I’m sorry this review is so late — I warned you, but I still apologize. However, I don’t know that this review is going to do anyone any good. Short version: I loved it — no surprise, until you realize how insane my expectations were going in. Was it perfect? No, but neither can I think of any real problems I had: with the characters, with the story, with the nods to the original, or anything. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
Frankly, I think your enjoyment of Tron: Legacy is dependent entirely on how much affection you have for the original Tron movie. If you’re like me and love Tron, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t love Tron: Legacy.
If you don’t, well — then like a lot of the critics, you’re probably going to be confused at best, and bored at worst. I think you’ll be impressed by the visual and the 3-D no matter what, and I think the story is solid (honestly, I’ve seen many complaints that the story lagged in some places, and/or was hard-to-follow, and I can’t understand those at all). But the idea that programs live in computers like people, and they go to little dance clubs, and they fight with motorcycles and frisbees with also happen to be their memories that they throw at each other, which seems like a tremendously bad idea… wondering why this is can be confusing.
The answer, of course, is because that’s how it was in Tron. Sure, it was a goofy concept then — maybe more palatable as a PG Disney flick in 1982 — and it’s a goofy concept now; but likewise, it was super cool to watch in 1982, and it’s cool to watch now.
What Tron: Legacy does, and why I love it, is that it takes the same goofy concept of the original Tron, and takes it super-seriously. So while non-Tron fans are only seeing the goofiness, Tron fans like me are getting the sequel we only could have dreamed of. Jeff Bridges returns as Flynn! An updated lightcycle tournament! An updated disc game tournament! More light- vehicles! Bruce Boxleitner back as Alan Bradley! Some more references to the original movie! And a couple of mentions of Tron himself!
And the fact that they pack in all this nostalgia into a clean, coherent story that doesn’t get lost or bogged down in its own references is a marvel to me. It is everything I wanted in a Tron sequel, and still a solid story to boot. Again, I had no problems with the movie, as hardcore a fan as I am. But it’s so designed for Tron fans that again, I can see how mainstream audiences aren’t getting much other than the amazing visuals.
I can sum this up with one detail, the fact that the story is about Kevin Flynn’s son rescuing him from the Grid after he’s been trapped there for 20 years. As a Tron fan, this story excites me to the core of my being. Ms Robot, who’s never seen the original Tron, and has no affection for the character of Kevin Flynn, thought the movie was kind of lacking, that it was low stakes, and didn’t get her invested. Meanwhile, I was on the edge of my seat. Same story, two audiences.
A spoiler-filled, more detailed FAQ is after the jump.
Warning: SPOILERS ahoy.
Really? You didn’t have any problems with it?
No. And I’ve been thinking about it since I saw the movie on Saturday. The shit they had to put in the movie as a callback to the original — the discs, the lightcycles, etc. — were perfectly integrated with the story. The story was solid on its own. Nothing seemed awkward or gratuitous (or awkwardly so, at the very least).
So there’s nothing you would change?
I didn’t say that. Honestly, my biggest gripe with the movie is that a lot of the effects were too… realistic. It sounds weird, but director Joseph Kozinsky made sure that a lot of the world of Tron was very real looking, in the sense that there clouds and lightning and when programs are “derezzed” they kind of disintegrate into debris that falls on the floor. Honestly, I would have loved the computer world to be even more digital, especially after seeing that Daft Punk “Derezzed” video. Although, given the issues mass audiences were plenty weirded out already, I imagine Kozinsky probably made the right choice.
Not even that the world of Tron looks totally different than the first movie?
Well, maybe it would’ve been nice if it hadn’t been so different, but I was excited enough that there was an explanation. The first Grid was a world Kevin Flynn entered by accident, then when he got out he made the new Grid — the one we see in Legacy. He made CLU to help run it, and he brings Tron over from the old system, too.
So Tron actually is in Tron: Legacy?
Mostly in flashback, but yeah. He’s got a digitized young Bruce Boxleitner face just like CLU has a young Jeff Bridges face. And since he’s been brought to the new Grid, he’s wearing a Tron: Legacy style outfit. It’s awesome.
Mostly in flashback?
Mostly. Let’s leave it at that.
The fact that CLU/Digital Young Jeff Bridges looked kind of uncanny valley didn’t bother you?
Actually, no. Since most of Digital Young Jeff Bridges is supposed to be a computer program most of the time, I actually thought it was fine. It was a bit weird when Digitial Young Jeff Bridges is supposed to be Real Young Jeff Bridges, like when he’s with young Sam Flynn, but I was so happy to have Jeff Bridges in any capacity I was fine with the uncanny valleyness.
How was the 3-D?
Great. Remember, unlike so many movies, Legacy was actually filmed in 3-D, so it doesn’t look like shit. Also, the weird sensation of watching 3-D also helped the world of Tron feel more weird and unique and oddly real, kind of like Digital Young Jeff Bridges.
So everyone should see it in 3-D?
If you have the option, probably, but Tron: Legacy would be just as or almost just as awesome in 2-D. It can bee seen and enjoyed either format, which is one of the many reasons Legacy is better than Avatar.
The fact that the plot is not utter shit (and that’s despite the fact that it’s about tiny people living in computers who ride motorcycles).
Did Garret Hedlund as Sam Flynn suck? He looks like he might’ve sucked.
No. Sam Flynn is your standard young man-gets-sucked-into-world-of-adventure role, but I think Hedlund did find. I think he actually performed instead of just walking around saying lines. I will take one Hedlund over a hundred Channing Tatums, Sam Worthingtons, or whatever.
Okay, you’re obviously not going to say anything funny, so I’m bored. If Disney makes the sequel, what are we looking at?
Well, more of the character Tron, more than likely. But one of the many awesome things about Legacy is an uncredited cameo in the beginning by Cillian Murphy — yes, the Scarecrow from Batman Begins — as the son of Ed Dillinger, the villains from the first Tron, played by David Warner, who was also Sark. Imagining Murphy as a Sark-like villain in Tron 3 makes me do bad things to myself.
Yeah, yeah. Anything else?
Only that it is a crime that Disney hasn’t flooded stores with merchandise of Castor:
Castor being the ridiculously awesome/awesomely ridiculous program who runs the End of Line club. He’s played by Michael Sheen as Ziggy Stardust playing David Bowie playing Ziggy Stardust (not a typo), and I want Castor figures, costumes, official canes, lunchboxes, bed sheets, everything. If Medicom makes a Castor figure, I will seriously go on a robbery/murder spree until I have enough money to purchase one, no foolin’.