After the moderate success of the 2010 TRON sequel, Disney is going all-in – delivering not just another sequel, but an animated series to boot – which is awesome for fans, since the next screen iteration isn’t likely to begin filming before 2014.
I’ve always had a nostalgic soft spot for the original film. TRON was released at an awkward moment in history for a movie of its kind. In 1982 nobody had ever heard of the internet and a lot of people couldn’t wrap their minds around a virtual universe inside a computer. The film still did fairly well and received some Oscar nominations, but a few short years later TRON went from being ahead of its time to being quaint and cheesy – and a cult classic that I happen to love. The 2010 sequel, TRON: Legacy, was more of an action flick with slick effects, although it lacked some of the charm of the ’82 original.
Enter TRON: Uprising, an animated series that fills in the gap between the two movies – and it might just be the best TRON yet. Uprising is written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, the executive producers behind Lost, and it features an impressive voice cast, including Lance Henriksen, Elijah Wood, Mandy Moore, Tricia Helfer, Paul Reubens, and Bruce Boxleitner reprising his role as the title character.
Animation is provided by the Japanese company Polygon Pictures, which also produced a Ghost In The Shell sequel as well as animation for several popular video game franchises, including Dead or Alive, Fatal Frame, and Resident Evil. Both TRON films feature a slew of memorable vehicles, and TRON: Uprising is no exception, with vehicle designs by Bugatti car designer Daniel Simon.
The pilot episode introduces Beck, a reluctant hero who is mentored by Tron to lead a rebellion against the evil Clu. Beck proves to be a skilled fighter and a major thorn in the side of General Tesler (voiced by Henriksen), Clu’s main henchman.
Uprising is reminiscent of Aeon Flux, with a stylized look and kick-ass female characters, but without the creepiness and nudity. It also has a surprising amount of violence considering it’s essentially a Disney cartoon. (I guess anthropomorphized “programs” killing each other doesn’t count?) Characters get permanently “de-rezed” left and right, and Beck commits an act of rebellion (or domestic terrorism, depending on whose side you’re on) by cutting the head off a giant statue of Clu and then blowing it up.
TRON: Uprising is fun to look at, and the voice acting is well done. I would even go so far as to say that quite a bit of the dialog is superior to what you find in either of the live-action films. The story also seems pretty solid, and it’ll be interesting to see if Disney is able to maintain the quality for the entire 18 episodes it ordered for the first season.
You can check out TRON: Uprising on Disney XD on most cable channels. The pilot, Beck’s Beginning, is currently available as a free download on iTunes – at least until the series officially premieres on June 7.
Dave_P studied fine arts and film history and is a graphic and web designer, and a diehard movie fan. David has been involved with a variety film festivals including the Cinephile Film Festival, the PRIDE Film festival, and the Manhattan Short Film festival, and is currently the director of the Dark Carnival Film Fest in Bloomington, Indiana. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)