This is kind of a strange film to watch and review. As most of us know, there was an original Tron movie back in 1982. The problem is that original movie has *not* aged well at all. I guess the visuals and design were excellent back then, but now (especially when comparing them with this movie) they do not look so good. For a person like myself who wasn't even alive then and never watched the original until the second one came out, the original feels incredibly forgettable. I don't really remember anything of what happened in that movie.
The good thing is that remembering what happened in the original Tron is not overly necessary. There is reference to the events of that movie, but mostly just towards the beginning. Much of the more important background flashback events still take place *after* the events of that movie. This franchise centers around a world where one is able to be transported *into* a specific software program--a virtual reality--known as "the Grid." (I guess it was known as "the Game Grid" in the original... but the two are similar enough.)
In the original movie, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) was sent into that world and escaped. But now in *this* movie, he's actually stuck in there--and has been for 20 years. To the real world, he simply disappeared. And his son Sam was left an orphan. However, when a a mysterious pager message comes from the old arcade Kevin used to run, Sam investigates--and gets transported into the Grid himself. Fun and chaos ensues.
This movie is an incredible experience on the eyes. The world of the Grid in Tron: Legacy is one of the most impressive pieces of visual work you will ever see in a movie. Everything in here looks gorgeous, and it's all set to a surprisingly well-done soundtrack by Daft Punk (no, seriously). The first 20 or so minutes in the real world are necessary, but mostly boring by comparison.
And what happens in the Grid is often quite exciting and fun as well. There's "the Games," which are essentially gladiator matches in which the program humans throw their identity discs at each other and try to kill--err, de-rez (the process of a program shattering into a million tiny pieces) each other with them. (It's not as strange as it sounds.) Then there's the famous "Light Cycles" deal (essentially, a Grid bike competition). Again, I hardly remember anything of Light Cycles from the first movie, but in this movie, it's easily the best scene. It's just mind-blowing to watch and has the perfect soundtrack music set to it. Even the "End of Line Club" is a pretty fun place--especially with Michael Sheen absolutely hamming it up on screen. Even the CGI de-aging of Jeff Bridges for the program Clu is pretty good (as far as CGI de-aging goes). Having Bridges play both a good guy (his older present-day self) and a bad guy (Clu) turns out to work quite well.
It's elsewhere in the movie that some problems arise. While the story at its core is fairly simple--father-son reunion, escape the computer program world--it's made a little more convoluted at times. While some parts are quite clever, there are also some things that make little sense or that are not explained that well. And aside from Bridges and Sheen, much of the acting is a bit mediocre. Also, there's a surprising bit of heavy-handed spiritual metaphors/allegories. While one could argue it was necessary--since part of the story turns out to be about what happens when you play god--it's still a little corny at times. Also, while most of the action and visuals are astounding, the airplane-chase-crossed-with-Light-Cycles scene in the final act feels less inspired and is oddly a bit more overwhelming.
Tron: Legacy is undeniably a bit of a surreal experience--you won't see anything else like it. There are problems, but the movie is still a piece of entertaining work that arguably has to be seen to be believed--my words describing the Grid and what goes on there really do not do it justice. That might seem like overwhelming praise for a B-grade movie, but awesome Grid stuff and Light Cycles do not make the movie perfect by default unfortunately. It's too bad we may never see a proper sequel to this movie, because it would have been quite interesting to see where they would've gone next.