Tron: Legacy

“Yes… the past”… Lestat De Lioncourt

The past can be both haunting, and inspiring. As I think back to the movies of my youth, as I am sure is true with most people, I find a strong sense of comfort, happiness and excitement. Movies, at once, helped me escape the not so pleasant side of life, and were themselves, legitimate life experiences. Only serious movie freaks will know what I am talking about when I say that.

One of the movies that affected me in a childish, and yet at the same time, transcendental way when I was a kid, was Tron. It’s always been very surprising to me how few people, especially guys born in the 80’s, did not grow up with Tron as a part of their library of borrowed imagination. Which is basically another way of saying, you were not a nerd, either overt, or semi-closeted. If nerdiness never grabbed you, then I truly think you missed out on a wonderful part of life as a young man (sorry girls).

Anyway, I’ve eagerly been awaiting the release of Tron: Legacy. I opted out of not going opening night, which now having seen it, I truly regret. I thought of a lot of things while watching this movie, which if nothing else, is a grand feast for the senses. One of the things I thought about was the 2009 film Avatar, a movie that I walked out of in disgust and disappointment. This coming from James Cameron, who has given us so many greats. The consensus among people who enjoyed Avatard, as I call it, is that the world Pandora, some of the “can do” attitudes of the characters, and the special effects were enough to make it thoroughly enjoyable. It being a James Cameron movie, I expected great things. Can you blame me? Instead I saw nothing of remote value or interest in the world of Pandora, so you can guess what I thought of the movie as a whole. I thought it totally sucked, in case I haven’t made that clear by now.

Now, let’s look at Tron: Legacy, a movie that I assume people will see for many of the same reasons as Avatar. They’re fun to look at, especially with the resurgence of 3d appropriate movies. Overall, the reason to see Tron: Legacy, is because it is probably the best looking and sounding movie ever made. I’m struggling right now to think of one better.

I saw this movie with two close friends last night. One grew up loving the original 1981 cult -classic. The other had not even seen it (not meant to be an insult. As I mentioned before, many have not seen the original). Overall, they both seemed to enjoy it. I did as well, but we all had some problems with it. The kid was, well, terrible and boring. How many characters like this is Hollywood going to throw at us? A tough kid with a motorcycle, a hoodie, and gets into trouble. He might have been more interesting in the hands of a more capable actor, and I emphasize might have been. There is a significant amount of cheesiness. Ok, no biggie. I wasn’t expecting poetry, nor would have I wanted it. But thankfully, the kid (Sam) is overshadowed by “The Grid”, which is the world created inside computers and video games. And believe me, “The Grid” in Tron Legacy is something to behold.

I tried to explain the original Tron to one of my pals last night. I ended up sounding like a babbling fool. At first I thought I was just doing a bad job explaining it, and I was. However, I quickly realized that I have tried to explain the plot and the universe of Tron to other people with similar results. After reading Ebert’s review of Tron: Legacy, I felt less like a fool. The simple fact is, trying to explain the plot of either Tron movie is basically impossible. Tonight we decided that the only way to explain to a person what the Tron movies are about, is to take an unfortunate turn for the simple, and say: “It’s about what it would be like to be in a computer or video game”.

The world of Tron Legacy is so mesmerizing, electric and exciting in a peculiar way, it should be thought of as a character itself. I’m going to quote a great movie man and close friend of mine when he discussed the Braveheart soundtrack. “It defies logic and understanding”. Apply this quote to Daft Punk’s contribution to Tron, and you will see what I mean. The stars of Tron Legacy are not the the actors (but Olivia Wilde has an otherworldly beauty and presence which makes her a perfect fit for a movie of this type). The stars are the special effects team and Daft Punk, working seamlessly to create a world unlike I’ve ever seen. But, for me, there is something more at work here.

I see movies for many different reasons. My favorite films are the ones that produce a profound feeling that goes beyond simple entertainment. I think I’m prepared to say that Tron Legacy is one of those movies. I remember when I saw a frisbee in my childhood home, my first thought wasn’t: “There’s a frisbee. Lets find someone to play catch with”. No, no, even though I do enjoy tossing the disc. My first thought was: “That is my Identity Disc that I can use to destroy Master Control and make this a free system again. Let’s play Tron.” It reminded me of another time, when playing was my job, we were getting our first glimpse into the world of video games, and imagination was God.

Some of you will see Tron Legacy and hate it. I guess that’s understandable. Those of you who loved Tron Legacy and are interested in the original, than “welcome to The Grid”. And, for those few of you out there who loved both Tron movies as I did, then I hope hearing (a sadly masked Tron) make his classic statement of solidarity with his creator, made you cheer and fist pump as we did in the theater tonight.

“I FIGHT FOR THE USERS”. Man, even sounds badass taken out of context.