I was never a big fan of Tron, only seen it a couple of times really and the last time was quite a while ago. So it's safe to say that I'm not immersed in this mythology or care about it any more than anything else. To me it was a cheesy little film with a goofy look but an interesting concept and some groundbreaking FX work for that time.
But the previews of Tron Legacy had me pumped with its amazing visuals and stellar looking special effects, plus the thing was in 3D so it promised a good time at the theater. And it was, sort of, up to a point.
The film opens up a few years after Kevin Flynn has discovered that his computer program is alive and can freely enter its world and build it up making him a multi millionaire computer programer. But one day he enters this world and never comes back leaving his son behind who grows up to be a rebellious youth interested in extreme sports and motorcycles, because he's so angry his daddy left him you see. But as a largest shareholder in his fathers company he has the time and money to sulk and be as extreme as he wants to be which comes in handy later on.
After his father's long time partner receives a message on his pager (who the hell still uses a pager?) young Sam Flynn goes to his dad's old arcade and is promptly zapped to The Grid when he boots up the old computer.
The world of The Grid is a new rave paradise and looks amazing in fact but it was sort of a parallel universe where programs with personalities mingled and frolicked just like in the real world but with a cooler look and Daft Punk DJing at the local club. Yes the programs go to clubs and restaurants. Sam is right away thrust in to this fascist world where Clu, a computer copy of Kevin Flynn that has rebelled against its creator and imprisoned him in a swanky looking villa over looking the center of The Grid, rules supreme and plans a evil scheme to take over world, his and ours. With the help of a program trained by Kevin Flynn, Sam must defeat Clu and his red striped minions before he gets out to make a perfect world free of imperfections.
The story behind Tron: Legacy is as simple as it can get and plays out exactly like I thought it would. Bits and pieces of other fan favorite genre films are thrown in for good measure, the messianic plot of The Matrix and Star Wars mostly. It's the world that director Joseph Kosinski that bugged me the most. Why is there rain in The Grid? Why do some of the programs have wacky personalities like Michael Sheen's Zuse while others are cold and robotic? There is even a hobo program sitting in an alley drinking digital alcohol. I guess that if everything in this world would be like a computer there wouldn't be much of a story and it would all be rather bland over all but these things are never explained, like the rocky and rough terrain surrounding The Grid, where Kevin Flynn lives. Why would such a area exist inside a computer? And it's also a good thing Sam Flynn grew up liking extreme sports and motorcycles, instead of a soft bodied computer nerd that he would probably grow up as in the real world. I'm sure "Star Wars Kid" vs Tron wasn't exciting enough, though it would be quite funny.
It's the look of the film that is the winner, along with the sound design and fantastic sound track by Daft Punk. It's a designer's wet dream to immerse himself in a world like this and I want to own every piece of equipment shown in the film. The 3D element works well but wasn't used as much as I thought it would but in the action scenes, the light cycle fight for one, it really shone. I was worried that young looking Jeff Bridges that was created for this film wouldn't work, especially the iffy lip movements shown in the trailer but most of the time it's quite successful. I just really wish I didn't know that he was computer generated because every time he was on screen I was looking for imperfections in the CG performance. I'm glad to say that they were few.
The real performances were fine, though Garrett Hedlunds reminded me of Hayden Christensen's performance in Episode 3, and in looks sometimes. The young upstarts with daddy issues being all angry at the world for no apparent reason. Jeff Bridges is good, his hippy, zen personality clashing with the computer world that he has created. His performance was the only one with a hint of comedy thrown in, if you didn't find Michael Sheen funny that is, and I didn't, I just found it weird, over the top and out of place.
The real stars of this film are its designers, both visual and sound and that's really what is going to draw people to the theater. The story is safe and hits all the right beats for a cliché ridden story but those looking for something deeper than fancy visuals and a great score need to look elsewhere.
But you bet your ass I will be picking this up when it hits Blu Ray because I'm sure it's going to look aces.