TRON: Legacy: Great visuals but a weak storyline

Andy Moon offers a brief synopsis of TRON: Legacy and discusses the good and the bad points of the sequel to TRON.

Ever since I watched TRON on LaserDisc in 1983, I have been looking forward to the sequel to that seminal sci-fi movie. So, of course, I went to see TRON: Legacy opening weekend.

Jeff Bridges in TRON: Legacy (Credit: Walt Disney Pictures, screenshots by CNET)

I took my wife to see TRON: Legacy specifically so that I would have the opinion of someone who had never seen the first film (she thought that TRON was just an '80s arcade video game). Here's a brief synopsis of the story, as well as our thoughts about the overall quality of the film.

TRON: Legacy's plot (*spoiler alert*)

The character Sam Flynn, who is the son of Jeff Bridges' character Kevin Flynn, is portrayed in the beginning of the film as a malcontent son who is the biggest shareholder of ENCOM, the company his father helped found. His sole involvement in the company is a yearly prank, complete with a high-tech break in, a server hack that gives the company a black eye on the eve of their new OS release, and a daring escape that would have made Ethan Hunt proud.

Sam is informed that a friend of his father's -- the man who helped mentor Sam when Kevin disappeared into the machine -- received a page from Kevin's old arcade office. Sam goes to investigate, finds his father's hidden lab under the arcade, and is transported into The Grid by the same laser that took his father there many years before.

The first place Sam ends up is in the "games" section of The Grid, where he engages in "Disk Wars," a sequence that will seem very familiar to fans of the original movie. This sequence is where the visual effects are at their best, with Matrix-like dodging and "de-rezzing" of programs that really took advantage of the 3D medium. Sam moves on to the light cycle portion of the games area (where the visuals are stunning), and after which, Sam is rescued from Clu by a female program.

In a memory montage during which Kevin Flynn is recounting to his son how The Grid became what it did, we learn that The Grid spawned new life forms, dubbed ISOs and that Kevin's program from the original movie, Clu, decided that they didn't fit in with his vision of a "perfect" Grid. Clu commits genocide on the ISOs, and Kevin was planning on revealing that information to the real world as a "miracle," a new life form born of the computer.

Once Sam decides that he is going to make his way to the portal to leave the world in which his father felt trapped, Sam, Kevin, and the last of the ISOs embark on a journey in which they learn that Clu is planning on taking the re-purposed programs into the real world to take over and create the perfect world Clu was programmed to pursue.

TRON: Legacy: The good and the bad

The beginning of the film, which takes place outside The Grid, was very engaging. I instantly liked Sam Flynn, and my wife felt the same way. Unfortunately, the story was a little weak and not particularly well developed, despite a 2 hour and nine minute run time. My wife kept expecting the characters to be moving between the real world and The Grid, and she was disappointed that they didn't.

I was extremely impressed by the visuals and the graphics, though I wish I hadn't shelled out the extra $10 for 3D. The fighting sequences were well choreographed, but those scenes didn't seem to fit in the story. I understand that the filmmakers wanted to be true to the feel of the original movie, and the "game" sequences were a big part of it, but they could have done a much better job using those sequences to tell the story rather than just being gratuitous eye candy. Those scenes felt like a throw in to allow this movie to fit within the TRON universe.

TRON: Legacy is a fun escape for anyone into sci-fi or great visual effects even though the storyline is rather weak. If you have seen TRON: Legacy, what did you like or not like about the film?

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