Starring: Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxeleitner
Plot: Twenty years have passed since Kevin Flynn vanished. Now his son, Sam, ventures to the digital world of the Grid to find his father.
Review: If you’re a fan of Cinephiliacs Anonymous, you know I try to leave bias behind. I try to be an objective reviewer, but it’s times like these that it becomes difficult to fill that role. “Tron: Legacy” is my sixth favorite movie of all time, and I started this blog by reviewing Tron with the intention of coming here. So, without further ado, here is my attempt at being unbiased when reviewing one of my favorite pieces of cinema.
In terms of plot, “Tron: Legacy” is pretty standard. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing. So many movies struggle with the journey a plot should go on. What I mean by that is that many stories revolve around one large obstacle being overcome by the protagonists. Character A wants to kill Character B, so he does, the end. “Tron: Legacy,” however, is not that linear. The main character, Sam, is pretty lost throughout the entire film, and something needs to push or pull him in a new direction to get things going. That said, those directions can really take him anywhere. He always ends up moving toward his end goal of getting his father out of the Grid, but there are a healthy amount of detours that add excitement and build this world nicely.
Speaking of the world, by the Allspark is this world wonderful. The last time we saw the grid officially was 1982, and just like the digital landscapes we submerge ourselves in today, it has changed greatly since then. The 1982 Grid was full of bright and dark colors, as well as geometric shapes and patterns. The updated Grid takes those qualities for a spin. The contrasting colors are boldly played against each other, with most thing being monochrome emblazoned with neon detailing. The geometry stays present, reminding the viewer that this world is entirely digital. I hate to get personal, but a sharp contrast between light and dark makes me feel artistically and aesthetically pleasured, making this film a visual orgasm.
New characters are introduced in this film, while old characters make a reappearance. Sam Flynn was pleasant enough, as I said previously, he wanders from place to place like a lost puppy, but he does not hesitate to submerge himself in whatever situation he finds himself. An adrenaline junkie that grew up hearing tales of the great hero Tron and his battles against the MCP, Sam fits perfectly as a protagonist that knows as much as the audience, give or take, and also closely follows the action and excitement. His companion, Quorra, is an adventurous and ever curious program who spent the cycles hearing tales of the world on the other side of the screen, making her a great foil for Sam. She also is a major part of the religious symbolism in this film, which I will get to. Flynn returns, now much more mature and, well, less of a doofus. He handles things calmly in a very “Jedi-esque” fashion. He cares for the many programs, though he hesitates to aid his son on his quest. The reasons for all this are explained in the film, so you’ll just have to watch to figure it all out. Tron returns, of course, but not in the way you’d think. I could gush about the Grid’s great hero for hours on end, but for the sake of spoilers I’ll cut it down to saying his role is a lot like that of Luke Skywalker in “The Force Awakens.” I was a little disappointed by that, but the television series “Tron: Uprising” fills in everything I missed and more.
It would be impossible to not speak on the soundtrack of this film. The band Daft Punk is known for their wonderful EDM tunes, but no one would ever expect them to score a movie. Turns out, we all stood corrected. They perfectly mixed their usual digital style with the emotional draw that is required of a soundtrack. You feel each song, yet they all sound perfect for a digital world like the Grid. I cannot express how wonderfully perfect this score is. I listen to it on Spotify while I work to help me focus. “Overture” is by far my favorite, it sounds heroic, and inspirational. I feel like a living legend as it marches in my ears. It touches me in ways I cannot describe.
The visuals of this film were touched on briefly, but I need to speak on the CGI. The Grid is almost entirely CGI, and as of February 2017, it still holds up as realistic. From the almost liquid quality of the Light Cycles trails, to the solid surfaces that just cannot exist, it is beyond imagination. This, along with films like “Iron Man” (2008) and “Transformers” (2007) last beyond their expectation.
The last point I have to bring up is symbolism. This film carries on the theme of religion that “Tron” started with. People from our world, called “Users,” not only craft and shape the Grid, but also have miraculous powers. They are treated like gods by the indigenous people of the Grid, called “Programs.” Some, like Quorra and Tron, crusade for the Users and look to them for guidance and purpose in life, while others, like Zuse and the films main villain (Who is meant to be a surprise), believe that Users are not as great and powerful as people say. To drive the point home, Quorra is based on Jeanne d’Arc (Who happens to be one of my favorite historical figures), a girl who lead armies through one of Europe’s bloodiest conflicts because she believed God willed it. Tron’s catchphrase is “I fight for the User!” for Primus’ sake! Meanwhile, Zuse openly mocks Sam for being a User, and the still unnamed villain attempts to kill Sam and Flynn on multiple occasions. This symbolism is not forced down the viewer’s throat, but it is easy to pick up on. I make no claims that this film is deep and complex, but the ideas of gods and men addressed by “Tron: Legacy” cannot be overlooked.
In conclusion, I love this film. I make no claim that this is American cinema’s magnum opus, but it is very well done. Enjoyable characters, stunning visuals, and a beautiful soundtrack make this adventure tale memorable. I also hope you enjoyed learning more about me, from my preferences in art to my use of Transformers slang. While I may not have released my A/S/L and credit card information, I still feel a tad exposed. Regardless, each feature of this film fits together like puzzle pieces to make one hell of a good time.
Verdict: While it is not the greatest film ever made, “Tron: Legacy” is a beautiful piece of artwork painted over a fun adventure. Definitely a look at.
The 2010 TRON sequel may have its ups and downs, but in regard to its franchise as a whole, Tron Legacy accomplishes what its predecessor has been doing since 1982: demonstrating the power of computers and how they can be used to create films.
The TRON series isn’t just about characters exploring the environment of a computer, it’s about creators exploring their own technological limits in the film industry.