I often have said to friends, "If I could buy stock in a movie, I'd be rich." That's in reference to me being able to sniff out a hit film before it comes out. Never in a million years would I have expected that Disney would get all these people whipped into a frenzy over a sequel to an obscure 1982 movie that even they forgot about and abandoned. As I went into the theater, there were some people who were there with their kids who were super pumped for the film to begin but didn't even KNOW it was a sequel. Okay, so maybe Tron: Legacy is one of those sequels where you don't have to see the first one to really get into the second, just like Wall Street 2 was earlier this year. Nope, that's not the case at all. Not only does Tron not care if you saw the first one or even remember how it ended, they created a new story of what's happened since the end of the first and quickly recap at the opening of the film. Not all has been happy in Tron land and Kevin Flynn's son, who's played by Garrett Hedlund (Friday Night Lights, Four Brothers) is sent there to finally rescue his trapped father. Think of it as a mix between the sequel to Wizard of Oz, Return to Oz, and The Matrix. Everything you may or may not remember about the first one is a little different. The self-important religious and philosophical overtones in the script are as obvious as can be. However, a script was never what made Tron the minor success it was...it was the special effects, and brother there are plenty to go around this time too. In fact, what you loved about the first one only gets bigger and badder for Legacy. The Light Cycles are more amazing and realistic and the Disc Fights are faster and more intense. I'm still shocked this movie got a PG rating from the MPAA and not a PG-13. Even if your little kids can handle the violence, they'll be bored by not knowing what the hell is going on. What's the most fun to watch is Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges pull double duty and play himself in current times as the zen Creator, Flynn, and the Bridges of 1982 who didn't age and is the bad guy, CLU. Bridges is so much fun to watch in anything and that doesn't change here, although the technology that makes CLU ageless from 1982 is subpar at times and even jaunting to look at. Another scene stealer is the fabulous Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon, The Twilight series) who isn't in the film long, but makes the most of it with every ticking second. I was actually amazed that Disney trusted the new launch of this potential franchise to a new director, Joseph Kosinski. He actually does a really good job at keeping the imagery from the original intact but taking up several levels though. That's not an easy task; to preserve the integrity of what made fanboys fall in love with it at first but also bring it into the 21st Century too seems full of pitfalls. Another notable feature of the film is the soundtrack that combines the classic score by Hans Zimmer and French freaky techno group, Daft Punk. It's amazing! However, the choice to put Daft Punk in the movie and then show them over and over again is awful. I think it's funny when there are musical cameos like that in movies, but after one quick shot, we get it; you don't need to bash us over the head with it. The more you do it, the worse it is. Overall I liked Tron: Legacy but I don't expect many people too. I was a fan of the first but I haven't seen it in a decade and I was lost through half of it. The action takes a backseat for a meaningless script that takes itself too seriously but Jeff Bridges owning it is enough to make you wait patiently for the action again.
Tron: Legacy (Rated PG)
Gavin Grade: B