TRON Legacy 3D – The DVDfever Cinema Review

Tron Legacy

Tron, back in 1982 at the age of 10, was a film for me which changed my life. Not only was I at an impressionable age, although I can still be impressed at 38, but a fascination with computers and a love of the look of the film just made me want to jump into the cinema screen.

This was so much so, that when there was a competition held throughout the schools in the country to win a prize by summarising the movie in 100 sentences I got to work. For the life of me, though, to this day I can’t remember or work out why I never actually entered the final draft into the competition, although the fact the prize was for the school and I’d get nothing personally was probably the main reason. Also, when time came to make that year’s Xmas want list of things which I didn’t have a hope in hell of getting, I wrote on it, “One of those computers that made Tron”. Well, it’s the only time of the year you get to make such a list…

Talking of not having a hope in hell of getting something, there clearly wasn’t much of a chance of getting a decent sequel given that they’d waited so long to make it and it would’ve been nice to get a plot that made sense.

As we begin, in 1989, we see a clean-shaven Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges, above) talking to his young son, Sam, about how they’re going to go over to the arcade in the morning, only… we learn later, in the present day, that he completely disappeared. At that point we’re introduced to the current Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund, below), hacking into the servers of Encom – the company of which his father was once the head – so he can give away their latest software for free instead of making them pay for it, and doing so just at the precise moment they’re about to give a live, worldwide press conference about it. Clearly, this particular scene was a dig at multi-national companies like Apple and Microsoft when they lable their new operating systems with a number as, when asked what’s different about the latest one being called “OS 12”, he simply replies, “It’s got a ’12’ on the box”.

Something that particularly irked me about what followed is that a fat security guard chases Sam all the way up to the roof and along a steel girder sticking out, pointlessly, out and high above the street below. It only serves the purpose for Sam to base-jump off it after their conversation, but since when would a minimum-wage security guard give a damn to the point where he’d risk his life to chase someone that far?

Anyway, for reasons that will become apparently, Sam gets the key to open up his Dad’s old arcade and has a go on the old Tron arcade game, but soon becomes more fascinated about what lies behind it – a doorway leading up to the computer that sucked his father into the ‘Grid’ all those years ago. And here’s one thing which also annoyed me – he goes in without any fancy pixel-by-pixel fanfare like Jeff Bridges did in the first one, which does make for one of the film’s many disappointments.

On arrival, he’s eventually taken to a room where four sirens – one of whom we learn is called Gem (Beau Garrett), whose name only becomes apparent because she pops up in a completely redundant scene later on – ‘dress’ him in his new outfit, give him his disc and tell him to “proceed to games”, where he indulges in 15 minutes of quick-cutting scenes of disc-throwing and light cycles, something generally undertaken by the ‘programs’, but he informs everyone loudly that he’s not a program, hence he’s quickly deduced as being a ‘user’, which sounds like it has even worse connotations, but in a PG-rated movie it’s certainly not going to mean in a drugs sense. However, this section comes across as being thrown in as if to say “Right, let’s have some fun with our new graphics here before considering whether or not to advance the plot further.”

As with the real world, Sam evades the authorities and ends up getting a ride with Quorra (Olivia Wilde, bottom-right), one of the ISOs, a new race that the programs don’t like much, who takes him to see his father, now living a white room high-up above the Grid, and which looks a bit like a set left over from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sam says he wants to get home and take his father with him, but the reply comes that while the portal is still open, it won’t last forever and they’ve got just 8 hours, in their time, to make it back. I say, “in their time”, because several hours in the Grid is equivalent to a few seconds in reality, or something like that. That explains why Kevin Flynn is now looking so old… or perhaps that’s because he’s now played by an actor who’s now 61.

To get back to the portal sounds like an easy task, given that Sam is used to evading capture, but that’s without reckoning the force of the massive army now led by Clu, Kevin Flynn’s alter-ego in the Grid, who’s become so powerful that he’s taken over and tried to create a world of perfection for himself. Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to work out how things will pan out and so it makes you wonder just what was the point of making this film in the first place.

