Sci-Fi Movie Month: "Tron- Legacy" Review

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
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Movie Review: "TRON: Legacy"

Rating: PG (sequences of sci-fi action, violence, and brief mild language)
Length: 125 minutes
Release Date: December 17, 2010
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi

In "TRON: Legacy," the main character, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), has grown up almost his entirely without a father. Twenty years earlier, his dad, Kevin (Jeff Bridges), disappeared mysteriously and has not been heard from since. The fact that his father never came back and that a body was never found haunts Sam, who would like nothing more than to find out what happened to Kevin so that he can move on. He gets his wish, but it isn't remotely what he expected.

Now that Sam is of age, he is given control of his father's old company to do with as he wishes. He has no intention of running the company and is just about to accept that his father is likely dead when family friend, Alan (Bruce Boxleitner), tells him not to lose hope. Flush with access to his father's old research, Sam decides to take Alan's advice and try to find clues to his father's disappearance. One night, he receives a mysterious note that he believes might be from Kevin. He goes to Kevin's work area, where he is accidentally transported to a digital domain called the Grid, which his father had invented, as shown in the first "TRON" movie.

 It is in the Grid that he finds his father, who seems to be in a trance of sorts after spending two decades inside his digital creation. He wasn't alone though, since he created Quora (Olivia Wilde), a virtual daughter of sorts, to keep him company. Sam is angry with his father for leaving him, but he doesn't have time to talk through his feelings because he is being pursued by Kevin's alter ego, CLU (the voice of Bridges). CLU wants to cross over to the other side of the virtual world with the intention of conquering and dominating the planet. Sam, Quora, and Kevin must work to stop him, but they face more than just the wrath of CLU. There is also Zuse (Michael Sheen), a hammy villain, who seems to like hunting the three heroes a little too much. 

So much has changed in the film industry since 1982, when the now-classic "TRON" was filmed. At that time, the special effects used in "TRON" were groundbreaking, wowing moviegoers. In the nearly three decades between films, the special effects industry has grown exponentially, with computer-generated images (CGI) taking the place of conventional effects. Now, "TRON: Legacy" uses CGI to create a whole new world that resembles the digital domain of the first film, but updates it and kicks it up a notch to please modern audiences and their much loftier expectations. There is also a fantastic score by Daft Punk that really captures the spirit of the virtual world at the center of the story.

Recreating and enhancing the digital world where most of the action takes place has created the potential for a whole new generation of fans. There are people who were not even born when the first film came out, and who may not have seen it later on VHS or DVD. Disney seems to be aiming to capture some of this market, though that doesn't mean that fans of the original will be left out. To the contrary, there are plenty of nods to the first film, and Disney chose to continue the story rather than try to remake the original, which is a smart move. By making a sequel rather than a reboot, the studio is basically acknowledging what a classic the first film was, and was opting not to touch it. 

Bringing back Bridges and Boxleitner to reprise their roles is also a very astute move on the part of Disney because it gives the film a continuity that it would otherwise lack. Screenwriters Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, who now helm ABC's "Once Upon a Time," provide enough exposition so that people who haven't seen the original can still watch without any confusion. It's yet another smart move that shows that the filmmakers are not only fans of the world of "TRON," but also wish to spread their love of the original to a completely new audience. They succeed in this endeavor quite well with the fun, CGI showcase that is "TRON: Legacy."

Rating: 3 out of 5