By Edward Gambichler (co-host of the up-coming Flicks Picks podcast)
“Dad” – Sam Flynn
“Sam” – Kevin Flynn
“Long time” – Flynn Jr.
“……..You have no idea – Flynn Sr. “
One of the most amazing groups of people that have never cease to amaze me are computer programmers. I open up a Java script and as far as I’m concerned it might as well be Egyptian hieroglyphics. However, there are some computer programmers who can read off of them as if they were 1st grade flash cards. It’s incredible the level of proficiency I have achieved as a PC user in my ten years ofexperience with Windows and Mac operating systems.
In the world of the Grid, Programs ( represented to the moviegoers as humans ) are forced to participate in highly dangerous gladiatorial games. These games include a form of Jai Alai, disc throws, and a death race in vehicles known as “Light Cycles”. The reason for these games is to root out those Programs that the MCP feels are inadequate. The ones that prove to be the least useful are “derezzed” or terminated as a result of failing during the games. During one of these games, Flynn meets TRON ( who, like the other Programs, bears a striking resemblance to his User…..in TRON’s case, Alan Bradley ). Together they escape the Light Cycle Grid. They then proceed on their individual missions…..Kevin’s to find the evidence he’s looking for against Dillinger and TRON’s to free the system of the MCP’s stranglehold.
Now 28 years later Tron’s sequel Tron:Legacy arrives in regular theaters ( as well as IMAX 3D ). The story centers around Sam Flynn, Kevin’s son. It is 1989 and as result of the success of his mission in the Grid, Kevin Flynn was made acting CEO of ENCOM. However, on Sam’s 8th birthday, Kevin has gone missing and is never heard from again. Flash-forward 20 years to 28 year old Sam Flynn, now an extreme sports enthusiast ( especially when it comes to a Ducati sports bike ) and major stockholder of ENCOM. However, he’s never seen fit to step up to assume a executive position within the corporation and is content on playing elaborate pranks on the current board of directors. One of the executive consultants on the board is Alan Bradley, the senior Flynn’s best friend. He goes to Sam to tell him he received a page from his father’s office at the old arcade he used to run. The younger Flynn goes to the arcade and finds a secret room hidden behind an old TRON video game. Against the wall is a computer console. What Sam does not see behind him, however, is the same laser particle beam from the 1st movie. It zaps Sam the same way it did his father, and sends him down to the “Grid”. However, this version of the Grid is much more advanced than the 1st movie’s version. Immediately, Sam is thrust into the same gladiator disc game as the first film. He barely survives and wins, but he catches the attention of the Program in Charge. This Program turns out to be, C.L.U. a version of his father Kevin’s program from the first film. Although he mistakes him for his father at first…..he realizes that this not his father and as the movie progresses he soon realizes the truth behind his father’s disappearance, just exactly how C.L.U. came into power, and just how warped this Grid ( although mostly based on his father’s vision ) has become. Since this movie is still in theaters, I’ll stop from revealing too many details.
Now I’ll start with the positive aspects of the movies. If it’s a visual feast for your eyes you’re looking for, then look no further. In this movie, the world of the Grid gets a major upgrade. And if it’s Light Cycles that informed your love of the original classic…….then the only thing that will disappoint you is the limited time director Joseph Kosinski makes use of them in the script. Also, there’s no musical score more suited to a movie than the one composed by French music duo Daft Punk ( in an inspired cameo as MP3 players in what could qualify as this film’s Mos Eisley’s Cantina scene ). Newcomer ,Garret Hedlund playing Sam Flynn ( and who was once considered for the part of Captain America in the upcoming movie ), fares well as an action star. And as far as sci-fi babes are concerned, you cannot hope for better than the charming Olivia Wilde ( from the TV series House ) who plays Quorra who is the senior Flynn’s apprentice of sorts.
Now for the negative, this is one of those sci-fi movies that deal with a heavy computer theme and feels the need to saddle the script with an even heavier religious allegory. If one of the main characters is not alluded to as being “the Chosen One” (as in the Matrix ), he’s being given the title of “Creator” ( as in this movie ). The character of Kevin Flynn (played in the first movie by Jeff Bridges) in the first TRON was simply a wronged man on a mission to take back his work and the credit he felt was his. In this evolution of the character, Kevin Flynn is a disillusioned man who sought to change the world by creating a digital one in the Grid. It is only when he sought to add to his vision the extra burden of his personal idea of “perfection” that things turned for the worse. And when he left most of that vision to be achieved by his creation C.L.U. , we’re also saddled by the writers with a Frankenstein allegory as well. Both of these plot devices have been done to death and been done better in other movies. I just wished that a classic like the first TRON was given a more original storyline deserving of its cult status in cinema.
And ,finally, ( on a separate note) I saw this movie at the Lincoln Square movie theater in IMAX 3D. However the movie house did something, in my opinion, completely idiotic. Before the feature presentation began, they showed a preview for a new IMAX 3D documentary about animals called “Born to Be Wild”. Unlike TRON, which was converted ( like most of today’s action films ) to 3D from a 2D film print, Born to Be Wild was shot with actual 3D cameras. The difference between the two films was like Night and Day. After witnessing “true” 3D, I was hard pressed to make out what was so special about this screening of TRON (due to the preview raising such expectations for my eyes). It stands as a good argument against 2D to 3D conversion.
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