TRON Legacy Review

*spoiler free*
As a die-hard fan of the original TRON, I have been dreaming of this day since the first visuals appeared at Comic Con ’08. When I saw the light cycle in person at SDCC, I knew it was destiny that I would be there for opening day. Two years later, standing in the rain for an early showing, the prophesy came true. I even took my 5-year-old son to hopefully capture some of the same magic from 2 decades earlier. I then went back for a second viewing that night to get a second perspective of the movie. The original TRON had ground breaking effects, introduced an original universe, and a great score. However, that same original had terrible character development, confusing story devices, and a low-stake plot. To my own dismay, 28 years later,  the sequel does the same. The difference is that TRON 1982 held a significant place in our pop culture heritage while I fear Legacy will not.   

Pros:
Unfortunately, the pros can be summed up in a handful of visuals and a compelling sound track. You could tell that before the movie was barely conceived or the first story line written, that there were a few scenes that were already being crafted in the mind of director Joseph Kosinski. The first 10 minutes of the movie felt like something out of a Christopher Nolan movie with urban tunnels and swooping cityscapes. The capture of Sam into the TRON world, his outfitting, and the first battle  sequences were all stunning. The first third of this film is very inspired stuff comparable to my experience seeing  the first Matrix. Unfortunately, when they leave the game grid they also leave the best parts of the movie behind. The sound track from Daft Punk could not be any better. It’s as if Daft was genetically engineered (or programmed) for this movie. The music is so epic that it almost fools you into thinking more is happening than it really is. I immediately downloaded it and I am considering it an instant score classic. Now on the cons.  

Cons:
While the first act is by far some of the best visuals I have seen in years. The 2nd act of the film comes to an almost grinding stop. It becomes very ponderous with a bunch of ‘talky, talky technobabble’  and a few boring flash back sequences. Not only is it not that interesting but it doesn’t help bring clarity to the quickly developing murky plot. Legacy tries to create space for Flynn and Sam to reconnect but the emotional thrust is not there. Legacy becomes so serious so quickly that there is nothing fun about it once you get to this part of the film. Then it really blows it by the final act of the story. It turns into a typical ‘Star Wars-esque’ chase sequence and showdown with the villain. Sure there were explosions and ships zipping around (and the deceptive pumping score), but it was not nearly as creative as the earlier 1/3rd. While the action serviced the plot, what everyone will leave talking about is the earlier arena battle scenes.

The next huge con is the lack of character development and plot. Different characters start out interesting but it goes no where from there. There is no real character arc for anyone and characters are dispensed with as quickly as they are introduced. The loss of one particular character is very unrewarding. Being the master of stereotypes, it’s no surprise that Disney character exit the movie the same way they are introduced. The problem is that you don’t know who to ‘root’ for or identify with. There are several obvious choices but there are not obvious reasons why. You simply want the good guys to win and the bad guys to lose- booooring. Besides trying to get Flynn back out to civilization, another plot device is introduced but it’s importance is not totally clear and by the end, I honestly could cared less about this secondary plot. Unfortunately, Legacy is a two-dimensional story and characters placed in a stunning 3-D world. Instead of it being the story 28 years in the making it ended up feeling more like 28 minutes. Like the original, the characters never seemed like they were ever in real jeopardy and I never felt like the stakes were very high. For a moment, I thought I was caught up in a bad re-mix of Matrix Revolutions and Episode II Attack of the Clones. Either of which are not good to be associated with. I found myself ‘re-writing’ the movie while I was watching it, which is usually a bad sign. I accepted the story but it was against my will.    

End of line..?
With all my pros and cons out of the way, I still have to say I enjoyed this experience. Much like the orignal, its doesn’t have to hit on all cylinders for me to leave with a partial smile on my face. I actually enjoyed the CGI doppelgänger of the younger Jeff Bridges. Sure the effects were pretty sketchy at times but I appreciated the ambition. If there is a ‘legacy’ to this film, it might be the introduction of artificial actors in cinema. This was only about 75% there but I imagine we will be seeing the perfection of this technology in the years to come. As frustrated and unfulfilled I was with this film, I still recommend it- especially if you are a fan of the original. The first 1/3rd of the film is worth it alone. There is also a sense of nostalgia which is becoming more rare over time for children of the 80’s like me. Plus, it has sequel potential written all over it which might give Disney a chance to right it’s wrongs with this one. The 3-D is pretty ‘meh’ but the IMAX experience is superb. To my sadness, history may regard this as an incredible visual ride but ultimately a failed sequel. I guess we will see what my son will say about it 2 decades from now and if he will have the same nostalgic memories as I did as a child. 

