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Tron Legacy

A 2010 movie directed by Joseph Kosinski.

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An old-school vision made modern

  • Dec 20, 2010
  • by
Tron: Legacy is a slicker, sexier, and faster movie than its predecessor - which for a movie about the digital world, makes perfect sense.

I took two of my daughters with me to see it, one of whom is just a couple years older than I was when I saw the original Tron, eons ago. I remember getting lost in the idea of a world inside the computer, programs represented as individuals, digital pathways traveled like roads, and games where the stakes were more real than I had ever imagined.  These days those concepts, like the original movie itself, are very nearly a reality. The virtual worlds proposed in Tron have, in many ways, taken shape in our modern times.

Tron: Legacy takes that concept and updates it for what we know and what we see today, in nearly every sense. The digital world is bigger and more complex and the battles more visceral. No longer does the game grid necessitate light cycles with perfect 90-degree turns and closed-arena one-on-one disc combat.  Instead, light cycles ride on multiple planes and any angle, and the disc arena is fast and furious with multiple battles happening simultaneously. There is even a hint of the idea of a digital life form - not one created, but one that was born on its own.  The movie misses some opportunities in creating this world, but overall it's convincing and exciting to see the original Tron vision expanded on.

The story picks with the generation after the first movie. Kevin Flynn has disappeared and his only son, Sam, has grown up for many years without his father. Sam has the same rebellious spirit and fierce intellect, though, as he quickly proves in the first few minutes of the film. The tale of Tron is best told in the digital world, though, and the film wastes little time before transporting Sam into the virtual on his quest to find his father.  The search mirrors Kevin Flynn's original story in the first movie in some ways, and enhances it in others. Some of the later plot developments are a little obvious (the twist in one character is clear early on, even to those who haven't seen the original), but overall the movie clips along nice and steady, with lots of action and frequent surprises.  The story ends on a high note and in a perfect moment.

The cast is uniformly good, featuring old and new characters.  Jeff Bridges is a delight, as always.  His opening narration about "the grid" sent chills down my spine, and he plays dual roles here as his older self, and a younger version in his alter-ego CLU. Garrett Hedlund works well as Flynn's son, he brings a solid energy and a slight playfulness to the role.  Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, was Olivia Wilde as the program Quorra. She lights up the screen whenever she's on it, and seems to take in everything around her with a childlike wonder that's simply enchanting.

The movie's score, a synthesis of orchestral and electronic sound composed by Daft Punk  (reviewed separately), is pitch-perfect for the film and does the job admirably well.

There are plenty of nods to the first movie, from the obvious ones (the original TRON video game is literally the doorway into the digital world) to the more subtle ("Greetings Program" has a new meaning in the new digital world). The nice thing, though, is that you don't have to have seen the original movie to like this one. They do a decent job of summarizing the first story without laboring over it, and my daughters both "got" it, even though they haven't seen the original - though now they want to!

That's the main reason I think Tron: Legacy succeeded, despite some minor flaws and despite some differences in tone from the first one. I remember how I felt seeing the original Tron, the wonder at the ideas it put forth.  When my 15-year old daughter, as cynical and analytical as any professional critic when it comes to movies, proclaimed Tron: Legacy one of her new favorites, I knew that it had done to her what it did to me - it captured her imagination, just as it did mine.

And that's saying something.

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December 27, 2010
Very nice review. Now I am also one of those guys who try to see a movie for what it is and what it is meant to be; I am a firm believer of this and I preach about this approach when it comes to movie reviewing. I wasn't going to comment but some comments below urged me to post one of my own.

Glad you liked the movie (though you didn't love it)  but it was just a messy, barely coherent type of movie for me. It left a lot of devices undeveloped and contradicted a bunch of rules it set itself. I just tend to score movies as a whole and visuals alone can never make a movie for me. I tried to like it, I really wanted to like this movie but in the end, one question nagged my head: "Is an excuse for a mere visual display of EFX justify a tedious dialogue, bad scripting and ho-hum direction?" I had to answer no. It is a full-length, big-budgeted movie after all and not meant as a demo-reel.

This demo reel by Sandy Collora was meant as a resume and it proved a much more coherent short film that it became an underground classic. People just cannot seem to see my point that it is a movie with different factors and I just refuse to excuse a movie because it is only meant for visual enjoyment. Honestly I have seen better in visuals than this one.

I'll see this again on BD perhaps and see how I feel about it....Enjoyed reading your review, I think your +3 rating is pretty fair, do you rate on a 1-5 or 1-10 scale? Thanks for sharing! Olivia Wilde is very hot!
December 27, 2010
I love that demo reel! I've seen it a few times and it's pretty cool. I see what you're saying, and I agree. The new Tron movie had potential to be more than what it was - better dialogue and better story totally could have improved it. It was messy - but I still came out satisfied, and my kids did too. And Olivia Wilde is pretty smokin' indeed - it makes me want to see more of her movies. Here, I rate on a 1-10 scale, so this one did pretty well for me (though the score did better!).
December 27, 2010
That demo reel made my jaw drop in Wondercon. Collora better get better work as an EFX supervisor. Yeah, this was a difficult film to review, my eyes felt happy but my brain was annoyed LOL! Some folks made it out like I'm a snob but hey I liked that stupid Robogeisha movie LOL! How can I be a snob for liking that?

