Basic Plot: Trapped in The Grid, a digital world his father Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) created, Sam (Garrett Hudland) must overthrow a corrupt program, save his father, and escape to the real world.


Tron Legacy is proof that a good trailer may be all that is necessary that make a robust profit at the box office. Spiderman 3 established this concept with its dark, intense trailer and the sheer stupidity of the actual movie. But maybe it was a fluke. Maybe movies truly have to be well-crafted in order to make hundreds of millions of dollars. But Tron Legacy only added validity to this idea. Not that the movie is terrible, or even unpleasant. It's the fact that with all the advertisements, trailers, and expos for the movie, Tron Legacy is simply a mediocre film. By creating the biggest hype possible, it only shoots itself in the foot because what we've come to expect, what we are basically drooling for, doesn't arrive on the screen. And this makes what could be a simple, forgettable film into a dramatic letdown, despite having good features amidst the bad.


The movie begins with a flashback of a CGI Jeff Bridges, playing Kevin Flynn, telling his son about The Grid, an electronic wonderland he created to revolutionize business and technology. The scene, like the movie as a whole, has incredible potential since it starts with impressive camerawork, such as filming Jeff Bridges from the back the entire time. Focusing on the son's responses to his father makes us better identify with the son, who ends up being the protagonist in the film. It also adds to the mystery of Kevin Flynn, since we don't get a decent look at him. At least it seems this way until the movie has to keep testing the limits of CGI and after a minute or two we see the fakest, most cartoonish face since 2007's Beowulf as a computerized, younger Kevin Flynn is displayed. Instantly, a possibly engaging scene is ruined and instead I and surely others in the audience are judging the CGI and only half-paying attention to the story.


I know you have to show the CGI Jeff Bridges later, since he appears in The Grid, but it would make more sense if someone looked fake in a computer world. Here, it's just bad.


Then the plot of the movie gets going. It's twenty years later. Kevin Flynn has been missing the entire time and his son Sam (Garrett Hudland) spends his nights driving a motorcycle and sabotaging ENCOM, the company his father started. He then is informed that Kevin Flynn sent out a page. When he investigates his father's office, Sam is sucked into The Grid and the action scenes begin.

This is probably the highlight of the film, for it gives us what we want: fast paced action with cool lights and Daft Punk music. Whether it's a cycle race or a disc-throwing battle, the action is exactly was advertised. There are, however, two problems that occur here.


1. Sam is too good.

There have been action movies where the protagonist is dumped into a new situation and must learn and adapt quickly. It adds suspense to a film because we are feeling the main character's anxiety and struggle, and we hope for him to her to succeed. The first Spiderman movie has Peter Parker discovering his "Spidey Sense" to avoid punches at school. Avatar has Jake undergo rites of passage, utilizing his running, jumping, and balance, in order to be part of the Na'vi society.

The problem here is that a similar situation occurs as Sam is literally placed in a battle arena, yet he's practically a pro. He's wiping out opponents without much trouble, and appears to be an expert at the cycle race. Saying that Sam is an expert light-cyclist in the Tron world because he drives a motorcycle is like saying someone who’s a surfer can surf on lava. There are well-constructed action scenes here but since Sam completes them with such ease there is no tension. It’s execution without substance.


2. It's too short

After about ten minutes of action, Sam is rescued by a mysterious Quorra (Olivia Wilde) and for the next hour nothing happens. Scenes of good dialogue between intense action is a great formula. It worked for The Matrix, Gladiator, and Inglourious Basterds. It does not work here because the action is so promising but ends so abruptly, without any resolution or finesse. And the next hour, which is mostly dialogue, is not only slow paced but utterly pointless. It's clear that there was a rushed editing job on this screenplay, because certain ideas and conflicts are introduced randomly and barely explained. And without good dialogue, the audience is left thinking about the good ole days where there was action in the movie, instead of anticipating future scenes or becoming involved in the current story.


So Sam is reunited with his father and the following things are introduced:


- Clu, Flynn's copy and nemesis

- Tron, Flynn's friend

- Isomorphic Algorithms

- The Outlands

- The Portal

- Genocide

- A "Miracle"

- Philosophy

- Armies


Very little of this is explained well. The characters themselves do not seem to care about what they are saying and the actors don't seem to either. Quorra, although attractive, isn't much more than a dim-witted flirt and doesn't offer the story anything meaningful. Kevin Flynn is part Big Lebowski, part Philosophy 101 professor, and part monk, and this constant shift in personality is intensely baffling throughout the movie. The screenplay, as if becoming sentient and confused at this dialogue and shoddy character development, throws another action scene at us. This one is not nearly as good, and although the cameo of Daft Punk was fun, it loses its coolness after the 5th time.


Then they're on a bridge talking about things that don't matter. Then Clu is after them and somehow Kevin Flynn is able to manifest wind powers. Yes, he turns into Storm from the X-Men. The movie ends some time later, and we all take our 3D glasses off, which by the way were completely unnecessary since there isn't a single scene in this film where the 3D was noteworthy or even noticeable. We walk out, either exhilarated by the movie or completely let down like I was.


There are good moments. Daft Punk's score is perfect for this kind of film. The cinematography is effective and the visuals are bright and sleek. I wasn't angry leaving the theater but I wasn't happy either. It's the kind of film that gets worse over time because you start thinking about it and the film is just so sloppy. But hey, if you like bright lights and Daft Punk, just rent the movie when it's on DVD, grab some beers and friends, and pay attention whenever there is noise. That seems to be what this movie is built for.


As a side note, you know in movies, when a character has their head tilted down and their their eyes, closed, and then they open them dramatically? Think of Neo when after he killed Agent Smith in the first Matrix. Well, if you're feeling up to it, take a shot every time Olivia Wilde's character does this. I take no responsibility for your oh-god-kill-me-now hangover.




What Could Have Saved It: focus more on the action. You marketed the shit out of the light-cycle, so you need to deliver. 


Rating: 5/10