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Tron: Uprising Pilot “Beck’s Beginning” Review!

Tron Uprising is an animated sci-fi series made for Disney XD. In essence it is meant to continue the Tron franchise after the 2010 release of Tron Legacy which was itself a sequel to the 1982 movie Tron made by Steven Lisberger. Tron Legacy was however only a mediocre success financially, there has been a buzz for a third movie but they have been weak. Tron Uprising was already announced before Tron Legacy got released so I guess Disney decided to continue with the project as it would appeal to a wider audience.

This animated series has some familiar characters from the first two movies such as Clue and Tron but mostly introduces new characters such as Beck (voiced by Elijah wood) as the protagonist, Mara (Mandy Moore) and Able (Reginald VelJohnson) on the good side and with Paige (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and General Tesler (Lance Henriksen) on the side of the bad guys. As I said the character of Tron also returns and is voiced by Bruce Boxleitner who played the character of Alan Bradley and Tron in the movies.

As for the plot of Beck’s Beginning…

The story opens by first explaining the background of the Tron franchise. Brilliant programmer Kevin Flynn (played by Jeff Bridges in the movies) has managed to travel into the digital world by the method of laser uploading. In ‘The Grid’ that he has created he is able to do many marvelous things that could potentially affect the real world in fantastic ways. He takes along with him into this world Tron, a program designed by his friend Alan Bradley (played by Bruce Boxleitner). With Tron’s help Flynn was able to defeat the Master Control Program that had threatened an early version of the internet. Flynn also created Clue, a program made in his own mirror image to help him run the Grid when he is not there. However, due to the conflicting nature of the orders Flynn issued to Clue he seeks to purge the Grid of all undesirable elements including Flynn. Tron manages to help Flynn effect his escape but not before Tron is mortally wounded by Clue.

The story now jumps to the time just before the movie Tron Legacy takes place. In a series of Flashbacks the character of Beck explains as the prisoner to one of Clue’s cronies just how he became a renegade. For a long time Beck had worked in Able’s garage fixing everything from bikes to quads with his friends Mara, Zed and Boadie. While playing Disc Wars after work their city is suddenly taken over by the armies of General Tesler under the orders of Clue in his drive for total Grid domination. While Tesler’s soldiers erect a statue of Clue Boadie challenges them and gets killed. Beck swears revenge. During the night (if there is such a thing as nighttime on the Grid) Beck returns to the statue of Clue and blows it up, while escaping with his light cycle Tesler’s guards think they are chasing the legendary Tron because Beck used Tron’s logo on his suit. Even Clue intervenes with Tesler to say that it is impossible for Tron to be still alive.

Beck manages to defeat Tesler’s guards easily enough but not Paige, Tesler’s right hand woman. Paige and Beck fight it out for a long time until Beck manages to escape by jumping out of an airship. Later on Paige suggests the man they are chasing isn’t Tron, Tesler orders his capture nonetheless. Now that Beck has told all that has happened before he manages to release himself and starts to fight his unknown captor, after being defeated a second time his captor reveals himself to be Tron after all. Tron was indeed mortally wounded in a fight by Clue and is as of yet not capable of fighting Clue again and instead must do Clue’s bidding by being Rinzler, his enforcer. Tron suggests that Beck continue to pretend to be him in order to inspire others to rise up against Clue.

Beck manages to return to Able’s garage where none of his friends know that it was him who blew up the statue, though Able suspects otherwise. Paige also shows up at the garage with a small army and demands that Tron gives himself up, if he doesn’t than programs will be rounded up and brought to the arena to fight to the death. For General Tesler even this threat isn’t good enough and arrests a random group of programs to make Tron give himself up. It just happened that Tesler has picked out all of Beck’s friends. While chasing the train carrying Mara and Zed Beck has to fight one of Tesler’s soldiers, by sparing his life Beck surprisingly gets his coöperation with busting his friends out. None of them suspects that Tron is really Beck, but before Beck manages to escape General Tesler shows up and fights Beck with his unique ability to extend his fists as far out as he wants. Beck manages to prevail in the end by cutting Tesler’s arms off but Tesler manages to escape with the help of Paige. She does seem to suspect who Tron really is.

The last scene shows Beck and Tron watching the Grid from Tron’s secret lair. Beck says he is ready to be Tron, Tron says he is not but that he will be with his help.

Review…

The first episode of Tron: Uprising was a lot better than I thought it would be, I feared that the combination of Disney and animation would mean the Tron franchise would be dumbed down, instead the opposite seem to be true. The producers seem to use the animated format as a way to keep cost down while managing to visually  produce such a stunning world that I say even beats Tron Legacy. The unbridled depiction of the death of Beck’s friend Boadie shows that the creators aren’t afraid to tackle controversial subjects even on a Disney channel. The pilot does suffer from some common problems associated with the first episode of a new series, it tries to shoehorn too much into 31 minutes and as a result it might have ‘jumped the shark’ just a little bit. Also the secondary character seem a little wooden. I hope that the next episode will be better when it comes to fleshing out all the characters. The voice of Elijah Wood is furthermore very distinctive, I keep imagining Hobbits fighting Tesler’s soldiers instead of the character of Beck.

Score; 8 / 10.