Tron: Legacy

Disney’s 1982 cult phenom TRON addressed a very important question for its time: what was man’s place in the growing world of computers? Nearly thirty years later, TRON: Legacy had a very different question to answer: How do you make a sequel relevant when a chunk of the movie-watching audience wasn’t even alive (this reviewer included) when the first one came out? The answer, apparently, was very simple:

Make it pretty and add a healthy dose of daddy issues and existential angst.

During the prologue, Sam Flynn(Garrett Hedlund) lost his father. Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), hero of the first TRON, didn’t die. He just never came home after leaving one night to work at the Arcade. This, of course, leaves our hero with a substantial chip on his shoulder. His resentment over his father’s abandonment manifests in leading a mediocre life while engaging in yearly pranks against the company in which he’d inherited a major stake. A mysterious page sent to substitute-father-figure Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) kicks off Sam’s journey into the digital wonderland known as The Grid.

The Grid is a darker place now, ruled by fascist CLU (Jeff Bridges again) with an assist from mouthpiece Jarvis (a disturbingly bald James Frain) and enforcer Rinzler (Anis Cheurfa). It’s not all bad, though, as most of the vinyl-clad inhabitants look like they belong in Lady Gaga music videos. After getting a bit over his head, Sam’s rescued by the awesomely adorable Quorra (Olivia Wilde).  She takes him to the Fortress of Zen where The Flynn abides.

The Flynn explains a great number of things while setting up the background for CLU’s daddy issues and subsequent rise to power. The movie stalls a bit there, stumbling over the weight of its philosophical questions,but soon ramps up again for the inevitable showdowns. Highlights of the final act of the film include a delightful run-in with Castor (Michael Sheen), nightclub owner and Ziggy Stardust-wannabe, and a cameo by the film’s composers-the  electronica duo Daft Punk.

Visually stunning, TRON: Legacy was gorgeous in theaters and fantastic on Blu-ray. For those who tend to overthink these things, it serves as a great conversational topic at parties (Holocaust metaphor vs. Milton’sParadise Lost). Otherwise, it’s just a lot of fun, true to the original while bringing in a more modern, self-centered sensibility.