This review contains spoilers.
1.1 The Renegade Part One
After the scene-setting Beck’s Beginning, Tron: Uprising begins in earnest with a two-parter taking the hero from last week and bringing him down a peg or two.
The Renegade Part One finds the lead character of the show, Beck (voiced by Elijah Wood), being trained in Tron’s icy seclusion. Voiced by the original actor, Bruce Boxleitner, the hero, now a forbidden word in The Grid, takes his protégé on some light-cycle fun in the snow. Well, virtual snow anyway.
As I mentioned last week, the relationship is very Jedi/Padawan with Tron pronouncing encouragement such as “Dominate!” and “Anticipate!” as the two race around the sparse landscape. There’s even a “Do, or do not. There is no try,” moment as Beck fails to jump a ravine. Beck’s almost whiny insecure utterances like “How can I be the next Tron?” and “I wasn’t programmed for this. I’m just a mechanic,” will also remind you of Luke “Tosche Station” Skywalker.
But it’s Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan’s first big screen Dark Knight adventure) that really lends an influence here. The snowy climes cannot help but remind you of Bruce Wayne’s mentoring at the hands of Qui Gon Jinn – sorry, I mean, Ra’s Al Ghul. The Batman analogy continues throughout as Beck conceals his identity as the “new” Tron, or “The Renegade” as programs are referring to him.
After a nasty encounter with a Recognizer patrol, Beck ends up in a container with imprisoned programs being taken to The Games (a result of The Renegade’s actions in the pilot). He befriends Rilo and Cutler; the former even more whiney than Beck and scared of what’s to come, comes a cropper after eventually showing some chutzpah in the games whilst the latter, a veteran of the Iso War, seeks hope in the return of Tron.
On the other side of Argon City, Beck’s colleagues Zed and Mara are out at a club when Zed, being slightly miffed at receiving no attention from party girl Mara, find himself the attention of Perl, a young lady who is obviously after something (though he is oblivious to this, of course).
It’s to be commended that Disney felt happy to feature a club scene for a cartoon on their children’s channel, and these moments are interspersed with some incredibly dynamic action scenes featuring a cuffed Beck and Cutler battle off three light cycles (only to discover their prize is a fight to the death, against each other).
Also of note is the “retro” cycle, belonging to Zed’s boss, a throwback to the original Tron. As is the appearance of Bit (complete with 80s style comedic shenanigans) that will please old-skool fans no end (and perhaps those of television series, Automan too). This bike, it’s soon revealed, was the real object of Perl’s desire and it’s not long before she has her digital mitts on it.
Full of mystery and questions galore, the first part of The Renegade sets up an intriguing denouement – not to mention the cliffhanger pitting new friends with the same beliefs against each other.