Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

What the…?

Let me get the good stuff out of the way. Style, sets, CG, Daft Punk soundscape, all top-notch. The world of the Grid looked amazing, and the effects crew should be commended. For this reason alone, I have to score this film at least average, because it’s just a unique visual and sonic environment, and certainly worth visiting for a little while.

The bad…? Where to start? I didn’t dislike TRON: Legacy, but I didn’t particularly like it either. At any rate, it certainly didn’t go out of its way to make itself comprehensible. Hugely important plot points are simply left vague. The isomophic programs, for example, are largely visited in voice-over flashback. Kevin Flynn tells us that they were going to change everything–that they would be a quantum leap forward–but the film never indulges the audience by explaining precisely how. Frankly, programs that create themselves sound like a pretty dangerous thing, and I’m almost inclined to side with the film’s villain, Clu. What if isomorphic programs were a virus that would eventually corrupt the entire Grid? But the film is too shallow to address these sorts of questions.

It’s also worth mentioning Tron, himself, who actually is in TRON: Legacy…as a minor character named Rinzler. First of all, a small thing on this that, perhaps, is not that small: the film never even bothers to show Tron’s face. And I only mention that because the de-aged Jeff Bridges (Clu) gets a ton of screentime. Meanwhile, Bruce Boxleitner is actually much better preserved than Bridges. Would it have killed the filmmakers to just once allow the helmet to come off, especially after Flynn reveals that Rinzler is Tron?

Second of all, the character is hardly important to the film at all, yet the film’s climax hinges on a totally unearned redemption for the “repurposed” Tron, in blatant and shameful sequel baiting. None of this has any emotional resonance, and it’s just a wasted opportunity. In a way, that’s the story of TRON: Legacy: it’s a film chock-full of wasted opportunities.

I’m not even going to get into Clu’s master plan, to use the portal to leave the Grid and conquer the real world, because that’s beyond dumb. Or the fact that we’re told Flynn can’t stop Clu without re-integrating with him, which would destroy them both, though like so much in TRON: Legacy, that’s just a very important plot point that we have to take on faith. The film doesn’t much care to explain itself at any given time. It merely sets up arbitrary rules so that it can invoke them later when the time is right. It’s a very cheap form of screenwriting, using bogus devices like this to advance the plot.

Anyway, you get the point. Dumb movie. Great to look at.

Recommended Reading

  • “Tron: Legacy” on my friend Donald’s website, Blessed Are the Geeks. He liked it more than I did, I think.