“Tron: Legacy” – The Film

Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

Sequels are usually never as good as their original films. If the sequels are made over 10 years later, chances are their success rate will not be as high. With this pattern, how could “Tron: Legacy,” released nearly 30 years after the first “Tron,” which only had middling success when released in theaters in 1982, ever hope to do well in the box offices?

“Tron” was originally a success because it used advanced special effects never before seen in films. Video games, comic books and other forms of media spawned from this movie. Fourteen years later, the film was given an Academy Award for Technical Achievement.

With 3-D now mainstream and films turning to computer graphics to enhance the realism, Walt Disney Studios wisely chose to release “Tron: Legacy” now.  Surprisingly, the film is not too bad.

“Tron: Legacy” is about a young man named Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), whose father, software engineer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), develops a digital world known as “The Grid,” where programs (who appear like their creators as “Users”) live and are sometimes forced to play games to the death against each other. Twenty years after Kevin’s disappearance, Sam returns to his father’s old office and accidentally traps himself inside The Grid. After finding his father within The Grid, they decide to go back to the real world by going through the portal through which Sam first traveled. However, time is running short. Kevin’s rogue program, Clu (a younger, computer-graphic version of Jeff Bridges), has taken control over The Grid and wishes to extend his control to the real world. Clu will do anything to stop Kevin and Sam from getting there before he does.

“Tron: Legacy” has an admittedly weak plot. The story of people trapped in another world who need to escape comes across as familiar enough, but this film seems to muddle it by adding gapping plot holes. The side plots involving ENCOM, the company developed by Kevin Flynn, and the isomorphic algorithms, programs which manifested within The Grid, are confusing, have little to do with the main plot and have little conclusion.

The dialogue seems weak too, with Sam’s character relying on  dry one-liners. After Sam hacks into ENCOM’s main entrance, a large safe-like door opens and Sam remarks, “That’s a big door,” a joke that receives one or two awkward giggles in the theater. Kevin Flynn talks more like Jeff Bridges’ character “The Dude” from the movie “The Big Lebowski” rather than the smart, confident Kevin Flynn from the original “Tron.” He can’t avoid his trademark laid-back, hippie phrases such as “We were jammin’, man” or “Radical.”

The bland script gives the actors nothing to work with. The characters have little depth, so the actors are unable to display a wide range of emotions. But many of the actors do try to work with the characters they are given. Olivia Wilde, who plays Quorra, a program friend of Kevin Flynn, appears naïve and curious as her character is being taught about the real world. However, her character is too one-dimensional for Wilde to really work with.

Despite the flawed story and script, the action and animation save this film. Every shot is visually stunning. The dystopian, digital feel of The Grid comes across in a surprisingly original way. Little aspects, such as the blue fire in Kevin’s fireplace or the glowing, spotted wall of Kevin’s home, makes The Grid fascinating and unique. Even shots of the real world are fantastic. When Sam stands on top of the ENCOM building, the viewers get a wonderful view of the city. This film uses every camera angle to its advantage.

The action is another captivating aspect. Each action sequence has something new and thrilling about it. The continuous excitement of a fight or chase scene, along with the spectacular visuals, is truly thrilling Just to heighten the sensational feel of this movie, director Joseph Kosinski signed Daft Punk to create the music of the film. This was a brilliant move on Kosinski’s part. The techno mixed with orchestra pairs perfectly with the action in the film.

“Tron: Legacy” is definitely a sensory film. It plays to one’s eyes and ears, rather than one’s intelligence. Although the plot and script are cheesy and faulty, the visuals and action are still satisfying and fun enough to make this film enjoyable.

Rating: 3 out of 5