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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there are many violent sequences in TRON: Uprising, an animated miniseries sequel to the 1982 film TRON and a prequel to the 2010 follow-up, TRON: Legacy. The fact that TRON: Uprising is animated and the characters are computer programs that splinter and disappear rather than dying more conventionally helps offset the impact of the combat, but it's still too much for little kids. The story's focus on citizens' response to an oppressive totalitarian government offers plenty for older kids to mull over and might spark some thoughtful conversations about world affairs. There's little other content that will raise parental eyebrows, so if your kids are intrigued by the TRON universe but aren't quite ready for the more grown-up movies, this might be a good option.
What's the story?
TRON: UPRISING is the third installment in the TRON saga, a story that fits between the plot of the 1982 movie and that of the more recent TRON: Legacy. Set in Argon City's small corner of The Grid, Uprising picks up with the influx of Clu's minions into the metropolis, led by the power-hungry General Tesler (voiced by Lance Henriksen). Unnerved by the invasion, a young program named Beck (Elijah Wood) sets out to take a stand against the regime, simultaneously drawing the ire of Tesler and gaining notice from Tron (Bruce Boxleitner), the legendary hero whom many thought dead. As Tesler exacts new terrors on the citizens as a means of drawing out the grassroots rebel, Beck secretly begins training with Tron, preparing to overthrow the dictatorial regime once and for all.
Is it any good?
TRON: Uprising marks the saga's first animated endeavor, and the CG style perfectly suits a story set within a computer grid and populated by humanoid "programs." With no disconnect between live-action and special effects (an issue with the movies), viewers can fully immerse themselves in the setting and the story, following the heroics of a flawed but determined rebel who wants nothing more than to escape the tyranny of a dictatorial ruler. What's more, Beck's transformation into a coolheaded hero has good examples of qualities like perseverance, morality, and good judgment.
For some kids, TRON: Uprising will be their first glimpse of something other than an idyllic life in the virtual world, so it's a good idea for you to watch the show, too, so you can field the questions that may arise. Although it seeks first to entertain, the series is very precise in how it presents heavy issues like rebellion and oppression, and the content is safe in the able hands of the show's two upstanding heroes. And don't let the fact that the characters are less than human fool you; there's plenty of emotion -- which guides Beck's actions and reflects his empathy for his fellow citizens -- to round out this impressive series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about standing up for what you believe in. What issues are important enough to you that you'd rebel for them? Is it easier to take a stand when you're surrounded by others who feel the same?
Kids: What aspects of Beck's personality make him a good role model? Is he perfect? What qualities does Tron help him change? How does being able to change make a person stronger? Who are some of your heroes?
Parents, use TRON: Uprising to discuss world issues that relate to the story. How does our government system differ from what Beck and his friends experience? What responsibilities do we have to protect the rights of people in other countries? At what cost is this done?
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