Review: Tron: The Legacy 3D (PG) ****

IT looks and sounds amazing. It's what computer technology was made for. And it occasionally makes even less sense than The Matrix (and that's saying something...)

Three decades after the original film left '80s audiences stunned with its cyberspace wizardry, Tron: The Legacy proves that some films are worth waiting for, emerging as the ultimate video game movie and showing that patience truly is a virtue.

In 1982's Tron, hacker Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) was drawn into a program within the giant computer company ENCOM. He discovered an electronic fantasy world in which his boss, Dillinger, author of the Master Control Programme (MCP), had been re-born as Sark.

Sark commanded the Red Warrior video game and sent Flynn, under his alter-ego Clu, to face combat in a deadly lightcycle game. Alongside him fought Tron, the independent program conceived by Flynn to monitor Dillinger and the MCP.

Following a series of gladiatorial battles Flynn was returned to the real world. Tron Legacy begins several years later as his son seeks to understand why his father disappeared.

The answer comes via a pager message to his father's old friend – via a number which has been dead for two decades.

Soon son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) is sucked into the same video dystopia where he finds his father alive and struggling to comprehend how his alter-ego, Clu, could have presided over genocide.

It's enough to know that Tron Legacy is a stunning, visionary piece of work. It requires a sizable leap of imagination – and not a little knowledge of the original film – to understand and accept the building blocks of the story.

Imagine a succession of neon road races that burn through the retina. Director Joseph Kosinski and a phalanx of writers throw up a storyline packed with everything from stadium deathsport to a 21st century take on the bermensch, crossed with Jekyll and Hyde, as Flynn's computer utopia has been corrupted by his creation.

While younger viewers will soak up the Game Grid, Disc Wars and lightcycles, older cinemagoers will appreciate the fascist sub-text and the idea of a parallel universe just itching to break through into the world of man.

Devotees of Tron may be disappointed that Bridges (in dual roles) and Bruce Boxleitner (as Tron) are relegated to supporting chores with the glory going to Hedlund and Olivia Wilde (as Quorra). Michael Sheen contributes a camp guest spot as a circus-type freak. The film is also overlong by about 20 minutes.

Yet this is about technology matching ambition. Like Avatar, Tron Legacy is a film that makes the most of current advances. This is a movie about light, sound and action. It may also be a monumental marketing ploy to make a billion bucks on the games scene.

On general release