Review: TRON: Legacy

I say this all too often, offline and online, that I am decades behind in terms of watching movies. However, I try to catch up when nessecary, so when I first heard a TRON sequel (or even remake as it was initially rumored) was being made I finally watched the original Tron. While the story intrigued me, especially as an child of the digital age, the visuals were comparatively lackluster, not only when compared to modern films but also when compared to films such as Star Wars: A New Hope which came out five years prior. Still overall I liked the original, and I looked forward earnestly to seeing what TRON: Legacy would have to offer.

Introduction

Rarely have I been so optimistic about a film and pleasantly so rewarded for my enthusiasm. TRON: Legacy brought back the best of the original with a healthy abundance of awesomeness that only modern day technology could deliver. From the costumes, to the light cycles, to the entire world of Tron, everything loved in the original was glossed over with a fine touch of modern, artistic styling. Paired with Daft Punk’s deliciously wicked soundtrack, the vivid action came to life and, for the first time since Avatar, made not just 3D, but especially IMAX 3D worth the price.

Story

The movie begins with a young Sam Flynn listening to his dad’s adventures in The Grid (essentially providing a summary of the original Tron). Kevin Flynn then leaves his son Sam, promising to play with him at the arcade, and then heads to work only to disappear. Sam then grows up unaware of whether his father is dead or alive so, despite the confidence and support of his Dad’s friend and business partner Alan Bradley, he makes little of his life. Aside from his familial connection to the company, Kevin spends little to no time interacting with his dad’s company ENCOM, which is now under different leadership. One day Alan receives a text from the arcade Kevin Flynn ran, and this triggers Sam to investigate the arcade only to himself get pulled into the grid.

Much has changed since the grid of the original Tron though. Sam’s dad has now been essentially banished to the outskirts by his own creation, Clu, and in his absence Clu has reigned harshly, leading to the demise of many programs, including a newly discovered species with latent knowledge that could improve both the digital and human worlds.

Sam must carve a path for himself in the Grid, as his father did before him in the original film. Meanwhile he must face the ruthless Clu, try to find his father, assist his father’s protege Quorra, all while trying to find a way to bring himself and his father home.

If you have only come into Tron for the first time with this film, you’ll find the story presents an exciting new world for Sam filled with digital mysteries, gladiatorial battles, and classic father son bonding. For those who have seen the original, you’ll find all the above, but you’ll also get a blast from the past as you see Sam, in many ways, cover the same ground as his father, while learning similarly about the wonders of the digital world. The film balances action and character development quite well, straying away from too many scenes that might appear to be sappy, and too many scenes that might seem to be too pumped with adrenalin.


Characters

I always remember Tron as a film of few actors, in particular main actors. While Tron: Legacy certainly added a few more, all in all both films keep a sharp focus on the main characters in play. Sam Flynn, who is in the world of TRON looking for his father, is a typically disenchanted young man, who, much like his Star Trek counterpart James Kirk, still reels from his years without a father. That sort of upbringing will certainly make a kid grow thickskin though, and while Sam’s reckless attitude nearly cost him his life in the real world, this becomes an important part of his character in the world of TRON. Certainly as a hero character he’s not atypical, and so he’s certainly the kind of character that I find really easy to root for.

Kevin Flynn, both in the first film and in the new one, as a character is defined by one of Jeff Bridge’s great talents, which is his penchant to successfully act like a hippie (or possibly just act like himself?) This side of his remains throughout the entire film, even though on the whole Kevin is a much more serious character now. Jeff Bridges plays Kevin (again) wonderfully.

Quorra, played by the lovely Olivia Wilde, serves as an amusing interlink between the digital world and the real world. While not an user, she’s been a protege to Kevin for years. Her earnestness to learn, and ask amusing questions, adds much of the humor during moments that might otherwise border on awkwardly tense. Knowing little about Olivia Wilde aside from her good looks, I was quite impressed by
her ability to play the character.  All in all she’s one of my favorite characters, largely because she is in so many ways an embodiment of the conflict between users and their programs.


Costumes & Effects

The original Tron, for me at least, was not a bastion of sci-fi effect greatness. Instead, the look merely caught my attention, while the story itself earned my affection. On the otherhand, TRON: Legacy, even without its imaginative story, could have hooked me in with the look and effects of the film alone easily! Fighting scenes that were simply ‘neat’ in Tron became all out spectacles. TRON: Legacy’s costumes, that were as stylish and sleek as Olivia Wilde’s costume was form fitting, delighted me to no end.  Simple moments of conversation even, in the digital world, became so much more because of the world in which the characters were conversion. I can only imagine that with every viewing I will notice some other element of pizazz that will impress me because of how richly designed TRON: Legacy’s world was.

 

Music

If you’re going to do a cyber-punk film, then you better have the soundtrack to match. TRON: Legacy’s creators knew that going in, and so they decided, in a true moment of genius, to get the brilliant duo
of Daft Punk to create the soundtrack. While I listened to and enjoyed the soundtrack when it was released, a little more than a week ago, I knew that combined with the film itself that I would probably grow to love the soundtrack even more. This couldn’t have been more true, because the music intensified every moment of the film, adding the perfect amount of punch where needed. One scene in particular, featuring a club of sorts, not only interwove three or more of Daft Punk’s original songs for the film in a wonderful manner, but the scene also featured the duo as DJs in that club.  To me this inclusion
was both a nice nod to their work on the film and a fun easter egg for Daft Punk fans. Rarely do soundtracks that push themselves front and center appeal to me, but Daft Punk’s pieces earned their time in the limelight.

Overall

I went into the midnight showing of TRON: Legacy expecting an astounding film, and truly I got everything I hoped for and more. I feel I’ve said this too many times already in this review, but from the characters, to the story, to the looks and sounds, I loved it all. I was in no means a Tron junkie prior to this film, again having only watched the original recently; however, I am certainly a fan now. I want to emphasize to you then that you should definitely see this film, preferably in theaters, but if not on the nicest TV set you can find.

Score: 4.75 out of 5

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