TRON: Legacy — Flynn Abides
TRON: Legacy is an almost perfect sequel.
Knowing that TRON: Legacy was coming out soon (and that I’d be watching it in IMAX 3D on opening night), I rewatched my 20th Anniversary DVD of the original TRON for the first time in a few years again recently. I was pleased by how well the film stood up despite the 28 years (and astonishing improvements in CGI) since its release. And I’m glad I did. I’d no doubt have missed a few Easter Eggs in the sequel were the old movie not fresh in my mind.
This movie is an almost perfect sequel. There are callbacks (and assorted pop culture references) to the original aplenty, without them ever seeming forced or contrived (Sam’s, “Now that’s a big door” was an especial favourite). The plot isn’t especially deep or complex, but it follows smoothly and anturally from, and to some extent mirrors, the original without ever seeming like a remake. And almost every detail of the Grid has been designed with amazing attention to detail to create an updated appearance for the first one. Every vehicle, setting, and costume design is a clear, unapologetic successor to its progenitor. The overall effect is a stunning level of verisimilitude.
Perhaps what struck me most about the film, though, was the bold choice in its pacing and tone. It would have been easy to make a TRON sequel that was little more than a frenetic action flick with lots of eye candy. But Director Joseph Kosinski chose instead to create a majestic, philosophical film. Daft Punk’s much-praised score is an essential element in making that a reality, as is most striking during the dogfight leading up to the climax. Take this exact same movie and put some Rammstein under it and the mood and feel would have been completely different.
The one truly false note of the movie was Michael Sheen’s Zuse, who almost seemed to be an intentional spoof of The Merovingian from The Matrix: Reloaded (there were a few moments I felt were subtle snubs to those sequels, truth be told). The effect was unnecessarily jarring without contributing much to the third act reversal. Also, brilliant though the “de-aging” of Jeff bridges is, that’s one effect that will not hold up well as time passes. For Clu, it’s not much of an issue. He’s a computer construct so even though he doesn’t quite match the other constructs around him (a problem solved largely by covering the faces of most of his minions in dark face shields, a two-fer that also assists a significant plot device), the unreality of it more or less works. But in the handful of flashback scenes where the CGI avatar is used for live action, it doesn’t.
Go see this movie. If at all possible, see it in IMAX 3D as God intended. Your enjoyment will be enhanced if you watch the original again first, but familiarity with the first film is not required to enjoy this one. I won’t go as far as the (obviously quite invested) Tron Guy but I can say that I loved it. And, what’s more, I expect that I’ll enjoy it more every time I watch it.