Wednesday December 12, 2012
By MUMTAJ BEGUM
The new animated series Tron: Uprising struggles to live up to the legacy of the cult movie.
If you strip away the much talked-about special effects from the 1982 film Tron and the more recent Tron: Legacy, then what remains is the good ol’ fashioned plot of good versus evil (with both the good-you and the evil-you looking the same).
In the new animated series within the Tron saga entitled Tron: Uprising, the story is taken a step further. The animated series takes place after the 1982 film in which the inhabitants (programmes in the form of humans) of The Grid find themselves fighting against a dictator with an unstoppable army.
The programme Clu (having defeated the hero Tron, and triumphing against his programmer Kevin Flynn) has started an invasion on The Grid. One of the affected places is the previously idyllic City of Argon, where mechanics make and maintain those cool motorbikes with lights and amazing speed.
One such young mechanic is a programme called Beck (voice of Elijah Wood), who finds himself surpassing his programme when Clu’s main man – General Tesler (voiced by Lance Henriksen) – arrives to terrorise the citizens of his city. Refusing to stand by, Beck advances from his job description and makes Tesler’s men work a little harder by creating a symbol of freedom. In the process, the renegade programme also catches the attention of Tron (Bruce Boxleitner) who many thought was dead.
Tron, in turn, recruits Beck and trains him to become the next defender of The Grid, in other words Tron 2.0.
At this point, Tron: Uprising is supposed to pick up with Beck discovering what it means to be a hero every week.
He learns that there is more to becoming a symbol than just zipping around on the bike and taking down the bad guys. Against the odds, he has to persevere and make correct judgment calls even when the outcome may lead to terrible personal loss.
Beck does struggle and he is often filled with so many doubts. In fact, he does sound like he is whining. Thankfully, he does make the right call in the end, but the journey that takes him there is quite unbearable. If the challenges are supposed to add weight to the character, they are not working at all.
It doesn’t help that Tron has been relegated to a one-dimensional mentor role – the babbling sounds an awful lot like lectures. It would be totally understandable if Beck decides to sever his ties with this former hero. But of course a hero’s path has to be a difficult road with many setbacks.
Tron: Uprising points out the fact that no matter what one is destined to do, he or she can step out to do something more meaningful.
Beck might be programmed to tune up engines, but he exceeded his programme all on his own to right a wrong.
Add themes like oppression and rebellion to colour up the stories. However, most of the plot gets a little lost – no thanks to the annoying hero and his equally annoying friends.
It doesn’t help that his nemesis is a caricature – a girl who fell in with the wrong crowd. Similar themes like these have been dealt with more depth in other animated series, including Avatar: The Last Airbender. There are some innovative ideas within this Tron: Uprising series (loss of identity and the value of friendship), but nothing that keeps you interested in the long run.
As far as the animation is concerned, the Tron world has never looked this good. Yes, the horizontal and vertical lines, the clever use of light, the buildings, trains, landscape ... all these elements add to the cosmetic value. The action sequences are also simply amazing, especially when the infamous Game is held. If anything, Tron: Uprising is visually amazing. Too bad about the storyline, though.
Tron: Uprising is aired every Sunday on Disney XD (Astro Ch677) and Disney HD (Astro CH637) at 2pm.