TRON: Legacy (2010)
2010, Dir. Joseph Kosinski
127 min., Rated PG
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner
Filming = 64 days, Post production = 68 WEEKS
In 1982, Disney put out one really cool movie. Though it was loaded with special effects, it still told one hell of a story (unlike Avatar or Star Trek: The Motion Picture). It was cool and it was fun and edgy. After all, Disney caught a lot of flak for putting out a film that was rated PG! It looked really cool. Then 26 years went by. At ComicCon in 2008, there was no sequel in the works. Some folks just thought it would be cool to throw some ideas out there and gauge the reaction. They brought out the older Kevin Flynn and an updated design of the light cycle. . . and in that particular nexus of geek heaven, the world erupted into joyous pandemonium.
Twenty-eight years is a long damned time to wait to make a sequel. They knew the interest was there. They knew the technology could support what they wanted to do. They knew that their leading man has grown in exposure and prestige over the years. They knew they could make a ton of money. Did it work? YES.
From the moment the Disney castle is revealed in lasers and pulsing blue light pipe, I knew that SOMEbody at Disney got the memo and hired a director who LIKED the idea. Not only that, but first-time director Joseph Kosinski understands US. He understands why a guy like me will jump through all kinds of online hoops to get his laminated Encom employee ID (with Group 7 access) and then strongarm his editor months in advance to get into the press screening. He gets why some folks listened to Daft Punk for the long years following 1982. He knows why some folks love the original, understands what they craved in a sequel, and he DELIVERS.
“You are CLU. You will create the perfect system. Together we’re gonna change the world, man.”
1982: Encom fires employee Kevin Flynn after stealing the video games he designed. He breaks into their facility and is literally pulled into the game grid. He eventually is able to escape.
1985: Encom CEO Kevin Flynn is on top of the world.
1989: Kevin Flynn – father, CEO, and still a code monkey and video game freak at heart – tells his son goodnight and disappears.
The only parallel I can think of would be if Steve Jobs (because he’s cooler than Bill Gates) brought out iPod and iPad and iPhone and was on top of the world. . . and was gone.
2010: Young Sam Flynn is the majority shareholder in Encom, but he doesn’t run the company. It makes him a little sick. The company is about being the most bought. It’s not about product quality or making their products available as tools to be used. One night his surrogate father Alan – Kevin Flynn’s best friend – shows up saying he had been paged from Flynn’s old arcade. You know, the one that has been shut down for 20 years?
Sam is pulled into the grid. Once inside he finds his father, an almost mythical figure among the programs who “live” there. Flynn never left because the program he created (named CLU) to make the grid perfect has decided that he wants to be a real boy. He has the grid the way he wants it, and he wants to ride the information portal out so that he can fix OUR world, too. And Tron, once the program who fought for the users, is now corrupted and in the service of CLU.
“What’s your plan?” “I’m a user. I’ll improvise.”
Only two real problems with the film, then we get into the good stuff. First, the CGI rendering of Jeff Bridges’ face on the ageless CLU. The body works great, the face is fine. . . but the mouth is BAD. It’s like watching Tom Hanks in The Polar Express. It’s distracting, it’s so awful. Secondly – I’ll try not to give too much away here – the ending is going to tick off Gnoll and loyal readers of this site. I’ll give you a hint as to why: it’s the same reason Gnoll hated what they did with Yoda and General Grievous. If you know the site or if you know Gnoll, you will have some inkling of what happens at the end. That’s pretty much it for the bad stuff.
I have to do the rest in bullets because my brain can’t organize this much information right now.
* Journey playing in Flynn’s Arcade. Nice.
* Bruce Boxleitner still has it.
* The Recognizers are INCREDIBLE. See the movie in IMAX 3D. The sight and the sound and the FEEL of the things is awesome.
* The fembot/utility daemons are REALLY nice to look at in their skintight outfits.
* The game grid is AMAZING. The disc battles are incredibly intense, fast, violent, acrobatic. The light cycle battles. . . WOW. Take the original, then put in a glass floor and a lower level and allow the bikes to move from level to level.
* Rinzler; as the faceless sword and shield of CLU, he is part Darth Maul, part Snake-Eyes, part Kronen.
* Watching this film, my mind was already jumping ahead to “Damn, this is going to look GREAT in the video game!” I mean that as a good thing, rather than saying they made the movie to justify the game. The movie is that cool, that much fun that any gamer will see the possibilities.
* The sound is astonishing. While this film uses the same sound effects of the original, it fleshes them out so that the sounds are complete. From the rumble and hum of the Recognizers to the whir and buzz of the light cycles, the sound in the film helps the viewer not only to hear, but to FEEL what’s going on.
* CLU has his very own Lobot. The guy is the perfect opportunistic suckup.
* Quorra: another program who makes skintight and black look good. In a word? PILF.
* Having locked himself inside his own creation for so long, happy go lucky Kevin Flynn has sought refuge inside his mind. He went a little bit Lebowski on us. “Sam, you’re really. . . You’re messing with my Zen thing, man!”
* Daft Punk spinning the records in the End Of The Line Club during a bar fight, just bobbing their robotic little heads to the beat.
* The mythical figure of Kevin Flynn showing up in the middle of said bar fight has the effect of Darth Vader showing up at a UFC match.
* Kevin Flynn, not Al Gore, thought up the Internet.
* Michael Sheen is brilliant. Gay (not sure in which sense), opportunistic, a little psychotic, definitely manic, and more entertaining than any other character in the film
Though it’s epic, it probably won’t appeal to everyone. Some folks will like it only if they do it in IMAX 3D. Others will see it in 2D and enjoy. Others will see it, say “I don’t see what the fuss is about” and move along. For those others, though. . . for those who grew up referring to their Frisbees as “my identity disc,” for those who still look at Ducatis and think “How would that look with a frame around it,” for those who have wondered too many times about the physics of converting mass into electrons and sucking a person into a computer. . . THIS IS FOR YOU.
This is geek heaven.
Want the spoiler?
You might guess at some point, but the movie doesn’t give you but about 20 seconds to see it coming.
Really want to know?
“I FIGHT FOR THE USERS!” Yeah.