I give this the same rating as the original, a 3 out of 5 Babbles.

Check out my earlier review of the original TRON.

Bonus: I had an incredible opportunty to ask Jeff Bridges a question about TRON at Comic Con 2010- here it is:

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77 Comments

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77 responses to “TRON Legacy Review

  1. Whit

    I saw Tron: Legacy on Friday and had much the same response as Tony. I had a visceral reaction to Tron (the character) and still cannot figure out why the character HAD to be there in the first place. They forced him in where he didn’t belong. And the fact that the movie title is “Tron: Legacy” is not lost on me. Needless to say, the movie was entertaining but will not be groundbreaking. Too bad.

    • Tony

      Yes, agreed. Instead it should have been called TRON:Cameo, Would have made more sense. Thanks for commenting!

      • Jeff

        I don’t really have a problem with the name Tron and not having him in it a lot. I mean, it’s a spin-off, sequel of the orginal, what else are the going to call it? The story was always more about Flynn anyway.

    • I know nothing about Tron or why it has a cult following. I guess I can understand it’s appeal if you into a science overlay view of reality. Maybe there is something I’m missing.
      JUDGMENT DAY
      May 21, 2011
      http://www.familyradio.com

      • Jeff

        That’s the nature of a cult following, only a few people get it. A lot of it’s cult following has to do with the fact a lot of us saw it as kids and loved it. The original was interesting, because it didn’t do well in the Box Office and adults just didn’t really get it, however, kids like me, loved it. So Disney knew those kids would all grow up one day and be primed for a sequel. Then

      • David

        you totally missed it in your review – typical of those who think that a great movie, great sequel, great sci-fi has to be “perfect” – i too saw the original and i have now seen this movie three times with my 15 year old son – yes, the soundtrack may be the best ever movie soundtrack since “for a few dollars more”, but the movie also is AWESOME – if you would let go of your “critic” eyes and see it as a love story between father and son, an epic tale of redemption, a pure sci-fi undetached from expectations, it has so many little entendres and revelations, – the story stands alone and in the purest sense it is EPIC! Look past your rose colored glasses of what you thougt it should have been and see it for what it IS: a FANTASY story that touches the deepest part of a man’s soul – if this were a true story, it would be a CLASSIC. My 15 year old son was so touched by the raw emotion and SIMPLICITY that he (and I) consider it a beautiful piece of art – because it is.

      • Tony

        Thanks for your comments. I guess we will disagree. There is much I enjoyed about the movie but overall felt it fell flat. I am glad it was an opportunity for you to connect with your son though. Thanks and thanks for visiting!

  2. alonso13

    it look nice

  3. I was hoping it would be better than what the critics are saying about it. I still want to see it though! Thanks for the review!!

    http://www.runtobefit.wordpress.com

    • Tony

      I am usually pretty skeptical of critics, even though i am one. However, RottenTomatoes gave it a 49% which I think is about right. 49% of this is brilliant and the other 51% is a convoluted mess. Let me know what you think after you see it. Thx.

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  5. The only thing I didn’t like was the lack of emotion when father and son were reunited, but the Flynn Sr made up for it, in my eyes, when he explains to Clu2 why he gave Quorra his disk, saving her and Sam by sacrifising himself ‘because he’s my son’.

    • Tony

      Yea, that was a good scene. I liked the realization that CLU was replaced by Sam as the first born. I wish they could have explored that further. Jeff Bridges is awesome and can commucate so much through expression. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  6. Great review. My children saw it this weekend, so now it’s my turn.

    And yes, I’m a total dork. And proud of it! 😉

    • Tony

      One positive that I failed to mention was how nice it was to take my son to a movie that we could both enjoy. When was the last time a PG movie came out for both children and adults? Maybe the last TRON! That is one thing Disney can build on.

      Get nerd on girl!

