I mentioned in my previous review how much I enjoyed the original Tron movie. Yes, I was shamelessly gushing with fan boy nostalgia when I reviewed it but I don't regret doing so. My childhood was marketed to me by entertainment conglomerates and, for that, I am eternally grateful because they made it awesome.
However, a sequel to a thirty-year-old movie can result in fans of the original being extra-suspicious when the final results are put out to view. Superman Returns and the Star Wars Prequels are just some of the kinds of bad eggs we've had to deal with. It doesn't help Tron is a really strange movie, as I've mentioned before. The modern internet makes the idea of billions of AI living in a digital world no less impossible but certainly more emotionally relevant. We're all connected to a modern-day Grid run by an ubiquitous Big Brother figure so Tron is more relevant than ever (Hi, NSA!).
|The costumes and actors are lovely in this work.|
Next, I would say it's pretty damn good.
While people have been remaking Star Wars since the first movie came out, I think this is probably a better sequel to its themes and attitudes than not just the Prequels but the two dozen or so other knock-offs I can think of off the top of my head. The generational saga of good versus evil, authoritarianism and rebellion, plus the mystical nature of the Force are all successfully transcribed to this movie.
|The gladiator fights are several times better than the original, which were pretty awesome to begin with.|
The premise of Tron: Legacy is Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) from the original Tron, has inherited his father's multibillion dollar empire after the latter's disappearance. A mysterious page from Kevin Flynn's old arcade leads his son to a device which digitizes him and takes him to an updated grid ruled by his father's lookalike double, the malevolent Clu (also Jeff Bridges).
Sam Flynn plays the Luke Skywalker role while Clu is the Emperor crossed with Darth Vader. Despite having some of Darth Vader's properties, Clu has his own Darth Vader analog in the silent assassin Rinzler. It's a minor spoiler but Kevin Flynn takes on elements of Obi-Wan and Yoda in the movie too. Our heroes even take a journey to a Mos Eisley cantina, of sorts. This version, though has Daft Punk playing in-universe DJs versus large-brained Bith playing space jazz.
FYI, the soundtrack for this movie is awesome. Daft Punk was an inspired choice to do the music and their electronic sounds are worth buying separate from the film. The fact they were able to wear their costumes in the Grid with only minor alterations shows just how perfect they were for the movie. I've since purchased the Tron Legacy soundtrack and also a remix of their work by other artists. I listen to both as I do my writing. It's that good.
The homages run hot and thick throughout Tron: Legacy, referencing the original movie as well as other movies in multiple ways but without being impenetrable to new viewers. While there's a couple of excessive info-dumps at the start of the movie, just about anyone will be able to pick up on the archetypal story of a son looking for his father in a fantastic new world. While I can't say Sam Flynn is a particularly interesting character, Jeff Bridge's Kevin Flynn and Olivia Wilde's Quorra more than make up for it.
|The city is a gorgeous blue color-pallet and monument to CGI.|
We also get a really good insight into the culture of the Programs. They're just like humans in some ways, yet profoundly different in other respects. The conflict between the Programs (who are fundamentally non-chaotic ordered beings) and the Isos (who are chaotic--just like humans) drives much of the plot's backstory. We also get a simple but worthwhile moral about the impossibility and subjectiveness of perfection.
|The light-cycles are still wonderful.|
The world-building of Tron: Legacy hints at a much larger and more fascinating world than the original with plenty of world to expand beyond the existing borders. No sooner did I finish this movie did I want to watch the animated series, Tron: Uprising. Not only is Clu's army delightfully villainous but there's rebels, criminals, and other factions competing on a game field which is only touched upon by the movie proper.
Some individuals may question the movie's cyberpunk credentials and, fair enough, it's stretching the definition. Still, I loved the depiction of the 21st century's ENCOM as a corrupt and intellectually bankrupt organization. Clu's totalitarian regime is a combination of the Nazis, Roman Empire, and Galactic Empire but it's still an example of technology oppressing technology even if it's just in the most literal sense. Mostly, though, I love the look and that's cyberpunk enough for me to give it the tag.
|Daft Punk didn't need to change their costumes to fit in. They really didn't.|