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Tron (plus Tron Legacy on the blu-ray)

tn_tronBruceBoxleitnericonThis might end up lost to history, but I feel that the internet’s lead-up to the release of the TRON sequel could be characterized as a “nerd frenzy.” Breathless reports described every onscreen visual and audience sound during the comics convention’s high profile promotional screenings of test films and trailers. Websights covered every angle of every advertising gimmick, poster or still. They wrote about promotional “Flynn’s Arcade” tokens like they were frozen Jesus tears.

Then the movie came out and you didn’t hear about the excitement anymore. I don’t know if it was a PHANTOM MENACE (they didn’t like it as much as they hoped) or a KICK-ASS (every single person who would like that type of movie was inside that convention). And it probly didn’t help that the original TRON didn’t exactly set the world on fire either. Until the sequel got announced I honestly didn’t realize there were people who were passionate about it.

But there were. These guys had real personal connections to the original TRON. I don’t know what it is but maybe they were budding computer scientists in 1982 and for them at the time it was exciting to imagine a thrilling adventure going on inside that brown plastic box, since there sure as shit wasn’t much going on on the monitor. Now all these years later they’re nostalgic for that feeling that it gave them back then so they’ve turned that into an idea that TRON is an exciting movie to watch.

That’s my guess. What I know for sure is that I don’t have that connection myself. If I ever saw TRON in the ’80s I don’t remember it. Last time was a few years back when it was on DVD but before it went out of print. At that time I was surprised to find that

1. the computer animation, although ridiculously out of date, was more advanced than I expected for a movie from 1982


2. this movie is about tiny dudes in leotards riding motorcycles inside a computer!?

But that low opinion of TRON helped me to enjoy TRON LEGACY, a ludicrous sequel that (for me anyway) tronscends its stupidity almost entirely on the power of picture and noise. Since I didn’t remember many specifics about TRON I didn’t really understand all the mythtronlogy, so now that the movies have been tronsferred to the blu-ray disc I decided to have a TRONs double feature, or a Tronthon, if you will.

mp_tronTRON is the story of an early ’80s computer corporation called Encom. Bruce Boxleitner and his girlfriend (not sure what the actress’s name is, must not be important since they didn’t put her in the sequel) are nerd computer programmers, David Warner is the mean CEO who locks them out of the main computer because a talking HAL-like self aware computer named Master Control told him to. This upsets Bruce so his girl takes him to see Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), her ex-boyfriend who quit Encom and knows a thing or two about hacking into their system. But mostly he’s just awesome at playing video games.

Flynn is introduced in Flynn’s Arcade, where a crowd of kids cheer him on as he plays a game. He’s supposed to be real fuckin cool. He has headphones around his neck, which in my opinion suggests that he likes to rock out sometimes. He’s got a couple girls hanging off him. His tight t-shirt is drenched in sweat. Like in KING OF KONG there’s some nerd frantically repeating that he’s about to beat the record. But one thing that seems kind of unfair: it’s his own fucking video game, he designed it. So it would be sad if he wasn’t very good at it.

He brings the Encom folks into his little apartment above the arcade (which is decorated with a collection of African masks, representing the dual identities of the humans and their tron characters inside the tronverse of the computer, or something) and they come up with a plan to go into the building and hack into Master Control because David Warner took credit for Flynn’s famous video game Space Paranoids and he wants to get in there to prove it. So after a half hour of this shit he gets sucked into the computer and you get to see the weird lasery Tron shit you remember.

TRONvia: DID YOU KNOW… the American Ninja himself, “Michael J. Dudikoff II,” plays the character of “Conscript #2”?

I personally don’t find this movie very entertaining, but as a piece of visual art it’s truly great. It really looks like an experimental film – their faces look xeroxed, they’re wearing these crazy suits that are rotoscoped or something to light up, they’re standing in front of abstract computerized backdrops that make SIN CITY look realistic and three-dimensional. Sometimes they have light-up props with thick-lined drawings all over them like sets from a weird play, or they interact with crude early computer animation. It was absolutely cutting edge at the time but still kind of reminds me of the guys who did FORBIDDEN ZONE doing a crazy black light experiment or something.

The blu-ray maintains the original film grain, but the computery stuff looks really clean, bright and vivid. There are some 2001-esque trippy visuals that are absolutely stunning, and the straight CGI stuff like the “lightcycles” pop off the screen. But seeing this again I definitely believe that rumor about why Disney delayed the release of this blu-ray until after the sequel. The story is that some Disney suits witnessed an audience laughing inappropriately during a Downtown Disney screening of TRON. That seems very plausible to me – in fact, watching it again it seemed even goofier than I remembered.

Everything that I think is cool about this movie would be unlikely to be appreciated by the youths they were trying (mostly failing) to sell the sequel to. Its value is pretty much gonna have to be nostalgia or camp, because this is not a movie with alot of punch or momentum. Some people might claim it’s just a product of its time, but I can’t buy that ’cause there are too many movies of 1982 that hold up as exciting today (RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, E.T., THE THING, POLTERGEIST, FIRST BLOOD, WHITE DOG, FRIDAY THE 13TH 3D…)

Those are movies where shit happens. This is a movie where shit looks cool. By my count it’s  second best admirable-for-its-amazing-visual-experience-but-boring-as-hell movie of ’82 behind THE DARK CRYSTAL. (Third if you count BLADE RUNNER, but I think that’s a grade above these so I’m not gonna light that powderkeg.) After the light cycle crash there’s not alot in the way of thrills, let alone memorable dialogue or charismatic characters. In fact, I didn’t realize how much the structure of the sequel was based on the original: half hour of real world stuff, disc fight, light cycles, 45 minutes of talk and aimless doddering, riding on a vehicle thing, the end.

Just like a kid today wouldn’t know what to do with a cassette tape I doubt their brain knows what to do with this silly shit. To me the stark simplicity of the computer animation is appealing, and the bold way they designed the sets and costumes to mimic computer graphics of the era, drawing shapes and glowing outlines on everything.

I love the way alot of this looks, but I found myself laughing at it too. It’s about some goofballs in leotards and bike helmets with designs painted on them, holding frisbees. They get roughed up by some fascist trooper guys whose bulky “armor” is obviously stuffed padding. They’re basically covered in pillows. They’re huggable.

And it’s important to note that the climax is a battle with Master Control, who in my opinion is not necessarily one of the most terrifying villains in the history of motion pictures:

Alot of the coolest stuff in the movie is also the goofiest stuff. I mean, what is up with this weird Tron Jabba the Hutt dude? I think this guy is great, but I laugh every time he’s on screen:

Unfortunately for every shot that’s an elegantly composed graphic design like that there’s another 15 shots that are just these light-up goofballs standing around looking like this:

And because they’re computer programs, not people, they gotta act strange. So for example one of the programs is complaining about Master Control or somebody being a dick, and he says “Who does he calculate he is?”

Another thing I dig that does the movie no favors with modern audiences is the weirdo electronic music by Wendy Carlos:

I like shit like that, but you gotta admit it adds an extra layer of goofy to the neon pajamas. Also they got a Journey song on there. That’s weirdly appropriate for those of us that were alive then, because we remember that stupid Journey video game where if you get to the end allegedly it plays a Journey song. But you had to be there to get that, I think. What I’m saying is this movie is pretty dated.

But you gotta understand, this was before personal computers, before the internet, before CGI, before Coke Zero. Before New Coke. This was one month after E.T. phoned home, but long before cell phones or iPads or dickFors. It was before Arnold Schwarzenegger was a governor, or even a Terminator, and only 2 months after he was a Barbarian. It was before Johnny Mnemonic, which was before thumbdrives, and before thumbdrives made to look like different cartoon characters or pieces of sushi. I know this is hard to believe but it was even before the movie Lawnmower Man came along and changed everything forever in technology, cinema, spirituality, food, landscaping, etc.

