Sunday, 29 January 2012

"I think we oughta leave now." "Yeah, that's probably a good idea."

This will be the last new entry on this blog from me, and, unless any of the other contributors decide to write a final entry, most likely the last entry of all. After 684 posts, four-and-a-half years, seven sporadic contributors, countless links, opinions, reviews and displays of geekery, the decision has been made to finally call it a day here.

There are several reasons behind this decision. Firstly, I am currently the only active contributor, and have been for at least a year. The other contributors' input has dwindled for various reasons - concentrating on other individual blogs, waning interest in blogging, or simply lack of the time they used to have to contribute - and their names now stand more as a recognition of their past work than an expectation of them to start writing here again.

Secondly, this blog was set up as a place where the contributors would write about anything. Of course, with the same contributors, similar topics and themes occurred more and more as the post count grew. But as the contributions became less frequent, the topics narrowed. Essentially, this blog now serves as a film review site (my recent attempt to widen my focus having been largely unsuccessful), which isn't what it was created to be.

The final reason is almost the flipside to the second reason. My interest in blogging is now almost entirely focused on film. Whilst I've managed to become more regular once again in my blog activity over the past few months, I've held back on trying out a few different types of post I'd like to attempt because I've carried on writing here.

Essentially, whilst I've loved contributing to this place for the past four-and-a-half years, writing here now comes with a fair amount of "baggage", for want of a better phrase. My blogging interests have changed, and this blog no longer fits those interests closely enough.

It also feels like the right time to close up shop here as this blog will never again see the amount of activity it once had. Gone are the glory days of the early years - this blog has gone from tallying almost an entry per day on average in 2008 to barely one or two entries per month in 2010, and whilst things have picked up in the past year, the collective feeling is one of wanting to preserve what once was rather than attempting in vain to get it back.

So, this is pretty much it for From Oedipus To Samuel L. Jackson's Wallet. It's been a great four-and-a-half years, and the most successful blog I've been involved in. The blog will remain here to be browsed should anyone wish. I know I will be revisiting entries fairly regularly, as I have done the whole time I've been writing here.

So, what's next? Well, TheTelf and I are in the process of getting a new, film-centric blog started up, hilariously titled:

Most of my reviews from the past year have been imported there to provide some material to get things going. All my new reviews will feature there, as well as some of those other film-related post ideas I mentioned before once things are up and running. I know there are several people who visit here fairly regularly and read my reviews at the moment, so please follow me and TheTelf to our new blog home and keep reading, I really appreciate just knowing people are reading what I've written.

In closing, I would like to offer my personal thanks and appreciation to everyone who has contributed here, no matter how big or small a capacity that has been in. Thanks too to everyone who has read what has been written here, as it makes blogging feel that much more worthwhile. I've loved every moment of being part of this blog, and will look back fondly at the entries that have been written here.

From Oedipus To Samuel L. Jackson's Wallet

20th July, 2007 - 29th January, 2012

Friday, 27 January 2012

Film Review | Another Year (2010)

My experience of Mike Leigh prior to Another Year is decidedly (and, perhaps, shamefully) scarce - I've seen Abigail's Party, albeit about ten years ago, and that's about it. Leigh is, seemingly in equal measure, considered a pillar of British cinema and a heinous purveyor of anti-feminist trash depending on who you're speaking to. Either way, he has established himself as a immovable fixture of modern film-making.

Leigh's latest follows Tom Hepple (Jim Broadbent) and his wife Gerri (Ruth Sheen) throughout a year of their life, and their encounters with various friends and family members, most prominently Mary (Lesley Manville) who works with Gerri, as well as their son Joe (Oliver Maltman).

To relate the plot of Another Year is a tricky task, because in many ways nothing unusual really happens. Tom and Gerri's lives are pretty ordinary - he a geologist, she a counsellor, both nearing retirement - and the things that happen to them are just as ordinary. But it's the people who surround them and move in and out of their lives that makes Another Year such compelling viewing. Leigh's handling of what in the hands of many could seem positively humdrum is so skilled and authentic that you can't help but get drawn into the Hepples' world.