      • I have to disagree with you here as a fellow critic. The Incredibles is one of the best movies ever that can be seen by all members of the family without having a sacherine after taste and have a sub story (everyone is special) that is a meaningful discussion. Plus it is a whole lot of fun. Oh, but it is from Pixar – a company that has set the bar way high for great family-oriented movies.

      • Jeff

        Yeah I agree, I think there are plenty of PG movies everyone can enjoy, even from Disney.

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  8. Honestly, I had had high hopes for this movie going in and, like so many others, was disappointed with it. The Legacy stands for me as a testament for trying to combine too much into too little time. It seems as if directors today forget that movies are short-form types of media. Legacy could have been so much better if they cut out most of the unnecessary information and just given us a simple story. That’s the idea I left the theater with, it was extraordinarily unnecessary.

    • Tony

      Yes, agreed. It was juggling too much and it should have just focused on one aspect- the father/son relationship, CLU and the Grid, or the significance of the Iso people. There is a graphic novel out there called TRON Betrayal- it better explains what happened in between movies. For die hard fans, it’s a must. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

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  10. Agreed. The movie ultimately disappointed me, but it felt like going home. Not that home is a place of instant horrific death and lasers, but it is… homey.

    • Tony

      Ironically it’s like playing an old classic video game like Frogger or Pac Man (or TRON!). The nostalgia is a powerful part of the experience but it wares off quickly if there is no depth and too much repitition. Thanks for commenting!

  11. Deb

    Actually, I enjoyed the movie. I didn’t go into it with grand expectations; I enjoyed it for what it was and was glad to be able to share a bit of classic video game history with my 18 year old daughter.

    I was pleased that the movie was family friendly and shied away from “heavy” emotions; it was meant to be a fun ride! The special effects “could” have been better; but in the end they weren’t a HUGE disappointment. More importantly, it was good to see a movie without sex scenes, abusive language or illicit drug use – good clean fun!

    I’ve recommended the movie to several people who want to share a good, clean, couple of hours with their family reliving some of their youth and the innocence that is so often lost in today’s movie offerings. And I’ve commented that like the older video games we grew up with, there isn’t going to be much fanfare in way of plot or themes like today’s sophisticated games.

    Just my two cents; may not even be worth 1/2 penny to some 🙂 but for those like me looking for something light and entertaining Tron:Legacy didn’t disappoint.

    Deb

  12. It may be just a different approach in making films. Instead of character in first place, afterall it is a film of Tron, not Sam and his dad. We don’t need to know them.

    The 3D technology is just used to draw attention, and i don’t know why people see it as a only thing can be critised. Not in the same familiar Hollywood film therefore a bad creation?

    There is not much emotion, true. Computer world does not have emotion, a father being locked from world for 20 years so loss of social ability, a program learning to become human and a separated for 20 years son confronting dad, of course there is no emotion. And it is not important at all.

    I would like to see it in a different direction when they reinforce the “In there is our destiny” and “Out there is our destiny” taking the point that Tron is a creation itself that the father believed it can replace the human world as our world is not perfect, but on clu, their world is created by a human not natural therefore not perfect. They all desire to go to the other dimension to achieve and seek “perfection”, but things is not perfect, therefore beautiful and predictable other then computer world, so we have the scene of the riding over the world picturing bridges, cities, forests.

    Tron Legacy is not a “bad” film, it is a Disney film, not Hollywood film.

    Maybe i put too much attention on a “bad production”. but it gives me meaning not 3D programming.
    No need to seek perfection, because there is none. Seek what is around, not perfect but unpredicted.

    Richard T.

    • I am curious to know how you define the diference between a “disney” film and a “Hollywood” film.

      • it is not targeting at the Hollywood company, i am sorry, it is just a phrase for me to point at films that has no meaning, purely for franchising and feedbacks (because some films from them actually are). I watched the Disney film since i was little, i had more touches than Hollywood films, might be a disturbing post for you. i am sorry.

        my overall point is that, Tron: Legacy is not a bad film in terms of other people’s saying, i certainly learn the point it is suggesting, or just simply imagining it. But try to feel it in a different way, rather than just following others’ saying “ah this is a bad film that needs no point watching it”

        Rich T.

