.

Now, I guess many people seemed to be very excited about Daft Punk doing the music for this film. I, however, due to not being terribly familiar with Daft Punk, could not share in this excitement, but I do find it very appropriate. Electronic music to with a computer generated world? It seems to be the perfect match! The techno duo certainly deliver, and work to create the perfect music for the perfect environment the movie has to offer. They also make a cameo appearance in the club scene as the two masked-DJs.

Now that I seem to have built up everything about why this is such a great film, lets go over a few of the speed bumps: the plot and development. Like the original, the sequel seems to hiccup a few times in these aspects. The plot is enjoyable and keeps the audience involved, however it just seems kind of “meh.” While both the original and sequel did have very interesting premises and plot styles, the plot itself isn’t anything special. It also develops quite a few plot holes within itself.

Where it really fails, though, is character development. I’d like to say that the development is choppy at best, I can’t seem to really tell if it exists at all. Most movies of this type are like this, so it was not unexpected and certainly an important point in critiquing, however one big mistake really caught my attention and left a bad taste in my mouth. After walking out of the theater, I kept thinking to myself, “What the hell did they do to Tron?” Of course, I mean the character of Tron. First of all, his presence wasn’t even necessary; it seemed as though they threw him in there because it would be hard to have a Tron movie without Tron himself. Second: even with his participation in the plot, his development is laughable. I won’t give away any spoilers, but I’ll tell you this: Tron is put into a plot-critical position, and the decision he makes seems to come out of nowhere. You’ll know what I mean when you see it. It’s ridiculous.

Other than those unfortunate mishaps, this is really just a great movie. It’s strong where the original was strong, and it lacks what the original lacked; that considered, it’s the perfect sequel. And it definitely leaves it open for a new string of sequels, which I’m certain cannot be avoided at this point. This movie deserves an 8/10, easy. I highly recommend this film to both Tron fans and those simply wanting to watch an innovative action movie. I actually want to go back and see this in theaters again. Until then, I suppose I’ll just have to wait. For now, this has just been another review by the Geek With Taste. Merry Christmas everybody!

End of Line.