Movie Review: Tron: Legacy

By Russell Baillie

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Sam, the son of original  Tron  hero Kevin Flynn, is called upon the enter of local light cycle derby. Photo / Supplied
Sam, the son of original Tron hero Kevin Flynn, is called upon the enter of local light cycle derby. Photo / Supplied

Rating: 3.5
Verdict: Dazzling reboot with story blips

At last, the movie marketing whiz who came up with the word "reimagined" as a sales pitch for aged popcorn flicks getting a new lick of digital paint can stop feeling guilty. Finally here's a film that actually deserves the term.

The original Tron from 1982 was Disney's failed attempt to get into the blockbuster business in the post-Star Wars era, and a beta test for CGI.

But the images of blacklight-neon cyberspace warriors fighting on a grid with electric frisbees and motorbikes sure left an impression. It was like a colour chart for the rest of the 80s - and a computer-game geek touchstone.

So come the age of can't-tell-what's-fake-anymore CGI and 3D, the idea of a re-Tron would seem pretty cool. As long as you kept the frisbees and the light cycles.

But just as the idea of the original Tron was better than the actual film, so too is its 21st century sequel.

Yes, it has certainly been reimagined, with a dazzling creation of a parallel universe supposedly existing inside the computer into which videogame boffin Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) was sucked, never to return.

Those who remember the grid from the Atari-age original will sure like what they've done with the place. Especially in 3D. It's a big bold super-styled dayglo-on-black upgrade on the circuit board world of the original. That's even if much of its interior decoration seems lifted from the House of Kubrick (with the 2001 bedroom and A Clockwork Orange's bar figuring in the design).

And the soundtrack from French retro-electro duo Daft Punk - who make a very silly cameo - channels the Vangelis Blade Runner score (also from 1982) while adding extra throb to the pulsing action.

Jeff Bridges - the star of the original - appears as Flynn, mainly as he is now: a God in his Tron-iverse who dresses like Obi Wan Gandalf but is given to pronouncements that suggest that Flynn is more a tribute to Bridges' "The Dude" from The Big Lebowski ("it's bio-digital jazz, man".)

Bridges also gets a digital makeover to make him the early 80s Flynn again in a flashback saying goodbye to his young son Sam for the last time. And he's also there as Clu, the doppelganger Flynn created to develop the perfect operating system (or something) in Tron-derland.

But like that really unhelpful guy in your IT department, Clu has let all that processing power go to his head and stopped Kev from returning to the real world.

The fake Bridges aren't great, a bit too Madame Tussauds around the edges which renders the inevitable yin-yang battle a little weak.

But while there's enough Dudes present to form a band, the movie is the really the quest of son Sam Flynn (Hedlund), now a 20-something hacker-biker-basejumper.

Despite being independently wealthy in a Bruce Wayne kind of way, care of his old man's software company, Sam still has a - ho ho - chip on his shoulder about, well, everything really.

Prompted to explore his Dad's old office, he hacks his way into Tron-derland and is almost immediately called upon to throw some killer frisbees and enter the local light cycle derby.

After the initial thrills and spills, Tron Legacy hits too many saggy patches, many of them brought on by too much exposition hoping to make sense of the world's politics, the seemingly humanoid local population (which includes decorative House star Olivia Wilde as a naive warrior gal) and Clu's plans to take over the real world ... with an army wielding electro frisbees. Yes, if there's a sequel to this, expect humankind to be saved by a force of high-jumping terriers.

But it's still really something to see. Despite its creaky storytelling (they don't have software for that stuff yet then?) Tron Legacy has more than enough all-ages wow-factor and plenty of that re-imagination stuff to make it the season's best goggle-fest.

LOWDOWN
Cast:
Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Rating: PG (medium level violence)
Running time: 125 mins

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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