It's probably best start with the question most who see this movie for the first time must have been thinking as they left the theater: Why did I spend $13-$16 on that?
Well, what most people will take away from a first showing is that the action scenes were badass (when they happened), and the score by Daft Punk is one of the best movie soundtracks ever. Seriously, I defy anyone not to get pumped when Sam Flynn busts out his lightbike for the first time with the slow build of Daft Punk echoing in the background. There are scenes that are goose-pimply with their sense of complete techno-synergy between the score and the eye-popping action. Unfortunately, those scenes only occupy about 20 minutes of the film's run-time, with 15 of those minutes running concurrently before half the movie is over (remember that thing about pacing?)
The elephant in the room with Legacy is the story, which has been widely panned and decried as imperceptible - and I agreed after the first showing. There are points of exposition where Jeff' Bridges' "Dude"-Flynn is abstractly relating the history of the grid and why the audience should care, that I looked around the room at all the kids who showed up for a Disney movie and I just shook my head; there was just no way a child under 15 would even begin to grasp the "why" to this movie - which is a travesty on the part of the director and screenplay. When you reintroduce a franchise that was already widely considered esoteric to begin with, the last thing you want to do is confuse the masses even more.
The ultimate failing of Legacy is that there is too much brevity to the showing, and nowhere near the clarity on the telling. A first showing of this movie is really like a crash-course on any foreign language, you have to learn and accept the lingo to start and appreciate the complexities that exist under the surface.
So, to clear up some of the why, I compiled a few frequently asked questions (SPOILER ALERT):
- How long was Kevin Flynn trapped in the grid?
- Zeus mused at one point that Clu has searched for Flynn's disk for over 1000 cycles/years. Time within the grid moves slower relative to the real world, so the grid's advancement in 28 earth years then would make more sense. Sucks for K. Flynn - but he did make a sweet ass bike in those 1000 years.
- What's up with Rinzler/Tron?
- Tron was the program Flynn created to serve as the champion of the Grid - an ultimate gladiator and fighter who fought for the users (which is a fight for digital "freedom" of information). Clu overpowers Tron's programming and turns him into his own undefeated Boba Fett named Rinzler. Once Rinzler comes into close proximity with his creator and friend after 1000 years, Kevin Flynn, he is reprogrammed back to Tron (an ability of K. Flynn that was previously established in the night-club when Flynn touches the floor and incites the neutral programs to defeat the guards). Tron's backup light-jet is stolen by Clu and he plunges into the grid-sea, fully reverting back (as indicated by a color switch) and in limbo until a sequel that will probably never happen.
- Um, why can Quorra the ISO exist in the real world?
- The crux of what the ISOs actually are, and why their miraculous appearance in the grid is important to religion and science can only be found if you are paying attention to the scene where K. Flynn is healing Quorra after her arm is derezzed. When Flynn brings up her programming matrix - surprise - it's actually a DNA strand. This small scene is probably the most important scene in the movie for explaining the importance of the grid for humanity, but it is frustratingly glossed over with Jeff Bridges mumbling his "Dude"-isms about it being "radical man." Really?
- The implications of the ISO's for science are vast. If you can digitize an ill person's DNA into the grid, you could simply fix their code and return them to the real world (as proven by Quorra being healed in the grid and then transferred into the real world).
- As for the implications for religion, that's where the movie, and perhaps Disney, is sublimely subtle in pushing through their Jonas Bros' theology; K. Flynn created the world, and the DNA structure for humanity naturally manifests itself in the ISOs to fill the digital void. Basically, God (K. Flynn) created the Earth (grid) and then humanity (ISO) appear in his image to fill the void. No digital monkeys or evolution here folks, humanity just appears. Riiiight.