As a sequel to the 1982 film, marketing as of late has downplayed the “Legacy” portion of the Tron: Legacy title in ads. The original also has not been re-released on DVD or gotten a Blu-ray release. Clearly this is because Disney feels that the original could potentially turn off viewers from wanting to see the sequel.
Tron: Legacy works well as a standalone film, but unfortunately the final product ends up feeling very similar to the original. The visuals are fantastic but the story is lacking and the final result is a hollow but enjoyable experience.
In Tron: Legacy it is present day as Kevin Flynn’s son Sam, who was seven years old when his dad disappeared, has now grown up and carries with him a rebellious attitude presumably because of having the trauma of losing his parents at an early age. When Alan Bradley receives a page from Flynn’s Arcade, Sam goes to investigate and ends up getting transported into the computer. He faces a much more advanced technological environment than was found in the original film.
Jeff Bridges returns to the role of Kevin Flynn as well as CLU (CG generated younger version) and Garrett Hedlund plays Sam. Olivia Wilde as Quorra is a program loyal to Kevin. It is Bridges and Wilde who pull off the best performances. Quorra is surprisingly endearing in her childlike enthusiasm and curiosity. Hedlund though lacked some charisma and screen presence that really was necessary out of his character.
The visuals are definitely one of the highlights of the movie. The neon colors and environments, the suits, the “derezzing”, all look fantastic. The CG Jeff Bridges turned out alright. Slightly distracting but suitable for the context being presented. Filmed in 3D I actually expected more out of that however. The 3D effects were mostly subtle, which in some sense is a good thing, but it didn’t really seem to add much and I question whether it was worth the extra cost. It was a neat idea though to do 2D while in the real world and switch to 3D when within the computer world.
The other standout element of Tron: Legacy is the score which was done by Daft Punk. I would put it right up there with Trent Reznor’s score for The Social Network in terms of impact on mood and emotion and consistency throughout. There is no understating just how fantastic the Daft Punk score is from scene to scene.
Unfortunately just about everything else in the film is lackluster. There are some fantastic sequences with the light cycles and disc wars, however after that the action really slows down and never quite lives up to those that took place earlier on. In fact there were points where things really dragged and I started to feel bored. In that sense Legacy is very similar to the original with its up and down pacing and a story that basically just runs through the motions of getting from Point A to Point B.
Director Joseph Kosinski comes from a background of making commercials and in some ways that is what Tron: Legacy feels like…an extended commercial or music video. It can be fun to watch but isn’t completely enriching and there isn’t much in the way of emotional attachment to the developments taking place on screen.
Tron: Legacy is a mixed bag that includes fantastic visuals, an amazing soundtrack, inconsistent pacing, and a serviceable but uninspiring story. It will likely be a polarizing film but I fell right in the middle finding it largely mediocre and ultimately somewhat unsatisfying.