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Tron Legacy

28 years after the original film, 2010's TRON LEGACY dazzled as a visual reference to just how far special effects had come since the original, computer generated Disney original.

Seeing it again in 4K Dolby Atmos 14 years later, it's still a thrill, but you can also appreciate just how much better a digitally de-aged Harrison Ford looked in last year's Indiana Jones installment than a young Jeff Bridges looked here, in one of the first uses of facial mapping technology.

Director Joseph Kosinski (Top Gun: Maverick) had a long passion to make a sequel to his childhood favorite and he delivers alongside a great cast.

Garrett Hedlund (Inside Llewyn Davis) stars as Sam Flynn, the son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) who mysteriously disappeared when Sam was a young boy.

Now a young rebel and still the major stock holder in his father's tech company, he drops into the yearly board meeting just to disrupt and try to keep his father's vision for the massive company alive.

When his father's business partner Alan (the returning Bruce Boxleitner) receives a page on his ancient beeper from Kevin's old office number, he tells Sam.

In just the first hint of nostalgia, Sam returns to his father's old arcade and office. Any child of the 80's remembers Flynn's, with its nest of stand up video games. I can't count the number of quarters I dropped into the Tron video game in the early 80's trying to beat those light cycles.

Sam soon discovers his father's hidden workroom and is dropped into the alternate digital universe where his father has been for decades.

What Kosinski, his special effects team and writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (Lost) absolutely land is the same sense of jaw dropping wonder when Sam walks out of Flynn's and finds himself on the massive, blue, orange and grey dominated grid. Where the original film startled us at the time by dropping actors into a 100% digitally created world, those same scenes are almost hard to watch now, blurry, blocky and somehow washed out of the inherent precision of reality.

The world of TRON LEGACY looks and sounds both amazing & real.

All the evil ships and characters are bigger, sharper, brighter and more intimidating.

In arguably the film's best sequences, Sam is almost immediately captured as an intruder and put into the "games". I remember seeing this opening weekend in IMAX with great anticipation for the Light Cycle battle. It does not disappoint.

Instead of dueling bikes on a flat surface, the battlefield is 3D, with the light cycles going above and below in pursuit of each other. It's perfectly executed.

Sam is pulled into a face off against Clu (Bridges), the nasty doppelganger of his Father and his minions.

Eventually, Sam meets back up with his father, also played by Jeff Bridges in his current, older form. Bridges brings just the right amount of Zen to the role, thrilled to see his son, but committed to getting him back to the real world.

Olivia Wilde (Don't Worry Darling) is perfectly cast as Quorra, a kick-ass loyalist of her father who comes to Sam's assistance at just the perfect moment.

Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon, Prodigal Son) is almost unrecognizable as Castor, a Ziggy Stardust style showman/night club owner encountered on their path to Kevin.

The most expensive film in history made by a first-time Director, with a budget of $170 million, the film would drive over $400 million at the box office. Kosinki would go on to make many solid films, no more so than his latest, "Top Gun: Maverick" a $1.5 million blockbuster.

TRON: LEGACY is a thrill ride set to an incredible score by Daft Punk, who weave their brand of technopunk into a full orchestra score that pushes you back in your seat. I knew their music was going to be legendary when it slowly emerged in the opening moments and then blast you backward just as Bridges opening narration concludes: "The Grid. A digital frontier. I tried to picture clusters of information as they move through the computer. What do they look like? Ships? Motorcycles? Were the circuits like freeways? I kept dreaming of a world I thought I'd never see.

And day.........I got in."

Underrated, TRON LEGACY is a fun, spectacular ride through an incredible world, with Jeff Bridges as its creator floating comfortably at its core. With each repeat journey yielding ever more to appreciate, this sequel bests the original and gets an A.

Part 3, "Tron: Ares" is now filming with the eclectic Jared Leto in a starring role. I'll be there opening night.

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