Thanks in no small part to Broadbent and Sheen's sublime performances opposite each other, by the end of the film Tom and Gerri feel like old friends. The couple are happy, as in genuinely happy. They love and trust each other, they support each other, and they can communicate to each other with a glance or a word (more than once Gerri reins in Tom's slightly more outspoken side with a carefully intoned utterance of his first name). Together, Broadbent and Sheen create one of the most authentic married couples seen on screen in recent memory.

Tom and Gerri are in many ways the calm eye of a constantly simmering storm around them, as the friends and family orbiting the couple generate much of the drama seen throughout the film. Many of the characters are seen for only one segment of the whole film, such as Tom's old university friend Ken (Peter Wight), a pitiable man refusing to retire and seemingly eating and drinking himself to death, and Ronnie, Tom's brother, played by David Bradley in a understated turn a world away from his role as Filch in the Harry Potter films. In fact, it is often the characters who are only seen briefly who create the greatest impact; Imelda Staunton as a patient of Gerri in the opening scenes encapsulates many of the film's recurring themes - growing old, loneliness and the concept of happiness - in a startlingly blunt performance. Martin Savage, too, as Ronnie's wayward son Carl, immediately generates tenseness, unease and even threat, telling a story that began years before the timeframe of the film in only a handful of scenes.

It is Manville, as the alternately pathetic and sympathetic Mary, whose performance is likely to stick in your mind long after the gentle acoustic guitar music plays over the film's closing credits. Beginning the film as almost a caricature of middle-aged spinsterhood - drinking too much and retelling the same tired jokes her friends obligingly smile through - Mary becomes Tom and Gerri's most constant opposite. As her actions become increasingly ill-advised and symptomatic of somebody not wholly in balance, Manville's performance firmly steers Mary away from what many may have seen as a one-dimensional misogynistic diatribe of a character from Leigh, creating a complex and human creature both seriously flawed and impossible to hate.

In fact, this may be Leigh's greatest achievement in Another Year. Tom and Gerri at the centre may be the only stable characters here; but despite this, Leigh allows us to like everyone we meet throughout. Nobody is inherently bad, just suffering from a lack of happiness in some way (even Carl, whose actions are almost entirely reprehensible, comes across as troubled rather than evil). Whilst we might not agree with everything the characters do, they are always relatable and, Leigh suggests, both capable and worthy of redemption.

There are occasions when Another Year slows down a little too much for its own good, and there are segments which possibly go on a little longer than they should. But the film is largely a great success for Leigh and his immensely strong cast. The imbibing of wine is a common activity throughout the film, and it may be that Another Year is a film that, like a fine wine, will get even better with age. Or maybe it is I, a mere twentysomething, that needs to continue aging before all aspects of the film truly hit home to me. Either way, Leigh has created a compelling character-driven drama of both quality and heart.


Saturday, 21 January 2012

Film Review | Attack The Block (2011)

The comparisons between director Joe Cornish's Attack The Block and Wright and Pegg's modern classic Shaun Of The Dead are possibly an overly simplistic way of evaluating the more recent film. Both are the major feature directorial debut of a name primarily made in TV comedy, both blend action, sci fi, horror and comedy genres, and both transport these genres to unlikely locations from domestic Britain. Edgar Wright (SOTD co-writer and director) serves as executive producer of ATB. Oh, and both have Nick Frost in them. But, despite the two fims' similarities, it's not fair to simply rate Cornish's film on the "Shaun-ometer".

Attack The Block follows the exploits of a gang of teenagers living in a run-down council estate in London. After mugging nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker), the group encounter an alien entity which gang leader Moses (John Boyega) quickly decides to kill after it wounds his face. However, life on the estate quickly becomes more and more dangerous as larger and fiercer aliens soon arrive.