For me, this was a long-awaited movie because I was hooked on the original, but all this sequel does is play homage to it in places, showing us the Grid graphics inside the machine, and also the arcade from the real world, but then uses sloppy and lazy writing to make a threadbare plot run for two hours for no particular reason. So many ‘ideas’ used in the film are basic ones that have been used countless times over and just no originality has gone into it at all. I could detail some of them here, but it would only serve to cause spoilers so I won’t. In addition, the quick-cutting of the games and lots of other action are done in a way so as to suck any tension or excitement out of them and, in fact, make them become quite boring after a while. The same can be said of the endless “Ooh, let’s have a look at that” graphical interludes when we’re shown a scene from the Grid, yet again.

Acting-wise, Jeff Bridges pretty much phones in his performance, here. You know what to expect from the man and he brings all that’s really required from the role but then, as I said, it’s all underwritten anyway. Relative newcomer Garrett Hedlund takes on the role of Sam, but he’s only been brought in to attract some girls into the audience and, as a typical beefcake-type, has zero charisma or personality. The heavily-made-up Olivia Wilde has a perfunctory role as Quorra, simply in taking Sam to meet his father and then being something for him to lust after later on. Michael Sheen also pops up looking like an ’80s throwback, who the IMDB lists has having two names – Castor and Zuse – when he, in fact, starts off pretending to be the first but claims later, in the same scene, that he’s actually the other, making it pointless to pretend he was the first originally. What’s his role in all this? One that you soon forget about once he’s exited stage-left, that’s what.

What the film was also missing was a decent baddie. We had a CGI 20-years-younger-looking Jeff Bridges as Clu, but he just came across as one of those mediocre ‘people’ you see in CGI cutscenes in a video game, with the mouth not quite forming the words properly. You can put up with it when playing a game on your Xbox 360 or PS3, but really do need something better when you’ve paid to see it on the big screen. With this film, too many Jeff Bridges really do spoil the broth.

Since Tron graced our screens, the most recent contact I’ve had with it was with a PC game from 2003 called Tron 2.0, a very engaging first-person shooter. When I came out of the cinema I nipped into HMV and saw they’d since released a game called Tron: Evolution, which was just a third-person ‘run-and-jump-about in the Grid’ and, from a quick play and in footage I’ve seen since, comes across as a dull Lara Croft clone without anything attractive to look at.

In bringing us Tron Legacy, they brought back the graphics etc but forgot about a plot, making it one of a number of disappointing films I’ve seen recently. In fact, it reminded me of how bad Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull got at times, proving that if you’re going to make a sequel then if you wait so long that it gets made in a different decade then it’s bound to be terrible. In this case, if they’d cut it down to 90 minutes by tightening things up that would’ve rescued it. Instead, they just tried to be clever by making it seem there was more to it than there actually was. It was the first time I’d seen a 3D film and while it was okay at times, it did get overused in scenes that didn’t really require it – such as Kevin, Sam and Quorra sitting down to dinner after they meet up, but once they started in the Grid, they had to continue with it, and that was for the majority of the film. Certainly wasn’t a patch on the original, though. However, there was some great ’80s-style music from Daft Punk.

Running time: 125 minutes
Year: 2010
Released: December 17th 2010
Widescreen: 2.35:1
Rating: 5/10

Director: Joseph Kosinski
Producers: Sean Bailey, Steven Lisberger and Jeffrey Silver
Screenplay: Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz
Music: Daft Punk

Cast :
Kevin Flynn/Clu: Jeff Bridges
Sam Flynn: Garrett Hedlund
Quorra: Olivia Wilde
Alan Bradley/Tron: Bruce Boxleitner
Jarvis: James Frain
Gem: Beau Garrett
Castor/Zuse: Michael Sheen
Rinzler: Anis Cheurfa
Siren #2: Serinda Swan
Siren #3: Yaya DaCosta
Siren #4: Elizabeth Mathis
Masked DJs: Daft Punk
Shaddix: Steven Lisberger
Edward Dillinger: Cillian Murphy (uncredited)