It’s a world where anything is possible, where information is free, and where one’s very nature can be altered on a whim.
It’s not grounded in the logic we know. It’s a purely fictional world. Every element is distinct from reality.
Even something as simple as a city street can be bizarrely surreal.
There’s also the bright colour scheme, with flat colours maintaining the world’s artificial feel.
It’s a fantastic look, and a fantastic world. So how can someone fuck that up?
Well, by changing the look to reflect reality, and reducing the colour scheme to black, black, more black, off-black and the occasional neon light.
This is TRON: Legacy, where the TRON franchise went to die.
Okay, that might be a bit overdramatic. Let’s take this one step at a time.
TRON: Legacy stars Sam Flynn, son of Kevin Flynn, our protagonist from the first film.
His father disappeared twenty years earlier, under mysterious circumstances. Which is exposited during a surreal sequence near the beginning of the film, featuring a dozen TVs sitting in a black void, showing news broadcasts.
It’s one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen in a film.
So Sam is an orphan, being cared for by his grandparents.
You may be wondering who his mother was, as I did. Well, her name is Jordan Canas, and no, she wasn’t in the first film, nor is she in this one. In fact, she’s not even mentioned outside of supplemental material, and seems to only exist for the sole purpose of giving birth to our hero.
Not that I mind so much, but it appears she met Kevin shortly after the events of TRON, gave birth to Sam a year later, then died two years after that! So… yeah… her backstory’s pretty pointless. I’d actually prefer it if his mother was just some nameless mystery woman Flynn had a one night stand with, who gave up all custody of the kid. Or if they didn’t even bring it up in any form! This is pointless!
Actually, I’d prefer it if they didn’t mention her death at all, or if they said she just disappeared, like Flynn. That way we’d have a bit of fan wank fuel.
Or even better, not kill her off! Actually give her a role in the film. Even if it’s a minor one. I don’t see how her death gave our character any additional angst over what his father’s disappearance contributed. He didn’t end up getting raised by a stranger, or put in an orphanage. He was raised by his grandparents! Her death didn’t add anything! At all! Not to Sam or Flynn! So from a narrative perspective, why’d she die!?
For fuck’s sake! Applejack’s parents are more relevant than her!
Okay, now I’m rambling. So, let’s look at a different bit of backstory. Remember the first film ended with Flynn earning a cushy job at ENCOM? Well, turns out it was CEO. Which surprises me, since you would think the CEO would have a problem with that.
Anyway, yeah, he runs ENCOM, and after his disappearance, his son gains control of the company. But he is still a kid.
Fast forward 20 years, we see Sam break into ENCOM during the midnight release of the latest version of ENCOM OS 12. Which Cillian Murphy describes as the most secure operating system ever released.
I love Murphy here. In fact, I love him every time I see him. He’s always fantastic. But the problem is, this is his only scene. Bit of a waste, as I see. After all, if you’re gonna call in Cillian Murphy, give him a fucking role!
Of course he is appropriately sinister as Dillinger’s son, who somehow ended up on ENCOM’s board.
Bruce Boxleitner reprises his role as Alan Bradley, who’s also on ENCOM’s board. He questions the decision to charge for the new version, since they used to release it for free.
Murphy responds with this little gem: “The idea of sharing our software, or giving it away for free, died with Kevin Flynn.”
So… twenty years ago? Why did you wait until now?
So, Sam breaks into the main server room at ENCOM and uploads the source code for OS 12 directly onto the internet, just like his father would have wanted.
A security guard chases him onto the roof as Alan, Murphy, and the rest of the board discover his stunt. But the kid explains to the guard that everything’s alright. Since he owns the place, he’s allowed to break in.
He then jumps off the roof and pulls out a parachute.
Yes it seems our hero this time is an adrenaline junkie, which’ll thankfully play in well for future scenes.
I did find it a bit odd that TRON 2.0 had Jet sniping one baddy after another, meanwhile he has absolutely zero combat training prior to digitization.
Sam makes his getaway, but is stopped by a helicopter with a magical searchlight that stops people from running away.
He makes bail, and ends up at his apartment, made out of storage containers, and placed right by the shore. Bruce Wayne would be proud.
Alan shows up to convince Sam to take over ENCOM. Since obviously this latest stunt convinced the programmer of the kid’s high level of maturity.
Actually, that’s what Sam presumed. But he actually arrived to tell Sam about a page he received from Kevin’s office at the arcade, which should be impossible, since the number was disconnected a long time ago.
He’s right, it is impossible. And given what we learn later, it’s still impossible.
So, yeah, Flynn vanished 20 years ago, but Alan is the only one holding out hope that the man is still alive. He gives Sam the keys to the arcade, and takes off.
Here’s a question: why didn’t Alan go to investigate? Why send the kid? Or why not go with him!?
So, yeah, Sam goes to the arcade, and flips on the breaker switches, likely giving power to the place for the first time in twenty years.
He finds a secret passage behind an arcade machine, leading to a hidden basement, containing a massive computer system from the 80s with a full touchscreen interface, and it’s running Unix.
