Driving home from the midnight screening of Tron: Legacy, I realized that I should have been disappointed by the movie. It’s very difficult to leave Tron and drive home on a deserted highway at 2:30 AM, with the streetlights stretching out before you and the waxing moon rising in the west, and not push the accelerator far in excess of the speed limit. I kept checking behind me to see if I was leaving a trail. Also, looking out for cops. No on both counts.
It says something that it wasn’t until this drive home that I realized the movie might have been disappointing in retrospect. It says even more that at 8:30 PM on a Thursday night, I downed two shots of espresso and headed out to see a midnight showing. I don’t know if I’ve ever bothered to see a movie at midnight the night before it opened. Certainly, I didn’t bother for the new Star Wars fiasco, or the subsequent Indiana Jones debacle. I’m definitely too old for this. Thus is the power of Tron.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. If you are a fan of the original movie, and by that I don’t mean a fan of the impression the original left in your head two decades ago, or a fan of the video games that cemented Tron in the technogeek zeitgeist, or even a fan of Tron Guy, I mean a fan who remembers the original movie well, then you will love the new Tron: Legacy.
I was happy throughout the movie that I watched the original 1982 film less than a week before I saw the new edition. You would be wise to do the same. Not that there is any necessity in remembering the original plot. The new movie is a completely new story, set in a new digital world. There are a few shared characters, but they have changed dramatically since the last time we saw them, almost 30 years ago.
There are references sprinkled throughout. Even more so, there is the overall tone and style of the original, pervasive through the new movie, but updated and polished to a dazzling sheen. Without the original close in your rearview mirror, you might not understand the significance of the young Dillinger who sits on the board of Encom, the company at the heart of the digital world. You might not remember the original Clu, Jeff Bridges’ doppelganger character.
You certainly won’t understand why the sage-looking Flynn acts more like The Dude from The Big Lebowski than the Obi Wan Kenobi he more closely resembles (though not by much). But with the older film fresh in my mind, these bits and pieces added some nuance to the new film, and helped to sculpt the characters a little better.
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