For January, one of the themes for this month were “Guilty Pleasures”- those films that you simply can’t get enough of, despite how good or bad they may actually be. My first contribution for this is 2010’s Tron: Legacy.
When I look at Tron:Legacy, I see two things. I see a missed opportunity in trying to break new ground for the story, and a hint of promise from it’s director, Joseph Kosinski. I attended the premiere for the movie at the IMAX with a friend and his son, and was totally with it for the first half of the film. However, in it’s second half, it slowed down just like the film before it and admittedly, I almost fell asleep. Let’s face it, Tron as an overall universe was never really that strong.
And yet, I watch it just about every time it’s on, if only for the Lightcycle Race and Clu’s speech. Seeing the grid in an updated view and the new look of the light cycles always brings a smile to my face. Granted, it could be listed just as a Scene I Love, but I find I can tolerate most of the film.
Let’s go with the Missed Opportunities first.
Tron: Legacy’s biggest problem is it really only gave the audience a rehash of the original tale. While the angle with Sam and Kevin Flynn were interesting, along with Clu being a villain this time around, I feel the writers really could have taken the story places. Instead, they went the lazy route and decided to go with what anyone who saw the original film could remember – a problem that I feel plagues many sequels / remakes of old films. I figure if you’re going to do a sequel to film that’s more than 5 years old, be seriously prepared to throw something (at least one thing) new on the table.
When James Cameron made Aliens back in 1986, he took Ridley Scott’s tale and built on it, expanding on the Aliens universe with the addition of the Colonial Marines and the Alien Queen, giving the creatures themselves a sense of heirarchy. For Tron: Legacy, the only real new element would be the ISO’s, but then we’re never really shown just what they’re capable of, within or outside of the grid. It’s an empty element that only serves the purpose for bring Sam and Kevin together.
Tron: Legacy also suffers from a Video Game Tie-In Syndrome, something I’ve hated ever since The Matrix Reloaded. Back when that movie was due to come out, Warner Bros. And Atari came up with the idea of making a Video Game that would bridge the gap between certain elements in the story. If you play Enter the Matrix, you’ll actually have a slightly more complete story than you would by just seeing the film. That robs the audience of content. Granted, they don’t need to know everything, but Tron: Legacy has a few elements that are only really understood in the story for it’s video game, Tron: Evolution.
Then there’s the sense of promise.
Joseph Kosinski was originally a commercial director, his most famous being one for the game Gears of War that featured the Gary Jules version of “Mad World”. Between this and his Halo commercials, it made sense that for the visual style that Tron: Legacy needed, he’d make a perfect fit. Tron needed something new, wasn’t that critical of a franchise to play with and gave Kosinski the freedom to take it wherever he wanted to go (within the constraints of what the writers gave him, of course). For a first time film director, I think he did very well, but that’s just me. It should also be noted that it was his idea to bring on Daft Punk for the soundtrack. If the movie is remembered for anything over time, it’ll be for the music, because that score is just cool.
Tron:Legacy on a visual scale is really beautiful, and it’s cool to see the design updates in the machines, by way of Digital Domain and other F/X companies. That alone is enough for me to watch this repeatedly (it’s on as I’m writing this). I haven’t found myself compelled to pick up the Blu-Ray, but Starz and Netflix have it available to watch.
If he’s lucky, Kosinski may end up getting a project that he’ll really take off with. Maybe it’ll be something of his own making or another remake, but for me it’ll be interesting to see where he goes.