2010 // USA // Joseph Kosinski // December 17, 2010 // 3D Digital Theatrical Projection (Hi-Pointe Theater)
C - Given that 1982's Tron was intended primarily as a vehicle for bleeding-edge animation technology, it's perhaps unsurprising that its belated sequel, Tron: Legacy, is so fixated on one-upping the original's distinctive neon-detailed action sequences with all the eye-popping computer wizardry the twenty-first century can muster. While the sequel features appropriately gorgeous design and credible visuals—save for a creepy de-aging effect—almost every other component is dispiritingly slack or garishly off-key. This unfortunately encompasses Jeff Bridges' performance, which presents fiftysomething, computer-entrapped Kevin Flynn as a cross between Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Dude. Garrett Hedlund, meanwhile, fits the textbook definition of the handsome cipher as Flynn's restless, resentful son, Sam. (Do I smell a reconciliation coming? I think I do!) To its credit, the sequel presents a thoughtful thematic nucleus that legitimately builds upon the original film's conceits: the Programs, having established the existence of Users, have now advanced to open rebellion against them, transforming their binary Eden into a terrifying Babel. However, Tron: Legacy is so preoccupied with overpowering, showy action set pieces that it doesn't bother to properly explicate is baffling tale of virtual prisons and spontaneous digital life, or even to answer the most elementary questions raised by its wooly, convoluted science-fiction systems (see also: The Matrix Trilogy).