“Tron: Legacy” starts out with a flashback of a young Sam Flynn, son of the original movie’s protagonist Kevin Flynn, suddenly becoming orphaned when his father seemingly vanishes and leaves his gigantic software corporation, Encom, leaderless. Fast forward 20 years and Encom has fallen away from its founder’s digital revolution promises and people-friendly approach to distribution and Sam has yet to step up and lead the company.
Working from a tip, Sam revisits his father’s old arcade, failing to notice a giant laser pointing at his head while he punches away at a keyboard. After some snooping around, Sam winds up within the universe of Tron. While there, he discovers that the portal to the real world can only be activated from the outside and once it closes, he will be trapped forever in a digital prison.
The rest of the plot is a pretty standard rescue quest narrative that follows the formula of get in, get out and don’t ask too many questions. Along the way there are some plot revealations, but they only serve to move the story along. The ending of the movie, while appropriate, leaves a slew of questions that of course opens up the Tron franchise for the possibility for another movie.
The issue with “Tron: Legacy” is that it fails to impose the same sense of magical wonderment that the original movie did 28 years ago. Not in the visual sense because parts of the movie do look amazing in 3D. Everything one sees in this movie is representative of a kind of digital feng-shui; from the glowing catsuits to lightcycle battles, eye candy is abundant. Where “Tron: Legacy” fails is in the consideration of the philosophical implications that arise from the convergence of man and machine.
When the first “Tron” was released, computers were still foreign to most of the general public. Personal computers were only affordable to the wealthy and the Internet was still a highly militarized project. So when Tron planted the idea of a whole universe within machines, that was enough to keep people talking. Now in the post-Tron world of cell phones, the Internet and “The Matrix”, that idea is old-school. Early in the movie Kevin Flynn keeps ranting about a digital frontier that will change the course of humanity and I keep wondering what exactly those changes will be. That question is immediately discarded once Sam enters the Tron world and the movie turns its attention to the action. This move prevented “Tron: Legacy” from truly living up to its potential. Disney decided to play it safe with this sequel of Tron.
Luckily, the music that accompanies Tron is spectacular. Popular French house duo Daft Punk oversaw the score’s production. This is a musical score first and foremost with heavy emphasis on orchestral strings. However, it isn’t just a musical score, with the majestic use of electronic undertones throughout the entire score, Daft Punk has crafted what can best be described as a cyber-opera. You won’t be dancing to this whole album, as with their previous works, but some stand-out tracks such as “Derezzed,” “The Game Has Changed” and “Disc Wars” allow Daft Punk to get in touch with the sound that fans have fallen in love with.
Overall, “Tron: Legacy” isn’t a bad movie per say. There’s really nothing glaringly wrong with it, only that given 28 years since the original release, Disney could have come up with something better. Fans of the original will still get a kick out of this flick, but Legacy won’t earn the cult-like status of its predecessor.