28 years ago I saw a movie that, for me, would be an inspiration to play with computers and ride motorcycles, to which I do to this day. More importantly I craved to see more of the film in a sequel. It was 1982, the beginning of the video game age and the film, ‘TRON’, was the first to extensively use computer graphics. In that time between then and now, I have waited patiently for this time, when technology could be used to truly envision Steve Lisbergers’ mythos of ‘the grid’. First time director Joseph Kosinski with the creative writing talents of Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (Lost) have stepped into the technology world and brought us ‘Tron: Legacy’.
In 1989, Kevin Flynn, CEO of computer conglomerate ENCOR, disappears mysteriously, leaving behind his son, Sam Flynn alone. For years, speculation into what happened to Flynn leads up to Sam when he is older. A little rambunctious and irresponsible Sam gets a visit from his dad’s best friend Alan Bradley, the creator of the “Tron” program. Alan has received a page (from an old school pager) from the phone number a Flynn’s arcade. Sam being a little curious finds his dad’s hidden workroom under the arcade unlocking the laser….. ZAP, Sam is in ‘The Grid’. Unbelieving where he is, he realizes his dad’s ‘stories’ of this place he now stands in, is real and about to get interesting. After becoming a ‘program’ and issued to play in the games, Sam comes face to face with his dad or whom he soon finds out is his dad’s program, Clu, that looks just like his dad did when he left 20+ years ago. With the help of Quorra, Sam finds his real dad, Kevin, and learns the what, when, and why of his disappearance. This is just the beginning of an extraordinary venture in the electrical world of ‘the grid’.
I had a sit down with Edward and Adam a month ago to chat about the film and everything makes so much more sense. Before filming even started they had a meeting with Jeff Bridges, who reprises his role as Kevin Flynn and Clu as well as the force behind the original film, Lisberger, to pitch this continuing saga. Their main concern was how were these two going to take the idea of two Flynns’? Well now we can look back on the meeting and know they not only had full support but had the blessing and the creative mind behind them the whole way. As a sort of Zen master, Lisberger was the writing teams go to when they would come across many ideas. Lisberger would stop them in mid thought and pluck out that bright spot and help refocus their thought process. It’s a good thing, considering Lisberger and fellow writer Bonnie MacBird created this place we have come to know as ‘the grid’. I applaud Edward and Adam for taking this path and creating something that not only keeps true to the hearts of those of us that saw the original and grew up waiting for just such a story to not only indulge in our fantasy of what ‘the grid’ would be today but open it up to a new generation.
They are definitely not alone. Adam and Edward owe much to the man that would direct this piece, Joseph Kosinski. A true master when it comes to computer graphics himself it is fitting for him to be the one at the helm. The film itself is a masterpiece of computer graphics in architecture and feel. Every shot has a purpose and substance to keep you on the edge of your seat and wanting more every turn of a cycle, flash of a building or flyby of the new ‘light jets’. Every detail is not left to chance with Joseph on set. Adam and Edward said “Every time we saw Joseph looking at something, he would eye it as if he was analyzing it as a film shot. Even watching TV he could see every angle possible in whatever was being shown and see a better way to shoot it.” Again it shows Joseph has a knack for detail. I, personally, look forward to seeing what he does next.
With all this technology Joseph could have done this entire film in computer animation but that would not be good for this new venture. Of course you have to have Kevin Flynn, Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart, Iron Man) back in ‘the grid’. Jeff is one of those actors who have just gotten better as he ages. Channeling a little of himself in this film, he exhumes the Zen like persona of Kevin. You could see Jeff being calm, cool and collective and truly being a man who has been locked in his own creation and has survived, fighting with the notion that he knows how to make things right in a world that is not perfect as he hoped. Joining Jeff and plying Flynn’s son, Sam, is Garrett Hedlund (Eragon, Four Brothers). Playing in his first true lead role, Garrett is stepping up his game in this film and truly delivers, as a scared man who is searching for something that was lost and trying to right the world in any way he can. Olivia Wilde (House M.D., Year One) plays Quorra, Flynn’s protégé in this world. And whom you find out is more than what she appears to be. Olivia, like Garrett, is assuming the role of making it in films. She not only stands out in character but can move just as well. Some of her fight scenes are a good telling of what may be to come of this fem fatal of an actress. Between what she has done before this film and what she is working on currently, Olivia is a versatile actress on the rise.
