It's been nearly 30 years since we last saw the likes of Tron on the big screen, and oh my, how things have changed in its sequel, Tron: Legacy. For those of you who are playing catch-up, Jeff Bridges reprises his role as Kevin Flynn, who, in the original film, has been sucked into the virtual world of the Grid and made to compete in gladiator-like games in order to survive. After defeating his foes, thanks in part to his in-game ally, Tron (played by Bruce Boxleitner), he goes on to take over a computer company called ENCOM. Tron: Legacy picks up here, telling us Kevin's story in flashes of news reports. He's gone missing, leaving behind his young son, Sam.
Twenty years later, we find that Sam is rebellious, ignoring his duties as a stakeholder in ENCOM, and still grappling with his feelings of abandonment. This helps drive him along as he tries to rescue Kevin from the virtual world he's created, and battle Kevin's evil (and much younger-looking) virtual twin, Clu, to escape. It's a great setup for a perfect storm of action and drama, but unfortunately for Tron: Legacy, the weight is not always evenly distributed between the two.
Find out more, including why I still think you should see the movie in theaters after the break.
Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, and Michael Sheen are three new and welcomed additions to the world of Tron. Hedlund plays it straight as a lost soul searching for answers, while Wilde's combination of power and naiveté make an interesting blend for a right-hand warrior. But the most memorable performance award goes to Sheen; Although he's only on screen for a few moments, he's fierce, flamboyant, and entertaining. As for Bridges? Well, it's like Kevin Flynn never left. His hippie humor adds a hilarious touch to action-packed scenes and lightens-up the God-like aspects of his character. He is "the creator," anyway.
But let's face it — Tron: Legacy isn't really as much about story and character building as it is about effects. No, it isn't a deep and thought-provoking film, and it's sprinkled with awkward moments that suddenly jerk you out of your lightcycle-induced high. For example, when Sam and Kevin meet for the first time in 20 years, you would expect this moment to be warm and tender, but instead you're left feeling cold, just like the Grid itself.
That said, the film does have its strong points and spotlights them at every turn. The original Tron was lauded as groundbreaking and ahead of its time despite the technological limitations it faced, and it's almost as if director Joseph Kosinski wanted to make up for the lack of computer power in the sequel. He succeeds in a major way, giving us a visual carnival of lights, superb effects, and exceptional 3D. In fact, there's a moment at the end of the film that's worth watching the entire movie for — you can really feel the effort put forth by the visual effects team, and it definitely shows on screen. Add in the pounding soundtrack put forth by electronic DJ duo Daft Punk (which is eerily perfect for the film), and you'll want to strap yourself in for a really entertaining ride.
I don't think the film is trying to hide the fact that its focus is visual effects, and I don't have a problem with that, considering how much fun I had watching it. It's pretty amazing to see how far technology has come, allowing artists to create such intricate and mind-blowing effects on screen, which makes Tron: Legacy well worth the trip to the theater.
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