Bum Rap – TRON: Legacy
I really thought I was going to hate TRON: Legacy (2010) before I actually saw it. It was a movie that didn’t seem to generate a lot of good “buzz” before release, got bad reviews when it did come out and just didn’t seem all that hip or cool to begin with. Who makes a sequel to the movie TRON (1982) that at that point was nearly 30 years old and didn’t do that well at the box office to begin with? That was the question no one seemed to ask before TRON: Legacy went into production.
So I only saw TRON: Legacy when I caught it during a free Starz weekend one Saturday night a year or so after its release. Even then I only happened to start watching it at about the mid-point scene where Castor (Michael Sheen) is shooting light…things(?) out of his cane during the big bar fight. I couldn’t believe how weird the whole thing looked. But even then there was something about the visuals and what story I’d seen that piqued my interest so I DVRd a later showing and watched it the next day.
And watching the movie from the beginning I was actually kind’a surprised — I found TRON: Legacy to be pretty great. Unlike a lot of other big-budget movies of similar theme, TRON: Legacy has an interesting story mixed with action along with slick CGI visuals. And at least here, set inside the world of a computer, these slick CGI visuals actually make sense.
What’s really interesting about TRON: Legacy from a fan standpoint is that it’s a true sequel. Who else does that where today it’s normal for similar movies to do a “reboot” every few years? There were ten years between Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man reboot. The American version of Godzilla had 16 years between reboots. And there were 21 years between Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboots. With the TRON movies there’s that nearly 30 year gap between the first and second and it’s like the creators of the movies figured they’d be able to explain enough in the story of TRON: Legacy as to what happened during those years for the audience to keep up.
“Tron, what have you become?”
In the original TRON, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) created a computerized universe and was digitized himself and placed on the “Grid.” There in the computer, Flynn played life and death games and fought to free the programs of this universe from the Master Control Program. And told in flashbacks in TRON: Legacy, Flynn delved deeper into the world of TRON and created a program that was a duplicate of himself, Clu. But just when he was on the verge of a major discovery Flynn went missing. Now, about 20 years later, Flynn’s grown son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) goes looking for him and finds his father in the most unexpected of places; trapped in his computerized universe that’s been running and evolving with a despot Clu looking for Flynn’s head and a way off the Grid.
Essentially, TRON: Legacy is an effective chase film, with Clu chasing Flynn and Sam along with program Quorra (Olivia Wilde) all looking for some means of escaping his computerized universe and slipping into ours. This, along with the mostly spectacular special effects, makes TRON: Legacy one of the better big budget computer effects driven action movies of the last decade.
I do say that the special effects are “mostly spectacular” because of one glaring issue with TRON: Legacy; the character of Clu. Not with the actual character, he works well. What mostly doesn’t work is the 3D effects used to bring Clue to life. In the movie Jeff Bridges plays Flynn as a 60 year old man and computer effects are used to create the face of Clu as Bridges looked in the original TRON as a spry 30 year something man. When these effects work the younger Bridges/Clu looks great. When it doesn’t it comes off creepy and fake.
Otherwise, though the creators of TRON: Legacy have created a true artificial world almost entirely in the realm of 3D computer effects.