FIRST LOOK: Tron Uprising – Beck’s Beginning
Having seen the previews on the Tron Legacy disc and being a bit turned off of the Tron Franchise, I was pleasantly surprised by the first episode.
Tron Uprising takes place between the original movie and Tron Legacy. In reality one can see it as a prequel to Tron Legacy. We have a corrupted Clu marching his troops around and pretty much filling the vacuum left by the old MPC. Basically the set up is a lowly mechanic program, Beck, has his world flipped upside down when a friend is derezed by General Tesler’s troops after invading Beck’s town. Beck decides to adopt the persona of the missing and presumed dead Tron to wage a war against Clu’s forces that would put a smile of V’s face… if he didn’t already have one. Beck get rough and ready with one of Tesler’s troops, a girl about the same age who gives him a good run for his money. A few fortuitous breaks and Beck escapes only to be caught, held and questioned by a mysterious soldier, who is revealed to be a very broken Tron. Beck returns back to his town just in time to see his friends rounded up to play in the games as a result of Beck as Tron’s actions. Beck once again pretends to be Tron to rescue his friends which has many hiccups and eventually puts him face to face with Tesler. Realizing he needs to stand up and up his game he agrees to become the new Tron and fight for the programs.
OK, the first thing you notice about Tron Uprising is how stylized the art is. It is very reminiscent of Peter Chung’s Aeon Flux. It is also all CG that looks like it was hand-drawn or at the very least computer drawn in 2D. Everyone is super tall and skinny and has a frenetic style of movement. I didn’t know what to think of it at first because in some ways it doesn’t look very Tron-like at all. The neon colours don’t pop like in the live-action movies. But then I just gave into the sheer coolness of the art and animation.
Beck is voiced by Elijah Wood and Tron is voiced by Bruce Boxleitner. The stars don’t stop there, Lance Henriksen plays Tesler and Emmanuelle Chriqui plays Paige. Mandy Moore voices one of Beck’s friends and Peewee Herman himself, Paul Reubens, voices Pavel, one of Tesler’s lieutenants. It’s a pretty brutal voice cast for an animated TV show, but it so works having the real Tron voicing this animated version.
This first episode is really the catalyst and origin story for Beck. The first 22 minutes really remind me of another great animated show, Batman Beyond. There is a parallel between the two shows where Tron is to Batman, what Beck is to Terry McGinnis. It’s a great idea of a hero pasts his active days giving advise and support to a younger hero who has their own goal to fight for. The character interactions are spot on and the intercourse between Beck-as-Tron and Paige shadows a very complex relationship between two characters that already have an attraction to each other despite being on opposite sides of this fight.
I went into Tron Uprising with low expectations and was amazed at how good it really was. I hope the story pans out because the show has a lot of talent behind it hooked me in with its take on familiar themes.