MOVIE REVIEW: TRON: Legacy

This is it. The long await sequel to the cult classic TRON from way back in 1982. The sad fact is it took them this long to make the sequel for the film. Sure the original didn’t do as well as they would have liked it to have done but at the same time it became a cult film of sorts. The technology they used in the first film was advanced for it’s time and by today’s standards looks pretty choppy. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about or didn’t realize there was a TRON 1 they should seriously go see the first one, not that it’s earth shatteringly important to see it before but more so because it’s the first in a series.

Let’s get this out of the way now. I’m a fan boy. Those of you who know me know that I got a huge nerd boner when the teaser came out. I hadn’t seen the first one but this looked awe inspiring. So I watched the first one. Was impressed and then forgot this was coming out. Every time a new trailer came out I was blown away by the visuals and thus eventually deemed it worthy of my obsessing. Finally the film’s release date was within a mater of hours and then minutes and then seconds and then credits roll.

We are introduced to the film with a warning saying that the film was shot in 3-d and has 2-d sequences, leave the glasses on. It was a bit frustrating to say the least that this was the way the world was working, a movie that was said to be shot entirely in 3-D was not. After that is over with we get an animation that is similar to the style form the original film and a voice over from Jeff Bridges with an overture in the background giving us an idea of what to expect musically.

The story begins with Kevin Flynn (Bridges) talking to his young son right before he abandons him. Sure the younger Flynn has no clue what is going to happen. And eventually the character is all but vanished and the youngster is left with his grandparents, seeing as his mother died. This helps develop an angsty young kid who eventually grows up and is in a high speed chase still in 1989 as we don’t get a change in date.

CGI CLU, looks awkward at times but is generally pretty damn good

Turns out that Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) is in charge of ENCOM pretty much but chooses not to as an act of rebelling against daddy. He breaks into the company and essentially hacks into the release of the new OS, OS 12. No one in the board room finds this funny as Sam is arrested at the end of this little endeavor.

After which he is met up with Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) shows up at Sam’s apartment telling him of his dad’s page that he sent him from his office inside the iconic Flynn’s Arcade, a site from the first film that many fans remember. Sam goes to the arcade and finds his dad’s office and the computer that his father had used and eventually gets zapped into the Grid or as we called it TRON Land.

The Grid looks completely different in this film than it did in the first one. One thing that the filmmakers did exceptionally well is they explained why that is in a simple yet easy to understand way. Flynn as well as his computer program counterpart CLU (Bridges) created a new world or computer system for the programs. It is sort of like going from Windows ’95 to Windows ’98. If you understand my analogy then you should be fine.

Sam finds himself on the Grid and is taken by a giant Space Paranoid thing. On this ship there are several paranoid programs praying they are not sent to the Game Grid. Just like his father Sam has to fight his way out of the Game Grid. Although unlike his father Sam is rescued by a mysterious savior. After the vicious light cycle race with CLU and his gang on the Game Grid the stranger takes Sam to the place where he should be…with his father.

Scenes like this blew me away

Turns out the program that saved him is Flynn’s apprentice Quorra (Olivia Wilde). Father and son bicker and talk for a bit while CLU has raging hemorrhoid problems and a raging obsession with finding Flynn and probably having sex with him. His motives are unclear. After a computerized dinner and a trip to computer IKEA Sam argues some more with Flynn and decides that he’s gonna save the TRON world his way. Quorra kinda helps by sending him to see Zeus (Michael Sheen).

When he gets to the night club we get to see a wide variety of programs including MP3 programs played by Daft Punk. This scene I felt elevates the film to a whole new level. But more on that later. Zeus is a very David Bowie-esque figure in his appearance and actions. He plays both sides very well and leaves you wondering what goes on. Turns out CLU finds the Flynn’s there and takes the all powerful disc from the elder Flynn. With this CLU can enter the real world, the most imperfect world of them all.

This leads to similar scenes from the first one, such as boarding the TRON TRAIN where they fly across the night sky to where they need to go. During this scene the elder Flynn reveals some heavy secrets. At the same time CLU is amassing an army to invade our world. Which believe you me is really fucking odd. While this is going on the younger Flynn says to his father that his plan originally won’t work we have to get your disc back. Blah Blah Blah. I am going to stop there because all the action and symbolism come to a giant conclusion at that moment and the plot just vanishes slightly.

So let’s talk the movie shall we? First off let’s talk acting. The cast isn’t perfect. To be honest very few people knew anyone in the cast in the first place. Yes the film stars Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski, Crazy Heart). And yes Bridges plays two roles, one of which includes a CG’d version of himself form like 30 years ago. The film brings back Alan’s character of whom I’ve never seen the actor from since TRON. But this is a film that doesn’t pride itself on acting as we can see with Hedlund (Four Brothers, Friday Night Lights) as it feels he is channeling more so the younger Kevin Flynn from the first film than anything else. Olivia Wilde (“House”, “The OC”) plays a very well naive bad ass who realizes her true potential. I think Wilde’s performance helps show the evolution of the characters more so then Hedlund’s does. I feel for Hedlund it’s more the writing shows his development in a more intense way than his acting does. Daft Punk has a brief cameo but there is no point in saying anything about that other than it was there. James Frain (“The Tudors”) does a good job of kissing CLU’s ass, and he looks like a kiss ass in this film, I kid you not. But an actor who stole the show when he was on the screen was Michael Sheen (New Moon,  Alice in Wonderland). His character like Frain is a double crosser but you are confused by it. Not only that but he looks just like David Bowie, this must be intentional. Sheen steals the show from Hedlund as well as Wilde and even a CGI Bridges with his cowardly acting yet duo persona.

