By Gary Murray
Starring Jeff Bridges Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde
Written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz
Directed by Joseph Kosinski
MPAA Rating PG-13
Running time 127 min
Selig Film Rating Matinee
The original Tron was made at Disney during a time of change. The studio was trying to find a way to relate to a Star Wars/ET world and still try to keep the family crown. At the time they made the original film they also made The Black Hole a sci-fi epic with a dour un-Disney feel.
Tron is best known for as the first film to use computer generated images. At the time it, like The Black Hole, was another unsuccessful attempt to win the youth audience. There have always been a legion of people who defend these two Disney titles as great attempts to do something different. Well, the powers that be at Disney feel that 1982 movie needed a 21st century update. We now have a very long overdue sequel Tron: Legacy.
The story starts with young Sam being told by his father Kevin Flynn (a CGI of young Jeff Bridges) all about the world of the Grid. This is a virtual place where anything imagined can be created. That night Kevin Flynn disappears.
It is twenty years later and Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) is now a grown man with a bit of mischief in his bones. The night the company his father founded is to release a new computer software, Sam breaks in and steals it posting the system on the Web for free. He believes, like his father did, that all computer software and knowledge should be free and open. That night, Kevin's trusted co-worker comes to Sam and tells him that he received a page from Kevin's disconnected phone number at the office/video game center.
Sam goes to investigate and finds a secret room that leads to his dad's lab. There are all the plans and machines for the Grid. As he accidently activates the old computers, Sam is digitally transported into the Grid itself.
Once there, he is immediately captured and forced to go into battle with programs that use ring-discs for combat. It is a world just like the video world, full of deep black and neon orange colors. After a few fights and wins, the programs discover that he is human and he is taken to their leader Clu (the CGI of Jeff Bridges). It seems that the real Kevin Flynn has been trapped in this virtual universe trying to find a way to get back. Clu also has plans to leave this universe and get into the real one. Sam, by coming to the Grid, has opened the door for both escape and conquest.
Very soon Sam is rescued in a visual bike/cycle scene by Quorra (Olivia Wilde) one of the last of her kind and a helper of the real Kevin Flynn (finally the real Jeff Bridges). It seems that he has been avoiding battle with Clu in a Zen-like mission to find inner peace in this '0' and '1' world. With Sam in this world, Kevin realizes that now is the time for things to change. So, Dad (the Father) and Son (the Son) and Digital Babe (the Spirit) must embark on a spiritual journey to stop Clu (the Devil), Can we say Christ Analogy?
Visually, Tron:Legacy is amazing. The 3-D effects in the Tron world are a feast for the eyes. In the decades since the first Tron, computers have changed the entire landscape of cinema. The building of ships and cycles are magically and technically amazing. Every little bit of the screen has an image of wonder.
Jeff Bridges has been having a great second act in the thespian world. In the last couple of years, he has been delivering great performance after great performance. But here, he channels Sir Alec from the Star Wars and not a genuine different character. He is much better as CGI Clu, but the bad guy is always more fun than the good one.
Garrett Hedlund is a fine actor but there is not much in his performance. All he is required to do is smile and look handsome and non-threatening. He has that gun-ho attitude but not much of a distinct personality. We never truly believe his emotional arc.
The find of Tron Legacy is Olivia Wilde. Not only can she fight with all the big boys but she has that certain twinkle in her eye that just draws the audience in. As as two dimensional character, she gives a three dimensional performance.
The problem with is the story. It runs from second rate Star Wars to third rate Holy Bible. The religious allegory floods over and across the screen to a point of almost being parody. We get all the references, it just too much imagery not enough action.
People are going to Tron: Legacy to look at all the pretty pictures and the action sequences. While the former is there, the latter not so much. The trailer shows all the action and at over two hours, the film drags from sequence to sequence. Director Joseph Kosinski tries to keep the original Tron fans happy while building an entire new fanbase. He comes close but doesn't give much in the way of story. While that may be the fault of the script by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. It never finds the right flow between action pieces, more like eating chunky peanut butter and not smooth peanut butter.
While Tron: Legacy will make a lot of money, it was just an okay flick. Like all films these days, it is definitely set-up for a sequel.