Tron Legacy in 3D is not so much a movie as it is a tragedy of film making in my view. This is definitely not the fault of Jeff Bridges, who still manages to shine through this CGI abortion, nor that of Bruce Boxleitner, who deserves so much better.

Maybe I’m prejudiced because I saw the original movie, but the God’s honest truth is that I was probably a bigger fan of the video game than the movie. I mean, the original movie was okay. Watchable. Fun. I haven’t seen it in years and I suspect that it probably wouldn’t hold up now, but there are moments I remember from it.

There’s almost nothing memorable in Tron Legacy. I mean, it’s completely forgettable. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve pretty much seen the important parts, in my view.

Let’s back track a minute. In 1982, the original Tron came out. It was not in 3D, but was a movie about computers when computers were this cool, unknown thing. Hollywood tended to exaggerate the power of computers, but that was kind of cool. It was the equivalent of watching a really creative person speculate about the future. That’s sort of what good sci-fi should really be, a big gamble or an interesting, if not educated, guess at what the world might look like in the future.

The original Tron cost $17 million dollars to make, but only grossed $33. That’s respectable, certainly not a flop, but not strong enough to really warrant a sequel. Tron lived a little bit via genre fans, but as a guy who’s been to a lot of sci-fi/fantasy cons, I can tell you that Tron was never a big player as compared to the Star Trek/Star Wars fanbase. Still, I remembered Tron fondly and when I heard a sequel was coming out, that to me was good news. I wanted to see it.

The problem with the new movie is that while the original was fun and introduced you to a brave new world, Tron Legacy takes that old world and does almost nothing to it. The original movie took place mostly in the computer, but partly in reality. Tron was the program that the Bridges character creates to protect the users. Boxleitner’s personality is based on what his program does, so he’s this big, heroic guy. Along the way in the old movie, you meet other programs and their personalities are like their programs. “I help new couples get loans for a house,” says one nice program. He seems like a nice character and you feel bad when he dies.

There’s not one moment in the new movie like that. The film makers keep harping on the fact that it’s been twenty years since Bridges has been trapped inside the computer, but we all saw that in the trailer. That his son has ended up in the same world holds almost no emotional impact. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

To make the movie “cool”, I guess, the film makers decide the main character, Sam Flynn (son of Bridges’ character, Kevin Flynn) is this millionaire computer guy. But for some reason, he raids the company that he owns, stealing his company’s own software and giving it away.

Although that is a callback to the first movie (because Tron protects the users), the film makers don’t really make that connection well. The original Tron was about the freedom of information and the Internet before the Internet really existed. The new movie gets so bogged down in the details of Flynn’s company and introduces characters in reality that never show up in the computer. Whereas, the old movie had Master Control Program who was also played by the actor the created the program.

Second, why would you need to steal from your own company? Couldn’t you just waltz in there and take it? It’s all a pointless exercise to get Sam to parachute off his own building and then get arrested by the cops. It’s dumb, boring and pointless. The film makers might as well be spanking it on the screen for twenty minutes.

Boxleitner’s human counterpart has been the surrogate father for Sam, who likes him, but simultaneously resents him for reasons never explained. Boxleitner gets a text from his dad’s old arcade. At this point, Kevin Flynn has been missing for 20 years. So why keep this old building that no one ever goes to for 20 years? Turns out, it’s so Sam can discover his father’s secret office behind the Tron video game. That’s not a real reason, that’s a movie reason. Half hour into the movie and it’s already so pointless, the characters have done nothing to endear themselves to me.

Oh, and to add insult to injury, the 3D isn’t through the entire movie, just the computer generated parts, I guess. I couldn’t really tell. There didn’t seem like a lot of things were coming at me. So, forget the bells and whistles, they suck too.

So now we get to Tron world. (Spoilers ahead) Sam is captured by Clu, a program that runs the Tron world like a tyrant. He looks like young Kevin Flynn. The effect is pretty cool, I must admit. They really did create a young looking Jeff Bridges. He’s a little like a video game character in parts, but still, it was neat. It was something you can accept in this world anyway.

Unlike the old movie, however, where computer stuff happening in Tron world also effected the outside world and vice versa, the film makers go out of their way to make sure that’s not the case here. Instead of making Tron world bigger, they make it smaller. In the 1980’s, they were essentially making a live action version of a primitive Internet. In 2010, the film makers couldn’t even be bothered to follow the old movie’s path. How great would it have been to see human versions of programs you know? Like Internet Explorer or Twitter or Facebook? South Park did it and it was much, much, better.

Part of the implication in the old movie was that if you were good at video games, you’d be good at the games in Tron world. At least, you’d have some kind of power. After all, the Kevin Flynn character is considered the creator of that world, he should have some godlike powers. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t even come close to explaining why this potentially godlike being sat around for 20 years. They imply that because he was studying philosophy (something the original Flynn didn’t really do in the first movie) that his Zen-like attitude means he should just sit around. But when Sam shows up and defies him by trying to escape Tron world, he suddenly gives it all up. Bridges can do some stuff, but in the old movie, his power was mystical, unexplained, in the new movie he can kinda reprogram guys and shoot a wave of energy. Unfortunately, these powers are revealed so late in the movie, you’re like, “Shouldn’t he have done that 20 years ago to get out?”

In the old movie, there were some implied abilities and potential limits for the characters. In this movie, nothing is explained. The page Boxleitner gets in the real world that lures Sam Flynn to the arcade? Never explained. Tron’s conversion to evil? Never explained. Clu’s quest to leave Tron world and get to the “real” world? Never explained. One of the Tron world characters makes it out. Why that can happen or what difference that really makes? Never explained.

What is explained in the movie is stuff no one cares about. There’s a flashback to when Flynn fails to build the perfect world inside Tron World. Who cares? There’s a new race of creatures that spontaneously grew in Tron world. That doesn’t make any sense. Sam can ride a motorcycle because it’s established early in the movie? So what. Bridges did it and he was a computer geek.

This review has literally made me sad and tired. This could’ve been great, but Disney dropped the ball, shat on it and then told everyone to look. Perhaps, like Washington, Hollywood is so disconnected from their movie fans, so oblivious to people’s needs and wants, that they too are no longer listening. They expect adoration and service simply because they are there.

This is Tron. Remember Tron? You should like it. We put part of it in 3-D, now give us some money.

Rate this movie? It’s not even the worst movie I ever saw, despite this rant. It’s just so pointless and devoid of soul. I give the movie what the film makers gave me.


I say, rent the old movie. It’s got charm. Or remember that Futurama sequence when Fry is playing video games inside the Internet? Watch that again.