Oh, and there’s a digitization laser pointed at the chair.
So, like a moron, Sam activates the laser, and ends up in the computer as we get a brand new digitization sequence.
…WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT!?
What was wrong with the old sequence!? Why change it!? It’s not even an improvement, it’s just odd. We don’t see what actually happens, nor do we see things from Sam’s point of view as it happens. We just get an art-house interpretation of digitization rather than actual fucking digitization. This sequence actually tells us less than the original, and it kinda pisses me off.
So Sam’s in the computer, which looks just like the real world, only cleaner and glowyer.
As he stands out on the street, another searchlight appears, and like last time, he just stands there like a moron. And descending from on high, we see this film’s version of the Recognizer.
Well, I guess that’s fine, a complete redesign never hurt anybody. But I have to say, the change from flat geometric shapes to… this… kinda takes away from the digital feel established by the first film.
I will come back to this.
So, like last time, our moron of a protagonist just stands there as he gets abducted. Except this time, he has good reason not to run away. For the pavement around him has actually disappeared.
Much like in the first film, our hero is being transported to the game grid, where he has to fight for his life. And en route we see one of the goriest things one may ever see in a Disney movie.
That’s right, a third of his head is missing.
I will come back to this.
So, Sam is sent to the games, and upon arrival, four beautiful women strip him naked and wrap him in black rubber. They also give him an identity disk. Which has been redesigned and is no longer a disk, but a chakram.
The games begin. And Sam performs admirably, taking out two opponents before staging a jail break, escaping through cracks in the arena. But he’s caught as the playing area restructures itself, trapping him in a room with Rinzler.
Who’s Rinzler? Well, he’s actually Tron. Of course technically, we don’t know that yet. However I wouldn’t consider it a spoiler, since he has Tron’s emblem on his chest. Who the fuck else could it be!?
So, Rinzler, it seems, actually uses two identity disks as weapons. Actually one identity disk that can split into two. Now, how did that happen?
Like the last film, he’s an expert disk thrower. And the fight with Sam is bombastic enough. Which is one thing I’ll say for this film: The fight scenes are certainly better.
We even get a decent reverse gravity element, though I do find it odd that the reversal of gravity only affects the people. Since Sam breaks a glass panel, and the shards fall in the normal direction, even though gravity is reversed for him and Rinz.
The camera is also unaffected, which is a little disorienting.
So, during the fight Sam gets a few cuts and scrapes, catching Rinny’s eye. Since normally, programs don’t bleed, but dissolve into blocks when they’re injured.
Okay, I think I should talk about this.
In the first film, a derezzed (killed) program would burst into glowiness, and disappear. Here, this is how a program dies.
That’s fucking gross. I don’t know how else to put it other than, it’s fucking gross. There was no need to make the deaths in this film that graphic. What exactly were they thinking!?
So, yeah, Rinz notices something is amiss, as Sam bleeds on the arena floor. Yes, his digital blood gets all over the floor.
Fast forward a bit, he’s brought before a piece of rubber shaped like Jeff Bridges.
A while back, before this film premiered, I remember hearing all about how they were using advanced CG to create a realistic model of Jeff Bridges’ head for Clu, and Flynn in flashback. However, instead of young Jeff Bridges, we get Pixar’s version of a young Jeff Bridges.
This is fine for Clu, since he’s a program. But for Flynn’s flashbacks, it’s inexcusable. It almost looks like a rubber balloon with Jeff Bridges’ face on it.
Sometimes, the scene is blurry or distorted enough, that the face can pass. But there are enough scenes where that’s not the case, where it just looks too artificial.
If they obscured his face more, instead of trying to show off the shit CG, I would have forgiven it. But they don’t. From a distance, and when the camera is blurry, it’s fine. Every other time, it’s not.
Back to the story. At first, Sam thinks it’s his father, because he’s stupid. But he quickly realizes it’s actually Clu, who looks exactly like his father, and runs the entire system.
Which brings me to the plot of the film.
Clu is a tyrannical dictator that took over the Grid, Flynn’s prized system. He tried to kill Flynn and Tron and staged a genocidal war against the ISOs. A type of program which I’ll talk about in a minute.
Basically, Clu is Hitler.
This is ridiculous. Upping the stakes this way is just comical. It’s bad enough he’s a tyrannical dictator, holding the Grid in an iron fist since overthrowing Flynn and turning the entire system against the users. But he’s also a mass-murderer? Was that really necessary!?
Since the ISOs don’t otherwise play a role in the film, I think it’s safe to say this plot point can go fuck itself.
And overall, it points to a major problem with TRON: Legacy. It doesn’t feel like a TRON film. In fact, it reminds me of Flash Gordon.
Random guy, transported to another world, ruled by an evil despot, to rescue his father.
Oh, but Ming never conducted a genocidal war. Yeah, but if he did, I’m sure it would have had plot significance.
There’s nothing about this film that makes it feel like it’s taking place in a digital world. In fact, it seems the film’s staff did everything they could to make it feel like it wasn’t taking place in the digital world.