Along the path we are treated to some wonderful characters that help to create this world of ‘the grid’. Alan Bradley is back played by the original ‘Tron’, Bruce Boxlieitner (Heroes, Gods and Generals). Seeing Bruce in this film brings back those memories of seeing the original. New characters that steal the show when they are on screen is Caster and Gem, played by Michael Sheen (New Moon, Underworld) and Beau Garrett (Made of Honor, Turistas) respectively. Beau as the siren Gem is stunning in the platinum white attire paired with Michaels’ Caster the two just shows the confidence in being a part of a world that has many facets to it, just like these two actors. And one actor that stands out with the fewest lines, mostly grunts, is Rinzler, played by Anis Cheurfa. Having done my fair share of fight choreography I have seen some amazing body movement over the years. There is a lot of wire work in the film but no matter, it shows the flexibility of this actor, in a world where movement needs to be fluid, Anis gives us a payoff.
Being set in a world that is infinite to be able to bring to life visually what is in one’s head you need a good team. Supervising art director Kevin Ishioka, production designer Darren Gilford and costume design by Michael Wilkinson are that team. Working with many artisans they led teams to create this massive world that started with Lisberger and was carried on with Adam, Edward and Joseph. From the backgrounds to the vehicles to what is being worn are just eye-popping. Radiant styling just makes you want to jump in and experience this electronic world that has been created. The vehicles are of course one of my favorite aspects of reinventing from the original. I jumped on my motorcycle after the screening and just griped and ripped it wishing I had one of those cycles from the film. Adding the light jets and their ability to leave light ribbons like their land counterpart cycles was visually crazy to watch and breathtaking. Add in costumes that many kids are going to want to wear next year for Halloween and you are just craving more at the end of this film. Heck I even want to buy the replica ‘Sam Flynn’ motorcycle suit they are currently producing. Bravo.
I will not leave out one of t
he driving forces in the film, the music of Daft Punk. These two marvels of the digital age of music have created a score that drives the story, like its older brother, the original ‘Tron’. Never overpowering, except for the club scene, the music combinations Daft Punk mixes, are pleasurable to the ear.
If I were to fault anything about the film it would be a detail in the creation of Clu. Having two Flynn’s was hard to swallow at first. But when you see the trailer you are flabbergasted to see this young Jeff Bridges on the screen. The technology today much like ‘the grid’ has advanced so much since 1982 and it definitely shows. The fault is in the mouth of Clu. Watching Clu speak at times was tough as the mouth was not flexing in a natural way, almost cartoonish. This is just a minor detail but a noticeable one none the less.
For 28 years I have waited and am completely satisfied, no ecstatic, no…..I can’t fully put into words how happy I was to see this film. Joseph, Adam, Edward, Jeff, Steve and every person that worked on or had influence on this film should be proud to have formed such a magnificent display of creativity. Producer Sean Bailey took his time and brought the right people in at the right time. A story has been created and portrayed in a way that I enjoy the most, the possibility of more films. There are some questions left unanswered in this film. Some of you will feel jipped. Do not fear. I have a good feeling we will be seeing more of Sam Flynn and ‘the grid’. Just whatever you do, don’t wait another 28 years. Thank you all for all your hard work and dedication.
And now to my personal touch that those who follow my reviews have come to know. I must warn you that there are some possible spoilers to the story. If you do not want to know more about the story line please stop now and come back after you have seen the film.
*Knock knock” Still here? Okay here we go. How does this film affect me is in the relationship between Sam and his dad Flynn and the creation of ‘the grid’. Flynn is a man who is constantly striving for perfection. Always changing and undoing and rearranging till its right. He created Clu to help him with this idea of the perfect digital world. Driven by work and what was possible and not what was right in front of him, Sam. My father at several times in my life had disappeared much like Flynn did. It wasn’t for years till I found him in his work. It was that drive of perfection that drove him to be blind to see me. Flynn does realize his mistake when Sam is brought to ‘the gird’ and meets him again for the first time in 20 some odd years. Of course there are going to be some questions. I had them. Some of them were the same. The most important one we both share is the ‘why’. It’s because of the blindness of creating something perfect, Flynn with his ‘grid’, a place that he wanted to be able to grow and live and breathe and my father with his fashion design and constant drive for the next ‘thing’. For Sam and Flynn it is a little difficult but received that it wasn’t all Flynn’s fault for not coming back. Flynn even acknowledges his work ethic caused him to be trapped. “Perfection is unknowable. It’s right in front of you”, as Flynn discovers during his time on ‘the grid’ and states he would give it all up for one more day with Sam. My father and I had a tough time at first but have since become friends again and are stronger than ever before and I love him dearly for that. He knows he should not have assumed things and taken that ‘one day’ and just called. It is the past now. Like Sam in the end of the film there is tomorrow and the chance to make an impact from what he learned in a short time from Flynn. For my father and me it’s another day to share with each other knowledge, wisdom and love.
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