Review: TRON: Legacy

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When Sam Flynn breaks into ENCOM Tower via a large security door in the early minutes of Tron: Legacy he proclaims “Now that is a big door” – echoing his father’s sentiments about the same door upon opening it twenty-eight years prior. Shortly after this, Cillian Murphy inexplicably appears as the son of Edward Dillinger, the former CEO of ENCOM and the original TRON‘s antagonist. This character serves no purpose in the story other than to name-check Dillinger. Five minutes later, Tron himself Bruce Boxleitner hands Sam the keys to Flynn’s arcade. Five minutes after that, Sam is suiting up for a disc battle on the Game Grid. Â

That should be all the proof you need that Disney had one goal in mind when crafting this sequel: Make Tron fans happy. And they mostly succeeded. Â

When Sam Flynn breaks into ENCOM Tower via a large security door in the early minutes of Tron: Legacy he proclaims "Now that is a big door" – echoing his father's sentiments about the same door upon opening it twenty-eight years prior. Shortly after this, Cillian Murphy inexplicably appears as the son of Edward Dillinger, the former CEO of ENCOM and the original TRON's antagonist. This character serves no purpose in the story other than to name-check Dillinger. Five minutes later, Tron himself Bruce Boxleitner hands Sam the keys to Flynn's arcade. Five minutes after that, Sam is suiting up for a disc battle on the Game Grid.  

That should be all the proof you need that Disney had one goal in mind when crafting this sequel: Make Tron fans happy. And they mostly succeeded.   

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Now I don't want to paint the wrong picture here — Tron: Legacy is its own movie. In no way will knowledge of the original film's happenings be a prerequisite for viewing its sequel. In fact, the film opens with a flashback to 1989 in which a young Kevin Flynn (CGI Jeff Bridges) recants to his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) the story of how he entered the computer world, befriended some programs, rode around on light cycles, and did battle with the evil Master Control, essentially covering everything a Tron virgin would need to know about the first film. He goes on to explain how he created a duplicate of himself by the name of Clu (a CGI Jeff Bridges) who he tasked with overseeing the ongoing creation of a perfect society within The Grid. With all that exposition out of the way, Kevin Flynn is free to race off on his motorcycle and disappear from Sam's life forever. 

Once Sam entered The Grid, the effects and score delivered a one-two punch that eye-fucked me so well I had a hard time trying to pick out the flaws. The script was really an afterthought, and in the back of my mind I knew this, but Tron: Legacy is just so damn visually stunning that I honestly didn't care. The only thought in my mind seemed to be "Ooh… shiny." The CGI used to recreate the visage of the 1989-era Jeff Bridges is incredibly impressive as well, even though it still evokes a few "uncanny valley" moments. The film is one-hundred and twenty-seven minutes of sweet, sweet eye candy, aided in no small part to the presence of Quorra (Olivia Wilde), a program and ally of Kevin Flynn’s that rescues Sam from the Game Grid.

While Disney may be hanging their hats on Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde to carry the Tron franchise into the future, the most interesting person on screen in TRON: Legacy is still the elder Flynn, Jeff Bridges. When we’re first reintroduced to the character, he appears to be a broken man. Defeated and overthrown by his own creation, he’s gone hiding on off The Grid. With no way back home, he’s taken to a Zen-like existence, hoping that one day the programs will rise up against Clu and bring order back to The Grid. Only after being reunited with his son do we start seeing flashes of the old Kevin Flynn — the cocky demeanor and shit-eating grin. Jeff Bridges steals every scene he’s in, even the ones where it’s a digitized recreation of his 33-year-old self. Michael Sheen also turns in an excellent performance, seemingly doing his best David Bowie impression as the slimy club-owning program Castor.  

It's not often you'll see me reserve extensive space to rave about a film's musical score, but if ever a film deserved it, it would be Tron: Legacy. Composed by house music superstars Daft Punk (who also have a cameo in the movie), the score is a pulsing techno symphony prominent throughout the entirety of the film. Sharp and paranoid orchestral tones back up the thumping bass and haunting synthesizers, doing their best to produce the proper mood when the script fails to.  

As you might expect, exposition is prominent in Tron: Legacy, which is to the film's credit as well as it's detriment. The flashbacks are numerous, bringing the story to a halt as a character gives a Grid history lesson to Sam (and thusly, the audience). The back story alone feels like it could’ve (and possibly should’ve) been developed into it’s own full-length picture, touching on every major event in The Grid since Kevin Flynn’s disappearance in 1989. As it stands, Disney opted to expand on these events further via comic books and the tie-in video game prequel Tron: Evolution, rather than on the big screen. Still, the foundation they’ve built is so rich that it makes me legitimately excited for future films and the announced television animated mini-series.  

Overall Score: 8.40 – Great.(Movies that score between 8.00 and 8.50 are great representations of their genre that everyone should see in theaters on opening night.)

A mind-melting sci-fi action light show with light cycles and disc battles aplenty, TRON: Legacy delivers everything most moviegoers could want from a TRON film – and it boasts a fantastic musical score to boot.