Action | rated PG (V) | starring Jeff Bridges, Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen | 2:07 mins | The following is from a 3D version of the film
20-odd years after his father, software pioneer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) walked out the door and didn’t come back, son Sam (Garrett Headlund) refuses to pick up the mantle and run Flynn Enterprises, content with petty cyber vandalism on the corporate goons controlling his father’s company. But when his surrogate father (Bruce Boxleitner) gets a page from the missing old man from his arcade, Sam sets off to find him and is transported into a spectacular video game universe made of pixels and programs. But a lot has evolved on the grid in the last 20 years, a new species has emerged and a war for control of it has been waged. A war Kevin and the prodigal son are going to have to fight to get home.
Legacy works the time between the original 1982 Tron and this sequel into the story advancing the same characters, actors and story along with it in a way respectful to fans of the original’s story cannon. The story this time around, involving an evolved species of code, is really more convoluted than it needs to be. It’s just enough computer mumbo jumbo to give the narrative some weight, but it’s streamlined enough to keep the action moving. The movie delivers exactly what it should where it should. It’s a light and sound show. Laser Floyd. And it’s a good one. Flying by at over 2 hours.
From the moment Sam is dropped into The Grid we are treated to a feast of eye candy. The landscape is still cold and sparce, but it has been infused with creative details. With Legacy‘s wand initiating vehicles, robotic women in all white and a flamboyantly fabulous little performance from Michael Sheen (ditching the Brit dramas to have some fun for once), Legacy is weirder than the usual mainstream release. It wonderfully and unabashedly indulges in it’s geekiest Tron fantasies. Making them bigger and better as the movie goes on.
The disc battles and light cycle races, the trademark set pieces of the original movie, are where Legacy really shows it’s muscle. They’re on steroids befitting of this CGI generation and they are terrific. Director Joseph Kosinski conducts this laser show to squeeze every milasecond of excitement out of these set pieces. Throwing us into a disorienting disc fight that defies gravity and a catch-your-breath light cycle fight where unlucky opponents shatter into delicious pixels. Tron Legacy is in fact one of the more intense PG-rated movies I’ve seen in quite some time. It’s strong, solid work from Kosinski who wrangles the effects into an atmospheric piece. Adding indespensibly to that atmosphere is Daft Punk’s thumping, driving perfectly appropriate synthetic score.
The weak link here is Hedlund, a Freshman actor who all but vaporizes from the screen once Jeff Bridges and the beautiful Olivia Wilde show up. Bridges is, for the 2nd and 3rd time this week actually (alongside Tru Grit), a strong presense in duel role as the exiled God of the Grid and Clu, his 20-year-old CGI copy who runs a totalitarian rule to exterminate imperfection. The movie magic that lets Bridges duke it out with his smoothed-out younger self is startlingly good and impressively sustained. A bit disorienting, but an achievement in computerize visual effects in the same, but different, way the original film was.
Though Tron Legacy is technically a sequel to the cult hit, it plays more like a suped-up remake with state-of-the-art new graphics and special effects. Drive the new 2010 model Light Cycle. A cheesy, unexciting movie that sought to capitalize on the 80s arcade phenomenon, I never got into the original Tron. Instead of a classic being basterdized, we have a fairly unique opportunity here for a sequel/remake to improve on a movie that wasn’t very good to begin with but has achieved a level of cult status that makes it financially worthwhile to remake it. Tron Legacy is better than the original. And now with the Nintendo Wii and the Xbox Kinect bringing gamers more into the game, the time couldn’t be better for another trip back to the Tron universe.