In many ways, Cornish doesn't make life easy for himself in making ATB a success. Within the first five minutes of the film, the group that we follow are set up as violent criminals; they rob a young woman at knifepoint, and their first instinct upon discovering what they quickly realise is an alien lifeform is to kill it, seemingly to teach it a lesson and just because it will entertain them for a while. The gang also associate with local drug dealer Ron (Frost) and his gangster boss Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter). This does make the group difficult to root for once under siege from the alien threat, but also provides intrigue as to how, if at all, the gang members can redeem themselves before the credits roll.

It's to Cornish's credit that most (but not all) of the gang do manage that redemption. He shows us snapshots of their everyday lives - single parent families, living with grandparents, brief shouted conversations between rooms - as well as doing his utmost to make them more than just mindless hoodies hanging around on street corners. One of the most poignant moments of the script is delivered by Moses in a moment of respite against the alien threat, where he considers whether the government is sending in "monsters" to kill them. "We ain't killing each other fast enough" he ponders, "so they decided to speed up the process".

As the film progresses, it becomes clearer and clearer that Cornish is just as concerned with tackling why life on "the block" is the way it is as he is with extra-terrestrial action. That's not to say that the action takes second place to the social commentary. Cornish proves himself to be a dab hand at creating both fast paced fight sequences and tense set pieces that provide genuine scares. The alien creatures too, whilst clearly in part a product of a relatively small budget, provide ample threat and mystery throughout.

Moses slowly but surely takes his place as the film's primary protagonist, with Boyega's performance proving the most satisfying of the whole film. Having made Moses such an unlikable character at the start of the film, it is to his credit that Boyega bestows the role with depth and authenticity, so that when the story truly calls for it, we are fully behind him. Moses' home life is also one of the most hard-hitting, reminding us just why some teenagers fall into lives of delinquency. By the halfway point, Boyega owns each scene he's in, making his turn one to remember - his is a name that deserves to stick around for a good while in British cinema.

Whittaker's turn as recently qualified nurse Sam is also commendable, although the way her relationship with the gang who attacked her at the start of the night unfolds sometimes feels a bit too unlikely. I was also impressed with Hunter, who brought genuine menace and arrogance to local gangster Hi-Hatz.

Unfortunately (perhaps inevitably) not all the characters come off so well. Nick Frost as Ron the drug dealer and his upper-middle-class-trying-desperately-to-fit-in-with-gang-culture client Brewis (Luke Treadaway) provide some laughs, but never become more than one-dimensional caricatures. Within the teenage gang itself, not all members become sympathetic enough; Pest (Alex Esmail), for example, never shows much regret for his criminal indiscretions or understanding for his victims' feelings, essentially coming across as selfish and making it very hard to feel any connection to him at any point.

Attack The Block is ultimately a successful and enjoyable film that should please fans of horror and sci-fi, as well as anyone looking for decent homegrown British cinema. It's not without its faults, and doesn't succeed in everything it attempts, but Cornish's ambition and genuine talent as a writer and director deserves high praise - it's easy to forget when watching that this is his feature debut. Is it the next Shaun Of The Dead? No. But it doesn't need to be, nor does it try to be. What it definitely is, however, is a very promising start for a host of fresh British cinematic talent.


Monday, 16 January 2012

Film Review | Man On Wire (2008)

Without wishing to oversimplify the documentary genre, a good documentary essentially needs two things to make it a success: an intriguing subject, and flair of execution. If one of these two is severely lacking, then the film falters. American: The Bill Hicks Story is a recent example of a documentary that had the potential to be excellent but wasn't because one element of the two didn't cut it - Hicks and his career are potentially fascinating, but the way the documentary was put together felt awkward and inaccessible. American is also a prime example that succeeding in one of these two factors cannot make up for lacking in the other. The vast majority of viewers would surely agree that Man On Wire has one of these aspects in the bag before you've even begun to watch. The question therefore that must be answered during the film's ninety minutes is this: does director James Marsh have the flair to bring into being a potentially truly brilliant documentary?