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  14. The film was definitely worth watching. Sort of reminds me of an Old Boy remake. But going as far as saying it’s going to get some kind of Oscar nod is crazy. No way. I don’t understand why it’s getting so much buzz.

  15. Waiting for it here too!

    Reading the review i hope it would destroy my Christmas weekend.

    Rather, Merry Christmas to all!

  16. I am soo thrilled to see it! I LOVED the first movie and I’m going to the cinema on thursday. really looking forward to it! 🙂

  17. Kenny

    I am yet to see the movie, but i was really impressed with the preview that i saw. It’s going to be worth viewing. Thanks for the info. By the way…good job.

  18. mackaroto

    Just saw this blog for the first time. Really clever title.

  19. i feel like no matter what, if you are going to see this movie you might as well see it in the theaters, right?
    http://dearexgirlfriend.com/

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  21. Great review. It took me a long time to get round to watching the original Tron. I did so only in anticipation for this sequel and I must say I was left with very mixed feelings.

    My immediate reflection is similar to your views, while the film looked unique, like nothing I’d seen before, even 28 years on, it was difficult to keep up. I genuinely wondered whether I had accidentally leapt into the film half way through. I’ve never seen a film that makes so little effort to actually explain itself to the viewer. However I did enjoy the experience and recognise the cultural importance of the film. But again I fear the same as is outlined in this review, Tron Legacy will pale into insignificance and ultimately prove forgotten.

    I’ve yet to see the film, I’ll probably see it this week. Regardless as to how good or bad it is, it’s spawned a brilliant soundtrack that I’ll continue to enjoy long after I’ve stopped longing for Olivia Wilde.

    • Tony

      Yea the soundtrack is very awesome- it’s better than the movie. I’d love to hear what you think about it especially in comparison to the original. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  22. Having seen the movie last night, I think you summed it up well. Outstanding visuals, but as a die-hard Tron fan (I still watch the original frequently) I was expecting more. I did appreciate the overlaps that they had with the first film. Beyond just the Light Cycles, things like the recognizers and the carrier ship were modernized without killing the original vision.

    What frustrates me the most is that I feel like it was a missed opportunity. The writers just got lazy. There was more than enough material to expand on the storyline of Tron or these Iso’s but instead they were half-filled hints at real intrigue. I too am not sorry I saw the movie, but it just had so much more potential.

    • Tony

      Yea, good thoughts. Visually I had very little complaints and thought it was a good reflection of the original. Its started out like the original Matrix with all the mystery then ended like the low-brow Matrix:Revolutions. Your right, it just got lazy.

  23. kulas88

    the movie was 2 hours of boringness. It has cool effects yes. i give it to that.. but that’s about it. the story was pretty much confusing. less substance. they were just blabbering this and that. what pissed me off was the part where they meet up with Zeus. like who is he? They should have put more background to the characters.

    i’d rate it 2 out of 5 stars.

    • Tony

      I just wrote today the top 10 problems of TRON, I think you will enjoy it. Check it out and let me know what you think. Thx for commenting!

  24. Flark Tron! Bring on TRUE GRIT!!!!

  25. F#$k Tron. Stupid Comic movies need to just die out.

    ….just kidding. I can’t wait to see it. In fact to be totally honest, I totally skipped your whole review because I don’t want to know anything about it. But Hollywood beware..If it does in fact suck, I will be very upset. Not that that will have a large or even a minuscule effect on the gross revenue that will make, but seriously….if you’re going to make a movie…please don’t suck at it 🙂

  26. Kai

    truly awesome review!

  27. Fr. John

    “The original was interesting, because it didn’t do well in the Box Office and adults just didn’t really get it, however, kids like me, loved it. So Disney knew those kids would all grow up one day and be primed for a sequel.”

    Then you’re just a complacent drone in a consumerist universe, and moral absolutes, and the importance of family WON’T mean anything to you. Yup. Just the sort of person for a soul-less 21st century. My son wants to go see this, I am of two minds. I remember the first Tron, and look back at it with some fondness, but not the interest I did with Star Wars. But, like SW, all the hype becomes annoying to a thinking individual, and I now prefer 1930’s B/W films from Hollywood’s Golden Era, to ANYTHING Holly’weird’ is churning out now.

