Review: Tron, Legacy (Walt Disney Pictures, 2010)

| 20 December , 2010 | 1 Reply

Keeva Stratton, Quip Creative

Directed by Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, James Frain, Beau Garrett and Michael Sheen

Tron: Legacy is the sequel to the cult classic Tron (1982). Presented in 3D, featuring cutting-edge, state-of-the-art technology, visual effects and set design, and boasting a film soundtrack scored by well-known electronic music duo Daft Punk, Tron: Legacy arrives on our cinema screens accompanied by fanfare and in the aftermath of a tremendous amount of marketing buildup. Does it live up to the hype, and will Tron: Legacy take its expected place as one of this summer\’s blockbusters?

Many viewers of a certain age retain a nostalgic soft spot for the original Tron, which was a groundbreaking film written and directed by Steven Lisberger and made by Walt Disney Studios. For 1982, its pioneering blend of live action, computer graphics, and hand-drawn animation was a major motion-picture studio breakthrough.

The storyline was simple enough – hacker and now arcade owner, Kevin Flynn, is a former employee of the software corporation Encome. Flynn has been trying to hack into Encom\’s mainframe computer, and in the process, he is digitally converted into a data stream and sucked into the virtual computer world. Not simply visually stunning for its time, a huge part of the original film\’s timely appeal was the dazzling fantasy it addressed – of the virtual possibilities and incredible romantic promise and glamour of the then-new personal computer revolution.

Tron: Legacy, the sequel, is helmed by first-time director Joseph Kosinski; it sees the return of a few familiar faces, visual themes, and creative forces behind the original film. You don\’t need to have seen the original Tron to watch this new film – it\’s conceived as a standalone movie – but if you have seen the first film, your viewing of Tron: Legacy will certainly be invested with a few extra layers of meaning, and will also, no doubt, evoke a deliciously distinct tinge of 80s-style nostalgia.

Sam Flynn (played by Garrett Hedlund) is a rebellious 27-year-old, who remains haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his father, Kevin Flynn (reprised by Jeff Bridges), a man once known as the world\’s leading technological visionary. When Sam investigates a strange message sent from the old Flynn\’s Arcade (a signal that could only come from his father), he finds himself pulled into the digital computer grid where Kevin has been trapped for 20 years. Together with Quorra (played by Olivia Wilde, who is perhaps presently best known as Thirteen on the TV series House), father and son embark on a journey across a visually stunning digital landscape, populated – of course – with vehicles, weapons, landscapes and a ruthless villain far more advanced and spectacular than those seen in the original Tron.

Visually, Tron: Legacy is fantastic, and does a wonderful job of making use of the possibilities of 3D technology. There are a series of jaw-dropping action set-pieces (some of which involve lightcycles and characters flinging illuminated Frisbees), beautifully designed sets and costumes, all with a lovingly-rendered aesthetic and feel. Current ‘it girl\’ Olivia Wilde is sensationally cyber-chic in this fantasy realm.

The soundtrack, supplied by electronic music stars Daft Punk (who have long cited their fascination with the original film) throbs and pulses at all the right moments, and really plays a huge role in providing added atmosphere and background. As promised, Tron: Legacy comes across like a rebooted, upgraded version of its predecessor – it\’s a sensational technological sound-and-light show that is spilling at the seams with spectacular delights.

However, again much like its predecessor, the storyline is a bit thin and the characters are somewhat one-dimensional (though Jeff Bridges manages to remind viewers of the signature charisma and charm he is capable of wielding). Nevertheless, Tron: Legacy is great entertainment, and will certainly take its place as one of this summer\’s blockbuster success stories.

Tron: Legacy is rated PG, and is in cinemas now.


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