Technology is the driving force of the 21st century. Who knew back in 1982, when Disney put out the original Tron, that the cheesy effects and garish visual style would stick in audience’s minds to be brought back decades later.
Die-hards like the YouTube sensation ‘Tron guy’ will be delighted to hear the light cycles, neon suits and battling with glowing Frisbees have all returned in glorious digital 3D.
Jeff Bridges reprises his role as Kevin Flynn from the first film, but for those unfamiliar with the Tron universe, Legacy eases the viewer in through the eyes of Flynn’s son Sam (Garrett Hadlund).
Sam wants to find out the reason for his dad abandoning him when he was eight years old, and so pays a visit to Flynn’s disused arcade – following a mysterious page his father’s old colleague Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) from the arcade’s back office.
As it turns out, there is a secret door hidden behind the Tron arcade game, which Flynn designed based on his experiences in the first film, and Sam discovers the server which contains ‘The Grid’.
Suddenly, though not unexpectedly, Sam is sucked into ‘The Grid’ through a digitising laser and the visual style shines as a the mostly 2D world suddenly gives way to a 3D digital universe.
The digital world echoes the roads and walkways of the real world, but with a honed precision and slick design which creates the contrast between the levels of perfection in the two worlds, driving the plot.
As Sam is led through this strange new world, the audience has just as little idea what is going on as he does, making the narrative unfold quite naturally.
Despite being a Disney film, the story doesn’t seem contrived or forced, and it’s easy to suspend disbelief as you find yourself thinking, “Of course it could happen, anything’s possible in a computer game.”
It’s the relationship between Kevin and Sam which sells the concept rather than falling into the easy trap of relying on the mind-boggling effects, which is easy to do for even the most mundane modern film – let alone one where motorbikes are appearing out of thin air.
Chances are even if you don’t have a clue what Tron is all about you might have stumbled across light cycles, the brightly coloured motorbike-esque transport on the gaming grid, which have popped up in the likes of Family Guy and South Park, and the original film is reportedly a life-long influence of French disco-pop duo Daft Punk, who score Legacy.
The pounding electronic beats of ‘The Punk’ complete the digitising sensation with the combination of an 85 piece orchestra and the duo’s signature synth pop melodies.
The background characters include a few familiar faces such as Olivia Wilde, of House MD fame, as Quorra, who serves as the love interest for the film – though it being Disney things don’t get particularly far, which is a relief since it keeps the focus on the action, the film’s strength.
In all the film surpasses expectation as a fun, action-packed thrill ride through cyberspace. Routing things with the characters is always Disney’s strength and they don’t disappoint here, director Joseph Kosinski delivers a slick, dynamic and up to date version of the 1982 cult classic.