(I don’t mean to condescend. I’m pretty sure you guys understand what it was before, but I tried watching one of the making of things on the blu-ray and I had to turn it off after the cast members from the sequel were listing the different things TRON was before.)

TRONvia: DID YOU KNOW… watching the two TRONs back-to-back doesn’t cause them to make any more sense?

I figured part 2 would be easier to follow if I remembered what or who happened in part 1, but this turns out not to be the case. As far as I could tell the beginning of part 2 doesn’t connect to the end of part 1. There was 7 years in between, the evil computer is gone, “The Grid” is different, the characters of CLU and TRON are I guess re-created from scratch so they aren’t the same guys, or something. And then a bunch of other shit happened in between that they talk about, including the birth of a new race and a bunch of genocide and what not. I’m pretty sure they just went through so many drafts that they lost sight of making a clear, simple movie and crammed in all the ideas that were left over from the failed earlier drafts. The only thing watching part 1 helped me understand in part 2 was a lame “joke” where Sam Flynn says in part 2 the same thing that Kevin Flynn said in part 1 about the size of a door.

Oh, and there’s a part in TRON where they drink from a little pond, so I guess that explains why there’s clouds in LEGACY. Because it’s clouds of tronwater.

Here’s the weirdest inconsistency: TRON kinda implies that the whole thing was – or at least could’ve been – a dream. When Flynn is in the computer and calls it a dream he’s not necessarily right about that, but at the end it definitely does look like he’s just woken up after a feverish night of typing in computer commands. And at the beginning after showing some of those Tron people living out the video games being played the screen says “Meanwhile, in the real world…” before transitioning to the Encom story.

So when Kevin Flynn disappears from “the real world” into “The Grid” in the in-between-the-two-movies backstory is this supposed to be the first time he did it? He had that dream that was part 1 and it inspired the idea of actually creating such a place in part 1.5? But in the dream his journey symbolized computing tasks: getting past Master Control to print proof that the company ripped off his video game. But in LEGACY his son he just goes in by mistake and gets back out at the end, he’s not searching for information. I guess it symbolizes exchanging emails with his dad. And meeting a hot girl online.

(by the way: David Warner’s password for Master Control is “MASTER.” Would’ve saved everybody alot of trouble if Flynn would’ve guessed that.)

So the main story of the movie is (possibly) a dream, but there is an evil self-aware computer in “the real world.” So something sci-fi could conceivably happen. Luckily Master Control must’ve straightened out because I don’t think he’s mentioned in part 2. He probly retired.

I didn’t watch many of the extras on these blu-rays. TRON THE ORIGINAL CLASSIC has the old DVD features that I probly skimmed through before. I bagged out on the new ones when I realized it was all talking with people on the set of the sequel.

tron_derezzedNEW TRON has one nice feature: the video for Daft Punk’s “Derezzed,” the cool song that they (in their cameo as End of Line club DJs) turn on during the fight scene. The video is a tribute to the look of the original TRON more than the sequel. It shows the Daft Punks playing an arcade game and then goes inside to show them tronned-out in glowy outfits riding crazy tronimals.

LEGACY also has a really shitty extra called “Flynn Lives: The Next Day” in which Bruce Boxleitner and the guy who played “Ram” in part 1 reprise their roles as aging computer industry professionals. It’s like the original actors having cameos in the A-TEAM movie, one of those things where you know somebody out there is excited to see the old boys on screen again but otherwise there is no value at all. The embarrassing story is a fake documentary about how a Banksy-like hooded figure named “Zack Attack” (seriously) has for decades been putting out subversive videos where he says that Jeff Bridges’s character Kevin Flynn is still alive. And militants continue to show up at places defiantly holding up “Flynn Lives” signs (they all agreed on a cool font to use).

The only things not explained:

1. How do those guys know Flynn is alive, anyway? Do they know that means he’s in “The Grid” eating tronham with a hot girl that loves Jules Verne books?
2. Why do they think it’s important for other people to know he’s alive?
3. How many of these videos could they possibly put out before they start to get a little repetitive? I mean, how much material is there really to cover on the subject of “Flynn Lives”?
4. Why would young people passionately attach themselves to the cause of spreading the word that the guy who designed “Space Paranoids” in 1982 is still possibly alive?
5. Why don’t they maybe redirect some of that energy toward protesting the wars?
6. Why is this depicted as a subversive act? They act like it’s the Weather Underground or something, I don’t get it.

What is explained, though – and this is important – is that Bruce and Ram still enjoy popcorn like they did in a scene in TRON when they shared popcorn in the computer lab. That’s what the fans want to see anyway.

* * *
As much as I make fun of these movies, I enjoyed the experience of watching them again. Both of them look fantastic on blu-ray. I have to admit the new one is more enjoyable to me than the old one. I guess it’s more of a blatantly commercial product, but then again it’s a whole lot of money thrown at a not very safe bet, and unlike, say, AVATAR, it’s not one that paid off too big. So it’s not really a cynical marketing type of movie. Actually it’s an idealistic marketing type of movie.

With LEGACY the 3-D definitely went a long way toward making it sort of work. It was such a surrounding experience, reaching out at you, inviting you to peek in through all its layers of pixels and shiny surfaces (lit and fig), and vibrating your ribcage with its music. But it looks great flat too. Even the not-inside-a-computer parts are beautifully shot, which you can’t say about the original TRON. And just this entire world and all the effects besides creepy POLAR EXPRESS Jeff Bridges are incredible work by these designers and technicians. It definitely deserved to be one of those shitty movies that cleans up a bunch of Oscars in design and sound categories. TRON wuz robbed.

And it got me thinking – is this gonna be a more and more common type of movie, the visuals without storytelling? Because here’s a movie that’s an incredibly sophisticated work of visual art, but a stupid piece of sci-fi. And we just had SUCKER PUNCH, which is trying to say so much but getting across so little. And I saw that lizard cartoon RANGO – a completely unique world, animation like I’ve never seen before, ridiculous level of attention paid to every little detail of the world it takes place in… and a completely dull and uninvolving story and characters.

I was thinking maybe this was a new type of movie, but of course it’s not new at all. It’s TRON and it’s THE DARK CRYSTAL. Visual feasts that I admire and want to love but god damn they gotta figure out a more compelling story to build this on top of. Or put in a bunch of fucking like in ENTER THE VOID so it seems like an art movie.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 at 1:08 am and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

109 Responses to “Tron (plus Tron Legacy on the blu-ray)”

  1. I think that a visually sumptuous and well-designed movie with little else to it is really just a byproduct of the usual tactic of studios throwing money at what they deem marketable. On one hand it is interesting that they thought Sucker Punch and Tron Legacy were viable marketing vehicles that would get would net them a profit but it’s probable that factoring overseas sales and whatever merchandising they could get, they figured they would come out on top anyway.

    Will there be a review of Rango then, Vern? I really liked it actually and I loved the fact it relied on wit for its humor when it could have easily have gone the Shrek route of stale pop culture “jokes”. You could tell the people behind it loved the western genre and put in everything they liked even though the story itself was predictable.

  2. I’m kind of glad there wasn’t tons of fucking in THE DARK CRYSTAL. Wait, is that what you meant?
    Regardless, I hope you review it someday. I got to watch it again on the big screen last year, it was great to see a world made of STUFF again.

  3. Also, thanks for pointing out the weird/funny Jabba the Hut guy in TRON. That part still weirds me out.

  4. I’m a lot more forgiving of the structure and story of Tron, but I still concede it’s main value is as a beautiful work of art. It’s one of most visionary, unusual, artful films in cinema history.

