Tron Legacy (2010) (part 1 of 7)
Back in 1982, Disney released a risky, groundbreaking film called Tron. Now, this isn’t the Disney we all know today, who’ve released such movies as: every Pixar film ever made, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and the ever-thrilling The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This isn’t even the Disney that released such films as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White. No, this is Disney coming off the ‘70s, which were a dark, dark time for the studio.
See, sometime during the 1970s, they had lost their way. They’d stopped making interesting animated films, and instead began releasing crappy live-action movies like The Cat From Outer Space, The North Avenue Irregulars, and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo. In fact, the only notable animated film during the 1970s was the all-furry version of Robin Hood, and even that wasn’t all that great.
But Disney did have one really memorable release during this time period, and that was The Black Hole. It wasn’t all that great, really, and was a bit confusing for the audiences, but it was bold and it was different from what they usually did (even if they did still manage to somehow have a Disney character in the form of a robot voiced by Slim Pickens). The fact that it was clearly done as a reaction to Star Wars was incidental. It didn’t make a huge amount of money for Disney, but it did do respectable box office, and it proved that they could handle adult material.
So in 1982, Disney released another science fiction epic called Tron that would go on to have a far greater legacy (snicker!) than The Black Hole. It featured groundbreaking special effects and… well, it had a story… and some acting… but, yeah, mostly just groundbreaking special effects with a story that was good enough to not insult your intelligence. That alone places it on a plane higher than certain other films I could mention (I’m looking at you, Michael Bay’s entire filmography!).
Tron proved a box office success, and spinoff merchandise (including a memorable video game) helped keep Disney afloat long enough to let them get back to making cartoons, which they did in 1989 with The Little Mermaid.
Since 1982, fans had been asking for a sequel. Well, the studio dithered, and did nothing about that for the longest time (except for a decent, but not great, video game a few years ago). Then they decided that since so many other movie franchises had done so well picking up the pieces a decade or two later, well, why couldn’t they? After all, how hard could it be?
Our film opens with some lights and circuits, accompanied by the voice of Jeff Bridges talking about the Grid, to a decent opening theme by Daft Punk. It then morphs into the streets of some unidentified American city that I’m going to call Seacouver. We go along through the streets and toward a lovely house, where we hear and then see Bridges talking to his young son, Sam. He’s telling him the story of Tron, while in the background, we see a room filled with things like a movie poster for The Black Hole, and confusingly, one for Tron, as well as several toys based around the first film. So… Flynn came back to the real world and made a movie about his experiences? No reason not to, I suppose, but it seems a bit odd to me.
Not nearly so odd, however, as the boy he’s talking to. So, get this, it’s 1989, right, and the boy is supposed to be his son. It’s implied the boy’s mother is Lori from the first film (it’s later mentioned that she died in 1985). There’s no mention of them having a child together in the first movie, so presumably this happened after that. So, okay, no problem. They had a kid sometime after the first film, which probably took place in 1982, so that means the kid should be six or seven years old.
Logically, this means that the producers should cast a thirteen-year-old boy to play the role.
So… young Sam suffers from precocious puberty? I mean, I don’t know too many seven-year-olds who keep a special sock under the bed, but this one sure looks like he does.
For the record, the actor who plays what the credits themselves call “7 Year Old Sam Flynn” is named Owen Best, and he was born in 1997. And if this movie was shot in late 2009, that means he was twelve, almost thirteen. So nearly double the age of his character. Jeff Bridges is 61, and this would be like casting him to play someone who’s only about 30. Something you’d need serious CGI work to accomplish.
Now, I know this seems like a minor point, and I suppose it is, but it speaks to really shitty continuity. And while it’s possible that the character is actually 12 or so, and we simply never heard mention of him in the first movie, Sam himself, later in the film, gives his age as 27. This movie takes place 21 years after 1989, so that means the character as a young boy would be six, not seven. This is really clumsy writing on someone’s part, accompanied by clumsy casting on someone else’s part, and it does not bode well for the film as a whole.
Once we’re done establishing this happy father/son scene, we see Flynn drive off on his motorcycle and then go to some TV-based exposition telling us Flynn has disappeared and left his company, Encom, behind, and Alan Bradley is running it now. It’s actually not the worst way of telling the story, and it includes Flynn channeling Steve Jobs and telling us about the virtual world, and how “in there” is our future and our destiny. The scene ends with Sam looking out of a rain-spattered window. How tragic. We’re told the future of what happens to the company depends on what happens to “this orphaned little boy”. I vote the kid moves into Wayne Manor and hires Alfred.