a critiQal film review TRON: Legacy (2010)

Plot: Sam (Hedlund), the son of famous video-game developer Kevin Flynn (Bridges), has been haunted for a long time by his father's mysterious disappearance. A strange signal draws Sam to Flynn's Arcade, and he is pulled into the same cyberworld in which his father, its creator, has been trapped for 20 years. With fearless warrior Quorra (Wilde), Kevin and Sam seek to escape from a universe that, while magnificent, is far more advanced and dangerous than Kevin had ever imagined.

Reviewed
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After re-watching TRON (1982) this year, I was more interested than ever in seeing how Disney’s first attempt at a sequel to the now-classic film would turn out. Alas, I wasn’t able to catch Tron: Legacy in theaters, so had to wait until it hit DVD. And, thanks to NetFlix® splitting out their DVD delivery and instant viewing departments, I had to wait again. Now that the film is able to view instantly, however, the wait is finally over, and I couldn’t wait to find out if Tron: Legacy was going to be a sequel worth the 20+ years wait, or if it was going to be nothing more than just a visual treat.

Jeff Bridges returns to reprise his role as Kevin Flynn, and does so with style. The special effects are easily evident here, as Jeff is seen in scenes that take place shortly after TRON (1982), and also in scenes that take place 27 years later. It’s impressive, and while some of the scenes take on a sort of a plastic model feel, the resemblance is still top-notch. Jeff himself plays his role(s) with alacrity, even going so far as to play up his 80’s persona (whose mindset he has been trapped in for 27 years), sprinkling his dialogue with “man” and the like.

Garrett Hedlund, who has been pretty much persona non grata since his role in Four Brothers (2005), does a decent job of playing Kevin Flynn’s grown son Sam Flynn. While his character was never mentioned in the first film (making the sequel feel a bit of a stretch to start with), he excels at playing the risk-taking son of a billionaire, showcasing most of his talent during a risky break-in near the beginning of the film. As the film progresses, he becomes less impressive, and, while this helps the film (he’s obviously a newcomer in the digital world), it makes his character less intriguing the more he’s on the screen.

Olivia Wilde, whose digital character is shrouded in mystery (is she a program? a user? something else?), surprisingly transfers from “House, M.D.” (TV) to the big screen quite well, although she tends to spend a bit too much time trying to express more with her eyes than with her voice. Still, she’s fun to watch as she tears her way through the bad guys, and easily becomes the more impressive of the twenty-somethings in the film.

While the introduction of Sam Flynn is a bit of a stretch, the rest of the film turns out to be a solid continuation of the first, and aside from Sam’s blatant absence from the first film, the sequel’s storyline seems solidly plausible in the framework of the first film.

But it’s the visual effects that really show how far computers have come from the time of TRON (1982). Boldly stunning, the film is a visual treat from start to finish, from the updated lightcycles to the introduction of the lightplanes, all whipped up at a moment’s notice by a new design. Aside from the new vehicles, the digital world of Tron: Legacy is much more detailed this time around, creating a brighter and more in-depth view into the astonishing world the film re-creates. There are enough similarities to the original that make the world recognizable, but viewers will be awed at the advances this time around.

Maybe 27 years is a long time to wait for a sequel, but, thanks to the computer advances since the original, and the solidly developed storyline make Tron: Legacy well worth the wait – despite being contrived around Kevin Flynn’s son, a character who was obviously created just for this sequel.

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