Below is the un-edited version of the review published in our column Animadversion in iMAGES on Sunday, Sunday January 9, 2011. The printed version is linked at the end of the post.
A Father, Lost in Digital Legacy
By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid
“Tron Legacy” had me at hello; or as close to hello as possible – its teaser trailer.
“Legacy” continues 28 years later in the virtual world dubbed “The Grid” with a digitally young-ified Jeff Bridges as Clu (nifty abbreviation of “Codified Likeness Utility”), a program gone rouge after misinterpreting its original command set. Naturally, it commandeers the virtual-scape and wants to expand his enterprise to the real world. Just how he’s going to do that is a question for the sequel’s sequel. I just hope that Mr. Bridges digital double in the next movie – if there is one – would look a little more organic.
In the age of feature-perfect CGI, it must have been a tough job making Mr. Bridges, look a tad plastic, especially in the opening scenes, set in 1989, where he – as Kevin Flynn genius programmer from the first movie – pitches just enough of the original “Tron” to un-hinder DVD sales of special editions (the Tron merchandise, action figures propped on shelves, help quite a bit).
Mr. Bridges then disappears, until he is found by his son, Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) in a closed personal haven in the Grid. Mr. Bridges now has a thick pasty beard, looks late-60-ish (time moves wayyy faster here) and dresses in free flowing pajamas. Stranded in the virtual world, he decided to become a cool-speak Buddha (“You’re messing with my Zen-thing man”, he tells Sam on one occasion).
Zen is clearly not Sam’s thing. Sam shares his father’s flair for computers and rough-driving (on introduction, he outruns a police bike). Sam then hacks into Encom – the Microsoft-like enterprise (almost) owned by the Flynn’s, but run by corporate governance interested in year-end fiscal ratings – and distributes their latest O.S. software to the internet; Considering he owns a majority stake in the biz, that’s painful news to his bank account.
After Sam ticks-off his annual bid of financially ruining Encom, he is led to Flynn’s old video arcade. This gives Music directors Daft Punk’s 80’s electronic groove to tie-in a bit of old-school nostalgia. When Sam is sucked into the Grid moments later, the music shifts focus to one out of a Christopher Nolan movie.
From here-on, everything is glossed CGI. With dark architectures tinted in neon glows, the grid has gotten sexier. There is an imperfect fashion sense at work here too. Hobo’s dress in long, finely cut hermit trenches and the hip-class wears full-body designer wet-suits, in two colors of choice – white and black; like the logic of a program, there is no grey area in the virtual world.
Even the programs – the human personification of the code living in the Grid – have gotten sexier. One set of four, who come out of a wall-enclosure to dress-up Sam, wear in-vogue high-heels. They cut-off his clothes, outfit him with a “data disk” and creepily walk backwards to the wall-casings they came out of. Sam asks one – who we later learn is called Gem (Beau Garrett) – “What am I supposed to do?” She simply answers: “survive”.
He’s the film’s lead. He can do that easy.
Released by Disney, “Tron Legacy” is rated PG-13. Directed by the skilled Joseph Kosinski (this is his first film, by the way), “Legacy” is a full-featured blockbuster, featuring fantabulous action sequences a bare-essential story and a very brief romantic interlude between Mr. Hedlund and the lustrous Olivia Wilde. Mr. Bridges shares the screen times two, but where is “Tron” the security program whose human form is played by the returning Bruce Boxleitner, you might ask? That’s a question worthy of a cinema ticket.
The published version is online at: