Tron Legacy is the sort of movie that, in my opinion, requires a disclosure of a reviewer’s perspective up front. So to that end, I feel compelled to admit that I have only seen Tron once, and that I saw it about three days ago with the specific end of watching the original before I saw the remake.
I mean, sequel.
Except really I mean remake, because that was ultimately what it felt like to me. In the first place, I am not sure it was a necessary sequel, in the sense that I don’t think it added anything to the Tron universe that really enriched it. I liked the first movie; it was urgent and exciting, visually interesting and strangely psychedelic. So was this one…until you realize that it parallels Tron to the extent that if you’ve seen it you know pretty much exactly how this new journey will play out. Then you realize that Tron Legacy is really a remake more than a sequel despite the premise, which implies a remake was really what they were after but didn’t want to alienate the original Tron‘s fans by calling it a remake, which is, when you think about it, kind of insulting.
Still, it was entertaining, and if you love the original then you will be curious to get back into that world and see how it has grown and changed in the thousands of micro-cycles since its creation. Read: how new technology renders a world originally conceived 20 years ago.
Visually, it was intriguing. The style reminded me of Harry Potters 5 and 6–very dark, blue and gray palettes that made the lights seem brighter in contrast, while they never, ever, really lit up the screen but only the part where they actually were. It was a very dark movie, visually speaking, but interesting. There were enough change-ups that I didn’t get bored of the digitally created world the way I did in Avatar; perhaps also the fact that this is meant to be a digital world not a real one made me more forgiving.
I saw it in 3D Imax. Until Sam gets the Tron world, you don’t need the glasses at all. I can’t judge the 3D for you, because I don’t really like 3D in general. It always makes me think there is something wrong with my eyes, and I don’t think it adds that much to a movie watching experience. At least this movie for the most part avoided the clichés of things coming out of the screen, and there were a handful of moments that I was looking in exactly the right place for the particular 3D effect, and they looked good (mostly these were things exploding or disintegrating). Still. For me the 3D here was leave it. Others might disagree, but for me I’d have rather seen it in 2D Imax (I went to that screen in the first place for the Imax not the 3D, just so we’re all clear).
I don’t really know what to say about the story beyond what I have, that it parallels the original, that won’t spoil it for you. Most of the reveals come in the second half of the movie. Overall the story was entertaining, a B+ to A- until the very last minute. And I do mean the final 60 or so seconds of the film. The “twist” that came in at the end dropped it a full letter grade or more to C+. I don’t know what the purpose of it was, other than to confuse and undermine the efficacy of Clu’s villainous plans and to make you walk away disappointed that the movie chose such a nonsensical direction to go.
In the end I feel like this movie as a whole is take it or leave it. It’s a spectacle, for sure, so if you can divorce your love of the original from what you see here then it’s worth seeing just to watch how modern technology renders the electronic world. However, there is a sterility here that does not equal the charm of the half-animated original, and so for me, watching these two movies back to back, I can safely say that the original was memorable and haunting and unique in a way that the new one simply is not. It’s not terrible, but that’s an echoingly empty rather than ringing endorsement, isn’t it? All the same, that’s my bottom line: it’s not terrible.
Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.