    I admit to loving The Dark Crystal too.

  5. 1982 wasn’t before personal computers, dude. I’d had an Apple2 computer for 2 years at that point. For someone who reviews movies on a blog you don’t have much of an understanding of technology, which explains why you didn’t like this as much. There’s layers that went over your head.

  6. I liked how the light cycles in the original travelled in straight lines and turned at right angles. I wish they’d kept that in the sequel.

    And by wish, I don’t mean that I sit in a darkened room rocking back and forth crying about what could’ve been, Tron-Legacy wise. I just think it would have looked cooler. Found both films pretty hard to get through though.

  7. Vern, I think you nailed this one. “I personally don’t find this movie very entertaining, but as a piece of visual art it’s truly great” pretty much sums up my entire attitude towards it. I’ve been pretty anti-Tron on this forum, but it’s mostly frustration that they created such a great visual world but really did nothing interesting with it story- or character-wise.

    Still haven’t seen the sequel, and it’s one of those films that I doubt I’ll ever get around to seeing. I just don’t see it being worth the time, sorry Tron fans.

  8. And Clint, I’ve been designing and programming computer games of one sort or another since I was about ten years old, and I agree with Vern. Yeah, there’s references that someone who wasn’t a tech guy in that period wouldn’t get, but is that really what we’re supposed to look forward to in the film?

  9. Personally, as a die hard Tron-iac, I thought Legacy was pretty horrid. The opening scenes were pitch perfect but things turned to shit once the movie switched over to The Grid. I don’t think it was quite as bad as Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or
    Matrix Reloaded in terms of disappointing sequels, but it came close. Then
    again, neither of those movies featured Michael Sheen embarrassing himself and the audience with his painful to watch air guitar antics. My biggest gripe was that for a movie called “Tron” Legacy, Tron himself had very little screen time; and for most of that he had a stupid looking motorcycle helmet covering his face. It was like they spent their wad youth-ifying Jeff Bridges and didn’t have enough coin left over to make Boxleitner look young.

    I’ll admit, the original Tron has it’s share of HUH?!? moments (like the scene where Yori says, “If those spiders get us we’re done for!” and then we never see the spiders again) but there’s plenty of genuine movie magic and fun (something Legacy was desperately low on) to more than compensate for it.

  10. What’s a dickFor? Heyoooo!

  11. The Dark Crystal: Now With Fucking! Box office gold.

  12. Very enjoyable review. I’m a huge fan of the original, and really enjoy both films greatly… but I think that part of this for me is that I know that there’s all of these flaws… that the acting in the original is pretty rigid… that if you really sit back and think about it, it doesn’t really make the slightest bit of sense. I love reviews like yours, because it really makes me think about why I like the films so much. You are completely correct in your review, I find it hard to argue against any of your points, and yet I still consider it to be one of my favorite films. :)

    I hadn’t heard the theory about the computer world all being a dream before. I had never even considered that… it actually brings another layer onto the original… although being that the digitization process is “real” in their universe, I think that’s pretty much debunked by Sam going in, and Quorra coming out. (If Quorra didn’t come out, then i could 100% agree that both films’ computer worlds could be dreams.)

    And I’m VERY glad they resolved the infamous “popcorn conflict” mildly addressed in the original.

  13. Hey, Tron was in Tron Legacy. I forgot about that. Should have been called Flynn Legacy really.

  14. I wish they had made all the given all the grid characters the “creepy POLAR EXPRESS” treatment. I guess it would have cost too much, but Clu looked like a computer simulation that hadn’t quite gotten human features down, and they all should have looked that way. Yeah, ok, so they wouldn’t have been able to sell as many posters if the hot chick was a little off, but it would have made it count for so much more if Sam had stuck with her when she was an unsettling computer face and THEN she turns into a hot chick once they bust out into the real world (Spoiler for something you figure out is going to happen 10 minutes into the movie)

  15. This has reminded me of the old CGI Cartoon show REBOOT, which was also about personified computer programs living inside a computer, but it was tonally opposite because it was full quirky characters, corny jokes and pop culture references(Gillian Anderson guest voiced a character called “Data Nully”, who was partnered with a “Fax Modem” in one ep, and another ep has a DOOM/EVIL DEAD homage).

  16. TRON was a cult classic so that’s why the suits decide to remake the movie. Agree with you that TRON was a terrible movie.

    I don’t know why the critics savage TRON:LEGACY. Yeah the movie was dumb in some parts but I feel that it was quite entertaining.

  17. I skipped everything but who the fuck doesn’t like The Dark Crystal?

  18. DARK CRYSTAL is cool looking, but I think everyone who has issues are related dialogue that sounds like this”

    “Jen, you must find the Crystal shard and place it into the Crystal so as to heal it”

    “I must find the Crystal shard and place it in the Crystal so as to heal it which will save goodness or whatever.”

    “Yes Jen, you must find the Crystal shard and place it into the Crystal so as to heal it and save goodness and the land and blah blah blah.”

    I know it’s made for kids, but even at the age of 6 I was like “Get to it already! I understand the quest!” Not to say the film is without its charms, but damn.

  19. So I saw Tron 1 right before Legacy came out to get up to speed, and for the first half I was like “oh, this movie gets a bad rap, it’s really not bad!” but the entire movie falls apart after the escape on the lightcycles. It just gets more boring and incoherent, and the ENDLESS scene of exposition on the solar sailor was a chore to get through. Why they decided to re-do that scene AGAIN in the sequel seemed like a cruel in-joke. The final “battle” against giant David Warner and the MCP and Jeff Bridges saving the day by jumping into the MCP was head-scratchingly bad. And I definitely think the nostalgia factor (plus love of the arcade game) has alot to do with love of Tron – quite a few people I spoke to actually thought there was a scene where the heroes fought the spiders, when there was just that one weird non-sequitor mention of them.

    On the bright side, even though the whole “gladiatorial” games section of Tron is only a 10 minute segment, it’s really effectively done. So much so, that I do see why that one segment alone has created the fanbase and goodwill Tron has. I really love the pacing and use of silence in the jai alai (or whatever it’s called) battle scene. It’s not Thunderdome, but it’s a great suspenseful sequence that I wish there was more of in Tron (or the sequel).

  20. Vern-“Luckily Master Control must’ve straightened out because I don’t think he’s mentioned in part 2. He probly retired.”
    He became Moses on SOUTH PARK.

  21. Nice one, Vern! I watched Tron for the first time last year and pretty much felt like it was an 80s ‘Wizard of Oz’, not only in terms of main plot (stranger in a strange land goes on a quest, seeks to return home, gathers wacky sidekicks along the way, squares off against a disembodied head) but both movies were largely celebrated for using new technology (computer animation, color) but were really pretty flat and lifeless if not for the impressive visuals. I was pretty stunned at the visuals they were able to achieve with early-80s computers, but didn’t really give much of a crap about the characters. It was watchable but not revisitable, which is how I feel about ‘Wizard’, really. I have the requisite fondness from watching it as a kid, but it’s really not a very engaging film, IMO.
    Vern, you haven’t reviewed ‘The Wiz’? (I mean, I know the answer to that and all, what I’m saying is, you maybe should. Or at least let me know if it’s worth watching my own damn self.)

  22. TRON does have pacing problems, and for that matter a story as thin as the paper it was written on. I think its decent if not that endearing, and I understand people not giving a fart about it.

    (In a way the power of nostalgia over reality by nerds projecting their 80s childhood over 2010s reminds me fo the insane love those guys have for THE LAST STARFIGHTER. Slightly better film, also pushed CGI FX, but still a movie that can’t escape the fact that its a STAR WARS inspired clone with a paper-thin story.)

