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'TRON: Legacy' is a confusing but enjoyable IMAX 3D experience

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Alright. I need quick show of hands to the following questions if you don't mind.'TRON: Legacy' photo: http://www.obsessedwithfilm.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/tron-legacy-poster.jpg

First off, who knew that TRON: Legacy was a sequel?

Who remembers the original TRON?

Did anyone play that awesome arcade game back in the day?

Who has tried to grab a copy of TRON and can't get a hold of one?

If you raised your hand to the fourth question only, you're not alone.

Luckily, my family were big Disney heads back in the day (that's what happens when your grandfather drew for the man himself), so I scrounged up a VHS copy of TRON at my parents house to refresh my memory before I watched TRON: Legacy. I don't know what is more surprising: the fact that there is actually a copy of TRON in the Tri-State Area, or that the 28 year-old tape actually worked well! But I digress.

The first TRON has become a cult favorite amongst sci-fi fans. The film had modest box office success, but was considered cutting edge for its special effects at the time. Moreover, TRON was nominated for two academy awards (although oddly enough, not for special effects).

I must admit, although there have been rumors for years concerning a TRON sequel, the decision to release TRON: Legacy almost 30 years after the initial TRON had me scratching my head. After all, most adults who remember the movie from 1982 will be taking their grand kids to see this. Chances are you're going to have to look hard to find the original TRON. It's not available on Netflix, and the remaining Blockbuster Videos usually have just one copy. In saying that, you don't need to see the first TRON in order to enjoy "Legacy," but it does make the film easier to follow. Now on to the review.

NOTE: This contains spoilers!

At the end of the original TRON, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) becomes CEO of ENCOM, a software technology company. 'Legacy' begins in 1989 with Flynn talking to his young son, Sam. That night, the older Flynn goes to work and mysteriously vanishes. It's now 2010, and Sam (Garrett Hedlund) is a twenty something year-old billionaire in search of a direction when he is approached by his father's friend Alan (Bruce Boxleitner), who is still working at ENCOM. Alan informs Sam that he received a page from Flynn's old arcade. Since the arcade has been abandoned for over twenty years, he sends Sam there to check it out. While uncovering his father's mainframe in the arcade, Sam is transported into the computer grid (much similar to the same fashion of his father in the first TRON.)

As Sam is thrown into the gaming world left to fight for his life, he comes face to face with CLU 2, a program designed by his father (and played by Bridges in a digitally enhanced visual). Sam detects something is not right with CLU 2 and he is rescued by Quorra (Olivia Wilde), who reunites Sam with his father. As the two catch up on the previous three decades, it becomes clear why Sam's father never returned home. Sam and his father (with help from Quorra) then set out to defeat CLU 2 and embark on the seemingly impossible journey home back to the everyday world. Along the way they encounter roadblocks, deceitful villains, and the possibility of life or death as CLU 2 will stop at nothing to prevent anyone from leaving the grid.

I was intrigued at the possibilities the new TRON would offer in regards to the special effects, and I was not disappointed. As far as the visuals go, if you don't watch "Legacy" in its IMAX 3D format, you're really denying yourself the true experience. 'Legacy's' aesthetically pleasing special effects can almost make you forget the film's confusing plot. If the movie becomes too hard to keep track of, no worries. Just imagine that there are actual people in your computer, trying to process your files. When Facebook goes belly up and you can't access it, think of CLU 2. Get it? It helps .......a little bit. Moreover, the movie almost relies completely on style more than actual substance, with the exception of the tail end of the movie. 

As far as the acting is concerned, Bridges delivers a nice performance as the cyber world marooned Kevin Flynn, and despite rumors that several scenes had to be re-shot of newcomer Hedlund, he does a serviceable job of portraying Flynn's long-lost son. Michael Sheen, although quite campy as the program Zeus, adds some much needed humor to the film's otherwise dark tone. And speaking of aesthetically pleasing, it's never a bad day when you can watch Olivia Wilde on screen.

At the end of the day, TRON: Legacy is worth a view for the visually spectacular IMAX 3D experience and solid acting by Bridges. And if 'Legacy' does well, there is even talk of more TRON movies in the future.

Grade: 'Legacy' gets a 3 out of 5.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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