Tron enters the third dimension

On his directorial debut, Joseph Kosinski’s “Tron: Legacy” is the sequel to “Tron” first released in the 1980s. The original was arguably the first ever big CGI film and the follow-up is a hugely CGI film itself, being named the ‘3D film of the year’ and costing a modest $200m. Most importantly, “Tron: Legacy” shows us something brand new, both in 3D and in graphic imagery.

The film begins with the day that, hero from the original film, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) disappears and then moves twenty years into the future where we meet his son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), on the search for his father.

Transported into the virtual world created in the first film, the film moves seamlessly from 2D to 3D. Tron uses 3D to great effect rather than as a gimmick.


Tron Legacy is the follow up to the revolutionary 1986 original. Photo: Disney

In the infinite, stylistic world of the Grid, the 3D disappears into the distance and adds to the gorgeous look of the film. There’s only one moment where the 3D causes a fright; the rest is used to the film’s benefit, picking out the points of interest and really emphasising the high contrast look. The action sequences, including LightCycle battles and disk battles, were intense and certainly improved on the technology of the 1986 incarnation.

The original film had certain limitations to the effects that it could make, which gave it its unique look, and Legacy does well to stay true to this style. The contrasting colours and blue tones of the virtual world really give it the feel of the original, but the main aspect to do this is the return of a young Jeff Bridges.
Bridges returns as Kevin Flynn, aged accordingly, but in both the 1989 scenes and with virtual counterpart, Clu, he is still the 37 year old from the original. How so?

Using technology first utilised in “Avatar”, Bridges’ younger looking characters are fully CGI, using motion capture techniques to add Bridges’ performance onto the computer generated characters. Having the same actor in two ages on the same film is a first and possibly not the last.

Bridges himself does justice to the characters he played 26 years previously and the interaction between new characters Sam (Hedlund) and Quorra (Olivia Wilde) is very believable. Hedlund, in probably his biggest part so far, showed his potential as an action hero. A mention is needed for Michael Sheen also, who played the most charismatic and exciting character in the film – Castor.

The film’s score is composed by Daft Punk who have a cameo performance, appearing in their iconic helmets as DJs of a club. The music fits with the very futuristic style of the film and, apart from the music, the sound design of the film is exceptional.

All this said the storyline is still as complex and confusing as the original. Including two dimensions, a virtual society of multiple races and multiple versions of the same character, all with backgrounds separate to this sequel; it’s hard to make sense of Legacy at times. What is apparent in the film is striving for perfection in humanity and the love between a father and a son, some nice themes that can be picked out of a complicated plotline.

“Tron: Legacy” is a very stylistic and beautiful film with one of the best uses of 3D so far which makes it a must see for film fans. However, for those looking for a film which is a bit of an easier watch, then the visual effects won’t provide a big enough attraction.

2 Responses to Tron enters the third dimension

  1. I wouldn’t say the plot was confusing but it was a little clichéd in spite of the complex premise. It’s not a bad plot but certainly not amazing. The music and the entire look of the film completely make up for that… the whole experience of watching it was just fantastic.

    Also, I want a light cycle.

  2. Joel Murray says:

    Thanks, Suzy, for the comment!

    I think the plot was confusing mostly if you haven’t experienced the original; a lot of the plot was grounded in the first plotline so if you didn’t know that, it may not have made as much sense.

    But, yes, the film was a spectacle for sure. And when you find your light cycle, let me know where you got it!