My favorite part is actually in the real world though. Seeing the Tron memorabilia, toys and posters in young Sam Flynn’s room shows a world in which our Tron exists in a more real way. I love the idea that grown up Sam (Garrett Hedlund) is using his family cred to mess with the Encom board and rebel against Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner). Corporations are bad and software should be free. Right, Disney?
When Sam gets into the grid, we get the spectacle we expected, but more importantly an expanded mythology and just plain cool action. It starts with revamped twists on familiar games, the discs and the cycles (no tanks though.) After that, they take us to new realms of the grid. We’re really just thrust into the world with little exposition.
When we finally get to see Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) again, he has some Dude-like moments of backstory. I love the metaphysics this story suggests. Tron had hints of the possibilities, but Legacy explores the images of ourselves, manifested beings and the idea that the pursuit of perfection is corrupt. Clu (young Jeff Bridges) makes total sense. You would create Clu if you were Kevin Flynn, so what he represents is more than just a villain.
The young Jeff Bridges effect looks pretty glassy, and I say we should forgive it because the idea of a young Jeff Bridges in a Tron sequel is awesome. Awesome is always more important than realistic. However, it speaks to a bigger artistic problem that’s worth discussing, as the film’s only flaw. The filmmakers show young Bridges head on. It’s egotistical and calls attention to the effect, which defeats the purpose of trying to create a seamless reality. Even if you have a perfect effect, you should still obscure the special effect in some way, show him from the side or less clearly. It’s more artistic to tease the effect. It builds more wonder. That’s what Spielberg learned with Jaws when he couldn’t show the shark.
This is the reason older special effects look more realistic. It’s not that modern effects are worse, it’s that filmmakers think they can just show everything. Staring at something blatantly isn’t special. Building it with technique is, so that should be one lesson artists take from the powers of technology. The visual effects in the real world are terrible, but I guess those aren’t the important ones.
The 3D is fine. There’s no headache. Perhaps the color scheme is consistent enough to keep the eyes comfortable. There are deep layers throughout the grid to stretch back miles behind the screen. It’s filmed with a blissfully smooth camera so you can actually enjoy all the visuals.
Tron Legacy is great because of the story, not the effects or style. It is full of pretty ladies, impressive physical specimens and wild characters. I love Quorra (Olivia Wilde) the happy program, and all the quirks Castor (Michael Sheen) lets loose just because he can. This is a world you’ll want to revisit again and again.