'Legacy' a treat for the faithful

Posted: Thursday, December 23, 2010

This has been a good year for nerds, hasn't it? Harry Potter made an appearance. "Inception" made it temporarily acceptable to endlessly debate the details of a movie about stealing secrets from people's dreams. Facebook's creator (Mark Zuckerberg), still in his mid-20's, is a multi-billionaire, the subject of an immensely popular movie and Time's Man of the Year. Finally, right before Christmas, every dork that has waited patiently for almost three decades for a sequel to their beloved "Tron" gets just that with "Tron: Legacy.

"Legacy" viewers, likely fall into one of two categories. Group One consists of the fans of 1982's original movie and/or people who actually understand computers (i.e. the nerds). Group Two has the people who cannot quite grasp the intricacies of the computer lingo and try to compensate for that by calling Group One "nerds." Admittedly, I do not have the brainpower necessary to join Group One. Bear that in mind if at some point during the remainder of this column you read a sentence and think, "Wait, what?"

I had my share of, "Wait, what?" moments watching "Tron: Legacy." That doesn't mean it wasn't enjoyable, though. Joseph Kosinski's flick does not lack for visuals, which is kind of like saying Kobe Bryant does not lack for basketball skills.

In a probably-butchered-and-not-exactly-comprehensive nutshell: Jeff Bridges is back as Kevin Flynn. He is a genius computer guy, but that genius doesn't keep him from getting stuck (again) in the digital world he created. Two decades pass before his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) winds up getting sucked into the digital world (aka "the grid") as well. The rest of "Legacy" takes place in this universe where the people you see are actually programs. The exceptions are Sam and his dad; the programs refer to them as "users." Eventually, Kevin explains to Sam why he got stuck. It turns out that Clu (a hero from the original movie) is not all that heroic and becomes power hungry and even slightly Hitler-esque. Kevin loses his chance to enter the "portal" that acts as the passageway between "the grid" and the real world.

Also, there are really slick motorcycles and aircrafts that cruise around on ribbons of light and constant "games" that result in programs getting killed (or as they call it, "derezzed").

Ever notice how comforting quotation marks can be when you feel a bit out of your depth?

Clu, by the way, is also Jeff Bridges. Apparently when you create a program, like Kevin Flynn did with Clu, they look exactly like you. The constant trip in "Legacy" is that Clu is 1982 Jeff Bridges. Amid the plethora of dazzling lights and effects in "Legacy" (which starts before the opening credits with a very clever tweaking of the Disney logo) it is the young, chiseled Bridges that steals the show. It somehow surprised me every time Clu made another appearance on screen. "It's 1982 Jeff Bridges! He looks fantastic! Does present-day, greybeard Jeff get jealous?"

The problem with "Legacy" is not the potentially confusing plot (it's only an issue if you want it to be), but rather the surprising amount of downtime. When Kosinski lets loose with the action sequences, "Legacy" is difficult not to dig. When he lets things plod along for long stretches, it is difficult not to get antsy.

Maybe they can fix that for the next one; Cillian Murphy's cameo (Edward Dillinger) at the start promises there will be a third installment. One last thing the nerds and the non-nerds alike likely agree on: Daft Punk can do the next soundtrack, too.

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