    But I’ll give it props for its place in Movie FX history and CGI. Hell I will argue that the lightcycle race is still quite impressive 29 years later in execution and cutting, especially considering this was primitive back when the programmers still didn’t figure out how to put live-action and CGI in the same frame. Yet you wouldn’t have probably figured out that flaw perhaps if you didn’t know any better.

    Personally of the 1980s hacker movies, WAR GAMES is still pretty fucking good as a potent thriller.

  23. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    April 6th, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    “But mostly he’s just awesome at playing video games.” Thats no better than a grown man being awesome at swing ball.

  24. I’m not a hardcore fan of these movies or anything but I enjoyed them both enough to certainly want a TRON 3 somewhere down the line.

  25. If there is a third, I hope they use some of Vern’s puns in it, and also work in “atroncity” somewhere.

  26. Okay, hold on, Tron is WAY better then The Last Starfighter. The Last Starfighter is grossly obvious Star Wars rip-off. Tron is it’s own singular work of imagination.

    And “color” was not a new technology in 1939. There were Technicolor films in 1922, and Edison was making color films in the 1890s.

  27. Clint – Okay, which layers? But don’t get too technical on me, remember I’m a layman.

  28. By the way, I meant to mention in the review that the credits say “FILMED IN SUPER PANAVISION 70.” I thought that was cool because it shows how fleeting the power of having the very latest technology is.

  29. CC – Good points, but I don’t think TLS dragged as badly as TRON did in spots.

  30. CC – I saw Last Starfighter again recently and still loved it. I liked the main character, I liked his relationship with his two alien sidekicks/wise mentors. I liked his girlfriend and even his shit brother. I thought the villains were assholes and I liked how they were defeated. And I can hum the score right now, which I can’t do with TRON. Yeah, it’s a Star Wars ripoff, but so what? Being derivative doesn’t make it automatically shit like Wing Commander or anything. Battlestar Galactica was a Star Wars “ripoff” and I’m glad that show still happened. (Plus bonus points for Last Starfighter for having those required “PG scary/grossout” parts that seemed specifically made to haunt the dreams of children with HBO.)

  31. Jim Bolo – the new rules of the bike contest was one of the things that bothered me also. In the original Tron, the cycles were limited to driving on an actual grid, basically like a competitive Snake game. The rules of the race were very clear and you could tell what was going on and how the biker’s decisions affected the outcome. In Legacy it all looks really cool but the filmmakers basically did whatever they wanted with the bikes without the constraints of space and geography. This was actually probably a good decision as the epic lightcycle battle fits in better with the new pig-raising Tron world than the old 8-bit style contest would have. But it still makes even less sense than the original one did.

    However, it looks like the mathematical constant compared to the fucking Podrace.

  32. I really don’t think that Tron Legacy was a good looking movie. Having everyone wear identical black costumes over an infinite black background delineated by sheets of clear glass is just a poor decision. I literally could not follow the action in the bike chase. Which is a shame because the first comic-con promo reel had very clear action and a much better visual style.

    Plus, the world just makes no sense. You would think they would build wider sidewalks in a world where if you step off the road you fall into an infinite abyss, just sayin’,

    I found the action here to be largely incoherent. One of the worst offenders in post-action, imo.

  33. BTW Jack Burton, you seriously compare bad sequels “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” with “The Matrix: Reloaded”? Isn’t that incredibly harsh on “KotCS”? Yeah, it didn’t “work” and because of that came off rather dull; but dull is a blessing compared with the assault-on-the-intelligence that “Reloaded” comprises.

    By the same token… CC, you say “TRON” is better than “The Last Starfighter”…? What? Just… what? While I agree “Starfighter” is hardly a classic, and looks a bit cliche’d by today’s standards, it has decent villains, a likeable protagonist, a workable story… all of the things that “TRON” doesn’t have at all, “Starfighter” has in moderation.

    I mean, I not only don’t agree with this, I genuinely can’t understand why anybody would hold that opinion. While I don’t think that “TRON” is anything like as bad as “Batman and Robin” it does seem to me like trying to pull off saying that “B&R” is better than “Batman Forever”. Neither is exactly a classic, but there’s clearly a superior film there. What on earth does “TRON” do better than “Starfighter”?

  34. one guy from andromeda

    April 6th, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Pretty much the only thing good about Tron was the way it looked, really like some weird eastern european experimental film. No the action so much but the dialogue scenes are what stick out in my mind – those beautiful colors, the way you can see them flicker because they were hand drawn on the black and white footage they shot, the neon look of the surroundings, their blockiness – so of course the only thing they really changed from the first one to the sequel is how it looks. Now it’s all grungy black with some blue lights and everythings perfectly rendered (not that i would have seen it, i am going by the trailers). I will probably never watch the whole thing because i am pretty sure this review will be more entertaining then the whole 150 million dollar affair.
    On a side note, i still think Enter The Void is the best movie of 2010 (or was it 09?). I didn’t find it boring at all, which surprised even me…

  35. The Matrix Reloaded was not stupid at all. In fact, the plot is a very interesting and intellectually challenging extension of the original and the plot twist at the end is mind-bendingly brilliant. The problem is that it was all displayed in terrible ways. The action scenes were too fake (even if that was an intentional piece of meta-narrative) and the great twist is EXPLAINED instead of experienced.

    But seriously, there is nothing stupid about The Matrix Reloaded. Nothing stupid at all. In fact, it’s one of the most philosophically legitimate sequels ever made.

  36. Well, I’m a dummy, I thought Master Control was played by F. Murray Abraham. But he was… Salieri, in Amadeus.

    Man these are some old brain cells I’m using, obviously defective.

    Anyway if they are going to make a Tron Legacy, I want Krull Legacy. Where’s my nerd posse on this outrageous oversight.


  37. as I said before in the Sucker Punch review I go easy on movies with cool and interesting visuals so I’m willing to forgive a few story problems, if may be a film buff sin, but forgive me

    that said what’s best is when a movie has both cool visuals AND an interesting story, like The City of Lost Children or Jurassic Park, two films that rarely get mentioned in the same sentence

  38. whoops I forgot to add that I enjoyed Tron Legacy because of this even though the story was pretty damn confusing

    I haven’t seen the original Tron since I was a little kid though, so I can’t really comment there

  39. Damnit Paul, I was just about to say how in sync we are re: The Last Starfighter over Tron, but then you had to bring B&R in on it! I think B&R is clearly the superior film over Batman Forever. In fact, it boggles me to this very day how everyone thinks B&R is this huge piece of shit when Batman Forever was the same goddamn movie except less funny.

  40. Neal – yeah, ok, I can see that. But “BF” wasn’t anything like as incredibly dumb as “B&R” was IMO. It can sort of be enjoyed on its own merits, as slight as those are.

    HunterD: I’m not a huge fan of AICN any more, but I still think Harry Knowles’ best review ever was this one. To me, he nailed everything that was wrong about TMR.

  41. Griff – films like “TRON” or other bad-but-beautiful films (the one that comes to mind is “Hero” – yeah, huge difference there, but wait to see where I’m going with this) irritate me. Both obviously have so much effort put into their visuals and setting, yet are so utterly lacking in other ways. It’s almost more frustrating to me when a film looks good but isn’t, because there’s obviously been a lot of effort put into it, yet that effort is wasted.

  42. I am a big fan of Tron. Not because of the story…it is pretty boring. But just the concept and special effects were really cool. For me, the 80’s was Transformers and a broad umbrella of Fantasy/sci-fi Adventure (Thundercats, LoTR, Flight of the Navigator, Indiana Jones, Star Wars etc etc). Then along came something that was more sci-fi than I had ever seen. People IN a computer? Living programs? It blew my little mind. The plot? no good. The possibilities and visuals though, made a real dent in me.