Light Cycle 2.0, newer, bad assier

Now the writing, cause I want to save the best parts for last. If the intentional symbolism of comparing CLU to Hitler in this movie was there then bravo. CLU is a Hitler character. He wants to make the world a perfect place because that is what he was programmed to do. CLU eradicates all the new ISOs, the programs that were just born man when we found the new world (that according to Flynn, kind of). They used the word genocide rather than any other word and I immediately drew this conclusion. Not only did the dialogue give me this but the visuals. Programs being re purposed to places they weren’t supposed to be, forced to do things they shouldn’t do. And the most logical and scary part was when our three heroes were on the train they saw containers of containers of programs being crowded and huddled in a box and being re purposed for CLU’s wants and desires.

The symbolism doesn’t stop there. There is the religious aspect of the film. Where Flynn, created the world around where these programs live and breathe and drink. Quorra pretty much worships him as if he were a God. He can manipulate the world around him in the sense that anything is possible with the power of the human mind. The idea that Flynn is a god and his own creation is out to kill him seems to be some sort of Greek Tragedy.

On top of that you add in the father-son relationship thing and that’s the weak part. I didn’t like that in the least. My counterpart James Kastle said he didn’t like the beginning of the film focusing on Sam as a child then Sam grown up in the real world. I actually liked if for one reason. It shows maturity. How certain events in a person’s life lead to them growing. Sam starts off like his father in the previous film as this angry, cocky punk ass kid and as the film goes on he realizes that he has to grow up. He has to get over his problems and become a man. This maturity theme doesn’t end with Sam. As I said I felt like Quorra was this naive individual and she realizes her true destiny by the end of the film, thus growing as a character as well. But no other character shows the strides of maturing than Kevin Flynn himself. If you look at it across the two films his change is so extreme. He goes from cocky programmer to father to a man possessed with trying to bring the digital age to the world faster, to finding whatever the key was and then realizing the ultimate dream of his is unobtainable. That perfection is and always will be impossible.

And that brings me to my final point about the themes in the movie is this theme of perfection. Humanity always strives to find something perfect, to create a utopian society. The want for nothing to be wrong dates back to Adam and Eve. They created that idea when they ate the apple, according the Bible. Flynn wants CLU to create the perfect world because our world is far from perfect. Flynn felt that if he could make the world perfect here maybe just maybe he can do the same. CLU really wasn’t a bad guy entirely but more along the lines of a program doing what he was programmed to do. Albeit not the way he was intended to do it, I.E. in a peaceful coexisting way between regular programs and the ISOs. Flynn as he aged realized that perfection is unobtainable much like the great unobatinum from AVATAR. He admits this and that CLU is his greatest flaw. We all want that perfect relationship, that perfect job, that perfect life but we can’t have it. We don’t want to admit to that but this film at it’s core says not even computer programs can have perfection, how can humanity? It’s our flaws that make us who we are.

Daft Punk in the flesh....well not really

The script as a whole is well written in some parts and in others not. Dialogue throughout the film has Kevin Flynn adding man at the the end of every sentence but I think that was like you know part of Bridges’ contract, man. I rather enjoyed the film for what it was, it wasn’t trying to be an Inception type film. It wasn’t trying to be preachy like AVATAR.

Story wise it wasn’t the greatest but it was entertaining. The thing though is for a movie the story Legacy had was  superior to a vast majority of films out there today. That is a shame considering the plot here gets slightly convoluted around the time Sam enters the Grid. CLU is after one thing and what the Flynn’s are after changes multiple times. To say that the story lacked any heart is like saying Jeff Bridges is not a man. But I feel like this is getting real wordy here so let’s move on further.

The music was conducted by Daft Punk. If you listen to the soundtrack without seeing the movie you feel like it sucks but if you watch the movie with the soundtrack it flows near seamlessly. The way the duo put together the songs was amazing. I know I’ve been throwing around these adjectives like no tomorrow but it feels like the guys are capturing the sounds from the original TRON and are  updating it to a modern feel. This became noticeable when the train was flying and the music just reminded me of the same scene from the fist one.

Now it’s time to talk visuals. I know this is what you wanted to see. The visuals were breathtaking. In 3-D still. The colors in the film captured the feel from the first one but at the same time made it stand out. The Blues and Reds and Greens were vibrant and alive. The sets were massive, even though it was a computer world there was an element of humanity in the world, you could tell that a man made it. There was that simple touch of water filling an ocean out in the deep voids of the CPU. The machines, vehicles were made with such precision that you were blown away by their attractiveness. The lightcycle race in the beginning was boner inspiring. The fact that they can now move in 3 DIMENSIONS blew me away. It was more visually appealing than AVATAR. With AVATAR you got  a beautiful enviornment with creatures and nothing else. Here you get soul and heart in a computerized world that just leaves you breathless.

Hear the initial thoughts immediately after the film from Mr. Kastle and myself as well as our female friend on  his site when he puts it  up. I’m sure he’ll tell me.

Overall I give this movie a solid 11/10 and that is retarded because I saw it once and already had a boner going in.

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About Angerbanjo

As passionate as one can be about certain topics it is hard to make a living with that passion, that being said my passion for nerd culture, modern music and video gaming has yet to translate into anything moderately successful, that and my degree in electronic media, but hey at least I can use that journalism minor. View all posts by Angerbanjo

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