Tron: Legacy

This year the Easter Bunny brought us a copy of Tron: Legacy (supporing my hypothesis that he’s been bought out by Mickey Mouse). It’s been ages since I saw the original Tron, and my memory was a bit fuzzy, but the sequel is perfectly watchable on its own.

Set almost 30 years after the events of the first film, Tron: Legacy introduces us to Sam Flynn, whose father Kevin disappeared in 1989. Sam investigates his father’s old arcade, and is zapped into the virtual world of the Grid in a maneuver known as the Reverse Matrix.

Kevin has been trapped here for 20 years, first fighting against and then hiding from a virtual clone of himself called Clu, which Kevin created to help him create “a perfect world.”

This is what we professional writers call a Dumbass Move. All those books on Kevin’s virtual shelves, and apparently he never bothered to pick up a SF title? Anyone who knows anything about science fiction knows you don’t instruct the artificial intelligence to create perfection!!! Naturally, Clu turned against the “imperfect” Kevin and set himself up as ruler of the Grid.

We also learn about ISOs, a new species of sentient “isomorphic organisms” which spontaneously emerged in the Grid. I guess Clu thought they were imperfect, so he wiped them out. Sam, Kevin, and Thirteen Quorra (the last surviving ISO) set out to stop Clu, reach the portal, save both worlds, get a brain from the wizard, and return home. 

I enjoyed the movie. Good soundtrack, flashy effects (though I kind of miss the old effects), and lots of shiny, nifty action. But there were some blatant problems.

  • The ISOs. Would the movie have been any different if you eliminated this subplot? “By the way, an artificial life form spontaneously evolved here in virtual space, but now it’s gone.” Huh? This could have been fascinating on so many levels, but the movie did absolutely nothing with it.
  • Tron. Were we supposed to not know who Tron was until Kevin’s shocked realization? Tron’s corruption and eventual redemption is another potentially great conflict and story which was completely neglected. Make Tron into some random uberfighting program and the movie is almost unchanged. (Though I suppose this sets up Tron: Resurrection, which I’m sure we’ll be seeing a few years down the line.)
  • Predictability. Quorra explains that Kevin can reintegrate himself with Clu, but that this would destroy them both. So now we know exactly how the movie’s going to end. Other bits were equally predictable. Did anyone not know how the scene with Zuse was going to play out?

I thought the ending was so-so. Yay, Quorra and Sam escape to the real world. Um … now what? And I can only imagine what’s going to happen when she discovers our internet. Maybe that’s the real setup for Tron III: LOLCat Invasion.

Despite all this, I really did enjoy it. I liked Kevin’s efforts to remove himself from the conflict, which set up what I thought was one of the better lines in the movie, when he tells his son, “You’re messing with my Zen thing, man.” I just wish the writers had gone beyond the simplistic idea that his “Zen thing” meant hoping the problem solved itself … until Sam showed him the error of his ways and led him back to the one true path of righteous ass-kicking.

That simplistic approach sums up my disappointment with the movie. As fun as it was to watch, it follows an easy, lazy path, never taking on the larger conflicts, challenges, or implications of the material.

For those who saw it, what did you think?