I was a bit late getting to “Tron Legacy,” having read early reviews by fans of the original “Tron” that were generally negative. While the original film was corny at times and had little in the way of strong acting or story, it has remained a landmark special effects film and really played with some interesting ideas. Simply put, “Tron” was ahead of its time, bring forward concepts such as information superhighways – i.e. the internet – that wouldn’t be realized in mainstream reality for another decade. Bearing that in mind, I didn’t want my cherished, childhood memories of “Tron” to be tarnished.
What I eventually got with “Tron Legacy” was a mixed bag. It isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it still has a few miscues. The creative team – and, presumably, Disney executives – seemed to be jamming whatever they could into it. The films ‘rules’ are a bit more complicated and illogical when compared with “Tron” and I felt a bit lost at times, trying to keep up. Much of the film has a vibe that we’re simply getting set up for a series of sequels, perhaps some video games, and an already-announced television series. Mix in some bizarrely-obvious product placement for the Ducati motorcycle firm and there was a lot of corporate ‘synergy’ promise without much major pay-off yet.
Of course, the film is gorgeous to look at, but I couldn’t help but long for the simplicity of the computer world of “Tron.” The computer world of “Tron Legacy” is much darker, more ‘real’ in appearance, and sometimes downright weird. That ambiguous ‘weird’ factor is what kept me on edge, not quite trusting the film until the end.
As a friend pointed out, it could have been worse. After having our hearts broken by so many long-awaited sequels in recent years, I can’t say that “Tron Legacy” undermines the original film. Rather, it simply doesn’t live up to the promise of an early ‘teaser’ short film that was shown at Comic-Con in 2008. Perhaps an inevitable sequel and other spin-offs will pay off with more well-rounded entertainment.