    So I was excited for the 2nd one, the problem was, they tried to just improve the first one. Much like Pirates. “If they laughed in the first one, we’ll just make the sequence bigger and longer.” The second was just more CGI…but everyone is used to CGI. Thats the problem: the selling points of the 1st Tron are pointless now. You can’t impress anyone with computer graphics that are supposed to look like a computer world in 2011. Its all been seen. They needed to do the other piece of the puzzle, which was “life inside a computer”. They needed to make something that little kids would see and think “whoa”. Problem is, visuals alone can’t do that in 2011 (except Avatar).

    If Tron2 had retained the computer graphics and adventure, but then taken a good hard look at the meaning of consciousness, or community, or something Pixarish that was an adult concept but a kid would understand, I could have been really good and done its predecessor credit. I am not sure if that statement is true. I don’t know how you could have made a real sequel to Tron…it was just visual puffery. But the visuals had something them in back then…something that made die hard fans.

  43. Paul: Tron Legacy, Crystal Skull, and Reloaded all three commit some pretty major sins for a sequel. First, they all have an extremely grating new character that brings everything to a standstill (Michael Sheen in TL, John Hurt in IJATKOTCS, and that dude in the restaurant who wouldn’t stop talking in MR). Second, they add to the mythology in ways that don’t work at all (the ISO’s in TL, the aliens in KOTCS, the fact that people would rather attend grubby raves than stay in the Matrix in MR). And to me, the biggest fuck up is that the main character just sort of drifts through the plot without really doing much (Tron is largely absent in TL, Indy basically stands around gawking for the last half of KOTCS, and Neo more or less spends a good deal of MR standing around twiddling his thumbs).

    I guess the biggest fault with all three is that I went in to them fully expecting to like them. Did I set my expectations too high? Perhaps. But I never in my wildest dreams expected them to suck THAT bad.

  44. TRON is a movie you project onto a wall at a party just to get some interesting lighting, something to occasionally look at and comment on, and for a little nostalgia. It’s not watchable really but the idea of it is fun, and it really is “art”. Cool visuals while having enough restraint to not make it unbearably flashy. THE DARK CRYSTAL is a fun movie but it’s not art.

    There should be a category on Netflix: “Movies to project onto a wall at a party”. It would include (in my opinion):


  45. Hunter – hopefully if Matrix Reloaded ever gets re-released it will say “one of the most philosophically legitimate sequels ever made” on the poster.

  46. The good thing about showing Tron on a wall at a party is you could also play half the soundtrack at the same time and it would fit right in.

    To add to rainman’s list, I think Paprika would make a great wall projection film. Also, The Passion of the Christ.

  47. This is a pretty good essay on the philosophy behind the Matrix movies: http://wylfing.net/essays/matrix_reloaded.html

  48. Paprika is a great movie though

  49. I’m pretty sure the writers of LEGACY did not know which movie they were making a sequel to. In TRON the visuals are representation of electronic concepts, whereas LEGACY posits a self-contained world that mirrors our own – for no reason they could come up with – and where programs apparently need to eat pretend food and get intoxicated in bars. (they also apparently cannot communicate across their own LAN without being in the same room, face to face)

    Having forgotten what movie they were making, the filmastists made the recognizers bank, (something an object without wings and floating on not-air wouldn’t do) and vehicles slide and so forth. It’s not TRON: it’s THE MATRIX.

    The ISOs are actually the best idea in the film: programs of sufficient complexity to learn and adapt without direct user input: the beginnings of artificial intelligence. If CLU had been “afraid” of that – instead of reducing his villainy to the shortcut of facism – they would have had something. ‘Course, any movie that has its protagonist parajump off a building in the third scene is in no hurry to come up with anything interesting.

    Finally, LEGACY seems to think none of us know how computers work. Or have heard of search engines. Or have used social media apps. Or have setup a little home network. Or have switched from physical media to media-on-demand. Or have any experience whatsoever – including tons of negative ones! – with anything computer-related at all. This is the same season THE SOCIAL NETWORK is released, mind you!

    (on that topic: see CATFISH)

    LEGACY is just a whole bunch of even-less-than-wasted opportunities.

  50. Ian – well, parts of the article were interesting, parts weren’t. I’m not quite sure what the author is trying to accomplish in parts of it. (Well, other than tying a film’s mythology to Genesis. Isn’t that slightly redundant, given that the film is, y’know, a myth about the creation of a dystopian reality?)

    I gotta admit I liked the “Neo as Satan” thing – it’s totally inconsistent with the first film, but then what part of “Reloaded” isn’t? – but what it lacks is a shred of evidence from the film itself to tie up the allegory. At least my “Wall-E is Satan” theory is backed up by the fact that the female character responsible for the fall of Paradise is called “Eve”. I could write a ten page essay on why “The Matrix: Reloaded” is an allegory for J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Silmarillon”. Doesn’t make it any more or less irrelevant.

    I hadn’t noticed the whole “ravers are of African descent” thing, though. I’ll give it that. Not quite sure what to make of it – all villains are white guys? – but it’s a weird point.

  51. A more concrete example: my 70+ year-old uncle has a router on his first floor, a wireless laptop in his basement, connected to his TV which he uses to stream Netflix. He also connects his smartphone – blutooth – to this setup to carry some files and the occasional ripped DVD.

    The writers of LEGACY seem to not have any intimation that this possible and created a closed and antiquated representation of something that even a senior citizen might know to be fluid and expandable. Was the script written on an Olivetti? Copied on a Xerox? Distributed by faxphone?

    I am being an asshole. But what other rational reaction can one have facing this tripe?

  52. Actually, the make up of Zion is supposed to be a statistically accurate representation of world racial demographics. All the villains being white is an ironic touch, I think, since most films tend to feature the non-white non-Christians as villains.

  53. “All the villains being white is an ironic touch, I think, since most films tend to feature the non-white non-Christians as villains.”

    In Hollywood at least 95% of films have white villains. Religion is not usually discussed in the films, but those white villains also come from countries with a christian majority, so if they represent some religion, it’s most likely christianity.

  54. Rewatched Reloaded tonight on a whim. I still say it’s not that bad. Sure, the black dude with dreds is annoying giving a play-by-play of shit we just saw and kind of acting like an in-movie version of a popular stereotype about black moviegoers. And yes, a lot of the dialogue is clunky or too cutesy. And yes, there is a lot of fat on the movie. But I still think it has merit and I still think the evolution of Neo as a character makes sense. What’s more, the twist ending with the Architect is really, really interesting thematic ground to mine. Granted, I’m still not entirely sure why the robots would build Zion for the humans and not just let the humans who wake up die instantly, but I’m willing to accept it anyway.

    It might have been a better movie if they weren’t so involved in tying in shit from The Animatrix and Enter the Matrix and Matrix: The Super Shitty Soundtrack That was Dated Before the Movie Even Began FIlming, but I kinda like how they just fucking went for it and tried to build a massive, massive world for these films.

    The only bits that really didn’t work for me were the fight on top of the semi (it just looked real fake because they didn’t even bother with wind effects for the long jackets) the cave dance and…actually, you know, most of the first 30 minutes kinda sucks. But I really enjoyed the looping storyline. And I even kinda liked how characters in the movie readily admit that they are Deus Ex Machina.

    I donno…I just like that movie.

  55. Tukka.

    I beg to differ. Sure, you might have the white super villain behind the curtain. But the big scary black man is still a very popular cultural archetype.

  56. Come on Hunter D, we only have to check what’s been released this year, last year, last decade, to see that is obviously not true.

    Even when there are black/asian villains, the films usually balance it out by having black/asian heroes.

