TRON: Legacy

I queued up for the first trailer preview, the ten-minute preview and the 20-minute preview with equal amounts of anticipation and slight disappointment, for the sequel to sci-fi classic was I wasn't even sure I liked in the first place. There's no denying that, as a technical achievement TRON was, and still is, a wonder to behold. The effort and imagination in bringing it to the screen is truly impressive given the technology of the time. Even the story concept of a virtual world captured the imagination of a whole generation of young geeks, even if its basic good versus evil plot was fairly pedestrian.

Jump forward to today and the average mobile phone has more computing power than the original film's makers had, and most phones have far more storage capacity in fingernail size cards than was available to even the largest computing facilities. So what have Disney done with the TRON sequel with all the current computing power at their disposal? If nothing else they have created a 3D audiovisual spectacular for a new generation of computer game geeks, except this new generation are used to onscreen spectacle. Where the original film brought to the screen something that only existed in people's imagination, today's generation have been bombarded with incredible images for most of their lives. Through playing video games they are also used to thinly plotted stories with great eye candy, which explains the success of AVATAR. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to like TRON: LEGACY it does fall into the style over substance category. Admittedly the style is spectacular, especially in IMAX, but the story is pretty thin. When I saw the 20-minute preview I was hoping the full-length version would make more sense, and while it did fill in the gaps it didn't actually say a great deal.

Some twenty-odd years have passed since Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) disappeared into the Grid, leaving his son Sam to grow up fatherless, although mentored by Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner). Sam (Garrett Hedlund) is not much more than a spoilt rich kid with daddy issues (he's still nominally in charge of Flynn Industries). After getting a pager message from his father's old games arcade he goes to visit only to be pulled into the world of The Grid, where he has to fight to survive. Naturally, he is an expert at extreme sports, martial arts and motorcycling. After meeting a CGI version of his father called Clu 2, he meets Quorra (Olivia Wilde) who takes him off to meet his real father and they hatch a plan to escape from The Grid before Clu 2 can hatch his own nefarious plan.

The obligatory Lightcycle race looks amazing, and there are some other impressive 3D moments but for the most part it is empty with no real character depth. The older Kevin is Bridges in Dude mode, while the younger version looks obviously CG, although it does work in context of the story. Wilde supplies more eye candy, and Michael Sheen plays an over-the-top character that seems to be channelling Russell Brand more than anything. As for Sam, he has the same onscreen charisma of Hayden Christensen in JUMPER.

As I've already said, it looks spectacular and if you want to see how far computer graphics have moved on in the last thirty years then you will be impressed. If you want see a progression in storytelling and character development, you could be sadly disappointed. There is a Marvel comic that serves as a bridge between the two films. For fans of electronic music the Daft Punk soundtrack is going to "rock your world", and certainly enhances the visuals. And for fans of Jeff Bridges, he still comes out with his credibility intact, after all, he's The Dude, man.

TRON: Legacy is in Cinemas December 17 in Disney Digital 3D and IMAX 3D © Disney

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