The world itself is extremely realistic. I pointed out the Recognizer, but virtually everything in the film is designed to look more realistic. Heck, the sky even has clouds. Real fucking clouds.
TRON didn’t have clouds, TRON 2.0 didn’t have clouds. Why do we have clouds!?
Oh, wait, that’s not entirely true.
See, clouds. But those clouds are clearly digital, which added to the overall feel of the film.
I know what you’re gonna say. Those clouds are that way because of the technological limitations of the time… So?
Yes, the only reason things were so blocky in TRON was because computers just weren’t capable of rendering anything more complex. But that’s what contributed to the look of the film. It helped create the atmosphere. For them to abandon the look because they can now, is ridiculous.
Take Silent Hill for instance. Silent Hill was a horror game for the original Playstation. The designers wanted the game to be in high-definition, they wanted complex models that looked good. So, to stop the processor from melting, they set the draw distance to two feet, and established the iconic fog of Silent Hill.
One of Silent Hill’s iconic elements, the one that makes the game as creepy as it is, was a kludge to compensate for the Playstation’s lack of power.
When the sequel was released on the Playstation 2, they could have easily removed the fog without straining the processor. However, they didn’t do that, and I’m glad. Because that would have been stupid.
You don’t remove an iconic aspect of a franchise, simply because you don’t need it anymore. The blocky environment is part of the established world of TRON. Abandoning it for the sequel is the dumbest thing they could have possibly done.
So back to the plot. Clu and Sam battle on the Light Cycle grid, and we get a look at the new Light Cycles.
Gone are the old cycles, and in with the new ones, which I kinda like. They remind me of the Super Light Cycles from TRON 2.0. But we have one problem: What’s trailing behind them.
Gone are the Jetwalls. In their stead, we have Light Ribbons, which are a lot more fluid, and semi-transparent.
In the original film, Light Cycles on the grid could only travel at right angles, and projected an impenetrable and opaque Jetwall behind them. But off the grid, they could travel however they wanted, and stopped trailing Jetwalls.
In TRON 2.0, rules were a bit stricter, since you remained on the grid at all times.
In contrast, the Light Cycles of TRON: Legacy move as they want, and leave semi-transparent Light Ribbons that are much wavier, but equally impenetrable.
I actually kinda like the new designs. But we do run into problems later on, which I will get to.
It’s also worth noting that these Light Cycles aren’t generated by Rods like in TRON and TRON 2.0, but Batons, which are pretty much identical. The only real difference being their appearance, and their increased versatility, since they can do more than generate Light Cycles and sniper rifles.
The fight is interrupted by an ATV flying onto the grid, projecting a ribbon behind it. The faceless driver tells Sam to get in, and she drives off. Her helmet retracts, revealing herself to be Thirteen from House.
This is Quorra, and I have to say, I really don’t like her. Olivia Wilde just seems bored and apathetic as she delivers her lines, and I have to agree. Her inflection is all over the place, and it’s as if she simply didn’t care about her performance.
Given that she’s a program, this could work. However the other programs we meet seem to actually have personalities. And given what we learn later, Quorra being more program-like than others, actually makes less sense.
She drives him to a secret hideout in the middle of nowhere, in her bright glowy vehicle, along a dark, ruined landscape.
How has no one found them before now? Just look for the glowing car!
So, who’s waiting in the hidden base? None other than Kevin Flynn, played by an in-the-flesh Jeff Bridges. And thank fuck for that!
Yes, as we expected, it seems Kevin spent the past twenty years digitized in the computer. And, not that I’m complaining, but why is he old?
I mean, I get it’s been twenty years, but he’s been digitized. You’d think that would preserve him in some way. Stop him from aging. He’s just data. Unless you have a shit storage medium, data doesn’t really change. At least, not like that. Unless Kevin made those physical changes intentionally, it makes no sense.
I’m gonna assume he did it intentionally.
Besides, he’s the only one. Neither Clu, nor Quorra age during the twenty years since his disappearance. So why did he age!?
Okay, he’s a user, but I thought that users, once digitized, were, for the most part, indistinguishable from programs. Save for higher complexity and various superpowers.
Whatever, it’s a bittersweet family reunion for Flynn, though we don’t know why yet.
Sam takes the opportunity to look around the hideout, and we see a shelf full of ebooks… that look like real books.
I find this bizarre… to say the least. This is supposed to be a digital world! Did he intentionally make them look like that!? Someone tell me the story behind these books!
Anyway, it’s time for dinner!
Okay, I think the art director is trolling us at this point.
I mean sure, the glasses of pure liquid energy are fine. That originates from the first movie. But we see a roasted pig in the middle, green beans, salad, oranges, sliced ham and dinner rolls. Where did all this food come from!? Did Flynn digitize a pig!? Did he digitize a packet of seeds and some soil!? Where did it come from!?
I’d buy this if the food was unrecognisable, or uncanny. Like gelatinous blue blocks or apples made of silver. But that’s not what we get! So where did it come from? Did he code it? Does he have a replicator? WHAT!?
