I just about wanted to kill myself watching the original Tron.
I couldn’t remember much about the original Tron, but was given an opportunity to see it a couple of days ago, and jumped at the chance, figuring that it could enhance my viewing of Tron: Legacy, which I’ve been dying to see. See, fans of the original have been excited about Legacy for its continuing of the storyline – me, I was excited about it because it looked amazing. I didn’t know much about the story and, to be honest, Marvel’s prequel comic to the movie just confused the hell out of me.
So I gave the first flick a shot and, while I admire what it was doing at the time, I also understand why ultimately the film is a cult hit and not one of those cherished classics, like Star Wars or Indiana Jones. I mean, it’s quite an unexciting film. Visually interesting, but storywise, it just didn’t cut it for me. If anything, it actually hurt my motivation to see the sequel. I understand that it has its audience, and I get it…I just couldn’t get into the movie. Nonetheless, I was determined to see Tron Legacy on its opening weekend. Did 28 years make a difference in storytelling technique? Did the film live up to its awesome visuals?
In Tron Legacy, Kevin Flynn’s son Sam is actually working against Encom, the company his father made a big deal. See, they’re releasing a new OS, and the way they’re charging for it contradicts with the ethics Flynn instilled in the company before his disappearance years ago. So Sam is a constant thorn in the side of the company, despite being the majority shareholder. Told by his father’s friend Alan (Bruce Boxleitner, reprising his role from the original) that he received a page from Flynn’s Arcade, Sam sets out to find out the source of the page, and ends up getting sucked into the Grid, a replication of the system Flynn built in the original (except this time built by Flynn).
I’ll stop right there before going too deep into spoiler territory. Now, Tron Legacy’s visuals are by far some of the most amazing I’ve ever seen. It’s absolutely jaw dropping from the moment Sam enters the grid to when he leaves. Director Joseph Kosinski has a real eye for visual effects, and many scenes in the film are filmed in ways I’ve never seen action sequences filmed before. The acting is solid all around, if nothing entirely special. It’s serviceable, but nothing that will set the world aflame. Again, the real treat here is in the direction and the visuals….and the music. Holy shit, this film probably has the most amazing soundtrack in the history of history. Daft Punk, who provided the score for the film, does a bang up job and really set the tone for the entire film. You’re likely to purchase the soundtrack within hours after watching the film – it’s just amazing.
The problems with the film seem to fall entirely on the writing. While I still have to admit that I loved the film, the writing definitely is its weakest aspect. A lot of information is told in long expository scenes that bog the film down to a halt in between stellar action sequences. Not only that, while the film does an admirable job being self-contained…it actually REALLY helps to have seen the original. Which is not a good thing, seeing as how the film is 28 years old, and no longer available on DVD. You’re likely to still enjoy the film without viewing the original, but it absolutely enhances the experience, and you’re likely to miss out on a lot, including references to Tron himself. Until seeing the first movie, I’d always thought Tron was the name of the Grid…it’s not (for those who don’t know). A lot of story beats are left unresolved, leaving a certain unfinished feel to the entire thing. Sure, it’s supposed to be the first of a new trilogy, but it seems to me that there’s enough for another half hour of film, rather than two more full movies.
Still, despite all this, I came out saying that the movie was awesome, and it is. It’s not boring, it’s visually amazing, not to mention the sound design. Overall though, it is a bit of a victim of style over substance and what story the film does have (it’s actually very simplistic) isn’t entirely all that well written. I recommend it for fans of the original, and those who won’t let the story’s problems effect the experience too much for them. In IMAX 3D, there really is nothing quite like Tron Legacy.