Sarcasm aside, though, if you’re a geek I’m willing to bet you’re excited about the movie, and that you’ve got a healthy mix of giddy anticipation and a little anxious trepidation about seeing it. After all, until you’ve seen it it can’t break your heart, right? So, to help you cope and to inform you, here are the answers to ten questions you probably have about Tron: Legacy — with no spoilers beyond what’s been shown in trailers.
1. Give it to me straight: Sequel-wise, are we talking Empire Strikes Back or Matrix Reloaded?
Way closer to Empire, I’m glad to say. In fact, I might almost go so far as to say it’s in Wrath of Khan territory, since, let’s be frank, the original film is no Star Wars (or A New Hope, if you prefer). It stays true to the, well, legacy of the first film and builds on it. If the first film was spectacular for 1982, this one is spectacular for 2010 — which doesn’t sound that impressive until you consider how much more it takes to be spectacular today.
2. Do I (or my kids) have to have seen the original for this film to make sense?
No. Disney didn’t get where it is by acting foolish, and it would be pretty foolish to depend on people having seen a 28-year-old movie (especially when you’ve gone to enormous lengths to make it difficult to watch it legally). Suffice it to say there’s enough back-story exposition to give Legacy solid ground to stand on. Which is not to say that, standing on solid ground, its plot isn’t shaky at all.
3. All right, then, how well does the story hold up?
It’s a predictable plot. I doubt many people over the age of 12 will be surprised by its twists. If I’m honest, I have to say that the story is a bit sketchy, with the threads tying the scenes together not always clear. In many places, the plot seems to exist only to get you from one gorgeous eye-candy sequence to the next. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.
I would have liked to see a little more substance to the story. The beginning has a bit about free software, which is nice to see. But Legacy doesn’t have the overarching sense of actually being inside a computer system that held the original film together. Apart from a few mentions of deleting or modifying programs from the real world, there’s no clear correlation between it and the computer world.
4. Are the visuals as great as they look in the trailers?
No — they’re better, and I don’t say that lightly. The light cycle sequences will blow. Your. Mind. Tron: Legacy is just absolutely gorgeous. It must have been a CGI wizard’s dream to work on, considering that the majority of the film takes place in a world where everything should look like it’s computer-generated, by definition.
The de-aging of Jeff Bridges (and, briefly, Bruce Boxleitner) is exceptionally good. It gives the young Kevin Flynn in the prologue and Clu a slight but noticeable not-quite-rightness of their faces, but it’s still the best I’ve seen.
5. That being the case, should I pay the premium for IMAX and 3D?
YES! I usually think 3D is unnecessary and overrated in films these days, but not this time. It’s used brilliantly and refreshingly sparingly. In fact, the parts of the film that take place in the “real” world are shown in 2D (which you can still watch through your 3D glasses), which makes it all the more powerful when Sam finds himself in “the grid.” And visuals like these deserve to be seen on the biggest screen available, so that in years to come when you watch the movie on Blu-ray you can fondly remember how kick-ass it was when you saw it in IMAX.
6. How’s Jeff Bridges as the 28-years-older Kevin Flynn?
Bridges is one of the best actors around, so he does really well with the part he’s given. That being said, I didn’t really feel that the screenwriters had captured the essence of the character. He seemed a little too Dude-like at times, honestly, including one scene where he mentions his “Zen.” He still was very believable in the role, please understand, but it was hard to buy the role as written as a natural extension of the Kevin Flynn from the original film.
That being said, though, Bruce Boxleitner as the older Alan Bradley was note-perfect.
7. So, when’s the best time for a bathroom break?
The film moves really fast, which works to its advantage as it’s hard to care about a weak plot when you’re on one of the best roller-coaster rides of your life. But of course that makes it hard to find a good time to pop out of the theater to answer a call of nature. The best times are probably just after Sam and his dad are reunited or as Sam enters a bar looking for someone named Zuse. The former scene is relatively slow, and the latter is a lot of fun but ultimately unnecessary to the story.
8. Is it appropriate/enjoyable for kids?
I wasn’t able to take my kids to the preview screening (it started at 7:30pm on a school night), but I can pretty confidently say yes to both. There’s very little swearing, there’s only mildly suggestive sexuality and the violence is essentially cartoony, with only a few drops of blood spilled (literally). And kids will, I’m sure, be spellbound by the visuals just as much as their parents will be.
9. Do I need to sit through the credits for a bonus scene at the end?
No, there’s nothing after the credits at all. But you might want to stay to listen to Daft Punk’s brilliant soundtrack.
10. Will I want to see it again?
Hell, yes — I wanted to see it again the moment it ended! I can’t wait to bring my kids to see it this weekend, and it’s a must-buy for me the moment the Blu-ray version hits shelves.
[Many thanks to GeekDad Dave Banks for contributing his opinions, and condolences to GeekDad John Booth for being unable to make it to his area’s preview due to snow.]