It's tricky to create a sequel when the original just wasn't that good a movie. Tron: Legacy had to be thematically related to the original Tron, but sufficiently cool and visually stunning that audiences wouldn't care about the first movie. Director Steven Lisberger and his team succeed beautifully and Tron: Legacy proved to be one of the most entertaining films I've seen this year.
The film follows Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) from the original film. Twenty years have passed and Sam still wonders what happened to his Dad, who vanished while he was a boy. He stumbles into Kevin's research lab and is promptly pulled into the computer-based world of the Grid. Sam finds his father hiding out in the wastelands beyond the main Grid with a beautiful young woman Quorra (Olivia Wilde). Kevin has become a monk, meditating and talking about finding his zen-like center rather than fighting the evil CLU (a digitally mapped, younger Jeff Bridges).
The story is one of journeys traveled, risks taken and challenges overcome, as we'd hope with any epic adventure. That it primarily takes place within the digital realm of the Grid gives the production f/x team complete freedom and it's an amazing, compelling world. The Grid is also a dark, Orwellian world where stormtroopers march in lockstep, "derezing" apps that seek freedom or think for themselves.
There are depths to Tron: Legacy that I never expected, and the revision of the original story from the banal video game trinket of Tron to the backstory of the new movie was a splendid step. I really dug Tron: Legacy, loved its countless references to other sci-fi films, and found it far more enjoyable and engaging than Avatar, a similar sweeping sci-fi epic. It's a film I already want to go see again and for once, the 3D version is well done and worth the more expensive ticket.