Having seen it over Christmas, I thought I’d share with you some quick thoughts on the extremely late Tron sequel that hit cinema screens a few weeks back…
Going into the movie my memory of the original Tron was hazy. I remember enjoying it as a kid, but only really the CG sections. The confusing company espionage bits bored me to ignorance, so all the entire movie boiled down to me was the tale of a programmer trapped inside a computer and trying to escape (at the time, though, I remember thinking he was trapped in a computer game, he isn’t - but as I said, the story isn’t all that clear).
Tron: Legacy is pretty much the same story as before except this time there’s a trio of people trying to escape, and the corporate undertone is used in a way that a layman would salute - using it as device to introduce us to the film’s central protagonist, Sam Flynn, the son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges).
Sam is a bit of a troubled soul who believes his father walked out on him when he was a kid (the truth is Kev actually went and got himself trapped inside a computer again), and is someone who clearly knows his way around computers and motorbikes – explained by us seeing him lose a police car on his motorbike with a sharp turn, and bypassing a security system to access the building of his father’s company ENCOM. Anyway, once Sam enters the Grid - the digital world of Tron - this is where, rather nicely, the 3D in the movie starts to kick in, and it’s also at this point the film also begins treading more familiar ground. It quickly tosses Sam into a quick, but exhilarating, disc battle, which seem to now take place inside giant Ferrero Rocher boxes, before quickly leading into an even better (but just as short) light cycle race – the film’s action highlight.
When left to its own devices in the Grid, this is where the film starts to deflate rapidly. Its thin story creates just as many questions as it offers answers, and what remaining action ideas the movie introduces following the retreads – a dull fight inside a dull nightclub and a jet battle finale - just fail in being as exciting as the earlier light cycle set-piece.
I also take slight umbrage at the fact that in the wake of Avatar Tron: Legacy seems to have touted itself as the next must-see spectacle 3D movie. The only thing I found ‘spectacle’ about the picture was the 3D glasses needed to help you look for the missing spectacle. I just wasn’t all that impressed by the 3D effects in the film to be honest. In fact, I was struggling to notice it for the most part. Though you could argue this is because it’s used unobtrusively, I’m not so sure – apparently 3D doesn’t like black backgorunds and, as the Grid is swathed mostly in darkness, I suspect that this is most likely the culprit for the lacklustre 3D effects. But I’m no expert.
For me Tron: Legacy’s best achievement is something that I wasn’t expecting: Clu – the film’s antagonist, a program written by Kevin to help him create the perfect digital world that gets obsessed with the idea, becomes a bit of a tyrant and basically turns on his creator. While the look of the Clu (a completely built from-the-ground-up human-CGI character based on a young Jeff Bridges) looks undeniably CG, his appearance and mannerisms are both haunting and well captured, making him not only one of best computer generated characters in recent memory, but also a great villain.
In closing, had there been about a 80% more light cycle action (which, let’s be honest, is what most people going into this film want to see), I probably could have forgiven the film’s shortfalls. As it stands, Tron Legacy is watchable, but ultimately a dull and disappointing experience.