Tron Legacy(2010) Rated PG. Dir: Joseph Kosinski
This film is currently playing in theaters.
InTron Legacy, the long-awaited sequel to Tron (1982), Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), the son of the famous hacker, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), finds himself teleported into the computer world, the Grid, like his father had 20 years ago. There, he reunites with his father and they attempt to find a way back home. Meanwhile, Clu, Kevin’s program (who looks just like Kevin), who rules the Grid, tries to stop them.
I grew up in the 80’s and I remember watching a video tape of Tron on Sony Betamax. This was back when E.T. and Raiders of the Lost Ark was still fresh in my mind. I remember I didn’t quite fully get the story, but I knew that ultimately, it was the traditional “hero kills dragon and saves the world” scenario. The special effects were (and still remain) very unique. My friends and I had the toys too, although I never understood why the Tron action figure was purple. The charm of the first film WAS the whole cheesy video game aspect, complete with quirky sound effects, programs that walk around like people, being forced to fight for their lives while Users control their every move. A cool moment in that film was in the beginning–we see a kid in an arcade playing a Lightcycle game and messing up; the film cuts to the virtual world (the other side of the screen) where we realistically experience that moment firsthand, establishing the whole gag of that film.
Tron: Legacy, on the other hand, attempts to take itself a little more seriously. The Grid here is a bit of an enigma. It’s not fully explained what the limits and the laws of this world are. It doesn’t have a direct connection to video games (which was basically why the first film had gladiatorial games). Unlike the first film, the connection between the virtual world and the real world is non-existent. What happens in the Grid has little to no effect on the outside world or vice versa. I had always thought this element was what made the first film fun. However, this virtual world could as easily have taken place in Mars or a different universe.
The story has complex elements, but the plot is fairly simple. While there is a part about how Kevin Flynn discovered something important while in the Grid, it’s essentially a MacGuffin (a plot device to move the action). Jeff Bridges reprises his role as the aged Kevin Flynn and offers motion capture for Clu, a younger version of himself. Clu is completely CG, which looks real 50% of the time. Jeff Bridges is still fun as Flynn even if he may not be as vibrant as we remember him (he has aged/matured, after all). Garret Hedlund is a good choice as the sardonic Sam Flynn, and has good chemistry with everyone. Olivia Wilde is memorable as the sleek, attractive Quorra, a program who is curious about the outside world.
The film is well-done and entertaining. Much like Star Wars Ep.1: Phantom Menace, it may not have met my expectations, but it has other cool stuff going for it. The Lightcycle action scenes are great. The gladiatorial games are fun. And, I loved the soundtrack. Daft Punk’s score fits the style and mood of this particular universe almost like, I suppose, what Basil Poledouris did for Conan, which is a bold statement.
This film is a fine feature debut from director Joseph Kosinski. Where it lacks in substance (the story), the film makes up for it with innovative visuals, action, and music. True, while it’s more like a close cousin to the first film than its offspring, it still pleases where it counts.
My Rating: *** out of **** stars.