Review: TRON: Legacy (Disney)

Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde

While TRON gained a cult following, it’s a stretch to say that everyone who saw the film in 1982 fully understood the concept. Programmer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is funneled into a digital world and has to work with Tron, a computer program, to overthrow the Master Control Program who’s keeping him trapped in the virtual universe? Not an easy concept to relay.
Hats off to Disney for taking such an adventurous leap. And it’s that leap that led to films, such as The Matrix, which marry reality with digitally formed worlds, leading us to believe – or, maybe, just really hope – that it’s actually possible in some far-fetched way.
There couldn’t be a better time than now to release a follow-up to the beloved classic; computer-generated effects have reached a level of unbelievable realism and, perhaps more importantly, today’s audience is computer literate and enamoured (controlled?) by technology. This is its intended target.
If you’re yearning for depth of story, fully fleshed-out characters and zero plot holes, then you’ve stepped onto the wrong sci-fi portal. TRON: Legacy’s strength lies in its ability to create a visually stimulating world that, if you suspend disbelief and embrace a 127-minute escape, will engulf you in an entertaining trance.

TRON: Legacy focuses on Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), son of Kevin, 20 years after Kevin’s mysterious disappearance. While Sam has the majority stake in his father’s multinational computer corporation Encom, he spends his time masking the hurt caused by his father’s absence wound by dropping out of college and pulling elaborate pranks on Encom – a company that once believed in freely sharing information but now has become a money-hungry empire.
Alan Bradley, an Encom board member and friend of Kevin, tells Sam that he received a page from Kevin’s old office.

Sam’s curiosity leads him to the arcade and he eventually finds his father’s secret office in the basement. Uncovering an old computer, Sam, a tech whiz himself, works his way through the system and zaps himself into The Grid – the digital world his father created and is currently trapped in.

He’s dropped into a mesmerizing world – neon lights set on dark backgrounds are a feast for the eyes. Mistaken as a creation (program), he’s immediately placed to fight other programs in their version of the Coliseum. Using neon disks, these warriors fight until one of them is shattered.
These scenes, which include elaborate light cycle (think motorcycles for the digital world) chases, are the film’s highlight. They showcase a vast CG world with multiple tiers that are navigated with precision – discs bounce off transparent walls and light streaks follow the light cycles, flowing from one level to the next, revealing how intricate this foreign world is.

The story unfolds as any sci-fi fan could expect. Sam discovers the programs, led by CLU (also played by Bridges; digitally enhanced to make him look 20 years younger), have rebelled against their creator (Kevin), exiling Kevin in a far-off cyber wasteland with Quorra (Olivia Wilde), a female ISO (a program that spontaneously came into being during the early years of The Grid when the conditions were perfect). Whew. That was a lot to digest. Even if that doesn’t make much sense, just know that Sam is trying to go back to the porthole he entered to bring his father back home.

You will leave the theatre with a bucket of “How does that make sense-” and “I’m not sure about the connection between-” questions. But you’ll also see stunning visuals,

Bridges revisiting his stoner/Zen mystique from The Big Lebowski and an incredible soundtrack by Daft Punk – who make a cameo in a club scene as Michael Sheen does his best Ziggy Stardust impersonation.
This film is the perfect diversion from the busyness of winter.