Also, why do they even have food? They don’t need it. They’re all code. Computer code. They don’t need nutrients, not even slightly. They’re not getting energy from it, that’s what the drinks are for. So what’s in the food? Some type of code? Vital data? What!?
Oh, I have a headache.
Whatever, we’re not getting answers, let’s move on. It’s time for exposition.
We learn about the origins of the grid, and a crucial plot point. “Hours in here were just minutes back home,” says Flynn.
So unlike TRON 2.0, time moves faster in the computer. We’ll say it’s by a factor of 60 given this line of dialogue. But it also means Flynn’s been trapped inside for well over a thousand years from his perspective.
…No wonder he’s old. I’m surprised he didn’t lose it.
Of course that’s assuming the system was running the whole time. Which isn’t necessarily true, given the fact that Sam switched on the power when he arrived. But I’ll get back to this.
Then, we learn about the ISOs. Isomorphic algorithms. Programs that spontaneously appeared on the grid. Coded by no one. Flynn says the data the held could have revolutionized the world. I don’t see how, but whatever…
It seems the ISOs just randomly popped up on Flynn’s system for some unexplained reason. And I don’t get it. Are we saying it might have been caused by Flynn? His presence on the Grid caused the ISOs to form?
I still don’t get it.
They emerged from the Sea of Simulation.
Is this supposed to reference some ancient myth or something?
The Sea of Simulation. You know, that thing made an appearance in the first film too. But from there, all we know is that Gridbugs would spontaneously form in it. A likely analogy for program glitches.
Could the ISOs be an advanced form of Gridbug? Sentient, but random?
You know, whatever. I’m giving up on trying to analyse this film.
So, Clu saw the ISOs as an imperfection, and he wiped them out. Remember that genocide I mentioned earlier!?
He also tried to kill Flynn and Tron. We see the battle/attempted assassination, and I don’t see why Tron didn’t just kill Clu, since he does get the opportunity to do just that. Given the circumstances it makes little sense.
Flynn explains the digitization portal is only open for about eight hours, and can only be opened from the outside. And because of the coup, the portal closed before he could leave. That was why he never came home.
That’s a pretty shit design-scheme, Flynn. I understand that the portal takes a lot of power and all, and that it couldn’t stay open forever. But why not have it merely wait until someone leaves? Or better yet, just have a way to open it from within! Give me one reason you couldn’t do that!
Oh, we actually do get a reason. Since Flynn mentions that with the portal now open, Clu, or any other program, can, hypothetically, leave the system and enter reality.
Oh for the love of shit! Now I know they’re trolling us.
I mean, I get it, I had an idea for a TRON 2.0 fanfic that would have used a similar idea. But in that story, they would have used the remains of a partially derezzed user to get the program out. So it could make a bit of sense. It would have still been fucking asinine, but it would have been believable.
Why? Well, first off, when a user is digitized, the matter that composes their body is held in the beam. It doesn’t just disappear. And when they leave, the matter is shot back out, and everything reverts.
This is what was established in the first film, this is not headcanon, I’m not making it up.
So if Clu does manage to leave… where would the matter come from?
Okay, maybe he could reorganize the matter that was once Sam or Flynn, to create his own body. But he also wants to undigitize his entire army, which wouldn’t fucking work!
Second, a digitized user is much more complex than any program. At least it’s supposed to be. After all, that data contains information about every molecule of their bodies. If that is just as complex as an email client, we have a problem!
Okay, sure. It’s stated that Clu would need Flynn’s disk to get out, which, like in my story, could allow him fill in the gaps in his own program, and make him, effectively, a user.
But I’m not gonna buy that because I refuse to believe that a disk contains an exact copy of the entire program. That would be insane, and such a mechanic is never mentioned in the film. They only say that a disk contains a copy of their memories, not their entire code.
Also, it’s only Flynn’s disk that has that power. Apparently, Sam’s disk won’t work, otherwise the film would have been over in about forty minutes. So it’s not the disk of a user he needs, but the specific disk of Kevin Flynn. And there’s no logical reason for that.
Seriously, this doesn’t make sense!
However, it would make sense if this wasn’t a TRON film. If the digitization laser was a portal to a parallel universe, and not a computer system, it would make sense. But it’s not… it’s TRON.
Flynn then mentions that if Clu gets out, it’s game over, since he doesn’t like imperfection.
Yes, one man wearing a glowy biker outfit could cause a lot of damage, couldn’t he?
At worst, he’d be a goddamn serial killer, stabbing hookers in back alleys. It’d fucking suck, but I’m not worried.
Nor am I worried about his weapons. Since there is no way they’d work in the real world. See, in the real world, we operate by these things called physics. Sort of throws a wrench in his plans.
Okay, fine, once out he could delete Sam, Flynn, Quorra, and any resistance groups from the system’s command line. But I don’t see why I should care about that. It’s just a computer.
At least in the first film, the threat of Micky hacking the Pentagon was plausible and dramatic. This is just absurd and pointless.