    You’re talking about some imaginary agenda which simply doesn’t exist in the real world. And this VERY easy to prove simply by looking at what’s being released.

  57. It goes a lot deeper than you are letting on. I don’t have time to get into it right now because it’s 2 AM and I need to sleep. And I probably won’t be online from tomorrow through at least Monday. But maybe I can get into it later.

    Point is, as much as people call Hollywood “Liberal” it’s pretty much the most conservative business around…short of megachurches.

  58. The point is, your premise of “most films tend to feature the non-white non-Christians as villains” is wrong. This is not question of opinion – It’s a simple fact. It’s going to be hard for you to argue against facts that can be very easily verified by anyone.

    If you want to for example see what movies were released theatrically in USA in 2010, you can see them in here:


    I did a quick browse through the list. At least 95% of those movies have white villains, and primarily – by a large margin – white henchmen. In order to prove your claim, you would have to prove that those movies that were released in 2010 don’t actually exist, and after that you would have to come up with imaginary titles to replace them. It’s the same thing in 2009. And 2008. And every year last decade. And the same thing the decade before that. And the decade before that. And so on.

    The main reason for that is that Hollywood is a part of predominantly white culture, and therefore has primarily white actors playing white heroes, who fight against white villains, who have white henchmen. You are going to find black villains and henchmen mostly in movies centered around African-American culture – And those movies typically have black heroes.

  59. I suppose my appreciation of the Trons is even simpler than Vern’s. Yeah, visual, art, etc. I just love that someone made a movie where computer programs are people. What if computer programs were people? They made that movie. Twice now.

    I missed the boat on Tron growing up, and didn’t think much of it later. Only in the last decade did the metaphysics an anthropomorphism get to me. So, no nostalgia here, just “computer programs as people.”

  60. Sigh…

    -Super Panavision 70 wasn’t a new technology either. It was one of the widescreen photographic processes developed in the late 50s, which I think got it’s most use in the early 60s; it meant it was shot on 70 millimeter film as opposed to 35 millimeter.

    -TLS may not have “dragged” in parts the way Tron reputedly did, but just having a faster pace doesn’t automatically mean it’s better.

    -Neal: Every argument you made in favor of TLS is basically irrelevant to the actual quality of the movie. Some of them don’t even really hold up to scrutiny: you like the “asshole villains” and how they’re defeated? One of them isn’t even beaten, he gets away and escapes at the last second through what might as well be labeled “ESCAPE HATCH: THIS WAY TO SEQUEL”. I’ll give TLS this: It’s fun to watch. The whole idea of video games as recruiting devices is very clever. The 80s atmosphere is terrific. And most of all it’s got some amazing Ron Cobb production designs. But it IS a crudely, nakedly, craven imitation of Star Wars that’s almost insulting in how little it disguises it’s sources. Yeah, just being a rip-off isn’t an automatic fail: hell, ALIEN rips off THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD almost as openly. But Starfighter’s just not a good film, and liking it personally doesn’t make it so. Hey, look, I’m inexplicably fond of IRON EAGLE, but I don’t try to argue for it as better then FIREFOX.

    Y’know, TRON simply gets points for originality. It’s still almost unique in film history. And it really isn’t bad in terms of story, plot, characters, ect. Kind’ve minimalist, kind’ve crude, but not bad.

  61. In a lot of ways, Tron: Legacy is the sequel that Tron deserves. Both are great visual experiences with a couple of well done action scenes (I still like the first one’s lightcycle battle), but in the end they’re both pretty nonsensical with flat characters. Jeff Bridges, however, does manage to escape from both films unscathed through sheer charm.

  62. What happened to Tron’s script according to the co-writer:

    MacBird had a history with computers before writing Tron:

  63. CC – love ya, man, but I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on Last Starfighter. Not sure how you think having likable characters/believable relationships is “irrelevant” to the actual quality of a movie. I honestly could forgive ALOT of the Phantom Menace if I liked Qui-Gon Jin half as much as I did Han Solo.

    And by “defeated the asshole villains” I mean I’m still a sucker for the “he presses the button he wasn’t supposed to touch earlier and wipes out the entire opposing force” scene. And c’mon, “What do we do now??” “We die” is an awesome final line. Other than it being derivative (which we agreed isn’t a bad thing – Predator is obviously derivative of Alien and Rambo but I like it even more than either one), it seems like you kinda enjoyed it, guilty-pleasure style.

    Hunter/Tuuka – I gotta side with Tuuka on this one. I think this has been covered here before, (and I know you were talking about all minorities, not just blacks) but I think it’s so rare that we see a white hero and black villain in the last 20 years that it’s actually kind of shocking when it happens. The few ones that do (Marked for Death, Out of Sight) are usually immediately accused of racism by critics. Hell, critics called Black Hawk Down racist if that gives you any indication of how sensitive a subject it still is (and yeah, I did feel uncomfortable watching the white heroes in Black Hawk Down gun down screaming, savage, dudes even though it was based on a true story)

    I think the only movie I can think of that had a white hero and a black villain where nobody really made a ruckus was The Crow: City of Angels.

  64. Neal: I don’t HATE Last Starfighter. I do enjoy watching it. Now, you wanna talk about a film whose computer graphics have aged badly, though?!? I mean, Tron, the primitive computer graphics don’t really matter because it’s in a cyber-world and it’s so stylized anyway, but Last Starfighter–good grief! They look like the animatics in the rough cut of Avatar or something.

    But, my point is I just have always found Starfighter too be a fairly tacky movie that’s hard to respect. I remember going to see it with my mom in the 80s and afterwards I was like, “Mom, that was just like Star Wars!” And my mother was frowning and muttering, “They didn’t even try to hide it….” Again, rip-offs can be good, but I just don’t see the awesomeness in it that you do. Too me, it’s like the sci-fi equivalent of HIGH ROAD TO CHINA.

    Again, there’s a lot of less-then-perfect movies I really enjoy. FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR, okay? Total E.T. / Back To The Future rip off. I’ll defend it on what it does well (which is actually a lot) (including a cameo performance by the guy who plays the head scientist in DAY OF THE DEAD!) but I’m not gonna argue it’s a great movie. Not that, I think, anybody is gonna argue The Last Starfighter is a great movie either, to be honest… : )

    On a side note: I actually don’t think Predator is ripping off Rambo so much as Walter Hill’s film Southern Comfort. And over 20 years later, everybody still watches Predator and talks about it and considers it a classic. Will anyone even remember BATTLE LA in 20 years? I don’t think so.

  65. Something else: You mention not liking Qui-Gon as much as Han Solo. Isn’t that apples and oranges? You’re not supposed to like Qui-Gon the way you like Han Solo. They’re totally different types of characters.

    I get this feeling that–it’s like, there’s nothing intrinsically WRONG with say, the Senate chamber scenes in the Star Wars Prequels (as opposed to Jar Jar, at least in the first one, who is an interesting idea seemingly inspired by silent comedians, old John Ford films and Kurosawa’s Kagemusha, but done really badly); but people complained so viciously about them, and I get the sense that in calling them bad, people were actually saying, “I just didn’t like it. It was mint ice cream and I wanted strawberry ice cream.” It worries me when audiences refuse to engage something for what it is, rather then what they think it should be.

  66. SHORT CIRCUIT 2 is the superior entry in the SHORT CIRCUIT duology. Just thought I’d throw that one out there. And I mean it

  67. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    April 7th, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Critters 2 was better than Critters I think.

  68. CC – okay, I stand corrected, but my point about the Super Panavision credit is that it’s a movie all about technology and boasting the processes and machines it uses, but I feel like there’s not enough humanity underneath it, and now that it’s decades later all the machines they were trying to show off are cool just because they’re old and obsolete. So the appeal of TRON now is the exact opposite of the appeal back then.

