Back in 2010, I was a bit mystified as to how Tron: Legacy, or more precisely the people who pitched it, convinced Disney to plunge $170,000,000 into a sequel to a 28-year old film that didn’t even make the top-20 highest-grossers of its year. I mean, sure, the original Tron did gather a bit of a cult following in the video gaming world, but I couldn’t help but feel it was such an unprecedented gamble to resurrect such a niche piece of material with such a lavish, super-blockbuster spend.
Lamented heavily as style over substance upon its release; Tron: Legacy sits at a meagre 51% general consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, but the film I saw back then – may I add three times at the cinema in 3D – was nothing short of spectacular. My pre-conceived thoughts about Legacy being a sequel no one asked for were completely misguided, and may have changed my whole landscape in respect of waiting until you’ve actually seen a film before you judge it. With that being said….
Is it worth another look?Legacy focuses on Sam Flynn, who is withdrawn and disconnected from the real world after the mysterious disappearance of his father 20 years ago; something of a tech-savvy vigilante by trade, he’s not too dissimilar to a young Bruce Wayne if you will. Shortly after Sam infiltrates his father’s old company to steal from the rich and give to the poor, an old co-worker of his dad’s finds him and alludes to the place of his disappearance with a set of keys to a rusty, long-unused arcade. When Sam checks it out, he gets more than he bargained for and is transported to the Grid, a world inhabited by “programs” and lots more computer-generated wizardry. More ominously Sam comes face-to-face with Clu, an artificial intelligence made in the image of his Dad. Will the real Kevin Flynn please stand up?Very few movies have entranced me the way Tron: Legacy continues to do so. It’s worth remembering this was Joseph Kosinski’s feature-length debut but you wouldn’t think it, such is the high-calibre meshing of everything you see and hear on screen to arrest your senses exquisitely. What better example could I give other than the scene at the “End Of Line” nightclub? Daft Punk are literally on the decks in a cameo playing the two coolest cuts off their score (“End Of Line” and “Derezzed”), the costume designs are badass; Michael Sheen, Jeff Bridges, Olivia Wilde and Garrett Hedlund ham it up so much it borders self-parody, but the sleek dynamics of visual and aural delights keep the whole package tight.In some ways, this was the perfect reinvention of a decades-old film gathering dust. The 1982 original is painfully outdated however it’s themes on artificial intelligence becoming too overpowering are all too relevant today. Tron: Legacy does jump too far once or twice with its digital prowess; Bridges’ CG de-aged face looks as stiff today as it did back then, but generally it’s remarkable how much the film looks like it’s breathing, in a way I think a lot of films focusing on world-building since Legacy can’t hold a candle to.
This film is so immersive and so unpretentious that it’s a damn shame the time has all but passed for a direct follow-up to be greenlit – I for one hope there isn’t another 28-year gap before we can revisit the world of Tron. Ok, now to see if I can get someone on the So Is It Any Good team to check out John Carter for old time’s sake…