Reviews

Tron: Legacy

3

Lights, camera, more lights, action…

tron legacy review

Just a few seconds in, you can feel it. This isn’t going to one of those movies that gives 3D a bad name.

The camera swoops down out of the night sky, rushes through city streets and glides up to the front door of Kevin Flynn’s house, where we see the hacker-turned-cyberman (Jeff Bridges) telling bedtime stories to his seven-year-old son Sam.

It’s the night Flynn will suddenly disappear forever. For the first time since Avatar, Tron Legacy uses the technology to make us experience something new and special again.

For now, debut director Joe Kosinksi wisely soft-pedals the stereoscopic dazzle. He barely needs it. Even in the real world, Tron Legacy is just gorgeous to gawp at.

Hypnotic shots of Sam slaloming a Ducati motorbike between cars on a freeway at night take us to Encom, the corporation once headed by Kevin.

We’ve flashed forward 20 years: Sam (Garrett Hedlund) is now a smart, stubborn biker who refuses to take over the family company.

After a spectacularly ludicrous scene in which Sam hacks the Encom mainframe before free-fall parachuting off the top of the building like Ethan Hunt, it’s a matter of minutes before we’re blasted into cyberspace.

A mysterious message from Flynn’s Arcade. A laser beam. We’re there. Back in The Grid. And things have changed since 1982.

Upgraded in breathtaking style by Kosinski’s team, this stormy, apocalyptic city is a fearful, magnificent world of dark space, reflective surface and searing light. It’s stunning, seductive and uniquely Tron.

Although curiously, unavoidable echoes of Blade Runner seem to lie everywhere: otherworldly women, elevators to the heavens, charred skies; even one character’s haircut is pure Rutger Hauer.

Not that we’re left much time to stare. For the first 20 minutes on The Grid, Legacy’s velocity is thrilling: Sam is abducted, suited in neon-ribbed body armour, loaded into a gladiatorial stadium and hurled into a disc fight.

Which is like a lethal game of air hockey (just one of Tron Legacy's classic-arcade game nods), as black-suited Capoeira-style foes send electric frisbees ricocheting around a glassy area.

But the new-look light-bike battle royale is something else.

Leaving behind mesmerising liquid ribbons of light as they surge around a multi-level arena, the cycles are beyond cool. What’s more, the human actors all exist seamlessly in this CG environment.

This is an architect’s mind at work – Kosinski’s background – and he proves himself a highly imaginative level designer.

Meanwhile, Daft Punk’s score paints its own sombre, synthy soundscapes, pumping vibe and life into cold, hard surfaces of Tron’s world.

Next: Tron: Legacy review conclusion[page-break]

tron legacy review

It’s a while before we’re given a second to figure out what’s going on. And that’s when the gloss on this brave new world starts to crack.

Kevin Flynn is a fugitive trapped inside the digital world by his own avatar CLU, an evil doppelganger who now controls The Grid.

Unfamiliar with the original movie? You’re going to feel a little lost.

Even hardcore Tron-heads will be scratching scalp at certain points. Best thing to do? Just don’t think too hard about any of it.

Apparently having moved into the room visited by Bowman at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kevin claims the ISOs – the miraculous nano-life that magically, organically created inside this computer world – hold the key to all humanity. Not sure how. Not sure why. Not sure we care.

The Holocaust, evil doppelgangers, mad scientists, God complexes, a paradise lost... Kosinski touches on more themes than he ever knows what to do with.

There’s very little story here at all, and Bridges is forced to chug through several scenes of backstory and exposition in the middle portion of the film, which cost Tron its pace, drive and urgency.

Happily, Lost writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz just about keep their script anchored to its characters as much as its electric dreams, though it’s often touch and go.

Previously best known for his breakout role as Brad Pitt’s young brother in Troy, Hedlund proves a solid lead, despite wincing through emotional scenes with Bridges.

Olivia Wilde’s playful warrior sprite Quorra also manages not to be out-acted by her fetish wardrobe, bringing a pleasing mix of innocence and steeliness to the role.

Fittingly, the most debate-worthy performance belongs to a computer program.

Conjured by a Jeff Bridges body double and Benjamin Button’s Oscar-winning motion-capture wizards, CLU is undoubtedly a remarkable achievement.

Never do you really believe you’re watching the young Jeff but – perhaps due to the Uncanny Valley effect – he a weirdly disturbing, compulsive creature.

You could argue he’s more convincing than Michael Sheen, whose camp-daddy Ziggy Stardust bartender sashays between flamboyant and ridiculous with every passing second.