  69. Tukka, HunterD – I think BOTH of you have entirely missed the point here.

    Black villains, white villains, heck, even yellow villains, what’s the use in arguing when we all know that in the end IT WILL TURN OUT TO BE THE BRITISH GUY ANYWAY. And long may that be the case! Tom Wilkinson basically couldn’t survive without a string of films like “Rush Hour” to his name. And where would Ian McKellen’s regular paycheques come from, if it wasn’t for films like “Apt Pupil” and “X-Men”?

    In a more serious note though, did ANYBODY seriously expect that the bomber would turn out to be the middle-Eastern guy near the start of “Source Code”, even if you didn’t spot the thing with the wallet? The irony of the post-9-11 world is that whereas before then, you could have films like “Collateral Damage”, “True Lies” and “The Siege”, all with middle-Eastern villains (played, amusingly, by classic British actors) go virtually unquestioned by anybody except Muslim groups, after that it seemed like shockingly bad taste to make a thriller with a Muslim fanatic as the villain.

    Nope, middle-Eastern men have slipped from their usual role of “antagonist” over recent years, and segway’d nicely into the alternative role of “chief red herring”. They’re still very rarely the protagonist though.

  70. They made a big deal about the Super Panavision 70 because virtually nobody shot on 70 mm anymore by that point.

    A lot of big-budget films of the 50s and 60s were shot in 70mm: MY FAIR LADY, WEST SIDE STORY, BEN HUR, THE ROBE, EL CID, PATTON, FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, ZULU, 2001 A SPACE ODDYSSEY, and probably most famously LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. The studios mostly stopped shooting in true 70 in, ironically, about 1970 or so; I think RYAN’S DAUGHTER basically finished it off. Now, later films like STAR WARS, APOCALYPSE NOW, and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS were released in 70 mm, but they were blown up to 70 from 35 mm negatives. And then after a while they stopped doing even that. After TRON, the only American feature films shot on 70mm were BARAKA, FAR AND AWAY, and Branagh’s HAMLET.

    So managing to film TRON in 70 mm on top of everything else was a huge deal. And it’s not obsolete, either: Terence Malick filmed certain scenes in THE NEW WORLD and TREE OF LIFE in 70 mm; and so did Nolan for DARK KNIGHT, and Scorsese followed their lead and filmed some of the flashbacks and hallucinations in SHUTTER ISLAND in 70mm.

  71. I agree with Critters 2 > Critters. But I could never co-sign Short Circuit 2 > Short Circuit though. The gold Johnny 5 looked cool sure. Also that scene where he gets destroyed with a crowbar was one of the saddest memories I have from my childhood. Powerfully effective if you ask me. A testament to how great his performance was considering how bad I felt for him. He probably didn’t get an oscar nom only because of Hollywood’s robot prejudice. However Fisher Stevens was an even worse charicature of a stereotype the second time around to the point of obnoxiousness. I usually have fun with stereotypes but god damn yo. Alsowhile I like Michael McKean he’s not really seeing The Gute’s turn in the original. That and Ally Sheedy was way cuter than the girl from part 2 though that girl could still certainly get the dick.

  72. CC – Yeah, I know it’s apples and oranges to compare Qui-Gon to Han Solo, I was just trying to show that Episode I had NO compelling characters whatsoever, compared to great characters in the original trilogy. But if you want to go apples for apples, then it’s pretty obvious Qui-Gon didn’t have the humanity or personality of Obi-Wan from Episode IV, as evidenced by the fact that nobody I know cared that Qui-Gon died. At least I cared when Centauri “died” in THE LAST STARFIGHTER. Oh Snap!

    But back to TRON, I did really like one thing that nobody really talks about – the faux love triangle. The fact that Jeff Bridges’ character lost the girl to his by-the-book, less-flashy friend because he was kind of an immature rogue, but they all remained really good friends, is actually pretty untapped territory in most movies (especially Disney ones!) He never schemes to get her back, and Boxleitner never turns into an asshole, the way most love triangles play out. I guess maybe Bridges still had feelings for her since he kissed her computer counterpart, though. Anyone know if the Tron universe tie-ins fleshed this storyline out any?

  73. Broddie – have you seen Youngblood? That girl can MOST CERTAINLY get the dick.

  74. Well, I always like CRITTERS 2, but I never knew so many people preferred it to the original. Consider me humbled

  75. Episode I DID have compelling characters, they just weren’t—oh, fuck it. What’s the point. Like slamming your head against concrete, I swear….

    Good point about the TRON love triangle, though.

    “Greetings, programs!”

  76. Jareth Cutestory

    April 7th, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Hunter D: The dance sequence in MATRIX RELOADED neatly demonstrates a line that comes up much later in the film: “You already made your choice.” Or something to that effect.

    And Harold Perrineau’s performance didn’t bother me so much; it seemed like a milder riff on his function in OZ.

  77. If THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS had been anywhere near good then people wouldn’t be so hard on RELOADED. That second one is all set-up for nothing that gets mentioned in part 3. If Neo really had to agonize about his choice to break the cycle and fight, it would of meant something. Instead we got… well we got MATRIX 3: FUCK IT featuring all your favorite background characters from part 2 and a special appearance by Morpheus.

  78. I’m gonna call a truce and pretend that someone didn’t just wish to beat me up because I didn’t like Episode I.

    Oh, you know what else was pretty original about Tron? I liked that the main character steps aside and lets the secondary (albeit titular) character kick some ass at the end. I can’t think of too many other movies that did that besides Tombstone and The 13th Warrior.

  79. Marlow – you got it backwards dude. “The Matrix” was a fantastic setup for Neo freeing his mind. In “Reloaded” that didn’t happen at all – in fact, nothing seems to happen the entire film, it just sort of sits there. Smith is just Smith (it’s testament to the lack of imagination that was spent on this crap that someone seriously sat down and said: “Everyone loved Agent Smith, but now he’s dead, what do we do? We could bring out an awesome new villain. Or maybe we could just bring a hundred Agent Smiths back. I AM A GENIUS!) The “human” characters aren’t. Most of the action scenes are either lame, pointless, or just feel like watching a videogame – there’s nothing real about any of them apart from maybe the one chase scene with the keymaker (and frankly that’s debatable.)

    I actually kinda liked “Reloaded”, although it wasn’t even close to the first film. Still a massive step up from #2 though.

  80. Paul – I agree a lot of RELOADED was a place holder, but that last scene with whatsisname in the white room went a long way to making that forgivable for me. Yeah the original has an awesome set up and Neo flies off to kick ass. Turns out, all of the cool superpowers he got were just the man buying him off and making him think he was making a difference. He doesn’t really break free until he makes the choice to give up all of that and accept the real responsibility of a revolution. They try to carry this over into part three, but they express this in a wayyyyyy too long and boring action scene where a bunch of background characters fight robots. I understand that they were trying to show the war on the ground blah blah blah, but they lose focus on Neo to the point where you really don’t care that he dies at the end… and then it has that scene where the little kid is all “Oracle!” and it’s just bad. At least Neo broke the cycle, but by the end does that even matter?

  81. What does RELOADED have to do with LEGACY? I’m confused, like how somehow someone got movie popcorn buckets associated with SUCKER PUNCH. (*shrug*)

  82. RRA – Honestly, RELOADED came up, and I can’t think of anything to say about LEGACY other than I was the one guy to like Clu’s weird face and “meh”. Not that I have anything to say about RELOADED really, but it made me want to put words together. I cannot speak for anyone else on this matter.

  83. Neal, no no no no. I meant trying to discuss this stuff online is as frustrating as banging MY head into concrete. As in old saying: “It’s like slamming your head against a brick wall.” (or concrete.) You’ve never heard that? Sometimes it’s rendered, “Talking to (whoever) is like slamming your head against (whatever).”

