“Tron: Legacy” Review

Although I first played the Tron game in high school, I didn’t watch the 1982 movie until arriving at college. At that point, the technology, both in the movie and the special effects, were dated, and my friend Jordan and I laughed at the 80s culture. Even so, the imaginative take on the inner world of a computer was well-classified as neat. The updated “Tron: Legacy” pulls in today’s special effects to build out an even more incredible world with special effects and artistic design that should impress everyone.

In the original movie, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) attempts to hack the mainframe at ENCOM (perhaps best thought of today as Microsoft) and ends up being transported to the Grid, the inner world of the computer, with its primary residents as programs and has battles with light cycles and gladiator games using thrown discs. In this movie, his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) goes into the Grid almost 30 years later to find his dad who disappeared mysteriously when he was young. There, he finds an equally oppressive world as the one that his dad has faced and tries to find a way back out with his dad. That said, the plot isn’t compelling. A son searching for his father is a classic, which isn’t inherently bad, but it doesn’t have any depth. The parallels between the Flynns are emphasized, and the steps are somewhat predictable.

The acting was solid. Hedlund as Sam had the right temperament to be placed in the Grid and avoids the confused awe of a Keanu Reeves Neo and the overdramatic enthusiasm of Shia LaBeouf in “Transformers.” Jeff Bridges reprises his role as Kevin Flynn well, mixing the expected wisdom of a fatherly figure with just a little cool you would expect from Bridges. Michael Sheen’s role as a program adds a little whimsy to change the pace, and Olivia Wilde fits into the movie as well.

As to be expected, it looks great. The visuals largely reflect the same style as the original movie, yet work far better with the updates to computer-generated graphics. Whether it’s the gruesome “derezzing” of a program shattering or a look across the landscape, the Grid and its inhabitants should thoroughly impress. Even though the digital world lacks the organic detail and richness of a Pandora, you should feel just as immersed into its foreignness. I saw it in 3-D (though not IMAX), which was subtle, like many other recent 3-D movies. Spring at it if you get a chance, though don’t worry about missing too much if you have to watch a regular showing of it.

The most notable fact about the movie is how seriously it takes itself. My moviegoing buddy, Trey, asked me before the movie if we might see references to any internet memes, and I knew that there wouldn’t be any. Just like the original, this movie throws out computer jargon and plot points without acknowledging what a stretch some of it is. At times, the dialogue comes out heavy-handed in trying to emphasize the significance of certain ideas, and even these are somewhat predictable. Overall, it’s worth watching if you think you’ll enjoy seeing the instantiation of the world of Tron. Otherwise, there’s not much to go for.

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