In case you're not aware, Man On Wire has what must be one of the most intriguing subjects of any documentary, that being high-wire artist Philippe Petit's tightrope walk between the North and South towers of the World Trade Center on 7th August 1974. The film chronicles the walk itself and the complex methods utilised by Petit and his team to set up the walk, as well as Petit's life and career from the moment he first conceived the idea of walking between the Twin Towers in 1968, before construction of the towers had even been completed.

The film's subject matter, and the man at the centre of it all, Petit, do not disappoint. Petit's life is undoubtedly captivating and extraordinary, and the feats he achieves both at the Twin Towers and on other daredevil tightrope walks leading up to the WTC walk are wondrous to behold. Petit too is a filmmaker's dream - a vibrant and eccentric personality, likable, mischievous yet a little bit scary, almost like an imp en Français. He commands the camera and yet feels incredibly natural; the Petit we see never feels like an act, making his feats all the more magical and the man genuinely enigmatic.

Marsh's style is on the whole successful, but never matches its subject matter in terms of charm. He opts for a mix of stock footage taken at the time of the events themselves, talking heads of Petit and those involved in his stunts, and reenactments of events with actors playing the parts of Petit and his collaborators. Marsh attempts to present the whole film like a heist movie, which works at some points and feels forced (even a little amateurish, especially during the reenacted scenes) at others. Marsh also has the problem of his other contributors not being nearly as captivating as Petit himself. It occasionally feels as though the film becomes oversaturated with speakers to the point where I started forgetting exactly what role each of them played in the events.

Marsh chooses to focus entirely on the events of Petit's life from 1968 to 1974, and whilst this means we learn a great deal about this genuinely amazing period, it also means that the subjects of the film are never fleshed out fully. We learn next to nothing about Petit's childhood or life leading up to his decision to walk between the Twin Towers. Nor do we find out much at all about the direction Petit's life leads following the stunt. Any reference to the eventual fate of the Twin Towers on 11th September 2001 is also entirely absent, as is any reference to the WTC's lack of popularity as a landmark before Petit's stunt, and the increase in this following it. Marsh's decision to focus entirely on Petit and his crew's lives during this strict six year window ultimately becomes a double-edged sword - we are spoilt by the amount of detail devoted to Marsh's chosen time period, but ultimately left hungry for a little more breadth.

When taking into account all aspects of Man On Wire, the film can be considered far more hit than miss, but definitely not a film without fault. Marsh's choice of the Twin Towers stunt and Petit as his focus reaps huge rewards - the event and the man are genuinely captivating. It is Marsh's execution that holds the film's flaws. These are not glaring, unforgivable errors, but feel more like Marsh has relied a little too heavily on his subject matter to make the film a success. This works to a point; but it also means that, every so often, you wish that the documentary chronicling such astounding events was slightly more astounding in its execution.


Sunday, 8 January 2012

Film Review | The Beaver (2011)

Every now and again a film comes along that grabs my attention as soon as I first hear about it, to the point where I know I simply have to see it no matter what opinions might be levelled at it. The Beaver is one of those films. The film's highest of high concepts is a serious gamble on the part of director (and supporting actress) Jodie Foster, and casting Mel Gibson in the starring role hardly makes the film's success any more of a safe bet following his relatively recent fall from grace in the public eye.

Gibson plays Walter Black, the CEO of a formerly successful toy company who is suffering from serious depression. Following a failed suicide attempt after his wife (Foster) kicks him out, Walter develops an alternate personality which manifests itself through a beaver hand puppet. Despite seeming to many to be a sign that he has finally tipped over the edge into insanity, initially the beaver (as it is simply known) helps Walter to fix many of the fractured areas of his life, including his relationship with his wife and younger son Henry (Riley Thomas Stewart), although not his older son Porter (Anton Yelchin) who is exhibiting some troubling behaviour of his own. As the beaver takes more and more control over Walter, however, it becomes apparent that his influence over Walter's life is not as positive as it first appears.