So what’s the plan? Flynn decides to stay and do nothing, hoping Clu can be taken down by the slowly brewing resistance.
Unfortunately, this would trap Sam in the system as well. Now, why does Flynn want to do this? Because the two of them making a run for the portal is exactly what Clu wants, which is exactly why he sent the page.
Yeah, it wasn’t Flynn, it was Clu. But I have only one question: How?
I’m asking honestly. Because it’s established that the system is closed, it’s not connected to anything, with the exception of the digitization laser. So how exactly did Clu send a page?
There’s no explanation for this, and it pisses me off. How’d he do it? Was that a lie? Also, what was powering the system during that time?
This is possibly the most confusing part. Sam turned on the power when he entered. And in order for Clu to have done anything during the past twenty years, the place needed power. Unless Clu didn’t send the page, and the system was off the entire time!
Whatever. Sam decides to try a different strategy: Make a run for the portal on his own. Once outside, he’d shut Clu down from the command line.
It’s a simple command:
killall -v /bin/genocidalcunt
Finally, some reference to them living in a computer. If it was just a parallel universe, he couldn’t do that.
Quorra tells him to listen to his father. But when she realizes how steadfast he is, she gives him the contact information for a program named Zuse.
He steals his father’s Light Cycle, and ends up in downtown Tron City. Which turns out to be a stupid move, since Clu’s forces are able to trace the Light Cycle back to the hideout. And I guess Flynn knew that, since he decides to leave before Clu shows up.
And show up he does, with a small entourage. And as Clu starts examining the room, he has a flashback to his own birth, which sends him into a rage.
I get the feeling they were trying to make Clu look a bit sympathetic. Flynn programmed him to create the perfect system. The ISO holocaust was just him following his programming, and listening to his creator. To be rejected like that, simply for obeying, must have hurt like a bitch.
However it’s lost on me because his play dough face couldn’t emote if it’s code depended on it.
Meanwhile, Sam meets up with one of the reverse strippers from earlier in the film. She leads him to the End of Line Club, where they meet Castor, Zuse’s secretary, played by some cunt wearing a David Bowie costume. He’s also Zuse himself. Which is fucked up. He used to go by Zuse openly, but after The Purge, he was forced to reinvent himself. So why doesn’t anyone remember what Zuse looks like? That’d probably blow his cover.
So as Zuse/Castor is explaining the plan to get Sam to the portal, the club is attacked by Clu’s forces, who enter by killing one of the patrons.
Da hell… Was that really necessary!?
Anyway, they were apparently summoned by the owner. Sam’s been betrayed.
Big fight scene ensues, and Sam is backed up by several resistance members, and Quorra, who arrives on the scene. The guards kick their asses, and Quorra’s arm is severed. Then Flynn arrives, touching the floor and causing the lights to flicker. This creates enough of a distraction to allow the goodies to get the upper hand. Sam grabs an unconscious Quorra, and they make a break for it. But in the process, one of the guards grabs Flynn’s disk with some sort of sticky rope.
Then David Bowie kills the guard, and takes the disk.
Lotta death in this film.
Flynn gets trapped in the club elevator before he can react, and it’s sent hurtling down to ground level. He uses his user powers to slow the lift so they don’t die.
Now, the situation’s changed. They need a new plan, and staying still won’t work. So Flynn decides to follow Sam’s advice and leg it. They’ll beat Clu to the portal and shut him down from the outside.
Wow, that’s almost logical. Wasn’t expecting that.
They jump on a solar sailer heading straight for the portal, and apparently not questioning why anyone other than themselves would want to go to the portal, and by extension, why a solar sailer would already be heading there.
So, en route, Flynn examines Quorra’s disk, and extracts the damaged code, revealing she’s an ISO in the process. Apparently, the only one to survive Clu’s genocide.
He explains that she could change everything in the outside world. But with no explanation as to how.
After her disk is reattached she begins to regenerate her missing arm, almost like magic.
As Flynn is catching up on the past twenty years, he says The Grid looked a lot different twenty years ago. Problem though, it looked exactly the same in flashbacks.
Actually there’s another problem I have with this film: The lighting.
The Tron System, as it’s known, is shrouded in what appears to be permanent darkness. The only light emanating from buildings and programs. Everyone wears black, with a few exceptions, and the sky is dark, cloudy and depressing.
What… the… fuck!?
This dark and depressing landscape upsets me. Why can’t we have light!? Why can’t we have colour!? Neither TRON, nor TRON 2.0 did anything like this.
Okay, much of ENCOM’s servers were devoid of proper lighting. But that was the exception, not the rule. And once Micky was killed, there were suddenly a lot more lights.
But this film is absolutely devoid of light. Even in the real world, everything is dark and monochromatic.
True, this scene took place at night, but that doesn’t mean ENCOM’s boardroom can’t have better lighting, or more colour. It actually makes less sense here, since you’d think they’d be wearing more colours than grey, dark grey, and brown.
