A little over 30 years ago, art student Steve Lisberger, who was interested in breaking into film, took a pioneering trip to talk with some computer programmers who were experimenting with computer generated imagery. Some claimed there might be a future that saw computers play a role in art. In his discussions with these early pioneers, he learned that the trend was toward a small number of corporations cornering the market on software … squelching the creativity and control that the programmers hoped to hold on to. It wasn’t too many conversations with these guys that eventually put the idea into Lisberger’s head: programs are artistic creations of these programmers, and thus reflect something of their personality … what if inside the computer, these programs were really a lot more like their programmers …. and these programmers he was meeting with were like gladiators fighting for their freedom from oppressive corporations? Thus, TRON was born!
No excuse for you to have never seen TRON … it IS 2010! From here on out, spoilers may certainly be present.
The film opens in 1985, a few years after the events of the first film … our hero Kevin Flynn has gained control of ENCOM, the company he had been fired from and broke into in the original film. He had also created a new video game: Tron, which with his earlier creation (Space Paranoids for those who don’t remember), became the top 2 video games of all time. He also had a son, Sam, whom he would regale with strange stories of fighting on the grid with the real Tron (a program created by his friend Alan (Alan and Tron were and continue to be played by Bruce Boxleitner)). One night, on the supposed verge of a major breakthrough, Kevin Flynn mysteriously disappears, leaving his son an orphan, and his company on shaky ground.
Fast forward to today.
Encom’s new president is getting ready to release the company’s new operating system (OS), which by his own admission is not an improvement over the last, but will assure the company’s financial growth (take THAT Microsoft!!!). Alan is a Board member, but is in the minority. Just before its release, the OS is released on the internet by Sam, who retains the right to control the company, but simply doesn’t care.
Alan approaches him and informs him that he has received a page (yes, that wasn’t a typo, a page) from his father’s office at Flynn’s Arcade, which has been closed for years. Sam goes, and discovers a secret laboratory in the basement. He activates the computer, and accidentally activates the laser, beaming himself into the digital realm.
Sam is immediately captured and sent to the game grid, where he is soon discovered to be a user (human), and is taken to the leader of this fascist virtual world …. his father … or so it appears. In fact, he learns that it is CLU, one of his dad’s best programs who now runs things, and dispatches Sam to the light cycle grid to be killed.
Sam is promptly saved from deresolution by a very beautiful program named Quorra, he spirits him away to his father’s secret hideout.
His father tells him that before he disappeared, he was making regular trips back into the virtual realm in an attempt to create perfection: an open system that would allow for anyone to use freely, and only to better the human condition. He created CLU to help him, and used his old friend Tron to defend them against unscrupulous programs. However, the day came when the complex system they had created spanned brand new programs … akin to the spontaneous creation of life … while Flynn wanted to study them and integrate them into the system, CLU was appalled as it stood in the way of achieving perfection. CLU led a coup, apparently killing Tron while Flynn escaped, trapped from leaving the virtual world. Flynn also remains in hiding because the information on his identity disk contains enough information to allow CLU to leave he virtual world … and looking like Flynn, it would give him access to money and power with the mentality of trying to eliminate anything imperfect.
The rest of the film details the Flynns’ escape attempt as they race against CLU and his plans.
Lets start with the visualization: It is slick and it is fantastic! The differences from the first film are easily explainable (it is a new world created by more advanced computers). The lighting effects are a bit more subdued than in the first film, but overall look can’t be beat.
There are a number of fight/chase scenes, all at least as good or vastly superior to the first film. There is a disc fight, a light cycle battle, a fight in a bar, and a chase involving fighter aircraft (think light cycles but flying …. very kick ass!)
The music is, sadly, nowhere near as good as the beautiful pioneering electronic score Wendy Carlos wrote for the first film. That would have been difficult. It is not a major flaw of the film.
Given recent events, I was probably affected a bit much morethan your average person about the father-son relationship. It is a nice relationship: genius father and genius son are played to be very much alike, and kudos should be given to the actors for refining their work to mesh so well.
Jeff Bridges is a great performer. He is challenged to not only play one of the heroes, but also the main antagonist. I think he actually does a better job playing the villain instead of the character he already played once in his life. The other roles are executed fine … keep an eye out for Michael Sheen’s (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) larger-than-life performance.
Overall, I would give the film 7.5/10 … a very worthy sequel that was worth the wait. It is a Disney release …. the language isn’t bad, and the violence is all virtual … though you really should see the first film before this one.