Now Playing Review – TRON: Legacy

Back during San Diego Comic-Con 2010 TRON: Legacy was easily one of the biggest crowd pleasers.  Sure the panel swayed the audience by putting our voices into the movie (unless it was all just a mean trick to laugh at us stumbling over their “follow the bouncing ball” games), but the footage they brought worked its charm on its own as well.  Now that there is more than just a few minutes of footage to show the viewing audience it is easy to say that Legacy sure is as worthy of the “OOO” and “Ah” responses it earned that day in July from its visuals, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite deliver the all around amazing film I had hoped for.

Technically a sequel, Legacy takes place almost 3 decades following the plot of the 1982 original.  This time around we go back to the grid following a new character, Sam, who gets transferred into this digital world after following a mysterious text back to his father’s arcade. Once he is there it is discovered that his father, who has been missing for the past 20 years, has actually been trapped in this world of his own creation, with no hope of escaping until now.  And as we know, nothing is ever really as simple as just a mouse-click away.

Feeling the pull of my deep running Chuck fandom, last summer I decided to give the original Tron a gander to see why it deserved all the screen time in poster form on Chuck’s wall.  Well, with me being a girl spoiled by the films of today, it is no shock that I was not really excited by the cutting edge graphics of the early 1980s.  It really is a film of that time, and with Legacy, we get a film that, technologically speaking, does not fail to deliver the peak of what today’s visual effects artists have to offer.

Legacy starts out strong with the introduction of Sam’s character in the real world, and once he is sucked into the computer things really begin to escalate in excitement.  Showing off The Grid’s key attractions, the reintroduction into this world is one that will not be forgotten.  As a dark world, The Grid looks like an electrified metropolis that comes to life when the sun goes down, and since there is no sun to rise here we are treated to the spectacle of this world for the entirety of the film, something that never loses it’s magnificence.

On top of that, The Grid is more than just pretty pretty lights, throwing some amazing “gaming” sequences into the mix, all being upgraded from their original forms.  Starting with the disc battles, Sam puts his athletic skill sets to good use in this confined mixture of aggressive Frisbee, air-hockey and indecisive gravity.  Without giving Sam or the audience a moment to breathe, he is then thrown into the next survival challenge on the light cycles.  Though we are given more than our fair share of these life or death games, it is still sad to see them go…

…Especially once looking back over the film post viewing.  These first 45 minutes or so of the film really set the bar high for all that is to follow.  The action is intense, interesting characters are introduced and written well, and the story feels promising in its simplicity as a rescue mission.  Unfortunately once this leg of the race is completed the rest of the movie plays out like a runner getting winded and cramping up after over-exerting himself early on.  The visual awe remains a constant throughout the entirety of the movie, leaving the blame for why the movie disappoints on the story.  Though the grid is an interesting world to explore in thought, as the matrix was the first time I was baffled by its explanation, thanks to the 27 year gap between this film and its predecessor everything it has to offer now seems like something we have all seen time and time again.  As the opening seems to pull from the look of Batman Begins, everything within The Grid screams “we <3 Star Wars,” from the locations, visuals, dialog, characters, story, and even bits of the wardrobe.

As upsetting as it is to feel that this film never reaches its full potential, the stunning visuals and soundtrack do make it a film worth seeing.  Heck, after sleeping on my disappointment I am more than ready to go see it again, even if it is to just gawk at the first half once more.

Final Grade: B-

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