Customer Review

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I kept dreaming of a world I thought I'd never see. And then, one day...", 1 Nov 2011
This review is from: Tron Legacy (Blu-ray + DVD) [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
With every popular film from the 80's seemingly up for remake, it was a welcome surprise when Disney announced that they were to buck the remake trend and instead create a sequel to their cult Sci-Fi classic Tron. With computer technology playing a bigger part in our domestic lives, and social groups finding themselves reliant on online networking - now seemed a perfect chance to showcase how 'The Grid' from the 1982 film would look nearly 30 years on, during the age of the internet.

After the first film, Flynn became CEO of ENCOM and while working on a breakthrough in computer technology, simply vanished. This prologues the film, and as Kevin Flynn tells his young son about the amazing adventures inside The Grid there are frequent visual references to the first film, the most striking is Flynn himself - Jeff Bridge's face undergoing computer manipulation to make him appear younger. After he kisses young Sam goodnight, he disappears, never to resurface in 'our world'. The sudden absence of a high profile businessman and technological pioneer leads to numerous conspiracy theories, including an underground movement whose mantra is: "Flynn Lives". Maybe he does - two decades later the adult Sam Flynn responds to a message seemingly from his father, the discovery of a hidden office leads to him being zapped into The Grid, and it's changed, considerably.

Tron Legacy relies on retro appeal, but I can't blame it - it works. I felt pangs of nostalgia when Flynn the younger enters his father's dusty arcade to an audio background of '80s music, 8-bit bleeps and glances of old-school graphics made me want to drag my old machines down from the loft and play some of the classic arcade titles. Once inside the grid we are treated to updated versions of iconic images from the original Tron, they are recognisable but now realised more slickly, reflecting the huge increases in modern processor power. It all feels a bit derivative though, as if the film exists only to show off what can be done now by recreating some of the events from the prequel in a bigger and flashier way. The story becomes an overly simple good-versus-evil quest and lazy exposition in throwaway sentences explain things which the characters wouldn't really need to explain to each other. Dodgy, corny one-liners which are meant serve as cool humour sound a bit awkward, but the film starts to find its feet and once it's finished making direct comparisons to the first film it becomes an epic film it its own right.

The plot often feels a bit convoluted and isn't always easy to follow, but the same can be said for its predecessor - and story complexity isn't necessarily a bad thing, at first I found Tron Legacy to be a bit of a mess, but it deserves a second viewing. Watching it again it was less daunting, not as whimsical as the first time and I identified a coherent plot running throughout. It's not a perfect film and it does drag at times, but my initial worries that it was going to lack any true original vision were soon extinguished, once it breaks free from the shadow of the first Tron it follows an impressively ambitious saga which ties the two eras together. There are some larger than life characters, such as the Ziggy Stardust-esque Zuse (Martin Sheen revels in the role) and of course Kevin Flynn who is a lovable cyber-hippy reminiscent of Bridges' 'Dude' from The Big Lebowski. The eye-popping visuals stop appearing like adverts for modern CGI and embed themselves as an essential part of the Tron universe, The Grid is one of the most amazing on-screen creations I've ever seen, the only effect which sometimes looks a bit flaky is the de-aged Jeff Bridges, it's impressive but still obviously artificial.

The visual effects benefit from a great Blu-Ray transfer, there's an element of film grain but that adds a real-world element to the virtual reality on screen. Tron Legacy has an outstanding score which makes great use of electronic sounds, the soundtrack is modern but with a strong '80s flavour - it all sounds incredible and I only wish I had a fancier audio set-up to really enjoy it. At the start of the film a message appears to say that the film will switch between aspect ratios to preserve some of the IMAX special effects, the transition between the two wasn't as noticeable as I anticipated and it didn't dampen the viewing experience at all. There are several bonus features though they tend to be fairly brief, one I particularly enjoyed was "The Next Day: Flynn Lives revealed", it's filmed as a documentary covering the theories surrounding Flynn's disappearance between the two films and contains interviews with the cast in character. I wish I'd watched it before the film in fact as it helps to establish the history preceding this film.

In a nutshell: It's difficult trying to create a high concept science fiction film when you also need to have mass-market appeal, there is a trade-off but ultimately Tron Legacy works as a successful sequel to a film which pushed graphical boundaries, instead of a cheap imitator it develops into a multi-layered feature. Some plot elements are contrived and it feels a bit too 'Hollywood' at times, but the overall vision is ambitious - and they more-or-less pulled it off. I'd give this 3.5 stars if I could, but I'll stick my neck out and give it 4.
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