The Beaver is undoubtedly one of those films that will divide opinion, and whether you enjoy it or not depends a great deal on whether you buy into its premise. The way I see it, if you assume that The Beaver takes place entirely in the real world that you and I inhabit, you almost certainly won't be able to get a lot out of it. Walter's character arc at the very least must be seen as almost entirely allegorical, and to view it any differently is almost obstinate on the part of the audience. The puppet on Walter's hand is a lot more than a quirky device through which to demonstrate his mental instability - it represents Walter's suppression of one part of his personality and allowance of another to take control, and the ramifications, both reparative ad destructive, of doing so. Once you accept this, The Beaver comes across as one of the most intelligent films of last year.

Gibson's performance as Walter Black is, in short, excellent. His fall into depression is entirely believable whilst being neither melodramatic nor ridiculous, with a subtlety a million miles from the in-your-face instability of Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon. From the moment Walter allows the beaver to take over, Gibson sells it brilliantly to the audience, playing things entirely straight and almost taking on two separate parts, endowing the puppet with a hybrid cockney-Australian accent which is questioned by other characters but (pleasingly) is never explained.

Yes, there are a few laughs to be had - let's face it, Gibson with a manky rodent on the end of his arm was always going to be at least a little funny, and a sex scene between Gibson, Foster and the beaver is awkwardly hilarious and sold perfectly by both actors. But this is a dramatic story and Gibson's excellent turn makes sure we know this all the way through. A scene in which Walter and his wife go for an anniversary meal, with Walter back in control for the first time since the beaver entered his life, ends awkwardly and is one of the most emotionally raw scenes in the entire film.

Yelchin too shows himself again to be a talent worth keeping an eye on after proving his action chops in Star Trek and Terminator: Salvation. His performance here is strong and sells effectively the subplot of Porter's initially unlikely relationship with fellow high school student Norah (Jennifer Lawrence), as well as his intense desire to be as removed from his father as possible.

The Beaver's key fault comes from its relatively contracted running time of just under ninety minutes. Foster's direction feels controlled and assured, but certain aspects of the story occasionally come across as a bit hurried or underdeveloped. Walter's life prior to the film is narrated within the first few minutes of the film as a montage, leading us almost immediately to his being under the beaver's control. This makes it initially a little tricky to connect with Walter as a character, as the audience has had very little time to get to know him prior to this key event in his life. Porter and Norah's relationship also feels lacking in depth at times, suggesting it may have benefited from further screen time to add a little more authenticity.

As I said, if you buy into the premise of The Beaver, there's an awful lot of good to get out of it. If you can't accept the concept behind the story then it's unlikely you'll be able to appreciate many of its impressive attributes. Don't expect a lighthearted look at depression and mental instability either - a wacky, wisecracking sidekick this beaver certainly is not. But allow the film the chance to take you through its allegorical tale and what you'll find is a highly original, well made and poignant piece of cinema.


Film Review | Moon (2009)

Having seen Duncan Jones' second feature, Source Code, at the cinema last year (of which you can read my opinion right here), and having heard great things about his debut feature Moon, I have been eager to experience it for quite some time. Like several aspects of Source Code, Moon places itself on the dark side (excuse the pun) of science fiction with a strong psychological thread running throughout. It also wears its "old school" sci-fi influences firmly on its sleeve (Alien and 2001: A Space Odyssey come to mind immediately, but there are a host of others), which just created even more reasons for me to want to see it, and make it even more shameful that it's taken me this long to get round to it.

The story takes place on the eponymous natural satellite, which is being harvested by Lunar Industries for helium-3 to be used as fuel back on Earth. Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is the sole crew member of the Sarang moon base nearing the end of a three-year contract, with only the base's computer GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) and occasional recorded messages from his wife (Dominique McElligott) for company. As his mind begins to play tricks on him, Sam becomes more and more eager to reach the end of his contract and return to Earth. However, an accident out on the moon's surface sets in motion a series of events which change Sam's entire perspective of his time there.

