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?