On Sunday evening, I was asked which was more exciting for me: Seeing Tron Legacy (probably my most anticipated movie ever), or watching the Eagles pull off a monumental comeback in the Miracle at the New Meadowlands.
Was I more excited about seeing the return of a video game character (Tron) or watching a couple of athletes who play like video game characters (Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson)?
Ultimately, I’d have to say I was more excited about Tron Legacy. After all, there seems to be a new Miracle at the Meadowlands every ten years or so. But Tron movies only come out once every 28 years.
With that, here is my review of Tron Legacy.
Here’s a rundown of the plot:
Kevin Flynn – the protagonist from the first movie – has been missing for over 20 years. He left behind his successful software company (ENCOM) and his now orphaned son Sam.
While Sam is the majority shareholder of ENCOM, he wants little to do with the company besides pulling an annual prank on the company. We see him steal the company’s soon to be debuted new operating system and release it for free on the internet.
Flynn’s old friend Alan Bradley tells Sam that he received a page from the long-closed video arcade that Flynn used to own. Sam goes to investigate, discovers a hidden office, and after trying to operate the computer inside, finds himself transported into the system.
Once there, he is forced to compete in video games. He soon draws the attention of a man who looks like his father, but as it turns out, it is actually CLU – a program Flynn created in his image.
Flynn had realized that he needed to be two places at the same time, so he created CLU to be his representative in the computer system. CLU was tasked with building the “perfect system” but began to realize that his vision of a perfect system differed from Flynn’s.
Their biggest point of contention was over the presence of ISOs – independent computer programs that had somehow evolved in the system. Flynn thought that this was a wonderful development, and that he would be able to use them to advance science in the real world. CLU thought that they were a threat to his goal of perfection, and wanted to eliminate them.
Realizing that they would never come into agreement on the matter, CLU rebelled against his creator. Flynn became trapped in the system, and after years of futilely fighting against CLU, he gave up and went into hiding. Meanwhile, CLU went about exterminating the ISOs. The only one who survived was a female named Quorra who took sanctuary with Flynn.
After he had fulfilled his vision of a perfect system, CLU began to expand his ambitions. He wanted to extend his perfection to the real world. To escape into the real world, he would need to have the portal opened from the outside and to capture Flynn’s identity disc. (An identity disc records everything that a program – or in this case person – has learned)
CLU was the one who sent the page to Alan, and Sam’s arrival accomplished the first goal of re-opening the portal. He then hoped to draw out Flynn by competing against Sam in the light cycle game. Quorra was watching the competition and rescued Sam, bringing him to Flynn’s hideout.
After being trapped in the system for over 20 years, Flynn had become slightly unhinged, and now carried a very zen mindset. He knew it was pointless to fight CLU, as by doing so, he might allow CLU to escape to the real world. Sam tried to get his father to return to the real world with him, but Flynn refused to go, knowing that he’d only be exposing himself to potential capture.
Sam is frustrated, but sets out on his own to escape. He runs into some trouble, causing Flynn to ignore the danger and rescue his son. A battle ensues, Flynn’s disc is captured by CLU’s forces, and Flynn, Sam, and Quorra eventually find themselves on CLU’s war ship which is headed towards the portal.
CLU is planning on sending an entire army of programs through the portal in order to conquer the real world. Knowing they have to stop him, Sam and Flynn recapture the disc, and eventually there is a showdown between Flynn and CLU at the entrance to the portal.
Flynn gives his disc to Quorra and orders her and Sam to leave the system. CLU tries to stop them, but Flynn is able to re-integrate CLU into his body. Their merging creates a reaction that seems to destroy the system just as Sam and Quorra escape.
Back in the real world, Sam decides that he will take control of his father’s company, and presumably use Quorra to help advance science just as his father had hoped.
So how did I like it?
Well, there were some plot holes, although this isn’t all that surprising. Just about any big budget movie is going to have some major plot holes. But here were some of the larger questions I was left with:
– CLU wanted to bring an army of programs into the real world. How exactly were these programs’ bodies going to be formed in the real world? Was this computer powerful enough to create matter?
It made sense that CLU might be able to escape using Flynn’s disc, as I figured he would just take over Flynn’s body. But a whole army? That seems to bend the rules of physics a bit.
– In the 20 years that Flynn was missing, nobody thought to search Flynn’s arcade? It only took Sam a few minutes to discover the hidden office. You’re telling me that the CEO of a major corporation disappeared and nobody performed an exhaustive search of one of his main hangouts?
Not to mention that I’m guessing that the computer system was using quite a bit of power. Nobody noticed that a closed video arcade was racking up huge electric bills?
– When Sam entered the system, he came in through a computer replica of the arcade. Yet the portal to get out was in a completely different location. How did that work?
There were a few other things I didn’t like:
– The scene when they were on the train seemed to be way too long. I realize they needed to develop Quorra’s character a bit more, and make her eventual escape more meaningful, but this kind of put a drag on the movie.
– The Tron character did make an appearance, but as a bad guy, since he was reprogrammed by CLU. He eventually turned good at the end, but I felt his redemption was a bit rushed and was very underwhelming.
– Did Sam have some sort of combat training that allowed him to fight so successfully. I got that he was good with the light cycles because he rode a motorcycle in the real world. But he was kicking ass all over the place.
– As my friend Bird pointed out, it felt like they really could have shoehorned a nude scene in there.
But those are really just minor complaints. I mean, when you’re dealing with a movie like Tron, you are basically taking the leap of faith that humans can be transformed into computer programs. I guess you pretty much have to ignore the laws of physics from that point on.
And it’s not like people go to see this movie expecting a brilliant plot. The real world scenes were mostly just excuses to get Sam into the computer to play video games.
I think most people wanted a few cool technological concepts and fun CGI set pieces. And the movie certainly delivered those.
Here are a few things that I especially liked:
– References to the first Tron. They did a good job of making the movie accessible to newbies, but also threw some goodies at fans of the first one too.
– Cillian Murphy as Ed Dillinger, Jr. He had a small role, but his presence probably sets up a sequel without beating us over the head with it.
– The computer world looked more complex than in the first one, and it should have since the technology had advanced since then.
– Light cycles! It wouldn’t be a Tron movie if there wasn’t an extended light cycle scene. If anyone can design a vehicle that will form out of light as I jump in the air, I will surely buy one.
So yes, I enjoyed the movie. Was it the most life changing event of 2010? No, I can’t say that. But it was fun to watch and mostly lived up to expectations.
I leave you with my Top Five Favorite Sequels.
5. Terminator 2: Judgement Day – In a way, this set the standard for all of the CGI-heavy summer blockbusters that have come since.
4. Blade II – Ninja vampires!
3. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – More lighthearted than the first two.
2. The Empire Strikes Back – Oddly, I didn’t see this one until after Return of the Jedi.
1. Rocky III – My favorite of the Rocky movies. You’ve got Mr. T, Hulk Hogan, and Survivor! A movie that is both ridiculous and poignant. Still fun to watch today.