Starring Garrett Hedlund, Jeff Bridges and Olivia Wilde

Directed by Joseph Kosinksi

Written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz

The question I had to ask myself walking out of Wednesday night’s TRON: Legacy screening was “would my 12-year-old self like this movie?” That was the age I was when I saw the original TRON in 1982. I didn’t have a chance to revisit the original before seeing this belated sequel, but I have warm memories of it. I also have colder memories of sucking at the attendant video game.

I suspect the 12-year-old boys who will flock to see TRON: Legacy this weekend will have mixed feelings. Visually, the film is stunning, far surpassing the then groundbreaking visuals of the original of course. The promise of The Grid – the digital world where Sam Flynn (Hedlund) has been transported in an attempt to find his decades-missing father Kevin (Bridges), who has been banished to the wastelands by Clu, the program he created to help realize the perfect digital world of The Grid – has been fully realized. Blade Runner comes to mind, minus the grime.

Also minus the character development and intrigue. TRON: Legacy is beautiful to look at, for sure, but I don’t feel the need to see it again. The tweens will wonder where the action is (there are only a couple of significant set pieces) and the adults will wonder if it was really worth waiting 28 years for a sequel. Attempts to give the film an emotional heft via the relationship between Sam and his long-lost dad are awkward and mostly remain unrealized. On the positive side, Daft Punk’s score is ominous and awesome.

As for the cast, lead Garrett Hedlund is adequate as the wayward Sam, the in name only leader of ENCOM, the video game developer his father Kevin helped create before he got zapped onto The Grid in the first film, but he’s nothing special. Olivia Wilde is far more interesting as Quorra, the wide-eyed digital being Kevin has adopted. Bridges does solid work with a middling script, but doubtless his other film opening this weekend, The Coen Brothers’ True Grit, contains superior work. The film’s standout is Michael Sheen (Underworld) who seems to be channelling David Bowie’s style as the flamboyant nightclub owner Castor. His scenes sparkle with an energy sadly lacking in the rest of the film.

As for the film’s 3D, like most 3D films these days, it was unnecessary. Unlike Avatar, it doesn’t help immerse us in the story (perhaps because the story is so convoluted) and is barely noticeable.

Apparently there are plans for two more TRON films, although the film’s performance at the box office this weekend will impact that decision. I encourage movie fans to see the film if they are appreciative of spectacle. Disney has put a lot of money into this movie and it’s all up there on the screen. But like the digital world it depicts, TRON: Legacy is a cold place to visit.

Rating: 3/5

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