You know, 1982 was a good year for science fiction films. We got Steven Spielbergs E.T. John Carpenters The Thing and Disneys TRON.
Of course, the latter two were relative flops, although The Thing went on to sci-fi superstardom, while a cult of unapologetic geeks took TRON to its bosom. None have spawned sequels until now, 28 years later, with TRON: Legacy.
In TRON, computer programmer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges, True Grit) found a way to transport himself into one of his own programs, and there hes been stuck for two decades.
In order to perfect the world he created, he made a copy of himself named Clu, whose relentless quest for perfection has turned him into a fascist, allowing Bridges to deliver some nice good twin/bad twin shtick.
On the outside world, Flynns 28-year old son Sam (Garrett Hedlund, Death Sentence) is summoned into the program where, with the aid of the gorgeous Quorra (Olivia Wilde, The Next Three Days), he wants to rescue his dad and deprive Clu of what he needs in order to enter our world and take over. This is what is technically known as a plot, but dont let it concern you too much. It isnt at all important.
First-time feature director Joseph Kosinskis film is pure eye candy. The production design is nifty, which it should be, since its borrowed almost entirely from 2001, Star Wars and the Korova Milk Bar in A Clockwork Orange. To drive that last, uh, homage home, Michael Sheen (New Moon),
who is much too good to have to resort to this sort of thing, appears to be channeling Malcolm McDowells Alex much too closely for coincidence as one of Clus sinister minions.
The 3-D works better than in anything weve seen since Avatar, but thats hardly a recommendation, as it adds nothing to the experience but empty calories. Wilde in tight black latex is more tasty, and is better for you, too. After her, the real scenic pleasure is the change in Bridges appearance. Inside the computer program for 20 years, Kevin has aged and shows it, but Clu looks the same as he did the day he was created.
This means that a digital way had to be found to make Bridges look the same as he did in 1982. The process isnt perfect by any means, although the wax-museum appearance of his face may be due to the fact that Clu was formed in the days when computer animation was pretty basic. The original TRON was the first feature film to use computer-generated imagery as a major component. Watch it now and youll see how crude it looks.
For all its technical whiz-bang, this sequel really isnt worth the price of a 3-D screening, yet without the 3-D, it isnt worth seeing at all. Wait for Son of TRON in 2038. Maybe by then, someone will have written a script worth producing.