Movie Review: TRON: LegacyWalt Disney Pictures

Twenty-eight years is a long time to wait for a sequel. Especially a sequel to a movie that was considered a box office flop when it was first released. I of course speak of the 1982 movie Tron, a sci-fi flick Disney released at a time when the company wasn’t doing so hot, but was still actively innovative and imaginative none the less. The original Tron was a perfect example of Disney being much more than catering to kids — the effects and production was pretty cutting edge at the time, and the story was a bit darker in tone (something Disney never shied away from, really). Problem was, Tron was released against the soon-to-be pop culture juggernaut that was E. T.: The Extra Terrestrial. Yeah, looking back it seemed like a stupid move, but really who could have foreseen that at the time?

Anyhoo, as with a lot of other genre movies, Tron grew quite the cult following over the decades, so much that we finally have a sequel that, in my not-so-humble opinion, not only recaptures the spirit of the original, but builds upon it, giving the world of the Grid a deeper depth and dimension. And no, that has nothing to do with the 3D effects.

(Just a quick side note, here; I wrote the rough draft of this earlier in the morning, and later that same evening had a rather spirited discussion about the original vs. the sequel with some of my fellow geeks I hold in high esteem; I only bring this up because I realize there’s going to be cries of blasphemy and high amounts of nerd rage after what I just wrote…and I make no apologies…love you all)

The story begins several years after the events of the original Tron: Kevin Flynn is telling the tale of his adventure in The Grid to his young son, Sam, before heading out to work on his new creation. It would be the last time his son and the world sees or hears from him again. Flash forward twenty years, and Sam is a somewhat reckless young adult, channeling his inner angst and inherent intelligence and genius to playfully sabotaging his father’s (and his, as he’s also the majority stock holder) company’s efforts to become the next big corporate playa’s. OS / Linux fans will get a kick out of that opening bit, there. After his latest escapade, he’s informed that his estranged father might still be alive, which leads him to the old arcade, where to a soundtrack of vintage 80s rock he’s zapped into The Grid. Immediately he’s taken into the games, and must battle his way out, facing not only a corrupt A. I. master, but also his long-lost father. Oh, and there’s also only eight hours before the porthole between this and the real world closes. And the A. I. wants to conquer the real world as well. So, no pressure or anything.

I’m only going to say upfront that, as far as the original Tron goes, I have an appreciation of the film and its impact on sci-fi film history, but I don’t consider myself an ubergeek about it. Not like I am about, say, Star Wars, Star Trek or Doctor Who. I think it’s that kind of low-grade geek appreciation that perhaps allowed me to enjoy Tron: Legacy much more than a lot of others. Overall, I thought that Tron: Legacy was a fantastic sci-fi cyberpunk fantasy, one that immediately drew me in and held me there for over two hours, unwilling to move despite the protests of my bladder. It’s rare that I just lose myself in a movie like that. I’m not saying it’s the greatest movie ever; far from it. I’m just saying that Tron: Legacy provided one of those rare instances where everything came together and worked to that end.

There’s a lot I can write about, which has the potential to go on for hours. To keep things relatively brief, I’ll say that I found the plot to be deeper than just the surface points. The father / son dynamic is refreshingly subdued in the angsty drama, where I strongly believed the bond those two shared. There was even a surprising depth to CLU, the A. I. antagonist that, aside from providing the obvious “I’m my own worst enemy” dynamic (if you’ve seen the movie already, you know what I’m getting at…and if you haven’t, that’s technically not a spoiler, so quit whining), there’s a certain flashback scene where you actually start to feel kind of sympathetic for him. Kind of. The acting was great, and the effects were just stunning. Tron: Legacy is probably the first movie I would recommend seeing in 3D. Which is something in itself, considering my general disdain for what I normally consider an overpriced and unnecessary movie gimmick.

So, obviously I completely enjoyed Tron: Legacy. Haters are gonna hate, I realize this; but what it comes down to is that it made me forget I was in a movie theater. And I’ve seen it twice. And I haven’t double dipped in the theater in over a decade. At least it isn’t a remake…