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Sam Flynn, the tech-savvy 27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn, looks into his father’s disappearance and finds himself pulled into the same world of fierce programs and gladiatorial games where his father has been living for 20 years. Along with Kevin’s loyal confidant, father and son embark on a life-and-death journey across a visually-stunning cyber universe that has become far more advanced and exceedingly dangerous. Written by ZootCatchy at IMDb.

Our household counted down the days to TRON: Legacy (2010). (It was tempting to make double use of the advent calendar.) In preparation there was the introduction of the daughter (age 10) to TRON (1982). Ah, yes, good times… What were we expecting from Joseph Kosinski directed TRON: LegacyWe weren’t sure, because we didn’t know the guy. We were sure to be entertained by fantastic light cycle shows and frisbee fights. The soundtrack would be throbbing and brilliantly realized with Daft Punk at the helm. Jeff Bridges would be wondermous. We were set to be children again, to enjoy the spectacle. We were not disappointed. TRON: Legacy was a good time.

It is only afterward the brain switches back on fully; experiencing only the occasional twitching during the viewing.

Thematically TRON: Legacy would reiterate to its audience the importance of choosing the human relationship over digital connections; and that the best future is obtained through the offspring you have and not the ones you would imagine. Ok, never mind on that last part. Quorra (Olivia Wilde) is easily seen as a daughter figure to Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) and he invests quite a bit in her, and according to the end, the Hope, the time spent is a good investment. And really, did Sam (Garrett Hedlund, a good physical match) turn out so badly?

Sam Flynn living off the grid, in a shipping-container remodel; a corporate terrorist essentially; a thrill-seeker, on a first name basis with the impound guards; Peter Pan at nearly 30—in other words, not completely unlike his father. Sam is torn with what to do about his father’s legacy, preferring the handed-down Ducati over the handed-down corporation Encom. (the light cycles could not out-sex the Ducati)

All the angst built into the disappearance of his father disintegrates upon reunion. And how easily Sam seems to dismiss the stand-in father of Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) earlier. Again, can’t replace the Real relationship? the initial programming?

And where has his father been?  Kevin Flynn has been missing for 20 years. I love how Ebert thinks about the phenomena of Flynn’s abduction and survival:

This is a movie well beyond the possibility of logical explanation. Since the Tron universe exists entirely within chips, don’t bother yourself about where the physical body of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) has been for the last two decades; it must surely have been somewhere, because we can see that it has aged. The solution I suppose is that this is a virtual world and it can do anything it feels like, but how exactly does a flesh-and-blood 20-year-old get inside it? And what does he eat?

While it may amuse the viewer to consider the logic of the film, as Ebert does, even he admits to the uselessness. Hardly a complete thought is made within the film, let alone outside of it.

If Legacy is depending upon the explanations of (Cindy Morgan) Lora’s machine in the first TRON it didn’t say. Audiences were asked to believe that the Kevin Flynn we knew, and/or the one we know presently was capable of any invention, any technological advancement (wi-fi? already thought of it). Disbelief is asked to be suspended over and over. And with the promise of action and the exhilaration of Daft Punk’s soundtrack, just leave the brain at the door.

*******

Like TRON (1982) computers are not necessarily demonized; however real their threat is in creating world domination—and how lovely of Legacy to add the nuance that time spent in/on the computer is infiltrating the family as well (keeping a father from his son). Like TRON the corporate world is again demonized. Free software?! and so what that the new version isn’t actually new (and can’t actually be improved upon)!

The new film makes plenty of nods toward its predecessor. As ever, it is fun to find the gestures amidst the otherwise new rendering of the Grid (both outside and in). [With regards to the 127 minute advertisement for TRON merchandise: the film has a Parental Guidance rating. Parent the self and your child. Also, it is Disney film, what does one expect? The indignation –however shrill–is hollow.]

The entry into Legacy follows the first TRON, the melding of the outside and inside worlds, the interdependency and the similarity. The new focuses less on capturing spaces in the Real world that echo the Grid. Legacy doesn’t work too hard with tech (world) explanation or metaphor. It isn’t 1982, the 2010 audience is much more tech-savvy. Just the same, TRON: Legacy would leave plenty of things over which to skate, choosing action over cerebral. Intellectually, the plot is a poser not unlike the zen Flynn inside the Grid who embraces the role of the cryptic creator. Sam isn’t the only one to looked puzzled, if not incredulous, at his father’s philosophical attempts.

As a Creator of the Grid, Kevin Flynn is essentially a god. The only reminiscence for the Christian audience is the Trinity: Kevin the Father, Sam the Son, and Clu the Spirit (Holy isn’t a stretch in the consideration of Perfection).  Unfortunately the Spirit decides to go it alone. Think no more of Biblical stories. Sean and I debated and we think the Norse Myth might be the better choice. (I can’t spoil anything, because the story is too predictable.) Flynn’s sacrifice is a bit more Odin. They had heroes as well; such as Sam would fit. And yet that fails with the Clu character who is not chaos… See how I mean? Joseph Campbell would roll over in his grave. And while it is entirely possible for a story to form its own mythology, I wouldn’t look to TRON: Legacy as a stunning example—or even a working one.