Love Wilde--I wanna see her in more movies and I think she is making the transiton to sci-fi babe pretty well. Thanks for the reply!
December 27, 2010
Btw, you seem to see a lot of movies--perhaps you'd like to chime in on this discussion and question: http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/Question-If_y...hich_movies_wo-398.html Love to hear your thoughts!
December 20, 2010
I often try to see a movie for what it is instead of what it isn't.  I'm glad your daughter was able to get passed that.  That's much more important than being critical, I think.  You've read my review already.  But it seems to me that you seemed to focus on the movie for what it was actually supposed to be, which I like.  Great Review!
More TRON: Legacy reviews
review by . December 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Uninspired, Unimpressive, Dull And Redundant
Every once in awhile, we get to see a film aimed at displaying the latest advancements in movie magic. Movies such as this prove to be simple escapist entertainment that is meant to take the viewer along for its ride, and not much else. However, I think escapist entertainment is just another excuse of a mediocre film, since movies such as “The Matrix”, the anime “Spirited Away” and even the recently released “Inception” have managed to impress with a compelling …
review by . December 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Reviewing Tron Legacy is hard.  It is not a bad movie by any means but as I watched and observed it seemed as though there was something missing.  Along those lines it's not that Tron Legacy has nothing to offer, it's more that it's a movie that offers little more than it's own visually stimulation.  This wouldn't be bad at all IF Tron Legacy didn't try so hard to try to say something.  And we'll get to that.      By watching the …
review by . January 05, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
I never thought I would like this movie so much
“Tron Legacy eh? Isn’t Tron that weird old movie with the terrible computer graphics?”      Those were my first words when I heard of this movie. I remember watching Tron as a kid it came on the Disney Channel one day while watching I thought it was the coolest and weirdest thing ever. Obviously as a 9 year old kid I was really only watching it for the Light Cycle battles. I saw bits and pieces of it again a few years ago on TV I was channel surfing between …
review by . December 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
**1/2 out of ****      2010 seems to be a huge year for sequels. Long-awaited sequels in particular. First, we got "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps". Then we get "Tron: Legacy". So how has "Tron" aged in 30 years? Somewhat well. The sequel isn't half bad either, and in all respect it is every bit as average as the original. In an attempt to get an actual audience this time around, the filmmakers decided to have Jeff Bridges reprise his role as …
review by . June 08, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Let's be clear on something here, just to be sure we understand: The original Tron was NOT about characters or plot! Never, ever! It really wasn't - it was written and directed with every intention of being an excuse to show off Disney's new-fangled array of whiz-bang special effects. Although the special effects in the original Tron look badly dated by today's standards, back then they were a revolution, with Disney ushering in the official age of computer effects and using Tron as a way to intimidate …
review by . December 21, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   Ok, so it’s been almost a full day since I saw this movie and I’ve had to spend quite a lot of time, much more than usual, sorting out what I thought and what I wanted to write about it. The plot is pretty basic. The 1989 version of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), disappears. Twenty years later his son (Garrett Hedlund), goes looking for him. He gets sucked into the computer world where an evil program, Clu (Jeff Bridges), is masterminding a plot to take over the real world. …
review by . December 24, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   This time last year, almost to the day, James Cameron’s Avatar was released to fantastic reviews and an accolade of awards, leaving just as many viewers saying “meh” as there were praising it as “the best movie of all time”. I’ll admit I was one of the viewers in the middle. It’s not a bad film, in fact its visual flair and ambition are the best things about it, but it’s not a film I would consider a front runner for Best Picture, an …
review by . December 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      This is a very ambiguous movie if you're trying to contemplate about it too much. It may appear to be a groundbreaking science fiction but it also may look like another pale blockbuster saved only by the visual effects. I'm not one of those Tron fanboys and I will not criticize the movie just for fun but I need to say that this film lacks in substance. You don't need to see the first movie to really connect the stories because there's an intro and many references …
review by . December 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Is it wrong of me to prefer logic over spectacle? Did I miss the point when I left “Tron: Legacy” feeling it was a monumental failure as a story? If I’m to continue with this review, I must first make it clear that I don’t see the “Tron” films in the same way a lot of people do. I don’t believe they deserve praise simply for their innovative special effects; I personally require an engaging plot, character development, and the sense that it’s operating …
review by . February 02, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'Tron Legacy' More Advanced, Less Worthwhile
If nothing else, Tron Legacy is Sci-Fi eye-candy. I truly remember the original back in the early eighties. It transported me to a place I had never been before. In college video games had invigorated our recreation time with Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and Centipede, which gave us study breaks and a hefty escape from the pressures of college. Tron delivered us into that same world in a sustaining way by combining a convincing mix of arcade life and real life. The visuals and the world created there …
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Rich Stoehr ()
Ranked #78
I often hide behind a pithy Douglas Adams quote or maybe some song lyrics. I guess it makes sense that much of what I share is reviews of things I like (or don't).      People … more
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About this movie


“Tron: Legacy” is a 3D high-tech adventure set in a digital world that’s unlike anything ever captured on the big screen. Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), the tech-savvy 27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), looks into his father’s disappearance and finds himself pulled into the same world of fierce programs and gladiatorial games where his father has been living for 25 years. Along with Kevin’s loyal confidant (Olivia Wilde), father and son embark on a life-and-death journey across a visually-stunning cyber universe that has become far more advanced and exceedingly dangerous.Poster art for "Tron: Legacy 3D"
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Director: Joseph Kosinski
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Release Date: December 17, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 2 hr. 7 min
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
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