But Disney decided to take the slightly more creative route, and so almost 30 years later, we meet Sam Flynn, son of the first movie's protagonist programmer, Kevin Flynn. Kevin disappeared when Sam was a boy, but he left his son financial control of the gigantic software firm ENCOM that grew from his video games and programs. One night, after his father's friend Alan receives a page from a disconnected number at Kevin's old video arcade, Sam goes snooping. A laser digitizes him into a virtual world, where he encounters both his father and Clu, the renegade security program his father created. Sam gains an ally in Quorra, a program acting as his father's aide, and must find a way to defeat Clu while returning to the outside world before the portal to it closes.
Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde do well enough as Sam and Quorra -- the story doesn't ask for much range from them and they handle their roles just fine. Jeff Bridges reprises his role as Flynn, and seems to have been asked by the writers to put a Big Lebowski Dude-like spin on his character. Computer-generated imagery recreates Bridges' thirty-something self as Clu, not entirely successfully. Although the faux-Bridges looks natural at a distance and at rest, closer views show a strange-looking lower face area and unnatural mouth movements.
Legacy makers take advantage of every advance in special effects technology to update and refine several elements from the first movie. Some, like the flashy costumes, "de-rezzing" or dying effects and the light-cycles, work well. Some, like the exhaust and ponderousness of the new Recognizers, seem fairly superfluous.
The story manages to be sketchy and bulky at different times -- the original "grid" in Tron was the area where programs at ENCOM "lived," and the villainous Master Control Program wanted to take them all over and run them as part of itself. The new grid is...well, it may be ENCOM, or it may be the Internet, or it may be a phrase from the earlier movie picked up without much thought given to what it was supposed to be. On the other hand, the dead-end Castor/Zuse/Gem sidetrack doesn't do much besides reinforce how much of an influence the Matrix movies have on Legacy (and how much, in turn, the Matrix movies owe to the original Tron). It also gives Underworld's Michael Sheen the chance to fey across the stage and chomp some serious scenery.
Tron: Legacy looks amazing for the most part, and thanks in large measure to the work of electronic music duo Daft Punk, it sounds great as well. Their soundtrack manages to be modern and retro enough to fuel the action-packed battles, chases and fight scenes as both music and the kind of ambient sound you might expect in a virtual world. But like the first movie, it sells its human actors short with a generic story that misses its chance to elicit performances that equal the dazzle. It's certainly worth a matinee price to see it on the big screen instead of the average home TV, but not more than that.
PS -- This review refers to the regular 2D release of the movie. My eyes, for some reason, don't track the stereo views that make 3D movies or those Magic Eye 3D posters, so I stick with the old-fashioned look.