*. Despite its minor cult status and instant name recognition, I’ve always thought the original Tron a but underwhelming, both at the time and today. Still, given that name recognition a reboot (the name actually has some resonance here) was inevitable. Especially given how completely computers had taken over animation in the intervening thirty years.
*. Tron: Legacy wasn’t well received, with the critical consensus being that the visuals were nice but the story and characters were weak. I agree with this take, and what makes this even more annoying is the fact that this was the exact same problem with the first film. In Legacy they just upped the effects and ran everything back again. Indeed, it’s almost the same story playing back again, with young Flynn on a nearly identical quest to that of his dad in Tron. I realize that the main selling point here was the pinball game, but this struck me as very lazy.
*. So, once more into the machine. This time Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) is scanned into the matrix, or what’s called the Grid, while searching for his missing father Kevin (Jeff Bridges). Once inside Sam plays various games that are basically sexier-looking versions of the original, including a team lightcycle race. There’s no corporate baddy at the head of Encom in the real world (the part played by David Warner in the original), but the point is made that Encom is bad anyway, and Sam is the heroic hacker in a t-shirt who likes to ride motorbikes.
*. In computerland things are being run by Clu (played by a young Jeff Bridges). Clu is no longer the cute little icon of the first movie but a power-mad dictator intent on stamping out all noncomformists. So he doesn’t like rebels like the Flynns (père et fils) or the “isomorphic algorithms” he wiped out in a digital genocide many “cycles” earlier, leaving only a sexy gal named Quorra (Olivia stepping into Carrie-Anne Moss’s vinyl pants).
*. All of the characters are types we’ve seen before. I mentioned Carrie-Anne Moss. Michael Sheen plays Joel Grey in Cabaret, a part I couldn’t find any reason for including. Sam is Peter Parker or Luke Skywalker and Kevin is Obi-Wan Kenobi, crossed with the Dude from The Big Lebowski. Really, he could have traded in his Matrix overcoat for a bathrobe and not seemed out of place. Tron has been reprogrammed into Darth Maul. Daft Punk, who did the soundtrack, show up as cameos and don’t seem out of place.
*. It’s hard to think of anything much to say about a movie this unoriginal, which set out to be nothing much more than a live-action video game. The effects are neat, though a bit drab in their reliance on a colourless ground. I found the whole thing weightless and instantly forgettable. There’s been much talk of a third movie, but instead Disney plumped for a fully-animated television series that ran from 2012-2013. Things have been quiet since, but I doubt it’s game over.