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Home · Articles · Movies · Science Fiction · TRON: Legacy
Science Fiction

TRON: Legacy

Doug Bentin January 12th, 2011

Disney’s ‘TRON: Legacy,’ a sequel to a movie that wasn’t crying for one, needs a good, strong reboot itself.

You know, 1982 was a good year for science fiction films. We got Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.” John Carpenter’s “The Thing” and Disney’s “TRON.”

Of course, the latter two were relative flops, although ”The Thing” went on to sci-fi superstardom, while a cult of unapologetic geeks took “TRON” to its bosom. None have spawned sequels until now, 28 years later, with “TRON: Legacy.”

In “TRON,” computer programmer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges, “True Grit”) found a way to transport himself into one of his own programs, and there he’s been stuck for two decades.

In order to perfect the world he created, he made a copy of himself named Clu, whose relentless quest for perfection has turned him into a fascist, allowing Bridges to deliver some nice good twin/bad twin shtick.

On the outside world, Flynn’s 28-year old son Sam (Garrett Hedlund, “Death Sentence”) is summoned into the program where, with the aid of the gorgeous Quorra (Olivia Wilde, “The Next Three Days”), he wants to rescue his dad and deprive Clu of what he needs in order to enter our world and take over. This is what is technically known as a “plot,” but don’t let it concern you too much. It isn’t at all important.

First-time feature director Joseph Kosinski’s film is pure eye candy. The production design is nifty, which it should be, since it’s borrowed almost entirely from “2001,” “Star Wars” and the Korova Milk Bar in “A Clockwork Orange.” To drive that last, uh, homage home, Michael Sheen (“New Moon”),

who is much too good to have to resort to this sort of thing, appears to be channeling Malcolm McDowell’s Alex much too closely for coincidence as one of Clu’s sinister minions.

The 3-D works better than in anything we’ve seen since “Avatar,” but that’s hardly a recommendation, as it adds nothing to the experience but empty calories. Wilde in tight black latex is more tasty, and is better for you, too. After her, the real scenic pleasure is the change in Bridges’ appearance. Inside the computer program for 20 years, Kevin has aged and shows it, but Clu looks the same as he did the day he was created.

This means that a digital way had to be found to make Bridges look the same as he did in 1982. The process isn’t perfect by any means, although the wax-museum appearance of his face may be due to the fact that Clu was formed in the days when computer animation was pretty basic. The original “TRON” was the first feature film to use computer-generated imagery as a major component. Watch it now and you’ll see how crude it looks.

For all its technical whiz-bang, this sequel really isn’t worth the price of a 3-D screening, yet without the 3-D, it isn’t worth seeing at all. Wait for “Son of TRON” in 2038. Maybe by then, someone will have written a script worth producing.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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01.25.2011 at 03:00 Reply

I found the movie to be a departure from what I considered canon in the franchise.  At least in the first Tron the machinations were derived from processes that take place within a computer.  But with Tron 2.0, the ties between what you saw, and what you know is being represented by the "programs" action are paper thin and sometimes non-existent.  I was disappointed in this movie.  


As far as plot goes, it let me down, but it picks you up in the eye candy department.  Unlike the critic, I found Quorra to be less interesting than one might think.  I suppose it was wise of the film makers to not sexualize her connection to Sam Flynn, since she is after all a program.  But the viewer still wants that, without love, there isn't much worth fighting for is there?  So I suppose they replaced the male/female romance with the father/son love story.  Sam learned that his father didn't abandon him, and in the end, Kevin Flynn sacrifices his life for that of his son.  So there is a love story in there, just not the kind most people care for.  In that regard perhaps it should get a higher mark for trying to do something truly unique.

I was disappointed by Tron himself.  Fans of the franchise remember Tron was a security program written by and looking just like Bruce Boxlitner.  I'd figured out what happened to him early on just by noticing the patterns on Renzler's chest.  He'd been corrupted by Clu.  But like Darth Vader in the last 10 minutes of Return of the Jedi, Tron remember's who he is and turns on his evil master.  This is where the hint of an other sequel is born.  Tron's ship gets derezzed and he falls into a water type liquid.  As he sinks, we assume he's dead, but they tease you with a hint of life as his suit seems to power back on.

I feel I would be remiss if I didn't mention the techo beats layed out by the adept musicians called Daft Punk.  The group did the full score for this movie, and they did it justice.  So much so, that I had to have that Soundtrack.  You can even catch a glimpse of the duo wearing their iconic robot helmets in the bar scene as none other than the DJ's.   

This movie is not without it's flaws.  While not being as cerebral as the original Tron, one can find some enjoyment in it.  As Kevin Flynn speaks of entering a world he thought he'd never see, we share that same ideal.  The idea that we could one day inhabit a fully virtual world where we can literally do anything is the basis of our current video game industry.  The machine has the capacity to bridge the gap between what we can do, and what we can only imagine doing.  Tron is the holodeck for the current generation.  I hope we revisit it over time and watch this world grow organically.  I mean, let's imagine Tron in a world of cloud computing!