If I were to tell you that one of the most visually stunning films of the last 20 years was 90% neon, you might think it was some kind art-house flick set in Vegas. Not even close. Not since the 80's and 90's has neon ever looked this good. Then again, did neon really look all that good in the first place. TRON: Legacy hits theaters this holiday season and will be hands down the best 'looking' film you will have seen all year.
This is the type of film that is only born from encouraging one's imagination. This is the type of film that changes the way movies are made. This is the type of film that makes a younger generation fall in love with film. I mean, the reason anyone goes to a movie in the first place is to have that escape from reality experience to help disconnect themselves from their boring mundane lives, if only for a couple of hours. TRON: Legacy does just that and so much more.
TRON: Legacy acts as the sequel to the ground-breaking 1982 cult-classic TRON. It's been about 28 years since the original, so picking up where the first film left off was too much of a stretch. Instead the film follows a 27 year old Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), the son of Encom's CEO Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), 20 years after the unexpected disappearance of his father. One day Sam is tipped off by his father's old friend and business partner, Alan, after he receives a mysterious page (still rockin' the pager!) from his father's office. After Sam reluctantly goes to check it out, he stumbles upon his father's hidden office. And just like in the original TRON, Sam is pulled into the same digital world his father was and must fight to survive while searching for his missing father.
Firstly, TRON: Legacy is nothing short of a visual masterpiece and should be a front runner for numerous academy awards this year. When people consider film as a form of art it may be because of the emotional responses they have to a particular performance or the films own unique subject matter. In the case of TRON: Legacy, once the story is transported into the digital frontier of 'the grid', every single shot that follows are all truly magnificent works of art. To go into all the details that helped make this remarkable visual achievement would take forever, but after the long 64 day shooting schedule TRON: Legacy took an additional 68 weeks of post-production to make the film look as stunning as it does. I should point out that after all the extra time on the visual effects you won't be blown away by the film's 3D effects, as it looks like an amazing 2D adventure masquerading as a 3D film.
As far as the story goes, the film never gets overly technical with the computer terminology, and I think that will save a lot of audience members that may dismiss the movie for being too sci-fi. That being said, the film is a little over the two hour mark and might be a little too long. In its defence, the film's story does stay on track, so it's long, but it doesn't drag on. For the film's main story about half of it is filled with new concepts, with the other half paying homage to its predecessor in subtle, but sometimes blatant ways. Don't worry if you've never seen the original TRON from 1982 because this film stands alone, even if the storylines are 28 years apart.
Even though the cast places second to the films visuals, there is a lot of good stuff from the film's stars. Relative newcomer Garrett Hedlund does a great job at kick starting the film with his high paced energy. Because he was not part of the original TRON universe, Hedlund's performance as Sam helps new audiences connect to this new world. But for those familiar with the 1982 film, you will enjoy Jeff Bridges returning to the grid for another game of Light Cycles. Bridges has a lot of fun playing against himself as he has dual roles in this sequel; one role being a very "Dude-like" Kevin Flynn and the other a digital copy of his younger self, the evil CLU. Similar to Brad Pitt's ageing effects in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Bridge's performance as CLU is almost seamless. To top it all off, the very sexy Olivia Wilde is Quorra and her multi-lit skin-tight spandex suit might not be the best outfit to perform crazy stunts in, but Wilde makes it work and keeps the boys drooling at the same time.
The part of the film that was the icing on the cake for me was the score. It was composed entirely by the legendary electronic duo Daft Punk. The group managed to take the sound of the original TRON and give it their own unique futuristic spin for this updated piece of the franchise. And there are definitely moments where you can tell Daft Punk is doing the music in this film (especially during their cameo appearance).
Don't be afraid of seeing this film if you haven't ever since the original because, again, TRON: Legacy is a stand-alone film. Just pay your 12 bucks, grab the 3D glasses, and rediscover what exactly going to the movies is supposed to be like.
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Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.