Twenty-eight years is a long time to wait for a sequel. Released in 1982, the original "Tron" film boasted groundbreaking graphics and established a tech-savvy fan base. But "Tron: Legacy" arrives about 15 years too late. The once-groundbreaking graphics are now standard fare, and former "Tron" enthusiasts are well past their Disney-viewing prime.
"Legacy" is also sort of a one-trick pony. After you get past the neon-glow costumes, whizzing Frisbee weapons and cyberspace backdrop, there really isn't much to get excited about.
Leading the foray into digital delirium this go-round is Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), the 20-something son of video-game guru Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges). When family friend Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) tells the rebellious Sam that he's received a cryptic message from Kevin -- who vanished some 20 years earlier -- Sam goes to visit his dad's old arcade in the hope of finding clues. Closed for two decades, the arcade is blanketed in dust and cobwebs, and the sound system blasts '80s rock tunes when Sam turns on the power.
Sam quickly discovers his dad's hidden office. After a little reckless computer use, he's transported to "the grid," a digital world where gladiatorial games and luminous attire are the norm. Sam is thrust into battle by the world's self-appointed leader, Clu: a carbon copy (albeit a younger version) of Kevin. He then escapes to a safe haven with the help of femme fighter Quorra (Olivia Wilde). There Sam comes face to face with his father, and a quest to save "the grid" and get Sam home begins.
Director Joseph Kosinski, in his directorial debut, and the rest of the filmmaking team do an admirable job maintaining the tone from the original film. A techno-music soundtrack, vibrant costumes and sharp graphics all bolster the film's computerized atmosphere. The action scenes are generally exciting and visually impressive, especially early on when Sam gets forced into a cycle-riding slugfest. But the abundance of bright imagery and ineffective 3D wears on the senses after a while.
Bridges is terrific (what else is new?) and Hedlund does well in the leading-man role. Michael Sheen (of "Frost/Nixon" and "The Queen") makes a jovial appearance as the quirky head of a grid nightclub, and even Cillian Murphy ("Inception") has an uncredited, cameo role. Clu looks a little odd, as the filmmakers used CGI to create a youthful Bridges. Although the CGI is good, it is also obvious, especially when Bridges the actor interacts with Bridges the effect.
The film is filled with backstory -- about Sam's adolescence, the creation of the grid, Quorra's origin, etc. -- that often slows the pacing down to a crawl. The humdrum screenplay is also rife with re-hashed dialogue and seen-it-before scenarios.
"Legacy" reminded me of the kind of thing you might see projected on the wall during a rave. It's an eye-popping experience that's fun for a while, until you start to feel dizzy and wonder if you may pass out.