TRON: Legacy Movie Review -

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Mania Grade: A

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  • Movie: TRON: Legacy
  • Rating: PG
  • Running Time: 127 minutes
  • Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, Michael Sheen, James Frain, and Beau Garrett
  • Written by: Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz
  • Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
  • Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
  • Series:

TRON: Legacy Movie Review

Electric Dreams

By Rob Vaux     December 06, 2010

TRON: Legacy Movie Review
© Mania/Robert Trate

The ongoing battle between Ten-Year-Old Me and Thirty-Eight-Year-Old Me finds another pitched battleground in TRON: Legacy. I’m pleased to announce that Ten-Year-Old Me has won this round, meaning that Legacy is officially the coolest film in the history of everything, and each of you should go see it eighty gazillion times.


Oh, Thirty-Eight-Year-Old Me has a case to make for those interested in snuffing out all light and joy this holiday season. He originally pointed out that Legacy follows the same shopworn narrative arc as the first TRON, with a clever outsider sucked into a strange world inside the computer. Said outsider travels through a land of sentient programs and artificial vistas created by binary codes, battling in a series of gladiatorial games before escaping and joining a resistance movement to overthrow the computer world’s evil overlord. His name is Sam Flynn (Garret Hedlund), son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) from the original film. Flynn the elder disappeared into the datastream some time ago, and as Flynn the younger discovers, papa has been awfully busy in the interim.


Thirty-Eight-Year-Old Me conceded that the father-son dynamic lends Legacy a slightly new wrinkle, as the two Flynns team up to fight the evil program CLU (also Bridges) and its vision of neo-fascist perfection. However, Thirty-Eight-Year-Old Me contended that the story remains unduly flimsy, with simplistic tropes filling in for genuine drama and an undue emphasis on surface impressions. He also pointed out that Hedlund is rather bland, and that his sharing the stage with Bridges makes it abundantly clear which of the two we’d rather follow around. Perhaps most importantly, he maintained that the film doesn’t have the first idea what to do with its title character (Bruce Boxleitner), who, like the first TRON, acts more as an afterthought than a major player. The more time went on, the more the oversight bugged him.


At that point, Ten-Year-Old Me decked Thirty-Eight-Year-Old Me with an office chair, threw sand in his eyes, and drop-kicked him in the spinal column while screaming “INFIDEL!!!” at the top of his lungs. The debate then reverted to a more impromptu format until Thirty-Eight-Year-Old Me crawled whimpering into a storm drain, promising to be good.


Ten-Year-Old Me’s point? The universe onscreen just takes the breath away. Director Joseph Kosinski and his team have built upon the basic concepts of the original TRON to create a universe unparalleled in its depth and wonder. The famous lightcycles which served as the first film’s signature have become infinitely more elegant, gliding across multi-level playing fields in graceful arcs rather than harsh angles. Yet they remain no less exciting for their imagery, and the sudden crashes and “derezzing” remain just as white knuckle as they did the first time around.


So too does the rest of TRON: Legacy invoke the past while reaching for the future, from the iconic disc duels to those giant floating stompers that periodically menace the hapless inhabitants below. The concept designs feel sleek and intoxicating, aided by music from the celebrated duo Daft Punk (the soundtrack… oh my God the soundtrack!) Even the use of 3D carries a special quality, not only for the way it allows us to revel in the depths of this universe, but in the way Kosinski sets our own mundane world apart with it (“real world” shots are all in 2D).


TRON: Legacy does little to explain the whys and wherefores of its universe, but you can sense its innate rhythm and flow, aiding by terrific performances from Bridges and Michael Sheen (providing a unique riff on Ziggy Stardust). Bridges’ CLU also reveals a lot more personality than the faceless Master Control of the first film, and the slightly off-putting nature of the actor’s computer-generated youth actually enhances the character’s artificial creepiness.


That all is just too much ammo in Ten-Year-Old Me’s corner to deny. The “A” grade at the top of this review reflects not perfection--far from it--but the way TRON: Legacy reminds us of the wonders this medium can bring. To watch it and be receptive to its vision is to understand how movies can show us things we’ve never seen before. It transports us in the same way Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz do. It makes us believe so strongly in its landscape that any questions about dodgy plot holes or thin characterizations simply die on our lips. The flaws are there, if you choose to look for them, but why on Earth would you want to? TRON: Legacy speaks to us on a more primal level: the only level where films like this really count. Leave Thirty-Eight-Year-Old Me at home for this one. He’s just too much of a killjoy.


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redslayer 12/6/2010 12:07:51 AM

Can't wait to see it.  After this review any doubts I had are gone!

sportwarrior 12/6/2010 12:27:17 AM

Definitely want a 10 Year Old's goggles for this one.

guygardner1 12/6/2010 12:35:48 AM

Surely TRON himself must be in this film somewhere ?

Not even a Tron cameo ???


guateke 12/6/2010 12:40:40 AM

 I am frakking dying to see this film!

madmanic999 12/6/2010 2:34:14 AM

Hate to admit it but I love the way Rob wrote this review... can't wait to see this....

Maelo13 12/6/2010 5:19:12 AM

 Isn't this the way you/we should be looking at most, if not all, movies that fall under the scope of this website??  

samurai1138 12/6/2010 5:24:43 AM

Ive been reading so many good reviews for this film. Can it be true? Will we finally get a movie that re-visits our youth and rather than destroy it, re-invigorates it?? A week and a half seems like forever, havent been this excited since Phantom Menace, and this time, the movie is apparently good to boot!!

wish 12/6/2010 5:37:35 AM

One of the best reviews I have ever read, giving two perspectives that both have valid points, I wish more reviewers would pick up on a style like this!  Films are often made with many people in mind, it's good to see someone's assesment that recognizes that!

goldeneyez 12/6/2010 5:54:40 AM

Liked the review.  The grade in the upper left corner says "NA" though, but in the article you said it was an A.

djcgmcse 12/6/2010 6:20:58 AM

Awesome review Rob, your best one ever!  I can't wait to see this movie, I'm going to take my 8 year old to his first PG movie.  (It's been all Gs so far)  I too am curious as to the "NA" score on the headline, but you say it's an "A" in your review.  I assume that's the Thirty-Eight year old you getting a jab in.

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