    I will say, I picked up another ‘technological’ film that failed at the box office, ‘Sky Captain’ and found it more riveting than, say, Matrix (though Matrix was good) simply because the moral character lines were well drawn, and there wasn’t any ‘preaching’…like Avatar, which just made me go, ‘meh’ after it was done. And I saw it for free.

    I still think a book has more potential to cause a person to think, than any CGI crap out there. But then, that’s because I look forward to a real better world in time and history, and not an artifical one.

    • Tony

      Nice thoughts John. Agreed that books are usually more thought provoking than the predigested stuff of movies. Nice suggestion about Sky Captain, I forgot about that one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and visiting.

  28. Девушка профессионал(узист) каждый день бегала , при всем при этом не закрывая дверь в кабинет УЗИ , в котором в это время уже кто-нибудь находился. Дама попалась не диалогчивая , по ее недовольному виду , незамедлительно можно было взять в толк , что диалога не выйдет , и малыша собственного навряд ли я увижу. А так называемы фото узи мне может показаться на первый взгляд вообще их аппарат не способен производить в силу собственной древности . А самое главное что меня поразило , это отсутствие презервативов или же даже напальничков , вместо всего этого была ПЕРЧАКТА , даже не обыкновенная медицинская перчатка , а такая полиэтиле́новая , похожие я видела на АЗС Лукойл может показаться на первый взгляд , чтобы ручки не марать об автомобиль и пр. И одноразовых пеленок судя по всему в этом учреждение никогда не было.

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  30. Hi there would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using? I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a difficult time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had to ask!

    • Tony

      We just use WordPress.com. I think it is the easiest and most flexible out of all the blog sites. I have several with them and have been very pleased with their templates, stats, and extras. Good luck and let me know of you have any more questions! Babble On!

  31. UnloawnByncitacy

    Поняла что любви нет,это только мишура нами созданная.И что истинную мишуру нужно заслужить:)

  32. Cool actor. I love films with his participation =)

  33. Jim

    Maybe they should have sent a short version of the movie to YouTube, then just issued the soundtrack only.

  34. when you wrote “The sound track from Daft Punk could not be any better,” it made me smile because I have heard that Daft designed their sound around the original movie so I guess in a way they were “engineered (or programmed) for this movie” Plus wasn’t it great when they switched up the music for the fight at the bar?

    • Tony

      The whole movie took itself too seriously until it came to the End of Line club. Castor looked like he was having fun and Daft Punk spinning during the fight really made the scene. It was one of the best parts of the film! Thx for commenting!

  35. Thanks for the review. I am now not disuaded from seeing it (a direction I had begun to lean). Most of these “long awaited” sequels seem to fall short for those waiting on them. I would be curious to hear what 18-24 year olds thought of it. I feel that it would be a more apples to apples comparison to what we truly thought about the original. I don’t hear a lot of that age group talking about character development, plot lines or father & son emotional connection, just “it was awesome” or “it sucked.”

    • Tony

      Good thoughts. That’s what the problem was. TRON didn’t know it’s audience and didn’t know what it was trying to say. That’s why hardcore fans were disappointed. I think the younger crowd didn’t care as much since they were unaware of the first. Thx for commenting!

  36. Hey, you have a great blog here! I’m definitely going to bookmark you!
    I have a Movie site/blog. It pretty much covers movie related stuff.

    Come and check it out if you get time 🙂

  37. Rah

    I know this maybe a little sad to say but I have never seen any “Tron” movie. Yes I’m serious not even the one made in 1982. What can I say I wasn’t even thought of at that time? My co-worker at DISH was telling me that it was a good movie to see “Tron”. He also said that “Tron: Legacy” was also amazing. He is allowing me to borrow “Tron” so I can kind understand the difference in the two. I hope I like them. I’m ordering “Tron: Legacy” probably tonight on PPV in HD, so we will see how it goes!

  38. Zachary

    Enjoyed the review and I agree with you guys. Visuals were stunning but there’s something missing with the crafting of the story. And I also really enjoyed the experience of seeing the movie. Funny thing is, I wrote the same thing in my review of Tron: Legacy. Great review, and I’ll be coming back to your site.

    • Tony

      Yea, I wish it was a better movie so I could have written a better review. Oh well, maybe the next one will be better. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

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