When I was a kid, many moons ago, and the personal computer era was just kicking off for me, the movie TRON came out in 1982. This was a different feature for Disney. It features concepts and characters ahead of their time. And I don’t think I saw it in the theater – but I saw it on video a few times in the next decade.
TRON would ultimately for me fade into the background noise, but be remembered as a “cool” moment I didn’t quite know how to process. It wasn’t like Star Wars or Close Encounters of the Third Kind where I still refer to scenes or characters in my everyday life.
So when I saw the teaser for TRON: Legacy a couple of years ago I was surprised when it really captured my interest. These days, computer-generated graphics and 3D are hot tickets, so I figured it might do well at the box office. I wasn’t able to see it on opening weekend, but finally got to see it yesterday.
And I think it has a similar less-than-lasting effect that the initial movie did. There’s a huge “oh wow” factor and plenty of homage to the original throughout. But though it’s amazingly cool, I doubt that it’s going to stick again.
I really wanted to love it – but I liked it a lot. Jeff Bridges was back as an older Kevin Flynn and Clu. Bruce Boxleitner was back as Alan Bradley and Tron. And then they added Flynn’s son, Sam, played by Garett Hedlund, and the beautiful but somewhat enigmatic Quorra played by Olivia Wilde. With this quartet, we get a story that latches on to the original with little effort and leads us back to the Grid.
Though it builds beautifully and has a few emotionally-charged moments, I almost feel like it’s the run-up to a third movie. I don’t know how to explain it other than saying that it sort of has a Two Towers feel like the big inhale before the final act.
Bridges lends some of his “dudeness” to the film while Boxleitner grounds it. Hedlund’s character’s lack of commitment is in stark contrast to Wilde’s total devotion to whatever she holds dear.
The CGI is out of this world. I wasn’t wowed by the 3D aspect, but it added a bit of depth without going overboard or making me get motion sick. This is what TRON couldn’t be nearly 30 years ago. And in that this movie succeeds beyond all expectations.
And I really liked the soundtrack from Daft Punk. It worked really well on the Grid to set the mood with electronic music. I’ll have to pick it up as something to work out to with an infectious beat!
The one thing that bugged me however was how they used CGI to make Bridges seem young again in the opening and with his alter-ego Clu on the Grid. It seemed very forced to me and was jarring enough to keep me from enjoying all that was going on around those characters in those scenes. But that was really it. There were a few places where the movie dragged – like on the train in the last third – but those moments were used to build the emotional bonds I think, so it wasn’t too bad. (Unlike the tent scenes in the latest Harry Potter which bored me to tears.)
If you’re a fan of the original film or enjoy flashy science fiction movies, I’d definitely recommend seeing TRON: Legacy if you get a chance. It’s not for everybody and the plot is a bit thin in spots. I went with my two daughters (ages 5 and 9) and my wife and we all liked it however. There’s plenty of eye candy to keep you busy for a while.
I’ll give TRON: Legacy a solid 3 out of 4 stars ([rating: 3/4]). It was fun and I hope I can pick it up on Blu-ray with the original in a few months to see what I missed on the first viewing.
Let me know in the comments what YOU think… Did you like it?