Rebooting the future – I’ll be honest, when I first heard about a sequel to the original 1982 film “Tron,” I was a bit taken back. I mean, no one really watched it back then, so is the idea or concept strong enough to “wow” an audience some 28 years later? Well, the answer to that is a resounding “yes,” as I was hooked within minutes of the “Tron: Legacy” text appearing on the giant IMAX screen. That’s right, it doesn’t take long and the best part is, that feeling won’t leave you for the rest of the 127-minutes, which is really all I can ask for from a film like this.
What’s it about? For anyone thinking they have to watch the first installment to understand more about this story, I got good news, you don’t. Sure, it might help and give you some indirect background, but the writers did more than an admirable job in tying the past to the present. And it’s in that spirit the film opens with a flashback to the events occurring 20 years prior, where a young Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is enlightening his 7-year-old son Sam (Owen Best) about his job as a software programmer and CEO at ENCOMM International. Ah the stories Kevin would tell his son were epic, so epic in fact that after one night’s tale, Sam’s dad disappeared. Two decades later, we find Sam (Garrett Hedlund), a lost soul on the verge of a breakdown until that one day a year where he would play a prank on the board of director’s and company he pretty much owned.
You see, Sam was the primary stock holder, but still young and haunted by his Dad’s disappearance, he was unwilling to take his rightful seat at the head of the table. So, life at ENCOMM went on without him. But, all that changed one afternoon when one of his Dad’s old partners, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) showed up with a pager and subsequent message from his Dad’s arcade that was deserted years ago. Curious, Sam went to the arcade to check things out and the next thing he knew, he was being transported into the digital world his Dad dubbed, ‘The Grid.’ It was then this film turned inside out, travelling down an unknown path of intersecting streams of data and emotion that will surely have you awe by the time the credits roll.
Who was in it? Depending on who you ask, this won’t be a film that will get noticed because of its cast. Fact is, outside of Jeff Bridges, everyone else is relatively unknown with the exception of maybe Michael Sheen. And that’s OK, given this film really isn’t about the cast or big name notoriety. Instead it’s about the story and ridiculous special effects, which I will get to shortly. However, first, I would like to commend director Joseph Kosinski for ensuring he had Jeff Bridges back to reprise his role as Kevin Flynn. Without Bridges, this film would truly cease to exist as the rest of the cast would have not been able to preside over this story in the way Bridges did. He’s just so natural in his delivery and the way he mingles with his fellow co-stars. And that’s both in the CGI and real-life versions, as you are lucky to have both in this film. With that said, I was very impressed with what Bridge’s co-star Garrett Hedlund did as Sam Flynn. A relatively unknown actor, Hedlund held his own several times within this film, which was needed given how much of the story centered on he and his dad. As for Michael Sheen, I almost hate to give anything away as he completely took over scenes within seconds and didn’t relinquish that presence until the absolute last moment. So, he was brilliant here in what I like to call that “Michael Sheen way,” showing the world of talent he possesses each and every time he steps in front of the camera.
Going for it – A lot will be written and said on what “Tron: Legacy” should or shouldn’t have done. But, given how many years are between the first and second installment’s, who cares. I was too young to really remember “Tron,” so I won’t pretend to draw any comparisons now. With how far Hollywood has come with computer generated special effects, I think we all can agree a sequel like this was bound to happen eventually. And for it being in 3-D, there weren’t really any flying objects, because that’s not what it was for. Any sequence shot in 3-D was to show the depth within the background, much like what James Cameron did throughout “Avatar.” Depth is one of those traits within a film that might get lost, but here it prevails as the visuals and backgrounds were amazing.
In fact, I would be hard pressed to find any flaws in how this film was presented given how easy it was to watch. And I think a lot of that was because of the story, penned by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. Films that look this good will only go as far as the script will take them and this was more layered than it appeared, proving to me that director Joseph Kosinski wanted to respect the original without getting carried away. So while “Tron: Legacy” might appear like some giant spectacle, it’s really not once you get into the ‘meat’ of the underlying aspects of the story, which ring true the more you watch. That and a soundtrack mixed by the electronica duo Daft Punk will virtually carry you throughout this entire film, so be prepared for a ride like you never experienced before at the theater.
Bottom Line – It’s hard to come up with the right adjectives for a film as enjoyable as “Tron: Legacy.” But, that’s a good thing, as I’m sure I would be saying the complete opposite had this film not blown me away in the way it did. So, for anyone undecided, just think of “The Matrix” and then add a ridiculous soundtrack to it and that’s “Tron: Legacy.”
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