The wait is finally over. The culmination of almost 30 years of waiting and hoping (for those old enough to remember 30 years ago) is upon us.
“TRON: Legacy” was released Friday at midnight screenings across America. The local United Artists theater was not exactly packed, but there was at least one fan who dressed up in TRON regalia. Okay, it was just me. Everyone else was in regular “real world” clothes. But I enjoyed it. Some may say that hot-gluing a Frisbee to my back and a plastic stick to my leg is a bit excessive. Some may say that my duct tape hat looks more like a Woody Allen film sketch than a circuitry-laden helmet. Some may say that this movie is not the greatest film of the last 27 years. But I say having an Identity disc on my back, a baton at my side, and my TRON helmet firmly on my head, I am ready to fight for the Users against the Warrior Elite of the New System in the greatest film of the last 27 years.
This is not just a movie, it is a milestone of human achievement. When our descendants look back on the beginning of this millennium as we now look back on 1910, our children’s children will still think of the TRON system and the trial and tribulations of the Users vs. those programs that would refute them and seek to take power.
Sherman set the way back machine to 1982, the original “Tron” movie. Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges)- ENCOM’s brightest young software developer. He invented a whole lineup of video games for the arcades of the day, but his files were stolen by another software developer – not so young, not so bright, but very, very sneaky – Ed Dillinger. When Flynn tries to access the files, the proof of his creation, from a main system terminal, the operating system, Master Control Program, uses an experimental laser to bring Flynn into the world of The Grid – a digital realm where programs look like people that go about their lives in the system, looking to the skies for their User to guide them.
Flynn teams up with an Internet security program, Tron (Bruce Boxleitner). Together they take down the MCP, the system is free once again and Flynn is sent back to the real world with the proof he needs to take down Dillinger and eventually become CEO of ENCOM.
Now 27 years later, Kevin Flynn is missing – has been for 20 years. Flynn’s friend and colleague, and Tron’s User, Allen Bradley (Boxleitner) receives a page from Flynn at his arcade, despite Flynn’s absence and the arcade being shut down. He sends Kevin’s son, Sam Flynn (Garret Hedlund) to check it out. Sam finds his father’s secret terminal and private server. With its own laser. Sam is sucked into the system that his father built, but not the system from the first movie. This is a new system made entirely by Kevin.
Upon arriving, Sam sees that Kevin’s trusted friend and ally Clu (also Jeff Bridges, but digitally enhanced to look like he did in 1989) has turned against him. Clu was tasked with making the perfect system, but when new digital life forms from the Sea of Simulation, Clu sees these Isometric Algorithms – Isos – as imperfect because they were not created by the User, Flynn.
Kevin is trapped in the system as Clu turns it from a free and open Grid to an Orwellian police state. The only way Sam can save his father and return home is to pass through the portal on the outer edges of the Outlands. Father and son embark on a perilous journey through a digital frontier filled with gladiatorial games of the Grid, an army of repurposed programs, hidden alliances, amazing special effects, and a soundtrack that you will never forget.
This really is the best movie of the last 27 years. I loved it. Of course, I am a bit biased because I have seen the original Tron at least 200 times (the play counter on my computer is 147 times, but that is not including watching the VHS and DVD). Before you do anything else, watch the original “Tron,” and then go see “TRON: Legacy.” It is just spectacular.
The reason I say watch the first one first is not because you need to see it to understand, but because there are a lot of little gags from the first one that are like inside jokes for those who know. And also, at one point in this film there is a character arc point that is so much more powerful if you know the first film. This is a sequel after all. You would not care so much about Frodo in “Return of the King” if you hadn’t seen the first two movies.
When your grandchildren ask you about “TRON: Legacy,” as I am sure they will for years to come, you will be glad that you took advantage of the opportunity to see it on the big screen as many times as you could in its first run. You will not regret it.
Rated PG for digital violence. Directed by Joseph Kosinski, I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars.
Long live the Users! End of Line.