So, anyway, father and son bond. Flynn expresses regret for devoting so much time to the system, and so little to reality, and his son. In contrast, Sam expresses envy, amazed at all his father created, even if it did end badly.
Meanwhile, Clu visits Castor to grab Flynn’s Disk. And this is a very odd sequence. The entrepreneur starts stammering and rambling, before handing over the disk.
Then for some reason, as Clu leaves, his guards plant bombs throughout the club. Presumably, this kills Castor, but it’s never explained why. Why exactly did Clu kill him. There is no reason, is there? I understand he’s evil and all, but even then, we need a reason for him to kill.
He killed the ISOs because he saw them as a flaw. Sure, it’s a stupid reason, but it’s a reason. It exists!
Back on the sailer, Quorra finally comes to, and tells us the story of the anti-ISO holocaust. She mentions that a “sympathetic program” smuggled her out of the city before Flynn took her in.
…You know, this line really pisses me off, and I would explain why. Except this piece is long enough, I think I’ll save it for another entry.
Quorra mentions the portal, which looks a bit like a sun, peeking through the clouds. She says it used to be a sign that the creator was with them.
Okay, hold on. Is the portal visible throughout the system? I guess so. Well, in that case, why did everyone act so shocked that a user was in the system, when Sam told everyone his name?
I don’t get it, they should have said, “Oh, it’s him, alright.”
In fact, the guards should have been on the lookout for a user. But there’s no sign that they were, especially since Sam could have died in the games, and he was more useful to Clu alive.
Since someone will probably bring it up, I doubt the other programs were trying to actually kill Sam during the light cycle battle, since it was probably staged to get Flynn’s attention. So that doesn’t count.
We start getting hints of a budding romance between Sam and Quorra. And I thought the guy who married his DS was pathetic.
Then, Flynn yells at the two to get below deck, as a recogniser enters his perif, and he says the giant enemy ship appearing through the clouds isn’t supposed to be there.
Yeah, there was also no reason for a solar sailer to be going to the portal, so why it took him this long to realize something was wrong is beyond me.
Well, after a thousand cycles, I guess his subroutines started to degrade.
Oh, then they decide to take a look at the cargo. Which happens to be a couple hundred programs in stasis.
Why? Well, it seems Clu is building an army, and since he can’t create new programs, he’s training old ones to be soldiers. Likely through some type of brainwashing technique.
I know I could be using computer terminology here, but since the movie isn’t trying to act like it’s about digital technology, why should I!?
So the sailer docks in Clu’s ship, and as they try to sneak off, Quorra spots EvilTron, who’s looking for them.
She hands Flynn her disk, and runs off, providing a distraction, as the users make a run for it.
Flynn spots Rinzler as he captures the ISO, and acts shocked that Tron’s alive.
Wait, is that the first time he saw the program? I mean, yeah, sure, the moment he spots the guy it’d make sense he’d notice they’re one in the same.
Actually, scratch that. He’s pretty far away, and his face is covered, so I don’t see how Flynn would recognise him. But why didn’t he know this sooner?
Whatever. Clu attaches Flynn’s disk to his ship’s systems, and the code spreads throughout the ship.
As the lines of code brighten, I’m briefly reminded of the sharp geometric shapes of the first film. But it’s gone just as quickly.
Clu and Quorra have a little chat, and it really drives home just how unreal Clu’s face is. Even next to Olivia Wilde’s plastic facsimile, Clu still looks likes a sheet of rubber. It’s insane.
This is particularly noticeable whenever he talks.
I’d forgive it if all the characters were like that, but they’re not.
So Clu gives a speech to his army, telling them all about how he plans to bring them all into the outside world and makes a very interesting point.
“And unlike our selfish creator, who reserved the privilege of our world only for himself. I will make their world open and available to all of us.”
Three things: First of all, I refer you to my earlier point about the limited matter that’s available to him. Second, the laser and system are stored in an underground lab. The only way in or out of that room is through a narrow stairway, hidden behind an old arcade machine. It’s gonna be very hard to stage an invasion.
And my third point: He’s right.
In TRON 2.0 the digitization technology was lost upon Micky’s death, since he held the correction algorithms required for proper conversion, or his advanced programming allowed him to run the calculations without. Which is a damn good explanation for its absence in the world at large. Why it’s not being used in day-to-day life, even on the black market.
Remember when I talked about Inception, and how the dream sharing technology had a real impact on society? Well, here the digitization tech doesn’t have such an impact, and I’m okay with that, assuming there’s a reason.
TRON 2.0 had a good reason, the technology didn’t exist.
In TRON: Legacy, the reason is simple: Flynn kept the technology in his basement and wouldn’t let anyone else have it. What a dick.
Is he supposed to be our hero? Keeping this advanced piece of technology to himself? Oh sure, it could be abused, TRON 2.0 covered that. But like Inception, it would also create new industries, where people learn to protect their data against similar abuses.
I already explained that digitization could change the world, since it’s basically a form of teleportation. And in this film they talk about how the ability to dive right into the digital landscape and alter things at will on the ground level, allow some pretty amazing stuff to happen.