As debut features go, Moon is pretty darn successful in a great many ways. Jones' direction is confident and produces a satisfyingly palpable setting for Sam's experiences. Many of the choices Jones makes regarding the film's production were undoubtedly governed by the film's relatively small budget, but the majority of them serve to help pleasingly create the film's idiosyncratic retro-yet-futuristic feel. Finer details are well considered in terms of their overall effect on the feel of the film - Sam's alarm clock which plays Chesney Hawkes to wake him up, GERTY's "emotions" displayed through emoticons on a video screen, and the video-communication device that's far more brick than iPad, all feed into the authenticity of Jones' lunar bunker.

Whilst Jones without question deserves a great deal of credit, the part that Rockwell plays in the film's success simply cannot be underestimated. Apart from Spacey's GERTY (undoubtedly taking influence from 2001's HAL in his delivery) Rockwell is pretty much on his own throughout. It's hard to describe his performance without giving away some major plot points, but Rockwell boldly demonstrates a huge range and throughout the film commands every scene brilliantly. Rockwell makes Sam's isolation, and the effects of it upon both his mental and physical state, incredibly believable. Whilst I felt in one or two scenes that his performance required a little more raw emotion, it's hard to imagine many actors being able to take on the role and make it quite so credible, which Rockwell does with great skill.

However, there is a noticeable enervation during the middle of the story. I stand by Rockwell's performance as being impressive throughout; it is Jones' focus upon where things are actually going that becomes somewhat fuzzy. In fact, it's not until the final moments of the whole film that Jones makes the focus of the story completely clear. Again, it's difficult to explain without giving away some huge spoilers, but Sam's motivation in his actions was never made quite clear enough to give me a genuine reason to get behind them (other than the fact I like the character) until the very last frame, by which point it felt a little late. Once they had been made more obvious I was able to look back on everything I'd just watched with a clearer view, but it did feel as though, if Jones had structured things slightly differently, I might have viewed the film's finale from an altered, slightly more satisfying angle.

Ultimately, however, Moon is a great success. Rockwell's fantastic performance coupled with Jones' strong direction and creation of setting make the film one of the strongest and most human in the sci-fi genre I can recall from the last few years. There is a great deal of originality and imagination within Jones' film, which is laced with an obvious passion for the genre's heritage forming a satisfying, enjoyable and well made end product, and one that leaves me keeping a close and positive eye on Jones' future work.


Monday, 2 January 2012

Film Review | Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

Based upon two short films which garnered a huge amount of interest and critical praise on YouTube (and rightly so - they're very much worth watching and can be seen here and here), Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale essentially attempts to take the style of the shorts more than the premise and create a feature length story from it. Successful transition from short film to feature can be tricky, but with source material as original and well made as the two shorts, director Jalmari Helander had already done a great deal right before he even started.

The feature film focuses on a small Finnish community around Christmas time. A science team has been despatched to excavate a particular area in the local mountains, believed to be a huge burial mound. Meanwhile, Pietari (Onni Tommila) has become more and more fascinated with ancient myths surrounding the origins of Santa Claus, in which the figure is more concerned with punishing the naughty children than rewarding the nice. As the excavation progresses, strange occurrences begin to happen in the community with increasing frequency, arousing Pietari's suspicions as to who or what is buried beneath the mountains.

Helander's film deserves a huge amount of praise for its originality and execution. The story, whilst feeling a little uneven in places, is captivating throughout. The twists placed upon traditional Santa Claus iconography are inspired, putting a fresh and alternative perspective on Christmas traditions. Helander's direction fits the horror style of the story well, showing his appreciation for the genre, its conventions and legacy. The fact that the actors play everything entirely straight also helps to sell the sometimes ludicrous concepts presented in the film as authentic threats - the characters show genuine fear and uncertainty throughout, making the horror seem that much more real. The use of the bleak yet picturesque scenery of Finland as well is not just an interesting backdrop to the story, but provides a constant reminder of the unsettling spin placed upon the well-known childhood fable.

