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★★★✩✩

Tron: Legacy

Directed by Joseph Kosinski

Starring Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde

Rated PG, now playing

In Tron: Legacy, Joseph Kosinski presents the sequel to the classic 1982 science fiction film Tron. Tron: Legacy was produced by Steven Lisberger, the original Tron’s director, and features Jeff Bridges, reprising his role as the protagonist hacker and game developer Kevin Flynn. Despite a shallow storyline, which mainly feeds on ideas from the original movie, Tron: Legacy is epic thanks to its amazing visuals and the fantastic soundtrack, composed by the French duo Daft Punk.

In the original Tron, gifted software engineer Kevin Flynn tried to hack into his former employer ENCOM’s mainframe (called The Grid) to prove that ENCOM’s CEO had stolen his code. He used a security program called Tron to fight ENCOM’s artificial intelligence — the so-called Master Control Program (MCP), which controls The Grid. While trying to hack the mainframe, Flynn gets digitalized by the MCP and becomes part of the digital cyber world of the grid where programs fight one another in arena battles.

Twenty years later, Tron: Legacy picks up with Flynn’s son, Sam. Sam, who unwittingly becomes trapped in The Grid, must work with his father to battle to freedom from a rogue program.

Tron was one of the very first movies that made extensive use of computer animations. The limited computing power available in 1982 forced the designers to create a very simplistic, modern look that still makes the original film a pleasure to watch. Almost 30 years later, Tron: Legacy uses today’s most state-of-the-art computer animation techniques to turn The Grid into a visually breathtaking cyber universe, treating the audience to fantastic views while retaining the original minimalist design.

Tron: Legacy is a great movie and a lot of fun to watch. But it has two major flaws.

First, the movie is only available in 3D, though hardly any effort was put into making it a great 3D experience. It’s nothing like similar scale blockbusters — James Cameron’s Avatar, for instance. Walt Disney Pictures makes the audience buy expensive 3D tickets, though little in apparent additional production costs justify the price. Wearing the 3D glasses during the movie also takes away a lot of the film’s visual quality.

The second and more noticeable low point of Tron: Legacy is the weak script, which is very straightforward and lacks the creativity of the original movie. The 1982 Tron movie was packed with themes about computers, programs, and artificial intelligence, but almost 30 years later — after huge technological developments — the sequel still lives off those old ideas. Technological development has massively changed the way we live. There is a huge variety of new ideas to choose from, such as the development of the internet, neural networks or quantum computing, but none of these have been used.

In that same vein, Tron: Legacy resembles the original movie a little too much for comfort. Features like programs fighting each other in an arena and futuristic vehicles made the first Tron a recognized brand. These concepts are kept in Tron: Legacy, even in similar order of appearance and settings, with hardly any new features added.

Nevertheless, the mediocre script and the uncomfortable feeling of a “3D rip-off” are evened out by the incredible soundtrack featuring an 85-piece orchestra and a mixture of orchestral and electronic elements. It was arranged by Joseph Trapanese, who collaborated with Daft Punk on the score for two years.

The combination of the fantastic soundtrack and the futuristic artwork temporarily turns Tron: Legacy into an astonishing aesthetic electropop opera. It is this winter’s blockbuster and a lot of fun to watch. Unfortunately, the story isn’t on the same level as the action, visuals and sound.