Lost in the machine
Tron sequel not worth the wait
I was 20 when the original Tron came out, and it was one of the nails in the coffin of my enjoying science fiction. Sure, it had some flashy graphics and an interesting mythos, but the thing was so damned boring. And cheesy as can be. But it was a harbinger of the flash-over-substance direction that the genre was taking (that, and it had been at least two years since I’d lived in my parents’ basement), so I stepped off at the next stop—which happened to be Return of the Jedi and its friggin’ Ewoks.
Twenty-five-some odd years later and I’m not regretting the abandonment after sitting through the Mickey Mouse folks’ attempt to reboot the mythos by offering up more and less of the same. In 3-D! After a prologue to 1982 as Jeff Bridges gets his Polar Express facelift on and then promptly disappears out of his son’s life for the next couple of decades, the new entry brings us on board with the now grown boy, who isn’t too happy about the Microsoft direction his father’s software company has taken.
But since this is a movie called Tron: Legacy, soon the boy gets sucked into The Grid for some NASCAR-for-nerds exploits, pausing occasionally for obligatory info-dumps that explain a lot in detail, but don’t particularly illuminate anything at all. (Something about his old man’s avatar indulging in some techno-genocide on his way to breaking out into the real world.)
The only illuminating here is the glow-tape piping on the fetish gear the actors sport under black lights while vogue-ing in front of CGI backdrops.
Granted, it’d be fun to smoke out and kick back to the flashy visuals as the Daft Punk soundtrack pounds away, but the Matrix: Revolutions-wannabe action going on (even down to an interminable nightclub scene) sucks the joy out of even that.
And apparently Bridges’ character spent the intervening years channeling The Dude. Which isn’t as fun as it sounds in theory. Like the film itself. Although there were enough background in-jokes to make it not a total bore to sit through. Still, halfway through, I just wanted it to be done.