The film's main failings come from its running time, as at just under an hour and a quarter some of the character development feels rushed or unfinished. Pietari's relationship with his father Rauno (Jorma Tommila) is shown to be strained after the loss of Pietari's mother, and what we are shown of Pietari and Rauno's relationship is engaging and shows genuine talent on the part of both actors (the fact that Jorma and Onni Tommila are also father and son in real life no doubt helped with this). But the relationship is ultimately left underdeveloped, affecting the impact of how this relationship changes during the film's final act. A slightly longer running time to accommodate a few more scenes dedicated to Pietari and Rauno's strained emotional connection would have improved the film overall.

The film's climax is pleasing, although some of the shifts in character (Pietari's in particular) feel a little unlikely. The epilogue also feels somewhat disconnected with what has come before - it almost feels as though Helander wanted to finish with a strong connection to his original short films even if he had to crowbar it in slightly. In the end, however, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale's successes outweigh its failures. Crammed with imagination and originality, it's a film likely to please both horror fans and those looking for an alternative to the festive schmaltz usually reserved for Christmas movies.


Sunday, 1 January 2012

Film Review | TRON: Legacy (2010)

Direct sequels created a significant amount of time after the original film's release are always a tricky beast to handle, and generally garner a wide range of critical response - John McClane and Indiana Jones' respective jaunts into the 21st Century are proof enough of that. Creating a sequel for a film with such strong cult appeal as 1982's TRON just adds to the challenge of the task. In creating TRON: Legacy, Disney not only took on the job of at least matching the technical prowess and improving on the oft-criticised plot of the original film, but also of pleasing firm fans of the original whilst making the world of TRON appeal more to a mainstream audience.

The film picks up soon after where the events of the first film finished. Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) has disappeared. Despite being the largest shareholder in Kevin's computer company ENCOM, his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) has no interest in controlling the company whilst harbouring clear abandonment issues towards his father. However, when Kevin's friend and business partner Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) tells Sam he's received a mysterious message from Kevin's old office, Sam's subsequent investigation leads him into The Grid - the virtual reality world Kevin entered decades previously - and on a journey of investigation into what happened to his father.

In many ways, TRON: Legacy exhibits many of the same strengths and weaknesses as the original film. The technological wizardry is clearly apparent from the moment Sam steps into The Grid, and gets more and more impressive as the film progresses. The world introduced in 1982 has been appropriately "upgraded". The updated version of the iconic light cycle battle is particularly breathtaking, as is the fast-paced fighter jet chase towards the film's climax. The Grid as a universe is captivating in itself even when things slow down, providing beautiful scenery within which the story can unfold.

Bridges is reliably solid returning to the role of Kevin Flynn and bringing an intriguing mix of spirituality and world-weariness (or should that be "Grid-weariness"?) to the aged version of the character. Impressive too is Bridges' performance as CLU, the corrupt program created by the senior Flynn who acts as the film's antagonist. CLU appears as the younger version of Kevin Flynn, achieved through motion capture and computer animation, and it is to Bridges' credit that his performance comes through the technology and post-production so strongly.

Hedlund's performance as Sam Flynn is good, believable as Kevin's son, although his supposed animosity towards his father never truly comes through. The rest of the cast are fine but never much more.

The film's weaknesses come through pacing and plot, as the story occasionally becomes a little overly complex, tying itself into knots that it can't quite straighten out. Some scenes also become a little slow and self-indulgent from time to time. The End Of Line Club sequence, for example, feels almost entirely unnecessary - although it does provide a key opportunity to showcase Daft Punk's magnificent score for the film - and the plot elements involving Michael Sheen's character could easily have been eliminated to help reduce the film's slightly flabby two hour running time. Sheen's over-the-top performance feels somewhat at odds with the rest of the film too.

Despite its faults however, TRON: Legacy is much more success than failure. You can't help but be entertained and impressed by the action sequences and use of CGI throughout, and the main story of a son's quest to find his father and ultimately take control of his destiny is compelling and well told. Whilst things do slow down a bit too much between the action, the film never gets boring, and the universe created is a thing of wonder from start to finish. In the end, TRON: Legacy successfully establishes itself as a worthwhile and enjoyable continuation of an intelligent and imaginative action sci-fi franchise created almost three decades ago.