*This is a discussion/review of Tron: Uprising, and contains full spoilers for the titled episode, as well as Tron: Legacy*
It is no secret that Tron: Legacy is my all-time favourite film. The art direction is bold and brilliant. The script is well thought out and layered with hidden information. The universe is expansive, and the acting is superb. As a film major, it is easy to truly appreciate the filmmaking behind-the-scenes. At one point, I was watching the film on a weekly basis. While there is so much to sink your teeth into during the movie, there is so much more that is left unexplored. Furthermore, there are minor plotholes (or at least unexplained elements) in Legacy that can use some correcting. This is why an animated series taking place during CLU’s reign is a love-letter to those fans like me.
Tron: Uprising follows Beck, voiced by Elijah Wood. He is a rebellious program, looking to revolt against CLU’s leadership. He does this by taking Tron’s identity, a significant program that is assumed dead. Assumably, he is trying to start an uprising.
Disappointingly, Tron: Uprising didn’t hit the ground running. As a Pilot, Beck’s Beginning wasn’t necessarily bad, it just hit some of the wrong notes during its debut performance. On the other hand, there are many things that the show did right. For example, Bruce Boxleitner being the voice of Tron was a crucial decision, considering his significance in the plot. Another step in the right direction was the music. One of the first things fans will notice is the music. Daft Punk is not returning for the animated series, but part of the team who worked on the film’s orchestration is scoring the entire series. This means that the music is staying true to the “Tron” name, or at least the most recent film. With that said, there were multiple occasions in the first episode where the music sounded almost completely identical to certain tracks from the film’s soundtrack. As an owner of the OST, as well as being a musician myself, it is assumed that this is no coincidence. Even so, it is important to remember the significance of that “Tron sound”, and this surely isn’t a rough start. There are still many episodes ahead of us, hopefully more risks are taken in that department.
A much bigger problem I had with the pilot was Beck’s characteristics. In the opening sequences, he is shown resenting authority, and it has been established that he is loyal to his cause. After everything he has been through, he says he is willing to die (or be derezzed) for this cause, as long as others will follow. All this development is countered when he meets the unmasked Tron. Tron asks him if he is willing to step up to the role of the “new Tron”, and he hesitates. When facing death, he was bold, but when facing Tron, he was weak. Given what we know from the brief time we have spent with Beck, this is absurd, and certainly hard to swallow. Coupling this with his lousy banter with the female villian, Beck doesn’t make a great first impression.
As someone whose seen Tron: Legacy far too many times, I can confidently say that there are pieces of the Legacy that don’t fit. While most who will continue to watch the series won’t notice the following complaints, it pains me to see such lack of attention to the “source material”, if you will (while Uprising doesn’t mimic the plot of Legacy, it surely takes place in the universe established mostly in 2010’s Legacy, rather than the 1982 original).
These mismatches mostly revolve around Tron’s presence. It is an intriguing plot direction, but they have a lot to explain. First of all, why is Tron looked at as a beacon of hope, or symbolic for rescue. Based off of the information given in Legacy, wouldn’t that be Kevin Flynn’s role; The saviour? Additionally, both the scene in the film and the opening of the episode portray Tron being killed with an Identity Disk. In the film, director Joseph Kosinski uses “subjective narration” to cover his tracks. Basically, “Tron’s death” is portrayed during a flashback given by Kevin Flynn. Therefore, the audience knows as much as the presenter. In this case, Kevin Flynn believed that Tron is dead, therefore, the events on the screen presented his beliefs. In the show, however, the information is given independently (not attached to any of the characters), as well as externally (not presented in the narration of the film, but externally to the audience). Therefore, the problem remains that Tron: Uprising unjustifiably portrayed Tron being killed.
I am aware that these all sounds really minor and insignificant, but it is this attention to detail that grasped my loyalty to the franchise. While Uprising did maintain my interest, and had a intriguing focus on anime-style action sequences, I expect more from a franchise so close to my heart.