Tron: Legacy

[Contains spoilers.]

Dear Disney,

Having recently seen Tron: Legacy, I find myself with some questions, and I was hoping you could answer them.

Who was your target demographic for this film? “Guys” was a no-brainer, but what age range? I’ve been trying to figure it out, but the clues go in all directions. Legacy, the title of the movie itself, sounds like a topic for us middle-aged and older viewers, the ones likely to remember Tron. What kind of world have we shaped, how will our kids remember us—you touched on those questions if only briefly. Although Sam Flynn has all the spiffy action scenes and gets the girl, Kevin Flynn haunts the movie well before his reappearance and what plot there is really does center on him and the results of his deeds and decisions all those years ago: a son, an evil alter-ego, a virtual world he helped create—all of it boiling down to Kevin’s identity disk, the sum total of who he is on The Grid and the key to victory for whoever can claim it. But then again, Sam Flynn is 27, he’s presumably the protagonist, and he’s being paired up with a woman who is whatever the computer equivalent is of 20-something. They’re supposed to be the characters the younger members of the audience identify with, right? The whole bit with sexy women in skintight bodysuits doesn’t tell me anything; they’re designed to appeal to any straight man who’s made it past puberty.

Overall, I’m a bit lost as to why you made a sequel to a movie that’s almost thirty years old and then were a bit stingy with the backstory. Based on a completely non-scientific random sampling of WordPress blogs, I could say that most people hadn’t seen Tron. For those people, the movie’s title won’t make a lot of sense, which isn’t an auspicious beginning. Even when we find out Tron’s fate, he ends up on the periphery of a movie that’s named after him. (Okay, he wasn’t the real star of the original film either, but he got significant screen time.) And despite my critical tone, folks, I do understand your dilemma. A program, like a dragon, may live forever, but not so little boys: Bruce Boxleitner has aged just as Jeff Bridges did. Using all the tricks of modern cinema to make one character look forever young could maybe slip by; doing it to two characters  would’ve been pushing it.

Also, why include Edward Dillinger? Seriously, only those of us who saw Tron will have any idea as to what his connection to ENCOM is, and there’s no description of his father despite the elder Dillinger’s key role in Tron. But then, having gone to all the trouble to create this character, you fail to use him beyond a few throwaway lines at the start of the film. Since you named the film Tron: Legacy, I can only assume that inheritance, father/son relationships, etc. are a theme you wished to explore. There were several directions you could go, what with having both Kevin Flynn’s son and Ed Dillinger’s son needing to come to terms with their fathers’ legacies. Having two sons to work with, you could have looked at different choices. And yet, you dodged the entire issue. It’s a option, yes, I’m just curious as to why you chose it.

Indeed, since a lot of the trouble with this movie is the rough transition between it and the original, why make a sequel at all? Why not remake Tron instead? Of course, remakes are a challenge in their own right. Some, like the current True Grit, earn great reviews but it’s true that many of them don’t. (I will itemize my complaints about Race to Witch Mountain under separate cover if I can ever bring myself to watch it again. But even then, the remake idea, however imperfectly realized, was still better than a thirty-years-delayed sequel to the two previous Witch Mountain films.)

I suppose what it all boils down to is this: why did you pour millions into special effects, salaries, promotion, and so on, and let it all go out with a less-than-stellar plot and writing? Certainly yours is not the only film I could ask this about; Avatar is an infamous example of this problem. I mean, wouldn’t good writing benefit you in the end? Does it cost more than bad writing, or something? See, I just saw your movie Tangled. I’m considering buying it when it comes out. Now overall, I think Avatar is much more impressive visually, but Tangled was the better-written movie. The thought of buying Avatar has never crossed my mind. Unfortunately for your bottom line, however minute that unfortune, I have no intentions of buying Tron: Legacy either. If it had had a plot to match its special effects, it might also be up for serious buying consideration. Just saying.

I went into Tron: Legacy with high expectations for the special effects, low expectations for the story itself, and that’s pretty much how it played out. I really did hope I’d like this movie more than I did, although I would’ve regretted not seeing it. Anyway, any light you can cast on these questions would be most appreciated. Thank you.



P.S. Thank you for eventually making it clear what the relationship was between Kevin Flynn and Quorra. I was having nasty thoughts that he’d created a little male-fantasy program to ease his loneliness through the years, and I never wanted to think of Flynn in that way. Nor did it seem like something normally associated with your brand. Clarifying their relationship did improve my opinion of the film.

P.P.S. No Yori? And you killed off Lora? That leaves Quorra and Gem as the only significant female characters in the movie, and calling Gem “significant” is pushing it.

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