It’s been 28 years since the world of Tron hit movie screens, with its dazzling special effects, arresting sound, and original sci-fi story. But as much as it resembles the sort of big action spectacle we see spawn sequels aplenty these days, the time has long passed when we would rightfully expect to see a sequel to the film.
However, in a post-Avatar world where special effects technology can make just about anything possible on-screen, a sequel to Tron became pretty much inevitable. So does it dazzle as much as the original does? Will it be remembered in decades to come as one of THE special effects movies of the early 21st century? Unfortunately no, but in a time with so much amazing special effects to be found in (mainly) Hollywood movies, you can’t really hold that against the sequel too much.
Tron: Legacy, as it’s appropriately titled, picks up almost 30 years after the original. Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) has gone missing a few years after we left him in the first Tron, leaving his young son, Sam, without a father. Most people believe he’s either dead or hiding out in the world somewhere, but in actuality Kevin got trapped some two decades earlier inside “The Grid,” a computer domain he created inside his company’s mainframe. Needless to say Sam (Garrett Hedlund) goes looking for his father, ending up trapped inside the computer trying to locate his father in order to get him out once and for all.
But standing in Sam and Kevin’s way is Clu, a power-hungry computer program created by Kevin (as a replica of himself) to help him change the world. However, after betraying Kevin, Clu has spent years trying to a find a way out of The Grid and into the real world.
Now, while the special effects might not be as ground-breaking as they were in the first Tron, they are still extremely impressive. Whether that is just the simple look of the computer world itself, with its (now iconic) neon lights or seemingly unending size, to the action sequences, all of which completely convince you that this world is just as real to the people within the computer as our world is to us (of course with this type of film you have to suspend your disbelief to, well, believe in the world at hand).
The action sequences are where most of the enjoyment of the film comes from, and there are a few which stand out as highlights including a battle involving the “Players” throwing their “battle discs” to an air battle involving special battle ships. But the absolute highlight action sequence of the film and a contender for “scene of the year” is the Light Cycle battle, in which director Joseph Kosinski manages to pay great homage to the style of the original while putting a fresh spin on things. For instance, the bikes and arena generally look and feel the same but, instead of going in rigid straight lines, the movements of the bikes are much more fluid. At the very least Tron: Legacy provides some often jaw-dropping action sequences to impress you visually, even if there’s not much going on in the story or script department.
Speaking of which, the sequel is let down severely by its lacklustre story and poor script. Even the generic, “make it about anything and people won’t really care” story could even be overlooked if the dialogue wasn’t so cheesy and forced. To name just one example, there’s a scene in which Olivia Wilde’s Quorra (who’s just there to be eye-candy and little more) asks Sam what the sun is like. Sam replies that it’s, “Big, bright, beautiful.” A logical question for a computer program longing to see the real world but the whole scene, and many others like it, is almost painful to watch.
A special mention needs to go to the musical score, composed by the ever-cool Daft Punk. If there’s a musical artist and movie which are a more suited pairing than Daft Punk and Tron, I can’t think of them. Their score is powerful, exciting, memorable, and overall perfectly encapsulates what Tron: Legacy is all about.
The film has been touted as one of the 3D films to see in theatres. Is the 3D really that good? Not really. Yes, it’s impressively done and certainly an example of how a film should utilize the in-vogue technology, i.e. use it to immerse the audience in the world not distract them with things flying out of the screen at them every five seconds. But at the same time you don’t absolutely need to see the film in 3D as the visuals can still be enjoyed in regular old 2D as well.
When Tron: Legacy is going at full speed with its sleek and polished visual effects, blaring musical score, and exciting action sequences, it’s one of the most fun movies of this past year. However, it’s when all the bright lights and noise stops and the story and/or dialogue comes into play that everything comes crashing down. Still the glaring faults aren’t enough to derail the film completely. This is definitely not as memorable as the original Tron in terms of special effects (although it’s rare that that can even happen at all these days) but more than worth seeing nonetheless.