‘Tron: Legacy’ (2010) review: Welcome to the Grid

Latest ‘Tron’ entry has some techno charm

You can never truly find perfection. It’s an abstract, a philosophical belief. You can exhaust infinite lifetimes in the pursuit of something you will never find or know. But that has never stopped anyone from seeking it before. And so, in a quest for the holy grail of utopian societies, we’re thrown back into the smooth, forever-night world of Disney’s 1982 “Tron” with its sequel, “Tron: Legacy.”

The sequel takes place several years after Kevin Flynn (played yet again by Jeff Bridges), transported into an electronic world abuzz with eye-popping and jaw-dropping technological beauty, defeated a rogue computer program that looked like a glow-in-the-dark Easter Island statue and re-took control of Encom, a company he helped build. Now it’s 1989, and the movie opens with Kevin telling the story of Tron to his son, Sam. However, after Kevin left for the night, he disappears into the ether. Sam now is an orphan, and the largest shareholder in Encom stock.

The main plot follows 27-year-old Sam (Garrett Hedlund) as he lives his less-than-reputable life, recklessly riding motocycles, evading police and pulling pranks on Encom, which yet again has fallen into devious hands. But, in deus ex machina fashion, Kevin’s friend Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) receives a mysterious page from Kevin’s arcade and informs Sam of it. True to any Disney hero, Sam rises to the occasion, accidently falling into the proverbial rabbit hole after his father into the computer domain.

After gathering his bearings (can you blame him for being disorientated after being sucked in to a virtural world?), Sam, with the help of Quorra (Olivia Wilde), finds his now Zen-like father, hiding out in a stylish bachelor pad.

Long (nearly 20 years in the making) story short, Kevin is in a faux fight with Clu (also played by Bridges), a program in his image designed to create the perfect society who, of course, went rogue. High-tech battles, daring escapes and heroic deeds fill the rest of the plot.

However, the main attraction is the Grid, the electronic realm, decked out in 3-D. But instead of flooding the senses in an array of kaleidoscopic colors that ran rampant in the first movie, the digitial city has been muted with glassy blacks and blues, with the occasional splash of yellow and orange. It comes across as gritty and post-apocalyptic despite its designer sheen. The return of the Lightbikes and Disc Battles help salve the gloomy atmosphere.

While not particularly adventurous, the acting was solid by the entire ensemble, with a particular engaging performance from Michael Sheen as a cane-carrying club owner. Clu, while menacing, is hardly dangerous. And while not religious, there were ample allusions to gods and creators.

With all its brilliant and dazzling scenes, it’s not as if “Tron: Legacy” isn’t worth seeing. It’s just that we’ve seen it before. It was called “Tron.” And while this is sure to become a staple in any fanboy’s collection, don’t be surprised if you come out of theater wanting to watch the original.

Three stars out of five.

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