The Matrix can keep its red pills and blue pills and its bullet time. The Grid is back. TRON: Legacy expands on the electronic world introduced in Disney’s 1983 epic TRON, and it demonstrates the right way to dust off a long-dormant franchise: Rather than remaking or “rebooting” the original, it constructs a believable scenario that sets up a sudden return to the digital frontier.
If you’re going to see it in the theater — which you really should want to do — be sure you see it in IMAX 3-D. Unlike the many 3-D retrofits that have flooded theaters of late, TRON was made for this format. Without it the movie would still be an immersive experience, but it would be greatly diminished. Here, 3-D is not a gimmick but rather a subtle tool. The plot (and there is one — more in a bit) is in the driver’s seat, as it should be. But the subtle effects are powerful.
Some of the film’s harsher critics are right about one thing: The movie is too long. Or at least it seems that way, and that’s the same thing. The story doesn’t drag all that much, or at least when it does we are given so much to look at that we don’t realize it. But it is equal parts cerebral and martial, so there’s something in there for everyone. It’s not so tech-heavy that the less savvy among the audience will be left scratching their heads, and it’s thoughtful without being ponderous.
The critics who say it’s nothing but special effects will never be willing to accept that a film that so spectacularly brings the spectacular to life can have a story. The movie has a plot, and it’s pretty tight as sci-fi goes. If they’re not willing to suspend their disbelief they need to find another line of work.
I won’t go into the movie’s awesome electronic-orchestral score by Daft Punk — other blogs such as Up on the Sun and GeekDad have far more informed opinions on that than I have to offer — other than to say it’s an integral part of the film and will probably be earning a spot in my collection rather soon.
What TRON: Legacy isn’t is a groundbreaking masterpiece that will change the world. What it is is a fun ride, and it’s a fitting tribute to the granddaddy of all CGI films that did change moviemaking forever … eventually. It just took the rest of the world a little longer to catch up to it. That in no way can diminish the beauty of this enchanting sequel.