In 2014, when I was a teenager struggling with the most mundane things teenagers struggle with, I came across an advertisement for a toothpaste. This was in India, and I have a vague memory of being enamored with the neon lighting and fancy bikes in the advertisement. I dug into the details and found out the name of the movie that would — albeit slightly — change my life. Spoilers ahead.
“TRON: Legacy” is a movie with a plot almost as recycled as the fifth mason jar on my desk. So why is it so good? The secret lies in the branch of philosophy known as aesthetics. You can watch the trailer to the 2010 film here.
Aesthetics are not limited to visual beauty, as they also encompass music. It is no wonder that I love the soundtrack; it was produced by Daft Punk. The sad synths, the uplifting bass, the poignant melodies and the overall neon vibe of the soundtrack made it a strong Oscar contender. They were actually beaten by the soundtrack to "Inception," which is fair, but not really. A remixed version of the soundtrack was released later, which was excellent as well.
Anyway, "TRON: Legacy" has the classic plot of hero-stuck-in-game-trying-to-save-disappeared-father, and it ties everything up nicely at the end. The movie is actually a sequel to "TRON" (1982), which has Kevin Flynn, a programmer who gets stuck in his own game.
"TRON: Legacy" follows Sam Flynn, Kevin Flynn's son, as he embarks on a scintillating journey through "The Grid" to find his father. The plot has the makings of a classic, with Sam developing a crush on a pretty algorithm named Quorra and using his excellent gamer skills and biking acumen to get through the games leading up to the boss fight.
But there is no boss fight. "TRON: Legacy" is not a movie about winning. The bad guy is a clone of Kevin Flynn, aptly named CLU. Kevin and CLU are at the opposite ends of a spectrum, but are they really? Kevin and Sam both have to face questions about life, love and loneliness in a game while being part of a most astonishing production design.
Again, the virtual world is quite possibly the most beautiful set I have ever seen in a movie. There are batons and disks and light-cycles (neon motorbikes!) and very cool flying thingies. I was trying hard not to blink, lest I miss any of the transitions of handheld batons to the light-cycles. These deserved a separate ovation on their own.
Sam's character development from newbie to pro is believable. Again, the plot is no "Ocean's Twelve," but it's not wafer-thin. Is "TRON: Legacy" one of my absolute favorite movies of all time? Yes. Does it deserve a sequel with the same production team and the same sound design team? Yes. Am I secretly lobbying for Disney to make a third "TRON" film? No comment.