Not a day goes by without some news of a reinvented franchise or another addition to an already existing mythos, yet when Disney announced that they would be producing a follow-up to the (for its time) technologically advanced Tron, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. Even putting myself in the mindset of one who would have originally seen and been amazed by the first’s production value was impossible, being that I grew up in an age where CGI gradually became the norm, if not a crutch for poor storytelling.
In a lot of ways I knew never to expect too much, as the story was always in some way ancillary to everything else going on with the original and in most ways, it would not stray too far from its namesake.
Both positively and negatively my expectations were met and often exceed in this Joseph Kosinski feature debut.
Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), enigmatic CEO of Encom and software engineer disappears not long after promising to revolutionize the world. 20 years later, a mysterious page received by Flynn’s former partner Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) pushes young Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) to investigate his father’s former arcade. Quickly drawn into The Grid and saved by Quorra (Olivia Wilde) and a now aged Flynn, Sam must battle Clu, a program identical to Sam’s father who believes perfection is complete uniformity.
Story has been rather ancillary to the original Tron and this new outing is essentially no different. Character development is plotted but not necessarily well executed, along with a convoluted allusion to open-sourced software yet in comparison to “Avatar” which takes itself far too seriously considering the source material to back it up, Legacy knows not to take itself too seriously or severely outstay its welcome.
A huge benefit comes with Disney largely ignoring the plot of the original, meaning it can establish itself without complication, with “Avatar” the weighted message and constant abuse of the same was distracting and taken far too seriously for its own good.
Kosinski manages to create such a purposeful picture, each scene crisp and effective in presentation. The world he creates and inhabits with such power despite it’s hugely alien elements is so believable, so well crafted, visually it is not outside the realms of possibility. His apparent undergrad in architecture is evident in every building, every line. Unfortunately, despite his background in video-games and CGI, the facial animation for Clu and young Flynn may look some what genuine, but are distractingly obvious. Benjamin Button he is not.
Acting like the story is often spotty at best, Hedlund begins the movie with a degree of discomfort it’s palpable though he does grow into the role somewhat as it progresses. Bridges comes with his usual swagger in tact yet often he has issues between uttering the lines with irony and quickly switching to a more serious approach, disjointed in a lot of ways. Wilde’s Quorra is more than capable in the role of ingenue, controlling her usual hyper-sexuality, forming a more concrete character out of the usual stock variety. A cameo by Michael Sheen goes beyond even the surface campness of Richard Frost that he achieved earlier, entertaining but rather empty.
Overall, despite the failings of the plot, there is plenty here to build upon for another installment in a way that was simply not there in its nearest comparative. Light, entertaining and enough mythos to maintain our interest in the long term, “Tron: Legacy” often has squandered potential but at least it has it to begin with.