Not only that, it could completely revolutionize medicine. Fatal diseases are merely code in the computer, and can be easily extracted. Also, backup copies can be made of people, so if they die, you can just restore them from memory. It also works as a form of cryogenic storage. Because while Flynn did age during those twenty years, he only aged by about twenty years. Despite the fact that around a thousand passed from his perspective.
However, this technology is his and his alone. In fact, we don’t hear about him donating the laser and programming to a university for applied research or anything. NO! It’s all his! He’s in charge! He’s the asshole!
You see why I prefer TRON 2.0?
So, now, with the disk in his possession, our benevolent psychopath steers his ship straight into the portal to reality.
Flynn reminds Sam of the mission, to make a run from the portal and shut Clu down from the outside. But Sam refuses to go without his father.
So Sam heads straight for the command deck, so he can grab the disk, and the guards within barely slow him down. He walks straight up to it like a bad ass, as Clu’s second-in-command says, “long live the users,” like a goddamn pussy.
You may wonder why I never mentioned him up until now. Well, just like Quorra, and another minor character named Gem, he has no personality, impact, and extremely little plot significance, so I don’t care about him.
Meanwhile, Flynn sneaks up behind a guard and reprograms him to grant him access to a jet. The guard refuses at first, so Flynn hits him on the head like a busted TV, and the new programming takes. I find this hilarious, and again, I have to confess, this is one of the few times they actually admit they’re in a computer. So there’s that.
So, Sam grabs the disk and alarms go off immediately. With no time to waste he starts to choke the pussy bitch asking about Quorra.
But there’s no need since Rinzler walks in, with the girl in tow.
She yells at him to go, and I have to ask: Go where? You two are standing right in front of the only exit. Seriously, where is he supposed to go?
But regardless, Sam takes a cue from his opponent, and uses both disks as weapons. He throws one disk, Tron dodges. He throws the other, and just as Rinny’s about to dodge, Quorra kicks him in the face.
Why not let the disk kill him?
Sam grabs some type of backpack, and they jump out the giant bay window overlooking the ship. He sprouts big wings and they carry the two down for a gentle landing.
Two questions: How’d he know it was there, and how’d he know what it was?
The pack was basically a parachute, but he had no way of knowing it. In fact, there was no reason for a parachute to be on the bridge. At least, I can’t think of a reason.
They take off in a Light Jet. It’s colours changing to reflect the fact that our heroes control it. Which also means it’s easier for Clu’s forces to identify the thing.
As they make their getaway, Flynn asks where his son learned how to jump out a window. Which is a stupid question, but Sam says he recently jumped off ENCOM Tower, and Flynn is surprised that there’s an ENCOM Tower. Yes, it’s not like it existed in the first film-oh, wait-YES IT DID! IT MOST CERTAINLY DID!
Whatever, so the team flies across the Sea, and are chased by a few smaller jets trailing behind.
Oh, and like their land based cousins, Light Jets project Light Ribbons behind them.
Which are completely useless, or at least they should be completely useless.
You see, on land, a light ribbon is an effective weapon because a light ribbon across your path is unavoidable. However the same thing in a jet is actually easily avoidable by steering around it. If you spot a light ribbon in your path, just pull up, or down, and you’re fine.
The jets are also equipped with guns however, and even though the jets manage to overtake our heroes to plant Light Ribbon barriers, they don’t bother just turning around and shooting at them head on. Seems that would be more effective.
The Ribbons are effective to a certain extent, mostly because of our antagonists’ shit reaction time.
The fight’s pretty intense, they even manage to bring the battle above the cloud layer.
The fact that I can say those words regarding a digital world makes me cry.
During the fight Rinz flies a loop around our heroes, and sees Flynn’s face. This, somehow, for some reason, triggers some old memories of Tron’s, and he turns on his master, crashing his jet directly into Clu’s.
However both survive the incident, and begin to free fall into the Sea of Simulation.
But like any smart warrior, Tron keeps a spare Baton, which he pulls out to generate a new Light Jet.
Actually, on that note, during the Light Cycle battle earlier in the film, Sam acquires a second baton from one of his defeated allies, which he pockets. But nothing ever came of it so I don’t see the point.
So as Tron pulls out the Baton, he’s tackled by Clu, who wrestles it from him and generates a Light Jet to fly after our heroes, and not die.
Tron impacts the water, and floats into the depths as his orange lights flicker out, meaning he’s dead.
Then for some reason, he lights up again, this time in bright white, signalling his changed allegiance.
How? Why? Don’t care. He doesn’t make another appearance after this.
So they fly to the portal, and land on some type of floating structure.
Wait… hang on. If the portal’s all the way out here, why did Sam’s arrival happen in the middle of the city?
More headache! Forget it!
So, they land and approach the portal, but Clu’s waiting, standing in the middle of the bridge.
Um… how’d he get there without them noticing? And where’d he land the Light Jet?
