TRON: Legacy – Review

Official Synopsis TRON: LEGACY is a 3D action-packed adventure set in a digital world unlike anything captured on the big screen. Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), a rebellious 27-year-old, is haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his father Kevin Flynn (Oscar®- and Golden Globe®-winner Jeff Bridges), a man once known as the world’s leading video-game developer. When Sam investigates a strange signal sent from the abandoned Flynn’s Arcade — that could have only come from his father — he finds himself pulled into a world where Kevin has been trapped for 20 years. With the help of the fearless warrior Quorra (Olivia Wilde), father and son embark on a life-or-death journey across a visually-stunning digital universe — created by Kevin himself — which has become far more advanced with never-before-imagined vehicles, weapons, and landscapes and a ruthless villain who will stop at nothing to prevent their escape.

Director Joseph Kosinski

Starring Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Bruce Boxleitner, Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen, James Frain

Running time 126 minutes

Certificate PG

UK Release Date 17th December 2010

*contains minor spoilers*

Okay, first things first. I have to admit that despite being a child of the 80’s, Tron (1982) somehow managed to pass me by. It was released before I was born, but seeing as most of my favourite things come from this decade it really is no excuse. When I finally did come to watching Tron I enjoyed it but my main feeling was one of respect and awe for it’s technical achievements. Yet whilst I didn’t make my way to the TRON:Legacy screening brimming with the warm fuzzy feelings of nostalgia, that no doubt many of you will, I was still incredibly excited to watch the most anticipated sequel of the year (Wizards and Vampires aside). I was well and truly ready for my world to be rocked.

The first 30 minutes or so are confined to the “real world”. It’s all interesting enough; we learn what has become of ENCOM in Flynn’s absence, catch up with silver fox Alan (Tron) Bradley and meet responsibility-shirking prankster Sam Flynn. But, we all know where we want to be. I won’t go into detail about how we get there but I will say that I enjoyed what felt like a trip down the 1980’s rabbit whole complete with arcade games and thumping tunes (Journey’s ‘Separate Ways’ actually gave me tingles).

Now the real fun begins. The first sight of the recognizer is breathtaking. In fact all of the things one remembers from the first movie are the things one is most likely to enjoy seeing. The recognizers, the discs, the light-cycles, the derezzing, are all here and look fresh, sleek and sexy – neon has never looked so good – but stay true to their original designs. I especially loved the games stadium which had a real gladiatorial feel with its thousands of spectators. Another highlight is the exhilarating and action packed light-cycle sequence.

The landscape is of course a digital one; full of grid lines, perfect curves, and neon lights. Yet it is also earthy, especially off-grid. You really get a sense of being in a wild and mountainous terrain, and with a deeply dark sky above and and barely visible ocean below it feels both claustrophobic and vast. The Grid itself has all the familiar elements (including random “sexy ladies”) but in Tron City Joe Kosinski and his team have created much more of a corrupt, bustling, dystopian metropolis.

I’m not sure if TRON: Legacy will be anywhere near as ground breaking, and leave as much of a *ahem* legacy, as its predecessor with regards to its use of special effects and its vision of the inner architecture of cyberspace, but I thought it looked spectacular. CLU 2.0, might not look perfect (even the director doesn’t think so) but he is eerily realistic enough. The only thing that was missing is that “spark” of life, he can appear quite vacant at times, but I thought this was quite appropriate as he isn’t actually human at all.  I’m generally not too keen on the prospect of live-action 3D films as I think 3D is more suited to animation. TRON: Legacy I think is a rare exception, it being set in a digital realm and a hybrid of live-action and CGI. I couldn’t think of a film more suited for the 3D Format, even more so perhaps than Avatar. It definitely added to the sensation of being well and truly immersed in another world.

All of the cast give solid performances, but Jeff Bridges steals the show. An older and wiser Flynn has become somewhat of a Zen-master, complete with Jedi-esque robes (or The Dude’s bathrobe perhaps) and still in possession of his uber-cool User powers. There are some touching scenes between Flynn and his son and also with CLU 2 – Flynn realising the mistake he made in his pursuit of creating a perfect world when perfection was already all around him. Olivia Wilde plays brave and tough Quorra with a delicate wide-eyed wonder, and Garrett Hedlund’s Sam is believable as a computer-savvy layabout who is more than capable of kicking-ass when the time comes. He also handles the more emotion-heavy father and son scenes well. In addition there is a wonderfully camp performance from Michael Sheen as Castor – think Willy Wonka meets Frank-N-Furter and Ziggy Stardust and you might be halfway there.

There were biblical undertones and there is much to be read here about fathers and sons, creators and their creations, facing the monster within, sacrifice, and free-will. I was also reminded of Star Wars often both thematically, and due to some of the set and costume choices.

I was expecting the entire film to be packed full of trance-inducing Daft Punk tunes but what we get is so much richer. At times a full-on sweeping orchestral score and at others high-octane electronica, but very often a meeting in the middle. Rather than over-powering the action on screen it was greatly complimentary.

My only criticism of the film is that despite the stakes seeming higher than before, somewhere in the middle there was a lack of urgency. I personally didn’t feel the film suffered so much as a result because I was so impressed with the visuals that I not once found myself bored, but I did hear a few comments from others about the film being too long. I think the transition of the film from the big screen to the living room will be the true test as to whether the characters and storyline are engaging enough on their own. It’s a shame because the film is so close to being perfect.

Best line: “You’re messing with my Zen thing man” (Kevin to Sam).

Rating: 4/5   TRON: Legacy is a stunning feast for the senses. It contains engaging performances, an interesting plot and plenty of high-octane fun. I highly recommend that people make the effort to see it on the biggest screen they can find.

Reviewed by: Alexis Jayne Defoe.

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One comment

  1. I was really looking forward to this, but ended up hating it. The story was awful, the SFX too unreal, the CGI on Jeff Bridges’ face is still a few years away from working the way it should.

    Sorry to say, I was even bored.

    my review


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