Tron: Legacy (2010)

Rated PG-13. Our ratings: V- 3; L-4; S/N- 1. Running time: 2 hours 7 min.

There is a way that seems right to a person,
but its end is the way to death
Proverbs 14:12

Sam talks with the father whom he thought was dead.

2010 Walt Disney Studios

It has been a long time since Tron lit up our screens, and the bulk of Legacy, after a brief flashback, takes place 20 years after genius video game creator Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) disappeared from the life of his adoring son Sam (Garrett Hedlund). His father’s legacy ENCOM has grown into a corporate giant, but Sam prefers racing his powerful motorcycle and computer hacking to running the business. Then comes the night when his father’s friend (and apparently his surrogate father) Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) summons him to his father’s old video arcade to tell him that he has been contacted somehow by his father.

Sam has trouble believing this, but when he explores his father’s lab in the basement, he is soon drawn into the innards of the vast computer world and fighting a gladiatorial battle for his life—and ultimately (typical for the sci-fi genre) for the world outside as well. Sam is welcomed by what he believes is his father, but the figure reveals that he is CLU, a clone-like creature, now in control of the computer world.

Sam fights and flees, joined by the fierce female warrior Quorra (Olivia Wilde), who turns out to be a confidant of his father. At last united, his father Kevin seems more like a Zen master than a video game genius. Kevin tells his son that in his quest to create a perfect world in the grid something went wrong—we might say that his effort was something like that of the builders of the Tower of Babel, both schemes ending with unintentional effects.

The three team up to battle against CLU and his minions and prevent the villain from moving out into the world and taking over. There are lots of chases and fights, enhanced by brilliant computer-generated effects. The dark world and skin-tight costumes outlined by glowing piping are fascinating for a while, almost compensating for the tired old plot. The writers call the humans “users” and the computer characters “programs,” suggesting either a caste system or a mythology in which humans are gods and the others are the created beings, but instead of exploring this interesting theme more thoroughly, they give in to what the producers believe is what the audience wants, fast-paced action. tood bad, as this could have been a much more interesting film.

Legacy will appeal mainly to sci-fi and video gamers who care more for dazzling effects than comprehensive plot. The first part of the film is shot in 2-D, the 3-D taking over when Sam, like Alice down the rabbit hole, descends into the grid. I don’t believe the 3-D is worth the extra price, and so advise you to save your money and watch the “regular” version, but do see it on as big a screen as possible for full enjoyment of the effects. Don’t wait for the DVD to come out—unless you have a large home theater system.

For Reflection/Discussion

1. This being a Disney film, there is the theme of separation of father and son, leaving Sam an orphan (his mother has long been out of the picture). Compare this to other Disney films, such as The Lion King, or even Bambi.

2. How is this story a bit like the Genesis story of the Tower of Babel? What has Kevin Flynn put his trust in? Do you think we can we create the “perfect” world? Remember the old logos of a chemical company, “A Better World Through Chemistry” ?

3. Compare the dystopian Grid ruled by CLU to other similarly themed sci-fi films, such as Logan’s Run or 1984. A non-sci-fi film to check out, also dealing with a man who tries to create a perfect society in a Central American country, is Mosquito Coast.

4. Quorra asks Sam about a sunrise, and he tries to describe the feeling: what is this incident saying, perhaps to those wrapped up in video gaming and computers? How can we become so obsessed with our technology that we forget the value of the simple things (and beauty) of life? Another film that can be seen as a cautionary tale is the one about the creator of Face Book, The Social Network. How well does Mark Zuckerberg relate to people, and what does the film, especially at the end, say is the cost?