If you ask my wife if I like the original “Tron” movie, she’ll look up into the air for a second, take a deep breath, then gaze briefly at her wedding ring and reply, “…Yep.” Because, you see, I reeeeeeealy like the original Tron movie. She, like most other folk, thinks it’s pretty dang boring. I will readily admit that yes, it IS boring. But then you need to get ready to hear my long list of the things that make it SWEET. But I ain’t talking ’bout the original in this here post, I’m talkin’ ’bout this newfangled Tron sequel hoo-haw.
And the only reason I’m bothering to discuss it here in blogdom is because Tron played a very key role in developing my early taste for the fantastic, the technological, and the glow-y. I have been awaiting this sequel for years. When cinemaphiles’ dreams come true and people actually do put a lot of effort into continuing long-forgotten-but-magically-unique movies, I sweat a little, both in giddy optimism and pessimistic apprehension. Man, you don’t even wanna know how I feel regarding the Dark Crystal sequel. Waiting for it makes my head want to explode.
Okay– so Tron: Legacy. I’m gonna throw out the pros and cons: the things that either fired up or doused my excitement about it. Like ta hea-hea go:
- -Absolutely beautiful CG animation. A lot of the vehicle scenes were like visual poetry. I could have happily sat through two hours of the cycles leaping and crashing and the planes twisting and trailing, especially if all their drivers were constantly shattering into little neon ice cubes. Also, they managed to get a great density into the CG sets and objects; the Recognisers felt clunky and heavy.
- – I loved the decision to clone 80’s Jeff Bridges. It doesn’t matter how well they pulled it off; it was a cool plot element and tech gimmic. I hadn’t watched many previews (on purpose), so I had no CLU (tee hee) he’d be the main antagonist. I combatted the urge to wince at the facial animations by deciding that he was only CLU, not a real person, and hence any roboticness actually made sense.
- – The female lead wasn’t half-naked, and was light on the cup size. I cringed a little when she first showed up and started giggling (her, not me), but she worked out. She’s no Carrie Ann Moss, but what can you expect from Disney?
- – Jeff Bridges was in it. Can you imagine what it would’ve been like without him? A heckuva lot less Jeff-Bridges-y, that’s what. “You’re messin’ with my Zen thing, man!”
- – They threw in a lot of original-Tron easter eggs, especially in the ‘Flynn’s arcade’ scenes. Even the title is a reference to something from the Tron 2.0 video game. I nerd-grinned a lot.
- Daft Punk. In fact, this is like Pro #1. Man, their music MADE this movie. As my friend Cody succinctly said, it was like the helix that the rest of the movie’s DNA hung on. With different music, the entire experience would have been much, much less powerful. On the flipside, the music alone doesn’t have the power it did in the film. It matched the visuals better than anything I’ve seen in a long time. Soooooooo good. (Be careful listening to it in the car. It makes you want to drive really fast and disintegrate people with your weaving laser-trail.)
Um… I think that’s it. Now for the (pedantic)…
- Okay, so this is the future of ComputerLand, right? It’s seen the rise of the Internet and all the fantastic chaos therewithfore. Everything’s a zillion times more advanced and complex, right? So why do the Recognisers (the big pi-shaped ships) need COMBUSTION-DRIVEN PROPULSION??? Why don’t the light-cycles take 90-degree turns at a million miles an hour anymore? Why do the planes seem like they need to conform to air dynamics? Why do they fire bullets that shatter small pieces of things instead of de-rezzing them outright like a little data disc would? Basically, why are there real-world physics? The answer to all of the above is: because it looks cool. Meh. You’re in a freakin’ computer, guys. Do something weird.
- On that note, I was really disappointed with just how unoriginal the whole design of ComputerLand was. It had dumptruckfulls of pretty sparkliness, but it was VERY dry in the uniqueness department. In fact, if everything was in daylight, it’d just be Mass Effect:
- On the same note, the original’s nerdily iconic circuitry-suits from the original devolved into glow-strip motocross outfits! Geez you guys! For the sake of funky-design-lovin’ folk all over the world, I want to give much-deserved screen space to the suit upgrade I much prefer– the models from the video game ‘Tron 2.0’. Some shots for comparison:
- I was pretty annoyed that the first things you see in Computerland (after young Flynn gets nabbed by a Recogniser) are robotic Go-go dancers who cut our protagonist’s clothes off and fondle him into some slick armor. CLU is going for a perfected Computerland environment, right? CLU wasn’t a hedonistic Genghis Khan, he was just super committed to digital perfection. The supermodel intro just didn’t make any sense. Like the CG, they were just to look good. Bleh. To wax pedantic about the original again, I always appreciated the general lustlessness of the characters which seemed to convey a digital DNA. Plus, scenes like that make my wife unable to enjoy otherwise fun flicks, and make me hesitant to want to show it to my daughter. C’mon, Disney! Amp up your cool, smart, normal-girl role-modeling already! Oh, sorry. I guess you’d make less money.
- Michael Sheen. Yeesh. Who the heck made that character decision? I love the actor, but gee willikers, man.
- The “ISO”s are all dead. The best possible plot development disappears as soon as it’s introduced. I would have loved a big epic movie about someone OTHER than Prettyboy McDopeypants doing something, and here you have a race of potential ROCKSTARS! Self-evolved, fully sentient yet innocent programs on the brink of genocide by CLU… It could have been a digital fem-strong Braveheart, with a Neo-like dad-and-son Flynn duo on the frontlines! But no, instead we get a Bambi-eyed hottie for Mr. McDopeypants to ride off into the sunset with. Play ’em off, Keyboard Cat…
- Daft Punk never got to blow anyone up with rainbow lasers. What’s up with that?