I don’t mean: Where’s the Light Jet? It doesn’t exist anymore. It’s stored in the Baton. I mean: Where’d he land it? Since I don’t see any space for him to land an aircraft. And if he just turned it off and landed on his feet, his momentum would cause himself to tumble and fall off the bridge.
Ow, my head!
So Flynn tries to talk Clu down, but instead, the asshole just kicks his creator, causing him to fall.
Sam attacks, and Clu throws him closer to his goal. Yeah, that’ll teach him!
Quorra also manages to get past Clu, and Flynn mentions his disk.
So Clu walks up to Flynn, the bridge retracting, as Quorra and Sam go straight for the exit.
Yes, Quorra too. You see Flynn switched out his disk for Quorra’s, so she could make it out. And it’s still stupid for all the reasons I mentioned earlier.
Once Clu realizes this, he jumps the gap, and manages to make it across, holding a precarious grip on the overhang.
As he climbs up, Sam and Quorra are already in the stream. So to stop the despot, Flynn touches the ground, which somehow causes Clu to freeze in midair, and he starts to get pulled back. Then, somehow, and for some reason, Flynn absorbs Clu back into his body. Then, somehow, and for some reason, he explodes.
We get some kind of blur-fade back to the real world, where Sam unplugs a cable that was connecting his phone to the system. He then pulls a card out of his phone, attached to a chain that he hangs around his neck.
At first, I assumed the card was holding Quorra, since it would make sense that her dedigitization wouldn’t work. Instead she’d be suspended in the data stream, which he’d then upload to a card which he’d decide to hold next to his heart, since he cared about it so much.
But, more likely, it’s actually the entire system. Since that machine was built in the early 80’s, and the same power and capacity and whatnot can be found on even the cheapest cell phone. Hell, I’m pretty sure my MP3 player is more powerful. So if I were Sam, I’d install some lightweight VM software my phone, and transfer the entire system. If only for ease of access. Then, just for fun, I’d install a digitization laser in my cell phone.
Actually, it seems the card is actually running something, since the light on it is flashing. Is that chip a computer? Probably. It’s likely actively running the entire Tron System. How strange.
He shuts down the main system and steps outside, where Alan’s waiting. Sam decides to finally take over ENCOM, and appoints Alan as chairman.
Though… I don’t see why. Why exactly did he decide to take the company back? Was it because he no longer thought his father abandoned him?
I’m not sure I get it.
But I’m sure you’re all wondering what happened to Quorra. Well, she’s waiting near Sam’s motorbike.
Yes, she made it into the physical world. And I know I had a problem earlier, but I think I can forgive it here. Sure, it made no sense for Clu, but for Quorra, it actually can, with a bit of lawyering.
To start, for some stupid reason, we don’t get to see their return. So, we can assume Sam made it out first, and reassigned all the matter that used to belong to his father, who’s now dead, to integrate Quorra.
Now, users are more complex than programs. But Quorra isn’t just any program, she’s an ISO. And they’re much more complex. So I could buy that even with the limited amount of data available on the disk of a user, she could convert herself to be indistinguishable from them, and dedigitize.
I can buy that. Her unique nature, combined with the disk of a user, and the fact that his father’s dead, allowed Sam to bring his shoehorned love interest into the real world.
Hentai Otakus everywhere are jealous.
The two drive off, and Quorra gets her first look at a proper sunrise, fucking amazed at what the rest of the world would take for granted.
So that’s TRON: Legacy. User damn it!
How could one consider this a worthy sequel to TRON!? It’s just inconceivable. The characters are bland, several plot points go nowhere, and the logic is completely off kilter.
But all that said, I cannot say that TRON: Legacy is a bad film. Just that it’s a bad TRON film.
Notice that most of my complaints were based on the fact that this is supposed to take place within a computer system. A digital landscape. But several plot points and design choices fail to mesh with that concept. It’s as if the writers wanted to make a movie more akin to Flash Gordon than TRON.
However, the movie itself is engaging, and still a bit surreal.
The soundtrack is engaging without being distracting. Which is fantastic, and I wouldn’t have expected that from Daft Punk. I also think it’s a lot better than the more orchestral soundtrack from the first film, but that’s my view.
And yes, the plot doesn’t work in the TRON universe. So? It still works. Just pretend it’s not TRON and you’ll have a great time.
Personally, I kinda like the film. It’s entertaining enough, as it is.
But the ending raises a few problems don’t it?
With the Tron System shut down, further events can’t happen in the franchise. With the exception of prequels, since there’s over a thousand cycles of history that have still not been covered.
But there’s an inherent problem with prequels. For the most part, prequels have an obligation to not contradict anything that comes after. So a character that’s alive in TRON: Legacy, you can’t place in a life or death situation, since we already know they survive.
It takes away a bit of the dramatic tension. Take Star Wars for instance. Everyone who sat down and watched episode one already knew that Anakin would become evil. So when it did happen in episode three, no one was surprised. They also weren’t surprised of his genocidal campaign.
All that said, there is one way to do a prequel and still have it work. It’s so simple and I wish TRON: Legacy had that. But we’ll talk about this another time.