This long-delayed (much-anticipated?) sequel owes almost as much to Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo, THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU or A WRINKLE IN TIME as it does to TRON, its visually groundbreaking, commercially iffy progenitor. And it's pretty miserable stuff, with an impenetrable storyline, action sequences that are all but impossible to follow & visual æsthetics off a ‘90s Screen-Saver. Jeff Bridges returns in the lead, doubling up to play his own ageless game avatar & his real aging self, both stuck in his out-of-control cyber creation. The big gimmick (which passes for a plot) has Bridges’ grown son sucked into the program and trying to save dear deserted dad from the dark side of a system gone rogue. Hey!, that actually sounds okay. Alas, the film is so gussied up with weightless CGI effects & faceless characters (who might as well be CGI effects) that it’s hard to get involved without a personal joystick to toggle. (Down fanboys! No double-entendres!) And the actors! Bridges, of course, can take care of himself, even if the much discussed digital rejuvenation that lets him play his still youthful avatar self turns out to be no more effective than Marlene Dietrich pulling her hair back, tight as a tourniquet, to lift everything in place. But as Bridges’ grown kid, Garrett Hedlund is unbearably amateurish, no doubt all Joseph Kosinki’s attention as megger went into mechanics. But what can possibly explain Michael Sheen’s David Bowie impersonation? Unlike the flop original, this one grossed a cool 400 mill worldwide. Animated & live-action sequels have already been announced.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: For all its faults, the original TRON/’82 had a cool, clean look to it, helped by the need to shoot many of the effects in b&w and then colorize. And the little scooter, which happily reappears late in the sequel, was a big, fat-wheeled honey.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Speaking of Disney flops, watch closely during the prologue as the camera sweeps past a poster for THE BLACK HOLE/’79, Disney’s attempt to tap the STAR WARS market. Can THE BLACK HOLE LEGACY be far behind?