Say what you will about me doing this now since the movie has been out for well over 2 months and did get beat up a lot already, but I still have unsaid beef about Tron Legacy. Now I know there are probably many whom would disagree with me about this (namely my best friend who’s gone to see it
at least a dozen, six , eight times), but I called out Tron on its shitty bullshit when the first trailers started dropping well over a year ago and I was right.
Don’t feel that I entirely hate this movie, there are things I liked about it and I will talk about it, but having watched the original and having that in mind to the temporal context it was very much a movie that was a step up and a step ahead which typically lands a movie into the ‘cult classic’ status in film history. Given that ground work that Tron laid out for itself and other movies, it is entirely fair to compare the movies, which is unfair since Tron still stands as the better of the two irregardless of how much money was thrown at the latter movie. But lets start with Tron and why it’s so awesome (if it isn’t obvious, there are a lot of spoilers a head for both movies.)
Tron is a movie about Kevin Flynn, a savvy 80s computer programmer who knows his awesome career and programs have been stolen by the now CEO of a mega software corporation ENCOM. For a long ass time he’s been hacking ENCOM to try to prove his work is rightfully his, but when he goes to the company and hacks in, the MASTER CONTROL PROGRAM quickly zaps him with a digitizing laser and Flynn is dragged into the computer world. For the rest of the movie he’s running around the computer, running into programs like accounting software that’s being made to play games and shit. He also finds the program Tron who’s only program is to fight for the user in the computer system and fight the MASTER CONTROL PROGRAM who’s also been hacking the internet… and the Pentagon. While on their adventures, they discover Flynn has powers in the system since he’s a USER! And they beat the MCP and Flynn finds all the proof he needs to prove he made programs that made ENCOM rich as fuck. Then he runs the company. End film.
Now Tron had some great CG for the 80s and no it didn’t age well. They also did some great technical work that resulted in awesome glowing costumes and shit. Oh yeah, LIGHT CYCLES BITCHES. The story was really what was better and my spotty summary doesn’t do it much justice. It manged to bring to life a bunch of concepts people always wondered about in thinking of the computer in the 80s. Were programs like people doing shit for users? Was the inside of the software really like buildings where people went? I mean motherboards/circuit boards still look like mini cities and stuff so it was topical to nerds and the common man. I think all the game concepts were really something to get kids from the arcades to see the movie, but that shit is still cool as fuck. All and all the story and concepts were solid and worked.
But then in 2010 we had to get Tron Legacy, a movie that banked everything on two concepts: 3d grafix and nostalgia for a cult film. Visually Tron Legacy was great to watch, the story was a painful piece of intolerable shit. It really put too much into looking like an awesome film that it forgot to put an awesome story to the visuals and when you stopped to think about it, you came to notice how hollow the movie you were watching was.
Tron Legacy is about Sam Flynn the unexpected son of Kevin Flynn, who’s only mission in life seems to be a hacker rebel without a cause who just fucks with ENCOM yearly just because he can and his dad is missing. He rides a motorcycle and does XTRME building jumping. Then he stumbles upon his dad’s secret computer and gets transported into that world via the digitizing laser. Inside he finds a clone of his father who isn’t his father, but CLU who’s calling the shots and making people play games all day. He’s saved by some chick named Quorra who knows his dad who’s inside the world. From there they continue following the plot of Tron without any of the depth. They also have to stop CLU who’s doing something and trying to get out of the world, but needs something from Flynn to do it or something, but in the end Sam and Quorra get out and the movie ends.
And no I didn’t half ass explain the plot, that is the plot since the rest of it is just action scene after action scene and shit. The motivations behind what really happens in the film are really loose and weak that I just don’t have the time to explain it all. Here is the problems I have with Tron Legacy:
- It lacks a good story. I mean the being sucked into a computer was done already by TRON, REBOOT and The Matrix. You really can’t do much better. What you can however do is modernise it more so people can connect with it. This movie failed to do that. It was possible, but the plot was so weak and forcefully based on the original that the writers didn’t leave any wiggle room. Aside from a father son catch up talk about 20 years worth of computing advancement, nothing else was ever mentioned about how weird the world of computers are both in reality and fiction.
- Too much emphasis on visuals. Yeah the first Tron was very visually in your face, but I think too much was done to make this movie look EXTREME and FUTURISTIC and IN 3D that they forgot to put anything to really drive that beside a scene were someone has to fight. This was a problem from the very beginning when trailers started dropping left right and centre well over a year before the movie’s release date. This was also what had tipped me off to this being a shit movie. So much was emphasised in making this look good, that someone forgot to make sure it actually had something to fall back on, ie the story. What’s a pretty car without gas to drive it? Also how the fuck do you spend so much in CGI and fuck up making young Jeff Bridge’s CG face? One of the most awful things to ever be seen on-screen.
- Plot holes everywhere. I mean for a movie that didn’t have much in terms of a story, you think there would be a lack of plot holes and inconsistencies. For starters, the only reason Sam had a clue about the hidden PC was that Flynn’s best friend got a page from his arcade which was abandoned. Now CLU is trying to escape that computer via the laser thing, but to send a page outside would mean some form of connection to other systems, however for the rest of the movie they argue the system is entirely closed off save for that laser. See the problem? Next Flynn’s rebel base is in a part of the computer system that CLU can’t get to, however after Sam runs away they know where Flynn’s place is and fly over the exact area they were said they couldn’t cross into. Finally, Kevin Flynn has these super user powers in the system, he’s basically acts like a Jedi, however Sam, the son of Flynn and a user, has no powers what-so-ever. He can barely do anything in the world unless it’s fighting, shooting, sky diving, riding a motorcycle like device or getting his ass into trouble. That was a key plot point in TRON; the user had powers to change the system inside, but for whatever bone headed reason, Sam has none of these abilities nor does he accidentally stumble upon them.
I don’t mind when a movie goes full throttle with visual effects, but when South Park makes a better Tron episode better than a full length feature film, you have some major problems. I don’t really have too much beef with them following the plot of the original movie, but the fact that it was stripped to nothing and felt that they could pass that off is a disgrace to the original film. For years they teased this film and couldn’t deliver something smart and challenging with visuals like Inception (yeah a lot of the reasoning in the plot didn’t make a lot of sense, but there was something more going on).
I mean there was a good dose of nods to the original Tron which were kinda cool and I’ve sort of eventually warmed up to Daft Punk having done the sound track (but I still feel the music could have been done better like the remixes out there), and I did enjoy it as a visual film for the most part. However I was expecting it to have a lot more substance to it, or something intriguing about it. The ISOs plot point was very weak and Sam could have been a much better character instead of a weak drive to bring in and follow his father Flynn for the rest of the film. I think this movie suffers from a lot of the same problems Avatar had. It was good visually but when it came to the story, it was flat and boring. I wanted MOAR, but in the end I got less and a what Tron did back in the 80s does deserve moar than what Tron Legacy did.
Hopefully they can pull off something much better in a third movie, but I am not getting my hopes up at all.
Edit: Even seeing it for a third time, it’s still a movie that’s lacking punch.