I haven’t felt inspired to actually write a review on the site in a while, preferring to save my opinions for the podcast itself, but I was excited enough by the first episode of the new series TRON: Uprising to lack the patience of waiting until we next record.
TRON: Uprising will premier on Disney XD on June 7th at 9pm for a 10-episode miniseries but Disney was confident enough in the show to put it online early to generate interest. You can watch it below. The show blends the strong characterization and rebellious spirit of the original film with the amazing visuals of the sequel. The sequel, in my opinion, has deep flaws but I’ve still seen it three times so far. I like the characters and love the world, but the story itself drags in the middle and the villain, CLU, has a nebulous-at-best evil plan, which makes it hard to root for the heroes.
This show is set in the time period between those films, when CLU has begun his hostile takeover of the Grid. The story follows a new character, a program named Beck (Elijah Wood) who is a mechanic. In the first episode, he begins a rebellion against CLU and his main general, Tessler (Lance Henriksen). He does this by taking on the identity of Tron, the program who protected the Grid but has gone missing and is assumed dead. He shows up here and reveals to Beck that he was defeated by CLU but begins Beck’s training to take his place.
What does the show have going for it? Several things. First, it’s got a clear story of an underdog creating a persona to inspire revolution against an overwhelming enemy force.
The animation is a blend of traditional 2D and modern CG that blends pretty seamlessly. The animation is stylized (think Peter Chung’s Aeon Flux if it were cel-shaded) but expressive and clear. There is a lot of action scenes that are not confusing but are very engaging.
The music is unfortunately not created by Daft Punk, who did the excellent TRON: Legacy score, but Joseph Trapanese, who arranged that film score is the music supervisor and the show features some great electronic themes.
Finally, there’s an all-star voice cast including Elijah Wood, Lance Henriksen, Reginald Vel Johnson, Paul Reubens, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Mandy Moore and most importantly, Bruce Boxleitner reprising his role of Tron. CLU is voiced by voice actor Fred Tatasciore and I challenge anyone to tell the difference from Jeff Bridges.
Negatives? Well, if you’ve seen TRON: Legacy we know where the overall story of the Grid is headed, if not all of the characters. It takes away some of the suspense. Also, there don’t seem to be any real world characters or any of our favorites from the movies like Kevin or Sam Flynn, Dr. Baines, or Ed Dillinger. Users are such an important aspect of this universe, it will be interesting to see what can be done without them. Will we meet the ISOs introduced in Legacy? I hope so. They definitely would benefit from being fleshed out. Fortunately, these potential negatives are offset to a large degree by being a tv show with recurring characters who we, the audience, are interested in seeing interact. It benefits from its format.
Overall, I give this a strong recommend. In fact, why not watch right now and judge for yourself: