During my time recovering from surgery I have been watching a lot of movies. Within these have been a number of movies and their sequels. Amongst the first I decided to watch was Tron (1982) and Tron: Legacy (2010). After checking into both on Miso I was asked by Mr Lee Sergeant of the Lee and Dan’s Midnight Movie Club podcast asked if I was planning to share my thoughts on these flicks. At the time I was not, however have since decided that I will, after all it will keep my brain ticking during this time of extended bed rest.
I have watched Tron only twice in my life. Further the two times I have watched it have been within the last 12 months. As a result of my delayed introduction to the series my appreciation of the 1980’s graphics was missed. I have grown up with other movies blowing my mind, so the washed out 8-bit imagery of Tron would seem laughable to some. I though appreciated it, made me think of the times I used to play games on the Commodore 64. Further the imagery allowed the acting of Bruce Boxleitner and Jeff Bridges shine.
Bridges plays smart-ass programmer Flynn and a malware named CLU. Bridges used to be the gun programmer for Encom industries before his most profitable intellectual property was stolen by the current head of the company Dillinger. Flynn hacks in to the system hunting for evidence that he can use to drag Dillinger down. The hack is in the form of CLU (Codified Likeness Utility) that roams the system hunting for a file with the evidence. CLU meets a premature end when the MCP intercepts and eliminates him. Later Bridges is transported to the cyber-world via a digitisation by the MCP who wants to eliminate Flynn who it sees as a direct threat. Flynn is immediately transported to “The Games”, that are taken from the ancient roman gladiator games with a simple kill or be killed outcome.
Boxleitner plays Alan and Tron. Alan is a sharp programmer who creates Tron, a program whose role is to be a system sentry. Tron believes in the roles of the users and his role serves their purpose. This gets him offside with the systems O/S known as the Master Control Program (MCP) who is eliminating user sympathetic programs through “The Games” in an attempt to become a self sufficient closed system operating independently of the users. It is here that Tron and Flynn are hooked up and the adventure begins on the light cycles with a third program Crom. Interestingly Crom is played by Peter Jurasik who like Boxleitner was to become a regular in the landmark Sci-Fi series Babylon 5.
The adventure then becomes Tron, Flynn, Crom and Yori (another program met along the way) avoiding the MCP and his evil mignons whilst striving to get to the weak point of the MCP in order to destroy it. It all ends predictably, but is very entertaining indeed. Tron is easily within my top 100 films of all time. A list I should really document.
That brings me to Tron: Legacy. Legacy is a film about the search for Flynn who after assuming the reigns of Encom took the company forward leaps and bounds. After some time he was on the verge of something massive and simply vanished. Flynn had a son Sam (Garrett Hedlund). Sam feels abandoned by his father and in many ways is reluctant to search. Eventually he makes his is coaxed by Alan (Boxleitner) to Flynn’s Pinball Parlour which has been out of business for 20-odd years. Remarkably though it still has power and all the retro-arcade machines work faultlessly. Nevertheless Sam stumbles onto where Flynn disappeared to and the adventure begins.
The world has morally decayed to a similar state as that of the first film, however the predominate outfit colour is now black, not white. The black works well and highlights the suits secondary colour (white or yellow) well. Sam is soon arrested for not having a disc and finds himself in “The Games” like his father previously. “The Games” have now also become grander with an audience cheering on the violence, not unlike what would have been imagined in Rome in 105 BC. Sam manages a few scrappy wins and is pitted against the best of the best who is a corrupted Tron (though under a different name). Tron draws blood from Sam and realises that he is fighting a user.
Sam is then presented to the leader of the cyber-universe who looks and sounds exactly like Flynn. Sam believes this to be his father but eventually discovers it is indeed CLU, who has been charged with creating the perfect place. In essence CLU has become the worst of the MCP and beyond. CLU looks to use Sam to draw out his father by subjecting him to more gameplay. This plan is subverted by Quorra, a program sympathetic to Flynn during a light cycle bout. Quorra takes Sam to his recluse father and after catch-up and debate Sam sets to return to the real world at any cost and sets off alone. Needless to say the original plan Sam had does not ensue and a grander adventure does.
The two movies are very complementary in their stories. There is a definite continuity between the two, which is an achievement given they were made 28 years apart. Bridges and Boxleitner reprise their roles stunningly. Tron: Legacy certainly benefits from 28 years of graphics development with superior effects and colour tones, but that far from warrants a remake of the original classic. Arguably Tron is a stronger story in it’s own right, however it is not going from a novel to Mr. Men book like other sequels tend to be. The portrayal of Sam is a believable representation of the son of Flynn in overall character. Disney have done an outstanding job on both and if you haven’t yet get the two together and watch them back to back.
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