The attempt to inject much-needed levity is laudable, but… he isn’t funny. Almost inevitably, the real humanity comes from the real Bridges.

Packing his customary payload of gravitas and wry humour (“You’re messing with my Zen thing, man!”), he gets the grandiose finale his character deserves.

Although by the finish of this alluring but flawed adventure, you’ll still be left with plenty of questions. Not least, why was there only one light-cycle battle?

Verdict:

A film that awes and bores in frustratingly equal measure. Visually and musically, it’s a triumph. Dramatically, it needs some re-wiring.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • higgins78

      Dec 5th 2010, 9:20

      2

      My heart sunk when I logged on this morning only to be confronted with the news...3 stars for a movie I had been desperately hoping would give the original the fitting sequel it deserved. From the review its looks clear this is a movie which sticks its fingers up towards fans who saw the original back in the day, focusing more on delivering the MTV generation a quick fix as it were. Least I missed Inception when it was in the cinemas, I should buy that on Blu Ray and possibly forget what a tease Tron Legacy has become and that Nolan's movie delivers something underneath the gorgeous visuals.

      Alert a moderator

    • MovieXmadness

      Dec 5th 2010, 10:31

      Can't wait, looks awesome! Doubters tremble! Remember, Star Wars initial reviews? Not to mention, the first movie was only passably enjoyable bcuz of the special FX. Filmies gotta b Xcited @ this. Enjoy the eye candy movie magick! w/digi-love. ~MxM

      Alert a moderator

    • moviegeek2000

      Dec 6th 2010, 1:58

      2

      I really wanted to love this movie, but I ended up hating it. It's confusing, overblown, and the CGI on Jeff Bridges makes him look like Prince Charming from Shrek bad bad bad... I hate myself for saying that, but it's true my review: http://wp.me/p19wJ2-7b

      Alert a moderator

    • Magicmerly

      Dec 6th 2010, 11:58

      5

      So let me get this straight, Moviegeek you don't even LIKE Tron so listening to you is quite pointless but TF I'm surprised, truely I am. I saw this as a fan of the original on Thursday evening and loved it, the first 45 mins had me dribbling with fanboi wonder and the rest just wrapped the whole Troniverse up quite nicely. New scenes with the bikes, disk gladiators and the jets, Quorra and Jeff's "Obi Wan glowly cloak" were all great. Can't wait to get my hands on the soundtrack and go see it at the IMAX on the 18th.....

      Alert a moderator

    • Avengers

      Dec 6th 2010, 17:35

      A bit disappointed this was my film to see this xmas, still it won't put me off i'll still go to see it. I'll just be cautious what to expect. At least like Avatar this is the kind of experience 3D was made for!

      Alert a moderator

    • blindfold11

      Dec 7th 2010, 11:11

      2

      My heart sunk when I went to the screening. I rate it 2 out of 5 (4 for effort though). I didn't think the 3D was very effective at all. i have to keep removing the glasses to make sure it was on a scene where there was some. Michael sheen is like the Riddler meets Ruby Rhod (that will either be good or bad for you). The animated bridges alllllmost works. the young guy is cocky an veers towards annoying, but just about holds his own by having a presence. But that presence diminishes after Bridges comes back on screen and he is ultimately sidelined.

      Alert a moderator

    • eadie2001

      Dec 7th 2010, 12:07

      More importantly, why is your website written in Times New Roman? grrr, sort it out CSS bods....

      Alert a moderator

    • ZoltanF

      Dec 7th 2010, 14:10

      Garrett Hedlund plays Patroclus in 'Troy', who in this film is Achilles COUSIN (and in actuality his lover)!. Come on, make an effort...makes me doubt you've even watched these films?!

      Alert a moderator

    • egipt

      Dec 7th 2010, 20:10

      5

      @dalidab1982 - RIGHTegipt last minute egipt turcja grecja wakacje hiszpania wakacje tunezja last minute gran canaria last minute !!!!

      Alert a moderator

    • ChrisWootton

      Dec 8th 2010, 12:33

      I'll be interested to see if you keep your five star reviews after you've actually seen the film

      Alert a moderator

    • egipt

      Dec 8th 2010, 20:45

      Hi, Chris - YES.kreta last minute wlochy kenia last minute seszele wakacje mauritius wakacje korfu last minute costa brava last minute

      Alert a moderator

    • fimay

      Dec 17th 2010, 18:43

      2

      Sorry but this film was so boring, I liked Garrett but he's never played Brad Pitt's brother he was Brad Pitt's COUSIN in Troy, I thought Empire would know more about films then me but oh well.

