By MARK TURNER
In 1982 at the height of the video arcade games popularity a movie came out that fans clamored to see. It was a hit film that year and when released on video and later DVD became a hit as well, even though it hadn’t been available for some time. And now a new generation has access to not only the original film but a sequel that takes us back to the Grid, back to a place no one has ever seen, back to the world of TRON.
TRON LEGACY picks up some years after the original. The opening scenes take place a few years later but soon after the world changes. Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) promised his son he’d be back but for some reason he disappeared. Never seen again the company he began with friend Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) is different. Encom is now about to go global and rather than become the open and file sharing system Flynn intended it to be, it’s main goal is profits and security.
Security that’s not quite as good as they would hope. For into the secret board meeting sneaks a single minded individual with something on his mind, a way to open up the portals to the net and share the newest version of Encom’s favorite program. That person is Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), the major shareholder in the company who yearly stirs the pot and disrupts the aims of the company, aims that he knows his father would not have shared.
After being caught and released from jail, Sam goes home to find Alan waiting for him. They talk, banter back and forth and then Alan tells Sam he received a page from his father’s old storefront, the video arcade he owned where it all began. Passing along a key Flynn left him for safekeeping, he encourages Sam to check it out.
Sam’s curiosity is piqued and he does indeed go to the old battered arcade, game machines draped in plastic that come to life along with the jukebox when he flips the power switch. Noticing the Tron game his father designed and promised to play with him the day before he disappeared, he tries to play it only to have his quarter slip out. It lands on the floor and he notices groves where the machine has moved. Pushing it aside he finds a door that leads to his father’s inner sanctum, where he made everything, where he planned to release the new idea he had that would have changed the world. Touching his computer screen, it comes to life and Sam finds himself digitized just as his father was and tossed into the Grid, the computer world.
First on the agenda is Sam being picked up and sent to the games, a virtual battle of life and death involving the information discs that each player carries on their back. He survives and attempts an escape but not before being captured by the best of the best and taken to the ruler of this world. Once there the ruler is revealed as…Flynn! But not quite. Though he may appear to be Flynn on the surface, in reality this is Clu, the program produced by Flynn years ago to create the perfect world. And Sam isn’t a part of the world Clu sees.
Once again in the games, this time on light cycles, Sam takes on the best team there is and then escapes with the help of Quorra (Olivia Wilde), a program sent to aid him in his escape. They do so and she takes him off the grid to a secret location where he finally meets his father, the real one. They talk and spend a short time together during which Flynn tells Sam that he never sent the page. It has to be something Clu has put together. It ends up being a chance to use the portal to the real world where Clu hopes to take his digital army and make them real in an attempt to control it all. Only Flynn and his son now stand in his way.
The original film was an amazing piece of work filled with special effects that were dazzling at the time. A bit dated by today’s standards, the folks behind LEGACY have taken all of the main ideas, the design of the Grid, the games, the discs and vehicles and updated them for a more digitized world. Effects have grown during the 28 years since the original and it shows in all of the amazing effects seen here. Perhaps the most amazing isn’t the vehicles seen in nearly all commercials for the film but the fact that they make Jeff Bridges look like he did 28 years ago when he appears as Clu.
But without actors, without a heart, what kind of movie would it have made? Here we have a story, seemingly simple, where the efforts of a few dedicated individuals attempt to make things right. Where good guys take on bad guys to save the day. And where a father and son have the opportunity to meet once again after so long apart.
Filled with plenty of action and enough science fiction know how to please fans of the genre, TRON LEGACY lives up to the expectations that many fans will have for the film. I found it to not only live up to the original but to take it into a new dimension as well. It was fun, it was fast and it made me want to watch the old one beside this one and that makes this a legacy fulfilled.
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