“I’ve been waiting a long time for this” mutters Clu, the digital reincarnation of Jeff Bridges’ Kevin Flynn, echoing the thoughts of thousands of Tron fans worldwide. 28 years ago the original Tron was wowing 80′s audiences with its ground breaking use of visual technology. Nearly three decades on, Joseph Kosinski’s Tron: Legacy (2010) is set to follow in its forerunner’s digital footsteps. After surviving the gladiatorial battles inside the Master Control Program’s ‘Grid’, Bridges’ Flynn goes on to head the huge computer company ENCOM, achieving fame and fortune after creating games based on his time inside the digital world.
After Flynn suddenly disappears, he leaves behind an embittered son in Sam (Garrett Hedlund), and a legacy shrouded in mystery. Tron: Legacy joins the 27 year old Sam, shirking away from the ENCOM empire his father revitalised. When a message appears from nowhere luring him to the world that stole his father’s attention, Sam finds himself transported into an unimaginable world where he must battle Clu, a digital replica of his own father, in order to escape. Fresh in the wake of James Cameron’s visually inspiring Avatar (2009), the hugely anticipated Tron: Legacy pushes the realms of visual effects even further. The moment a red-rimmed ‘Recognizer’ hones into view, the audience is introduced to an intimidatingly dark, yet indisputably beautiful vision of an utopian digital world gone haywire.
After three years of production and post production, Tron: Legacy’s ingenious use of the increasingly popular motion capture technology – instrumental in producing films such as Avatar and David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) – not only allows its cast to fully integrate with the world of The Grid but also leads to a youthful Jeff Bridges appearing as Clu, inherently unaffected by ageing, throughout the film. Although at points it is obvious that Clu’s face has been digitally captured and imposed, its implementation should nevertheless be applauded as it allows the story to progress in ways that would never have been imaginable just a few years ago.
The set designs and costumes, although highly modernised, also hark back to original Tron, whilst the world of The Grid itself offers a modernised vision of the dystopian worlds imagined in Blade Runner (1982), Total Recall (1990) and the original Tron. The film’s unique style is further heightened by its soundtrack, composed by French electronic music duo Daft Punk, who seem to have been created for this purpose alone. Enhancing the visual experience by providing an awe-inspiring soundscape, Daft Punk’s score captures the very essence of the world of Tron effortlessly.
With Tron: Legacy, first time director Joseph Kosinski has created a sequel that has truly been worth the wait. For an entire generation, Tron marked a new era in film technology and its baton has successfully been passed on to its spectacular sequel. The only question now is whether there will be another thirty year wait for part three.