Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Written by:Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, James Frain, Michael Sheen
Released: December 16, 2010
Grade: B+

Sam Flynn (Hedlund) is a wealthy 27-year-old who can pretty much do whatever he wants.  He is the largest shareholder in ENCOM, one of the world’s biggest video game companies.  Sam doesn’t like the way that ENCOM is being run but he’s not the kind of guy who will put on a suit and sit in a boardroom.  He’d rather have fun by making trouble – hacking computer systems and speeding on his motorbike.

He inherited his shares 20 years ago when his father, company founder Kevin Flynn (Bridges), mysteriously disappeared.  Sam can remember his dad sitting at the foot of his bed and telling him about an “extraordinary” discovery that the company had made.  That’s the last memory he has of his father.  Kevin Flynn vanished the next day.

Tipped off by an old friend, Sam decides to check out his dad’s old video game arcade.  He finds a narrow passageway which leads him into his father’s secret lab.  It’s dirty and it’s dusty.  It’s clear that no one has been there in a long time.  Sam switches on the computer and types in a few codes.  There’s a quick flash of light… and he suddenly finds himself in a different world.  It’s bizarre, like something out of a video game.

What I’ve described is roughly the first 20 minutes of Tron: Legacy.  Once you get past this obligatory background material, the “awesomeness” of the film kicks in.  The next 100 minutes are spent in this cool fantasy world.  Sam locates his long lost father but finds that he’s being kept prisoner by an evil dictator.  Can he formulate a rescue and return them both to reality?

I’ve been critical of many movies this year that have been screened in 3D.  There’s often little need for the 3D effects but studios persist anyway.  They simply want the additional takings at the box-office.  That’s not the case here.  Tron: Legacy is a film you must see on the big screen in full 3D.  When you mix the striking visuals with the heavy sound effects and booming score from Daft Punk, you’re provided with a reason to go to the cinema.

Credit for the film’s innovative style must go 36-year-old director Joseph Kosinski.  Most budding filmmakers follow a well-worn path en route to breaking into the industry.  That wasn’t the case with Kosinski.  Instead of going to film school, he studied architecture at Columbia University.  His expertise with 3D modelling and graphics helped him nab the director’s chair.  I believe he was a good choice.

Before you get too excited, I admit that the story could use some work.  Explaining this parallel world and how it operates gets quite technical.  There isn’t time to go into much detail.  You won’t feel much emotion either.  The writers have tried to build the relationship between father and son but it’s hard to generate empathy for them in such a strange situation.

It’ll be interesting to see how Tron: Legacy fares at the box-office.  I’d like to see it succeed but is there enough to attract the female audience?  Will the video game look be a turn off for others?  We’ll find out over the next few weeks.