In a world where my childhood is being repackaged and resold to the children of the eighties who now have children of their own, I am glad to see that TRON got it right. Instead of taking the easy way out and remaking TRON, the filmmakers decided to continue the story and make TRON: Legacy. It’s a sequel, and a sequel is so much more satisfying to watch than a repackaged remake.
Although the first TRON struggled to find an audience in 1982, this time the filmmakers had a huge cult following to satisfy. Artistically, the film is well-done with new twists on old elements, such as disc games (in which programs are pitted each other to the death) and the iconic light cycles that are used in the life and death games of the Grid. The disc games are now set in a multi-level arena that morphs and rotates at the end of each game until the final two programs are set against each other. A disc in the modern TRON, just as in the elder, is the source of a program’s information, and also a weapon that is strapped to a program’s back. The disc in TRON: Legacy was the one design flaw I found with the movie. A program’s disc seemed to be slapped to their back as an afterthought, unlike in the earlier movie, which featured the disc molded into the back for a smoother, more streamlined look.
The light cycles, on the other hand, were an improvement. They’ve come a long way. In the original movie, the cockpits of the light cycles had to be enclosed because rendering technology at the time was not advanced enough to seamlessly place a rider on the bike. However, with modern technology the designers of TRON: Legacy were able to open up the cockpit and do it beautifully.
The look of the new Grid is reminiscent of the original movie’s Grid, with current computer technology making the spaces blend together more seamlessly, in addition to making it look more realistic. Light is used masterfully throughout the new movie and reminds the viewer of the earlier movie while taking on a life of its own. All of the lights were actually embedded in the streets, buildings, and costumes of the actors, which helps the film feel organic and not overly computer-generated. The use of white light to depict Jeff Bridges’ Kevin Flynn as good and red light to depict the antagonists as bad are both carryovers from the original.
TRON was known for its groundbreaking use of special effects and I was hoping for the same feeling when I heard that TRON: Legacy was offered in 3D. Unfortunately, I came away from the 3D screening feeling that the filmmakers could have used the third-dimension in a more invigorating way. Rarely throughout the film did the 3D ever seem to enter into the viewing experience. My advice? Save the extra money and see the regular version. You aren’t missing anything.
The storyline of TRON: Legacy was a little flat and predictable. Flynn’s son, Sam, enters the Grid to find his long-lost father. Once he does, the movie devolves into a generic escape-and-chase movie. It’s a tried-and-true storyline, but it’s well-done, and the kid in me can’t help but jump for joy when I see the light cycles and the light-winged bad guys.