In 1982 a groundbreaking film used digital special effects to sweep audiences into the world of video games, which, back then, were mostly big machines in arcades. Almost three decades later, with home gaming devices now as common as personal computers, a sequel goes back into the electronic grid, still seeking answers to questions posed by that first film. Here's a look at Tron: Legacy.
"Where am I?"
Sam Flynn is most certainly not in the real world anymore. The brooding young man has spent most of his life wondering what happened more than 20 years ago when his father, a renowned (and very wealthy) computer game designer, disappeared.
"What do you say tomorrow you and I hit the arcade? The first game is on me."
"Can we play doubles on the same team?"
"We're always on the same team."
A trail of clues finally leads Sam to a portal which turns out to be the same doorway his father used way back when he transported himself into the digital program of the video game.
"Proceed to games."
"Games? What am I supposed to do?"
Sam is a "user," as humans, who are supposed to be outside with their hands on the game controllers, are known in the game grid; but now he has to learn to survive the as a program in order to discover what happened to his father and get them both back home.
The 1982 Tron was written and directed by Steven Lisberger who returns as producer of the long-awaited sequel Tron: Legacy.
"It was a unique adventure to make the first film and the uniqueness of Tron has continued," says Lisberger. "This experience doesn't happen to people 28 years later, but I'm happy to say the uniqueness has continued straight through to the film that is TRON: LEGACY and, in a way, it seems the 28 years fade away and the one film connects and leads to this film."
Garrett Hedlund plays Sam Flynn and Jeff Bridges returns as his father, Kevin Flynn. Thanks to computer generated or CG images, Bridges also plays CLU, a digital version of his younger self as he appeared almost 30 years ago when Flynn first arrived in the game grid.
"I was really drawn to both of them for the same reasons. One of them was to take part in a movie that was using that cutting edge technology," Bridges says.
"Where are you taking me?"
"Patience, Sam Flynn. All of your questions will be answered."
It turns out CLU is now the tyrannical leader of the Tron digital world and plans to use the portal to extend his reach into the domain of the users. To defeat CLU, Sam discovers a powerful ally in Quorra, a beautiful young warrior program who is the older Flynn's protégé. Olivia Wilde co-stars as Quorra.
"I think the questions that are posed are still very relevant today because the original film not only asked questions - like 'what would happen if technology took over our lives? - but it was using technology that had never been used in film before," Wilde says. "[It was] the first film to ever use CG, it was revolutionary in so many ways. This film is asking the question: now that we know technology has taken over our lives, what do with it? How do we recover from this? How do we harness all this power we have created for good? Can it be done?"
Joseph Kosinski makes his feature film directing debut with Tron: Legacy and says he wants audiences to identify with the human drama, not the digital fireworks.
"We like the idea of approaching those themes through the father-son relationship, rather than attacking them head-on. I didn't want this to be a movie about the Internet or about technology specifically, but going through the eyes of a very unique relationship between a father and his two sons - his digital son and his biological son - to me was what made this film really interesting and allowed us to tell a story that I don't think has been told before. That unique relationship could never have been put on film until very recently," Kosinski says.
Rather than compete with the first Tron, star Jeff Bridges says the new one embraces that adventure and welcomes its fans.
"I think a lot of people were kids playing video games when this first one came out. It kind of hit a sweet spot for those guys, so it's kind of like going to the movie conjures up your own childhood again a little bit where you left off and you remember how that one affected you. So maybe that's the reason," says Bridges.
"Attention program: you will receive an identity disc. Everything you do or learn will be imprinted on this disc. If you lose your disc or fail to follow commands you will be subject to immediate de-resolution."
Tron: Legacy also features Michael Sheen as a decadent program that runs a disco haven. Bruce Boxleitner returns from the cast of the original film in the dual roles of Flynn's old business partner and the title character, a program built to protect the users. Accompanying the film's dazzling digital visuals is a techno-musical soundtrack written and performed by Daft Punk.