In our regular polarising-opinion series, one Total Film writer argues that Tron: Legacy deserves more love.
Read on, then have your say in the comments section below.
Is it just me... or is Tron: Legacy actually pretty great? asks Philip Kemp
Between all the nostalgic love for the 1982 original and a stellar in-your-face ad campaign, expectations for Tron: Legacy were higher than Kevin Flynn’s eventual broadband bill. Frankly, with fever-pitch anticipation, we were expecting Flynn’s own “digital frontier to reshape the human condition”. Instead, all we got was an incredible- looking movie that successfully updated its predecessor’s hokey concept and gave us one of the best soundtracks of the decade. So... er... what’s the problem again?
Admittedly, within the inner circuitry of this sequel’s plot, director Joseph Kosinski left the logic gates wide open and allowed lots of nonsense to escape. With set-pieces around a nightclub that allows programs to ‘unwind’, laughable lines like “bio-digital jazz” and smaller details like a suckling pig at a dinner table (why does software need food? Was it bred on a digital farm?), it seems at first glance that Sam Flynn’s cyber-crime at the start of the film isn’t the only hack job at play here.
But if you’re going to pick holes in a film about an entire world existing within a computer, you might as well be knocking on the sky and listening to the sound. At what point do we admit that the original Tron, a much beloved staple of many childhoods, is built on the very same dumbfounding rationale?
Then there’s the supposedly seamless effect of a de-aged Jeff Bridges, which doesn’t quite live up to its promise. Agreed, the moment the Young CGI Jeff Bridges opens his mouth, it just looks like the new-look Clu has taken ‘reskinning’ to horrifyingly literal levels.
But it still occasionally looks mightily impressive, and should Tron: Legacy really be penalised for being one of the first films to begin that crawl out on the other side of the uncanny valley? What is the moratorium on bad movie FX anyway? Should we still be pretending that the Master Control Program in the original film doesn’t look like a giant red rotating spit of doner kebab meat?
On the other hand, Tron: Legacy did lots of important things really well. It developed the original concept exponentially, expanding the Grid into an entire realm filled with endless possibilities. It gave us an awesome new character in Quorra, played with a brilliant mix of naivety and kick-assery. It gave us some brilliantly atmospheric Daft Punk tunes.
And if you think about it, Tron was essentially ‘Inner Space in a computer’, but its sequel upgraded the concept with themes of family abandonment, unobtainable perfection and, with the introduction of the mysterious Isopes, existentialism. All that and it squeezed in an uncredited Cillian Murphy board room cameo.
Granted, many plot points are left open for a second sequel that never came, but surely the film did everything it needed to: looked stunning while paying tribute to the original and setting up a whole new franchise filled with potential? Tron: Legacy shouldn’t be the End Of Line for these characters, and it should be heralded as more than just a beautiful failure. Or is it just me?
Agree or disagree with Matt? Hit the comments section below to have your say!