The only tension of the film that had me at the edge of seat was Tron. What happened to him? I loved Tron in the first film. Flynn was amusing, but Tron/Alan was wonderful. I loved how distracting they had to make the glasses Alan wore. I loved how Tron was the hero. What would become of his bad-assery in Legacy? That was a heart-thumping moment…

In Legacy, Sam as a hero does not overstep and Kevin is still center stage. Flynn isn’t doddering. He is as cool and Lebowski as ever. It is marvelous to see Bridges older and experienced and having fun in this reprised role. There is a disturbing aspect to the younger Kevin Flynn. The uncanny  however necessary is distracting. In her NY Times review, Manohla Dargis elegantly observes:

Mr. Bridges mostly amuses by throwing a little Lebowski into his performance as the older Kevin, which partly makes up for the creepiness of his computer-enhanced turn as both the younger Kevin and the rebellious program Clu. This youthful version was achieved by digitally translating the actor’s facial movements into data for a simulacrum that here looks like an animated death mask.

The discomfort works in viewing Clu as something abnormal/unnatural; as Avatars could be seen, in certain light, in certain readings. Yet, Kevin Flynn argues that Clu isn’t just a projection of himself, but an actual aspect… An obsessive perfectionist without the human interruption of epiphany. In essence Clu is an offspring that cannot be chosen over the mutable and natural son that is Sam.

Legacy was reaching for depth there at the end, in the collapse, in the reintegration. Bridges was riveting, but the tears were his alone. There was little if any room for emotion, only exhilaration and release. Good sex with someone onto whom you’ve projected sentiment that is purely perceived and hardly real. I doubt Joseph Kosinski was using his film to simulate a metaphoric thrust. If he were, I would say he was successful.

TRON: Legacy would shed weight in favor of agility. Entertaining isn’t a bad thing, and should anyone expect more? Channel your inner child; not the tech savvy one of 2010, but the 10-year-old one of 1982.

****notes/asides****

–We watched 2D and were more than satisfied. A friend went to the 3D and proclaimed the experience “awesome!” Ebert brings up a facet I hadn’t considered. “A note at the start informs us that parts of the movie were deliberately filmed in 2-D, so of course I removed my glasses to note how much brighter it was. Dimness is the problem 3-D hasn’t licked.” Interesting.

–the costumes: thank goodness they didn’t feel the need to replicate the hideous head-gear from TRON (1982)!

–N’s favorite character? Castor (Martin Sheen)… she loved that sequence, his energy, and his shiny hair.

–Outside the Grid…nighttime sequences until the end and it is sunrise; and at end, Flynn is out where the sky is seen rather than an urban center. Recalls a bit of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985) the driving away at the end…a bit.

–the young Edward Dillinger at the board meeting—Cillian Murphy dressed for the paparazzi?! I thought it was him!…strange that he is thusly uncredited as well-billed as he tends to be anymore. A gig as a friend? Creating a role for future use? Who else saw the potential for a sequel there near the end?—raise your hand.

–Olivia Wilde the breath of fresh air in the film?—I think we are looking for romance where there is none. The Siren Gem (Beau Garrett) has better chemistry on screen and with Sam Flynn. Quorra (a bridge between worlds) would be the love child between Audrey Tautou and Lucy Lawless: innocence and wonder/hard-core warrior chick with curves…I think she took after her father. She wasn’t bad, I suppose she was as good as the film would allow her to be.

–the virtual has been made real (not entirely sure how that worked) in the end…and he takes it on a ride to see the world; to change the world for the better, rather than dominate and take over the world Maniacally ala Clu or Greedily ala Encom.  Really, I can’t help but try—shut it off L and enjoy the spectacle.

–found it amusing that IMDb lists these films as recommendations/if-you-like-this-than suggestions: National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007), Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999), Transporter 3 (2008), Avatar (2009), and GoldenEye (1995).

************************

TRON: Legacy (2010).

Directed by Joseph Kosinski

Written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz

Based on a story by Mr. Kitsis, Mr. Horowitz, Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal, and characters created by Steven Lisberger and Bonnie MacBird

Editing: James Haygood

Cinematography: Claudio Miranda

Music by Daft Punk

Costumes by Michael Wilkinson

Produced by Sean Bailey, Jeffrey Silver and Mr. Lisberger

Starring: Jeff Bridges (Kevin Flynn), Garrett Hedlund (Sam Flynn), Olivia Wilde (Quorra), Bruce Boxleitner (Alan Bradley), James Frain (Jarvis), Beau Garrett (Gem), Michael Sheen (Castor) and Owen Best (Young Sam).

Rated PG.

Released by Walt Disney Pictures.

127 minutes.

wiki link. IMDb link.
Roger Ebert’s Review. Manohla Dargis’ NY Times Review “Following in Father’s Parallel-Universe Footsteps”. also questions Cillian Murphy appearance (toward end of the review).

3 Comments Add yours

  1. ibeeeg says:

    Fantastic review…you always do a great job. I am not certain this movie is for me; just does not appeal. However, you review has piqued my interest a bit. Maybe I should attempt Tron (1982) first…I am a bit curious now. 🙂

  2. I’m so glad you liked Tron: Legacy as well. I too watched the original Tron movie as a young girl and counted the days until the sequel’s release.
    While I didn’t feel the storyline or characters added much to the original, the very world of the grid captured me again, just like it did the first time around. I wanted to live in the grid.

    As a side note, I saw it in 3D also aware that they had shot it in 2D and did a quick check during the movie – the glow of the grid really popped in 3D and I think added to that feeling of immersion.

    1. L says:

      thanks for stopping by… the Grid does fascinate; both were fun movies. thanks for the side note, makes me want to see Legacy at an IMAX theater!

      ~L

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