Thursday, January 6, 2011

Quickie Movie Review: "TRON Legacy"

       Time for a Quickie Review of the new Disney film, “TRON Legacy”. And before one can speak on the new generation, you have to take a look back at the old.

       For those that have never seen this movie (and shame on you if you haven’t), "TRON" was a 1982 movie written and directed by Steve Lisberger that starred Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn and Bruce Boxleitner in the dual roles of programmer Alan Bradley and security program Tron. The plot revolved around hacker Kevin Flynn who is zapped into a digital world, populated by living programs that existed inside a computer. Once inside, Flynn teams up with security program Tron to defeat the Master Control Program, an evil artificial intelligence that rules this 'dimension' and is bent on taking over the world.

       Everybody caught up to speed now? Good. Now, let's dig into “TRON Legacy”.

       In “TRON Legacy”, we find that Flynn disappeared a few years after the events of the first film and left his son, Sam, an orphan. 20 years later, Sam discovers his dad’s computer lab in the basement of the old arcade and accidentally activates the digitization laser, transporting himself onto the Grid, a version of the Gaming Grid his father encountered when he first entered the world of the computer.

       With barely any time to understand what’s going on , Sam is captured and brought before CLU, the new version of his dad’s old avatar, who dominates the Grid like a police state. CLU has been searching for his creator for the last 20 years because only Flynn has the necessary data to allow CLU access to the real world. CLU then forces Sam into the Gaming Grid Arena where he intends to destroy him, but Sam is rescued by Quorra, a program loyal to Flynn. Once re-united, the Flynn’s decide the only way to defeat CLU is to get out of the Grid back to the real world. Meanwhile, CLU Our heroes must now race across the Grid to the exit portal, not only to escape the Grid but to prevent CLU from unleashing his digital armies upon the human world.

       The film on the whole was actually a lot of fun to watch. I saw it in ‘Disney 3D’, which I am sorry to say is just not that impressive. Visually, the film is one of the most visually stunning movies I have seen in quite some time. The new ‘TRON’ world has a slick, new sheen to it. Almost every surface, building or vehicle has the distinctive TRON neon highlights and everything is ergonomic and streamlined. My problem with the 3D aspect is once we enter the digital world, it just doesn’t hold up. The dark colors of this new digital realm do more to obscure the 3D effects, rather than accentuate them.

       Another plus for “TRON Legacy” is the soundtrack. OH ... MY ... GOD, I love this soundtrack! Daft Punk, one of the most well known eletronic music artists in the world, crafted the musical score which is almost a character unto itself in this movie. The singature track of the soundtrack has got to be “Derezzed”.  There is just something about this track that contains all that I love about “TRON”.

       Now that I have spoken about the good, I have to speak on the bad. And that’s not to say that I hated  “TRON Legacy”. There were just a few plot points that I just cannot get around in my mind. Now keep in mind, I grew up in the ‘80s. I watched everything from the most well crafted film to the schlockiest, cheese-filled piece of crap you have ever seen. I’ve watched “Swamp Thing” 10 times, for crying out loud!!! So, it can be said that I can make sense out of the most illogical of movie plots.

       However, “TRON Legacy” left me with just a few mind numbing brain teasers:

-- Why was Sam breaking into ENCOM if he owns 51% of the stock? He pretty much owns the company. 

-- How was CLU able to send a message to the outside world if the Grid is a closed system? 

-- And if he was able to do this, why did CLU need Flynn in order to access the portal? 

-- At what point did programmer Kevin Flynn become the Dude from “The Big Lebowski”?

-- Why was the film called “TRON Legacy” if the character of Tron was barely in it?

       And as far as the story goes, if you really want to know what happens between the two films, you have to check out the the 2 issue comic series “TRON - Betrayal” and tie-in video game “TRON - Evolution”.  

       The spin-off projects chronicle the events that lead to CLU taking control of the Grid and how he does it. The comic series “Betrayal" explores more of the social and ‘political’ aspects of the “TRON” world which was very entertaining, while the video game “Evolution” did provide more details about CLU’s rise to power .... by ripping off the “Prince of Persia” game series.  Seriously, check out this game play video and tell me that that doesn’t look almost exactly like one of the “Prince of Persia” games!

       Despite all of this, despite all of the hair-pulling plotholes, I have to say that that I really did enjoy “TRON Legacy” despite it’s flaws (of which there were a few). It was entertaining, it was fun to watch, it brought back some fond memories of my childhood. It’s just not the film that me and a lot of “TRON” fans were expecting. Which makes me hope and pray that the inevitable sequel will do better than it’s predecessor.


        Don’t stare at me like that! You know Disney wouldn’t have ressurected this film (yeah, it IS a Disney film!) unless they planned to make some money off of this. That’s right. A sequel AND an animated series!

1 comment:

  1. Hey JT,

    Nice article, I really like the full coverage you gave to the Tron Legacy series including the comics and video game cross-overs and future sequel/animated-series speculation! Groovy