'Tron: Legacy' review--go for the fun, not the plot

movie review Crave's Matt Hickey says Disney's multimillion-dollar 3D epic isn't as good as it could have been, but it does include lots of groundbreaking, lift-you-out-of-your-seat action.

movie review It's hard to judge "Tron: Legacy" in a vacuum, as most will naturally look to the original 1982 film for comparison.

Olivia Wilde as Quorra: Like I wouldn't give you guys a shot of her? Disney

That said, even if you've never seen the original, you can still enjoy the new movie. There are enough flashbacks and explanations that you won't miss out on much. But that doesn't mean it doesn't draw a steady stream of influence from the original, with nods peppered throughout to keep fans happy.

I won't explain the whole plot here, but in general, it's as much a reboot as it is a sequel. Kevin Flynn, played perfectly by Jeff Bridges --who sometimes seems to channel The Dude from "The Big Lebowski"--disappeared 20-odd years ago. His son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), bitter about mysteriously losing the dad he loved, gets paged to Flynn's abandoned video arcade. There, he finds his dad's secret super-computer workshop and gets himself blasted into the world of Tron that Flynn had created.

This transition was a neat trick, and one I didn't anticipate. Watching the first 20 or so minutes of the film, I was disappointed at how the 3D looked. But then I realized it wasn't 3D, but regular 2D. The 3D, which looks spectacular, starts the moment Sam (and the viewers) enter the Tron world. It's a trick reminiscent of the black-and-white-to-color gimmick in "The Wizard of Oz." This is also where the Daft Punk score kicks in, and in some ways it's as much a character as anyone else in the film. There's been a lot of hype about it , and it's all legit.

Another highlight of the film, which opened nationwide at midnight last night: the requisite light bike scene, which is great. It very much resembles the gameplay I've seen in the "Tron" games coming to consoles and it made me want to play right there in the theater.

The dude abides. Disney

However, the movie, which opens nationwide at midnight tonight, is not as good as it could have been, though it's possible we fans had unreasonably high hopes. It sets up the world nicely, but the characters, except the one played by Bridges, do seem rather wooden. Some of the dialog sounds like it came out of one of the prequel "Star Wars" film, stilted at best. As they say, you can write this stuff, but it sounds stupid to say it out loud.

Still, in the end, the movie's a lot of fun, if a bit lengthy (127 minutes, but it feels longer) and some of the action sequences are groundbreaking, lift-you-out-of-your-seat fun. You leave the theater wishing you were in the Tron universe , and at the same time you're grateful you're not.

Like the original film, this one might be a disappointment for viewers who aren't into Tron stuff or sci-fi. Crave readers, being gadget fans, are likely to love it, though. There are many blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments that are right up Crave readers' alley, including a de-aged Bruce Boxleitner, the original Tron himself.

If you're a little disappointed, don't worry. The plot left plenty of room for a sequel, and my money is on a new "Tron" film, one that doesn't have to deal with the baggage of the original, in the next couple of years. Though it's a sequel to the original 1982 film, it could also act as a prequel to a series that could get very, very interesting with the right writers.

About the author

    With more than 15 years experience testing hardware (and being obsessed with it), Crave freelance writer Matt Hickey can tell the good gadgets from the great. He also has a keen eye for future technology trends. Matt has blogged for publications including TechCrunch, CrunchGear, and most recently, Gizmodo. Matt is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CBS Interactive. E-mail Matt.

     

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