Tuesday, December 21, 2010

13 Dumb Things About Tron: Legacy

A rant on the plot holes and unanswered questions that corrupt the programming of an otherwise visually-stunning film.

Tron: Legacy, was an incredible 3-D experience, don't get me wrong. The unique visual style and vast, absorbing world will leave its mark on you, no doubt. But a compelling, well-spun story it is not.

Now, that's not entirely unexpected. Take a look at the above poster, after all, no one's expecting mind-blowing character development here. But with such a strong, archetypal concept at its core (father disappears for years into another world, with his son left behind until he has grown strong enough to enter the world himself and rescue his long-lost father), it's amazing how poor attention to plot details and story flow can derail an otherwise enjoyable film. 

The lesson for us all here has to do with storytelling. In essence, most advertising - whether it's a 30-second TV spot, an ambient, interactive execution, or digital content on a Smartphone - is at its core, a story. And what happened to Tron: Legacy is what happens to a lot of advertising that's out there: a simple and compelling concept is corrupted when finally executed due to poor "plot" choices and an unnatural "flow". Remember: advertisers are also storytellers. 

Key learning here: keep it simple, don't bog down a strong idea with too many irrelevant details, and aim for the most engaging flow possible.

Without further ado, here are 13 dumb things I noticed about the story of Tron: Legacy. Needless to say, there are lots of SPOILERS below, so if you haven't seen it, don't read it:

1. The Mysterious Midnight Board Meeting
Why on earth would ENCOM be holding a big board meeting during what appears to be the middle of the night? Really now...

2. Why Run When You Can Fly
So, Sam Flynn has successfully pulled his yearly prank on ENCOM in the bowels of the company's server room and he's now ready to make his escape. Inexplicably (but conveniently for Sam), there seems to be only one hapless security guard on duty for the entire building complex. Sam easily eludes the guard in the server room and is in the clear. Why, then, would he go to the extent of parachuting off of the tower and onto the city street below - an action that would surely get him caught? Use the back door, Sam...

3. Check the Office, Stupid
In the prologue, Kevin Flynn suddenly goes missing. At the beginning of the film, it's obvious that both Kevin's colleague Alan and his son Sam both know about his secret office at the arcade. Over all these years, neither of them ever thought to check there? 

4. The Page, Part 1
Alan appears at Sam's waterfront apartment to tell him about a page that he received from Kevin's old office at the arcade. "The number's been disconnected for 20 years," he says mysteriously. Instead of checking it out for himself, he has come to Sam, instead.
(1) Why, then, does Alan rush straight to the arcade when he receives a page again from the same number at the end of the film?
(2) How could Sam have used the arcade office's phone to page Alan if, as stated earlier, the number is disconnected?

5. The Page, Part 2
It's revealed later in the movie that the page Alan received actually came from Clu, and was part of the evil program's plan to lure someone into the Grid for a special purpose. This fact creates three more plot holes:
(1) How could Clu possibly communicate with the world outside of the Grid? If this was possible, why page someone? Why not order pizza? And why wouldn't Kevin try to contact someone after all these years?
(2) If Clu made the page as part of his plan, why is he so confused and thrown off when Sam actually shows up, in response to said page? Ummm... wasn't that the plan?
(3) If the page (and Sam) was indeed all part of Clu's plan, why does he then proceed to try and kill the boy in a light cycle match?

6. Iso-whaaa??
"Isomorphic Algorithms." What exactly are they? How are they supposed to help the human race, again? How could they appear spontaneously out of nowhere when the Grid can't create programs that the Creator hasn't already made? Many questions about these very important entities are left unanswered. 

7. Another Tron
If Kevin Flynn - the Creator - can create new programs like Clu, why wouldn't he just create another Tron program - or an army of Trons (call them "anti-virus programs") - to take Clu out?

8. The Enigmatic (and Totally Useless) Zuse
The character of Castor/Zuse appears out of nowhere in the middle of the film, and then disappears just as quickly. What is his history with Quorra (a relationship that's hinted at heavily but never revealed)? What is his relationship with Clu (he brags that Clu "needs him" in order for the city to run - what does that even mean...)? The bigger question is: why introduce a seemingly important character and then kill him off shortly afterwards? 

9. Gone, Baby, Gone
Why introduce Kevin Flynn's shiny white light cycle ("the fastest in the Grid"), only to have Sam steal and then abandon it moments later?

10. The Train to Nowhere
So Kevin, Sam, and an injured Quorra get off of the elevator after escaping Zuse's tower, and they just happen to get on a freight train that not only takes them to exactly where they need to go - the portal - but also to the enemy base?

11. A Portal Too Far
Kevin Flynn used to go in and out of the portal all the time back when Sam was just a little boy, right? So why is getting to it such an arduous journey now?

12. Quorra's Sacrifice
Okay, so at the enemy base, Quorra, for some strange reason, decides to just give herself up to Tron without a fight. And Kevin just lets it happen. Ummm... wasn't she kind of, just a little bit, important??? Last of the Iso's.... hellooooo!!

13. The Amazing, Teleporting Clu
Clu is defeated in a light jet battle and our heroes are shooting towards their destination - the portal to the real world. Clu miraculously manages to snatch an extra light jet during his free fall. Despite their ridiculous head start, Clu somehow manages to beat them there and is waiting for them as they arrive. Ummm... okay??   

These are but a few dumb things about Tron: Legacy. Are there any other plot holes that I missed??


  1. just to let you know you should watch the first tron movie and also learn computer language and youll unmderstand all these things and its called a solar sailor nbot freight train you need to watch the first one!

  2. also for number 3 kevin tells sam he was working at the encom offices so why would sam need to check his secret office!

  3. and the page that was sent he does say its been disconnected but he said for 20 years so hes technically saying it was reconnected and paged him so that 20 year mark is when it reconnected!

  4. You missed the fact that Tron, the best fighter in the virtual world is reduced to the fighting capacity of a 9 year old girl during key plotpoints. Suddenly, in a fit of inspiration, when the bad guys are about to win, he spontaneously remembers what he was programmed to do. It seems that despite his skill with combat, he's only capable of failing his masters when it's most inconvenient.

  5. Any programmer at any point in time would know what would happen if you give an un-tested overlord complete control over everything and have no real fix for it, just in case it went insane and started doing things that you didn't want it to do. It actually takes a lot of trial/error testing to get something to do what you WANT it to do. Also, when Clu went for Kevin's disk at the end, one simple disk throw from either Sam or the girl would have prevented the need for Kevin to die. By my count, there were three disks and one mini-lightsaber available to the good guys at that moment. When Clu was dangling off the edge of the path, instead of saying "it's time," Flynn could have said something like "Quick!! take out his fingers!!" The whole thing was just so half-cooked.

  6. Hey there - thanks for all of your comments!

    I agree that some of the "plot holes" that I've identified are really just nitpicking a bit, but let's just say that the reason for the rant was that I was pretty disappointed in a movie that had me pretty excited before I saw it!

    And I have seen the first Tron - watched it after seeing this one. I found it to have a much more compelling story overall and despite the primitive graphics (by today's standards), it was very entertaining.

  7. Dude, you obviously never watched the previous film and it seems obvious you were barely coherent when you watched this one to.

    Dont pursue a career as a movie critic


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