TRON Legacy (Spoiler Free) Review
Last week I wrote about 1982’s TRON, and I’ve spent that week anticipating the release of TRON Legacy. Today I got the chance to see it, my 13-year-old son and I caught a matinée showing before our annual day of shopping for mom’s Christmas gifts. And…… We both loved it!
Critcs aren’t being too kind to TRON Legacy. It’s currently got a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and The Chicago Tribune calls it “A sequel not worth waiting for”. Most of the negative comments focus on the story, or lack thereof. It’s not that they are far off the mark, but I think they’ve missed the point.
Much like the original movie, the story was pretty straight forward, find your long-lost father, save the world from a menace it doesn’t know exists and return home safely. That’s a simplistic summary of course, they manage to get a bit philosophical and even theological at a few points in the movie, but it never feels pretentious or overbearing. There’s just enough plot to allow you to suspend your disbelief of the imaginary world know as The Grid that the film takes place in, and to generate at least a little connection with the characters. But I really wasn’t looking for mystery, social commentary or even much character development, I was looking for a fun movie and it delivered.
The film kept a pace throughout that never really let your mind wander, even during what could be called slower parts, there was always something going on to keep you glued to the screen. Fight scenes were very well choreographed and filmed, and we finally got to see them without the supremely annoying shaky cam that everyone seems to be so fond of these days! The film would not have been complete without an epic Light Cycle scene, and it delivered this one with gusto. The scene from the original movie took place on a vast, flat plane. This time, they added multiple levels, and even messed with the spatial orientation of the bikes as they sped through the arena. But they managed to still make it to where you could track the action with your eyes and never get confused, unlike other recent films like the Transformers series where there’s so much going on that you just can’t keep up with the action.
That brings me to the visual aspect of the movie. In contrast to Avatar, which also made use of many new 3D and CGI technologies and presented a world where there was something to see in every inch of the screen, TRON Legacy took place in a rather stark setting. Most of the scenes were dark with light coming from the red and blue glow of the set pieces and costumes. Even scenes shot in the real world were dark and foreboding. That’s not a negative statement, the end result was spectacular and very easy to watch.
The CGI used to create a young Jeff Bridges was very well done and only looked strange and plastic a few times. The remaining animation used while in The Grid was flawless and beautiful.
While we didn’t opt for the IMAX 3D Experience (because I’m a cheap skate), we did see it in Digital 3D. The 3D effects were very unobtrusive, mainly used to add depth and make the experience more immersive. I truly can’t recall any gimmicky use of 3D in the film.
I’m a sucker for movies that hit the nostalgia nerve cluster in my brain, and this hit it early and repeatedly. From the lights and sounds of 80’s arcades and games to updated but familiar images from the orignal movie, I felt the 11-year-old in me dying to hop on a Light Cycle. This nostalgia factor was carefully and intentionally crafted, right down to the 80’s tunes that blare to life in Flynn’s Arcade.
Another bit of nostalgia was the inclusion of some nods to the Star Wars trilogy (I’m talking the real Star Wars trilogy here). Look for the “Obi-Wan disarms the tractor beam” and “Luke shoots down tie fighters” scenes. My friend Alex agreed and tweeted this:
@Laserbeak21 Many beats in the Tron movie remind me of Star Wars Episode IV, and I’m ok with that since Star Wars seems to have forgotten it’s formula
To wrap things up, TRON Legacy was a fun adventure into a very cool world. It didn’t try to be anything that it wasn’t. There was only a hint of social commentary, more for the building of the story than an attempt to make a statement. My buddy Eric said it well in a text message:
It was just a really well structured movie that didn’t try to be anything but what it needed to be.
As with almost every Hollywood film today, there was a setup for a sequel, but it was subtle. I am looking forward to more TRON someday, others would rather they leave it be and not take the chance of tarnishing a fantastic piece of work.