      Alert a moderator

    • oui3d

      Dec 18th 2010, 0:32

      I was going to read the review but this page's format is awful and barely readable. So i'm not going to bother...

      Alert a moderator

    • jholloway

      Dec 18th 2010, 10:28

      4

      Fantastic high energy film with some great acting and wow special effects. Glad to see total film yet again trying to over analyse a film which is just pure entertainment. Avatar was long and boring and over hyped, in fact people were checking their phones and walking out before the end because of boredom. Tron legacy on the other hand kept me pinned to my seat antd gave popcorn momemts galore. The character clu looked a bit freaky at times and I had to question the PG certificate with the fighting scenes involved, but this just added to the menacing element of the character. Right to the end you wondered if things were going to turn out ok. I was also impressed by the other actors it was a shame Michael sheen and the tron parts were no expanded on, but in all a great film. Don't listen to the critics judge for yourself. The sound track added to a great film experience and worthy 4 stars.

      Alert a moderator

    • matty2392

      Dec 18th 2010, 12:48

      2

      Those two stars are for the visuals. The film is just really boring, I paid to see a 3D film and the first half hour is not in 3D, I don't see why they couldn't film the human world in 3D as well, but enough about that I was really expecting the film to get really good once they enter the grid but it just never gets going, there's only ever one WOW moment and that's the first time Clu gets on his bike and after that there's nothing. The highlight really is the music for me Daft Punk did a great job and even there cameo's were better than the whole film. And I can't believe how awful Michael Sheen is in it, doing a awful David Bowie impression. The film just reminded me of the Phantom Menace all hype but a complete let down .

      Alert a moderator

    • white1974

      Dec 18th 2010, 23:13

      4

      This Film is a Feast for your Eye's, not only is it great to look at but the Music is Fantastic. The story is quite basic, but most of the best Sci-fi's are, when you start to make things complicated is becomes a big let down ( remember matrix Reloaded ). The acting could be better ( Michael Sheen ), but he is a Program and that is how the character was written, and he performed the part well. The Transformation from 2D to 3D was done well, and i found it better this way, if the whole Film was shot in 3D, the film would be a little flat, i would though would have liked to see a bit more action in the Games when Sam first entered the Grid, but it was still a Visual Feast. The middle of the film you see Sam reunited with his Dad, and the explanation of what happened to him, which means you dont have to see the First film to understand it. When the filmed finnished i wanted to see it again, and those of you who didn't understand it you must be a little Simple lol, my 10 year old Daughter saw it with me and understood it quite easily. P.S. For those who compaired it with Star Wars Episode 1,2, or 3, this Film was Far superior and well Balanced, and a film which i was very Glad i saw...

      Alert a moderator

    • Sonicboome

      Dec 19th 2010, 12:09

      Come on people, seriously. The original TRON was awesome, and yes, it has many deficiencies, including an odd sense of pacing, dodgy dialogue and seemingly whole scenes missing, but it was, and still is, awesome. A film needn't be perfect for it to be either enjoyable or a favourite. I honestly can't wait for Legacy, and should it have a 'lull' in the middle who cares?? Enjoy it for what it is - a classic piece of entertainment. With freaking awesome lightcycles. It's 'confusing and overblown' but 'boring' and 'never gets going'?. Kind of a contradiction in terms there. Should there be an exposition/social comment on the state of 'young people and their computer games' as i read in one review? Er, no. Enjoy the damn film. I already have my tickets booked for two screenings. Those who gave it 5* (@dalidab1982, @Magicmerly, @egipt) you are my heroes. Those who gave it 2 - fair enough, thats your opinion. It's what you think, fair does. Now go watch something else. Oh, and one last word - IMAX. See it in IMAX and any 2* rating immediately gets a bonus 2. And yes, that means 5* becomes 7. (I know it doesn't make sense, i'm just making a point before anyone gets uppity.) And boo hoo @blindfold11, as if the glasses have anything to do with the film's quality.

      Alert a moderator

    • alexqueen

      Dec 19th 2010, 18:41

      Tron Legacy was awesome - seen it twice now (3D and 2D) and to be honest, a great debut film from Joseph Kosinski, will look forward to what he comes up with next.

