It has been 28 years since Disney powered up those light cycles in the neon-tinged computer world of TRON
, and now the wait for the sequel, TRON: Legacy
, is finally over. Does it live up to the months of hype and TRON
-inspired ads, TV spots and magazine layouts? Computer technology has improved exponentially since 1982, so we can pretty much assure you that Legacy
looks like nothing you've ever seen before in 3D, and the score by Daft Punk is one of the best in years. In it, Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) enters the computer grid to find his long-lost father, a role reprised by Jeff Bridges
Before you enter this new neon world this weekend in theaters, check out a copy of the original TRON starring Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner and Cindy Morgan for some important backstory that will enhance your TRON: Legacy experience. Bridges plays Kevin Flynn, a talented software engineer and former employee of ENRON who had developed several popular video games. Unfortunately a co-worker, Ed Dillinger (Warner), stole the code and presented the games as his own. Now Flynn owns a popular arcade and tries to hack into ENCOM's mainframe to find evidence of Dillinger's wrongdoing. The creepily intelligent MCP (Master Control Program) blocks all attempts at access until two of Flynn's former co-workers, Alan Bradley (Boxleitner) and Lora Baines (Morgan), sneak Flynn into ENCOM where the MCP uses a digitizing laser to zap him into the mainframe.
Inside the neon-lit mainframe is where Flynn—the only user walking around amidst a bunch of programs—meets TRON (Boxleitner), Bradley's security program that is attempting to take down the MCP. Before Flynn and TRON can do that, they are forced to participate in deadly digital games of throwing electrified discs and riding high-speed light cycles until they break free and are hunted by the MCP's security programs. Flynn needs to escape back to the real world after TRON disables the MCP so Flynn can rightfully take his place as the head of ENCOM.
The computer animation used in TRON was cutting edge back in 1982 and is pretty primitive by today's standards, but it still looks strikingly futuristic despite its technological limitations. Both Boxleitner and Bridges return for the sequel to reprise their roles, with Bridges playing both Flynn at Bridge's current age and the computer program CLU, which is a computer-enhanced version of Flynn that makes Bridges look about 35 again. Expect this technology to be misused over and over again by Hollywood actors clinging to their fading youth. In this case, with Bridges, it's a total TRON trip.
If you're looking to buy the out-of-print 20th anniversary edition of TRON
released in 2002, expect to spend up to $160 for a new one on Amazon. It's also listed on Netflix as a "very long wait" and is unavailable on any streaming service that we could find. Your best bet is to visit a brick-and-mortar store and rent this sci-fi favorite until, we suspect, a Blu-ray edition emerges next year.