Go back to Tron 2.0

Written by: Rik

Date posted: December 28, 2015

At some point in the last decade, Tron went from being the kind of cult licence that was happily signed away to spin-off material (like Tron 2.0) to one worth a mega-budget sequel and promotional push. I don’t pretend to understand these things, although, at the time of writing, it seems as if the money invested in Tron: Legacy didn’t really bear fruit for Disney, who have since shelved plans to continue the franchise.

Reviews at the time were fairly lukewarm, but I actually quite liked Legacy. As previously mentioned, I wasn’t all that familiar with the original Tron (although I have since gone back to that as well – without falling asleep) so perhaps I’m not best-placed to advise, but it seemed to keep a decent balance between fan service and telling a story that might appeal to newcomers.

I still maintain that Tron is not particularly accessible to new viewers. At the risk of embarrassing myself, I must admit that it took me a while to get it into my head that the programs inside the computer just look like the person that programmed them (referred to in Tron as their user) – except, of course, when an actual user is digitised and sent into their world. Also, despite some goofy bits, particularly involving Flynn, the tone is pretty dark in places (although this might partly be my mistake for assuming that – as it’s from Disney – it would be a children’s film). Such things are perfectly legitimate, of course, but not for a punt on a multi-million pound sequel, so it’s perhaps not surprising that Legacy takes some of the edges off and makes things a little easier to follow.

The release of Legacy also effectively made the story of 2.0 non-canon. However, it’s interesting to note a couple of key similarities. In 2.0, sulky brat Jet inadvertently pursues father Alan into the computer amid a backdrop of arguments about junior’s life and career choices; in Legacy, Flynn has been missing for a number of years, and son Sam’s life is given new direction when Alan persuades him to investigate a distress call that indicates his father may still be alive. (In both cases, the erratic offspring are also without mothers, further intensifying the father-son dynamic.)

The phrase ‘Tron Legacy’ is also used a number of times in 2.0, in reference to the legacy code for the Tron program. In the film sequel, though, the word legacy is used in more generic terms: Tron barely features in the sequel, so it just means “this is a sequel to Tron which we won’t call Tron 2 in case you get it mixed up with the game. But really it’s about Flynn’s legacy.”

For what it’s worth, I’d recommend Tron Legacy: I really liked the visuals, although if you’re going to be picky, the ‘ground-breaking’ effects used to produce a younger version of Jeff Bridges are a little wonky in places. Fortunately, grizzled old Jeff also returns: and I think I prefer this version of Flynn to his cocky 1982 counterpart. Garrett Hedlund, as Sam, is a bit of a standard bland man-hunk, but Olivia Wilde from The O.C. (I know, she’s been in thousands of things, but anyone who has been in The O.C. will always be ‘…from The O.C.’ in my book) is good in the other lead role. I’m, uh, still making my mind up about Michael Sheen’s performance. Oh, and the soundtrack by Daft Punk is excellent too!

(A spin-off game, Tron: Evolution was released, to mixed reviews – I plan on checking it out at some point).