      Alert a moderator

    • Tomevo95

      Jan 3rd 2011, 20:09

      2

      it was pretty rubbish to be honest. Not what i expected at all. The 3D was alright but it was too boring and confusing and i'd advise people not to waste their money on this

      Alert a moderator

    • jeffamania

      Jan 8th 2011, 22:06

      4

      spot on review the director 'joe kosinski' is one to watch for sure. I was impressed with his directorial debut. He made one mistake....he should have got someone more experienced to help him with the middle portion. It was confusing, boring, unfunny and unengaging.... for the first time, I found myself not caring about the characters... Other than that.....a superb film...better than 3 stars empire

      Alert a moderator

    • xpialidoceous

      Jan 20th 2011, 22:42

      2

      Once you get over the initial 'wow' factor of the sleek design and the thrilling opening half hour, there's nothing else to really keep you interested. The Grid may look cooler after 29 years but it's still a tedious thing to observe. You'd think that after so long they would've found a better concept to work with, provided some meat around the grids CGI bones. It may not be a total disaster thanks to the visual aspect, but it's safe to say that Tron Legacy is my first let down of 2011 :( boo - friggin' - hoo.

      Alert a moderator

    • usman100

      Feb 8th 2011, 8:26

      4

      spot on review the director 'joe kosinski' is one to watch for sure. I was impressed with his directorial debut. He made one mistake....he should have got someone more experienced to help him with the middle portion. It was confusing, boring, unfunny and unengaging.... for the first time, I found myself not caring about the characters... Other than that.....a superb film...better than 3 stars empire 642-972 \ NS0-154 \ OG0-093 \ 642-504

      Alert a moderator

    • usman100

      Mar 5th 2011, 9:53

      4

      spot on review the director 'joe kosinski' is one to watch for sure. I was impressed with his directorial debut. He made one mistake....he should have got someone more experienced to help him with the middle portion. It was confusing, boring, unfunny and unengaging.... for the first time, I found myself not caring about the characters... Other than that.....a superb film...better than 3 stars empire links of london

      Alert a moderator

    • lukejt02

      Mar 27th 2011, 23:39

      2

      I loved the original Tron and if this is there idea of it's groundbreaking legacy then they have serious problems!! Some of the effects and visuals are stunning, and the 'games' scenes are really good, but it's the same movie all over again!! The script has no originality, And just makes the movie boring, as soon as father and son are reunited the movie goes downhill. And with all the money and technology they had for this movie why can't they get the young jeff bridges mouth to work properly? Don't waste the money, use a young actor who looks like him!!!! All in all very average!!

      Alert a moderator

    • Legacy3D

      Apr 7th 2011, 7:48

      3

      Disney’s latest 3D picture brings us a sequel to the 1982 movie tron where Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) created a new world called The Grid and helped create a new group to live there. 29 years later we return to the grid this time when Flynn son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) who has become owner of his father company ENCOM since he left his family and never returned home and believed dead. However one of his father’s friends Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) receives a page from his dad. After receiving this Sam finds the location to where the page came from, this takes him into The Grid where he must fight for his survival, find his father and return home. Unlike the first tron the sequel costs far more money to make because of the creation of the grid and the 3D technology used. Despite this being a sequel it is not needed to see the first movie as the story is explained early on. Saying this, the plot line seems quite complex for a Disney production. As you seem to have lots going on all at once. The main story is fine, but many things happening around it seem unnecessary. The Grid which has been created looks great and the action scenes work well with or without the 3D Effects. Overall Tron: Legacy is enjoyable to watch with great effects and some good character development. But at points it’s rather dull, some characters you just don’t care about and the story could be so much better.

      Alert a moderator

    • mongal9

      Apr 11th 2011, 16:06

      5

      Amazing attention to detail, small easter eggs linking the previous film (thats a big door), The grid, Jeff Bridges young and old and slightly mellower in his old age, great effects and tron(maybe not enough) but lets face it its tron and I really hope they do a sequel. I love this film and have watched it 3 times now. The story does dull a little but the original did not have much to go on either woo hoo fair play to disney for picking it up again

      Alert a moderator

    • Wrapper30

      Aug 29th 2011, 13:02

      1

      Eh? was I watchung a different fil. I will give it 1 out of 5 for the effects and nothing for the character development or plot which had more holes in it than a swiss cheese. Rarely have I seriously considered turning a film off half way through but I did withn this. Message for filmmakers - Special effects are great but make s decent story and characters we care about.

      Alert a moderator

    • Wrapper30

      Aug 29th 2011, 13:04

      Should have used spellcheck so final summarising comment - S##t film. Please do not make another.

      Alert a moderator

    • MikeyRix

      Feb 3rd 2012, 23:23

      2

      Just seen this...ugh, far too long, far too slow and Hedlund far too wooden. Save for the light cycles/ discs, the music and an unexpectedly touching father-son moment, this was pretty c**p.

      Alert a moderator