    I can’t believe somebody didn’t recognize the slamming-your-head metaphor.

  84. Oh hell no, he just dissed The Dark Crystal. What just happened here.

  85. RRA – staying on-topic is for wusses.

    Anyway, I’m done with “Reloaded”, and I don’t like / hate “Tron” enough to bother making small talk. It’s a failed eighties movie with a small “cult” following (that was probably exaggerated by the sequel’s marketing team to disguise the fact that the only reason “Tron 2” was made was because no Hollywood studio is capable of producing original property nowadays). If it floats your boat, great; it does nothing for me, but hey, I don’t begrudge people who people who like “Transformers: The Movie”. (I just cross the road to avoid them – the energy-drink-addicted, beanie-wearing, Ford Fiesta-driving, mother’s-basement-living, benefit-cheating, welfare-scrounging, spraycan-packing little gobshites.)

  86. neal2zod – I never saw Youngstown but I’ll definitely look into it.

  87. LOL Younblood, I was checking the music choice pop channel and they were playing some twerps called Youngstown at the same time I was responding to your post. That shit confused me for a sec there lmao funny ass coincidence.

  88. Oh and Revolutions > Reloaded. At least it tried.

  89. Ha, I missed that Boxleitner earned a BRUCE box for this review. Awesome.

  90. Paul – Yes that’s right.

    To prove it, you all know what is another awesome hacker movie besides War Games? SNEAKERS. Both incidentally better than TRON.

    Just saying.

  91. Paul – and for the record, that long description…was it about TRANSFORMERS fans or Teabaggers?

  92. A couple of things about TRON I forgot to mention because I was too busy talking about SHORT CIRCUIT 2 or whatever:
    . I think a big reason TRON is a big deal with some people of a certain age is the arcade game. A lot of people even seem to think TRON _is_ a film of the arcade game.
    . The other thing is that TRON’S visual style was a very clever adaptation of the arcade games of the time, so gamers (a fairly small lot at the time) were really into it. As an old school gamer (natch) and pop culture junkie I appreciate this even though I wasn’t alive in 1982, but I guess a lot of guys my age wouldn’t think it was so cool.

    In the LAST STARFIGHTER Vs. TRON battle, I am in the TRON camp. THE LAST STARFIGHTER may be fun, but there’s nothing special about it. TRON may be dull to a lot of people, it may not be a great movie, but it *IS* a little bit special. To be fair, I should say my meories of STARFIGHTER are vague. I remember the comic relief scenes with the faux-Lance Guest alien more than anything. But I think that in itself may say soemthing

  93. Surprised you had to ask, in this environment of Internet-fuelled geeks and nerds:

    4. Why would young people passionately attach themselves to the cause of spreading the word that the guy who designed “Space Paranoids” in 1982 is still possibly alive?

    For the same reason they thought a Star Wars movie (actually EVERY Star Wars movie) was the second coming.

  94. RRA – to answer your question: there are two kinds of people I hate. Those people who casually chuck anybody who isn’t completely like themselves into some kind of negative stereotype; and Transformers-fans. With their pimped-out granny-cars. And £300 trainers that they never fucking wear outside because they’re afraid of getting them wet. Fuckers.

    Anyway, share 100% the “Sneakers” and “War Games” love. I could go on about “Sneakers” especially, but I’ve already ejaculated all over it for long enough in this forum.

  95. I really liked TRON LEGACY. I don’t think it’s a great movie. But it’s a damn fine movie. And the thing that really win me over was the feel of honesty the mvie exudes from frame one. And the melancolic mood that permeates the whole thing. The movie could had been all lightheart action movie crap with fake cynical pseudo drama thrown in like any movie made by Zack Snyder, Michael Bay or JJ Abrams. Instead, i saw a movie that’s true, honest, idealistic as Vern puts it, and in which in each frame i can see it’s a labor of love from people who are actually making the movie they want to make and love making it.

    I grew up knowing about TRON (only saw it in the late 80s, when i finally got a VHS player). I quite liked TRON LEGACY. None of those two movies are grat masterpiece movies. But they are honest movies. And that goes a long way.

  96. Paul, by Transformers fans you mean the old timers or the fans of the Michael Bay’s abominations? I’m neither, but i respect the formers, while i have total despise for the laters.

  97. AsimovLives – to be honest, I grew up with the original cartoon and, thinking back now, it’s a very poor shadow of “Masters of the Universe”. It is what it is; you have to accept the “bad guys” as “bad” because if they ever actually DID anything really bad, it wouldn’t be a kids’ cartoon any more.

    So yeah, I don’t agree with either set of fans, but I meant specifically the Michael Bay ones.

    You have NEARLY persuaded me into seeing “Tron: Legacy”. Nearly. Let’s say, you got a lot closer than most others did. Maybe if it comes on TV some day…

  98. Paul, if you think i nearly made you want to rewatch TRON LEGACY, then i think i did the right thing and i did enough already. To give TRON LEGACY another chance, i couldn’t ask more from you. Thanks.

  99. TBH “the feel of honesty” was the absolute last thing I ever thought I’d hear somebody say. I gotta admit I’ve been looking at the “Tron: Legacy” coverage with a cynic’s viewpoint. It seemed like Hollywood was desperately looking for a property, ANY property, with guaranteed “fans”, who’d pay to see anything, no matter how crap it was; and “Tron” was scraping the bottom of the barrel in that respect. (Says the guy who’s pledged to see “Scream 4” the first week it comes out…)

  100. Jareth Cutestory

    April 11th, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    AsimovLives: You have to tell me: did you watch Mr. Plinkett’s review of Abram’s STAR TREK? Although he comes to a different conclusion from you, he makes many of the same points you have made about the film, particularly about it being a cynical cash grab. It’s also hilarious.


  101. Paul, i didn’t say that the attitude of Disney toward wasn’t cynical. In fact, i think it is. But i was talking about the attitude of the TRON LEGACY filmmakers themselves. I was hesitant to watch the movie at first because it did looked that Disney was doing a cynical cash-grab on one of his back cathalogues. It was the honest feel from the movie itself that won me over. Disney might had cynical intentions for makingthe movie, but the filmmakers themselves were true fans and you can tell they really are loving making the movie, they are making the movie they want to make.

  102. Jareth Cutestory, i did indeed read Mr Plinkett’s review of Abrams Trek. The man even found problems inthe movie which i couldn’t give a toss about, like, how long it takes the tube to go from the engine room to the bridge. Who cares? I still think he was very soft and easy and forgiving about the movie, specially considering that 70% of the review proper is just him pointing out the problems the movie has.

    To this day i’m stilll very disapointed and sad of the positive review that many, like our patron Vern himself, gave of that movie. Proof that even hard-asses like Vern are not immune to hype and zeitgeist.

  103. Oh come on, guys. Are you trying to scare me away from here? Before I went to bed, you started playing the old, stupid popular-blockbuster-director-XYZ-is-the-worst-ever-despite-the-millions-of-other-filmmakers-that-I’ve-never-heard-of-although-they-are-maybe-worse-game and when I woke up you really link to those fucking Mr Plinkett reviews?
    What’s next? Quoting TV Tropes and posting trollface pictures?

  104. Quoting TV Tropes is loads of fun!

  105. I watched Tron last night. Movie falls apart about right after the light cycle sequence. It really could be salvaged if someone went back and reedited it, to make it flow better. Still to this day it is a marvel to look at and Bridges is just awesome in it. Going to rewatched Legacy tonight. I liked it alot in the theater, i found it flawed for sure. but something about it connected with me, I was mesmerized watching it, it’s been a long time since i was that engrossed in a film just on visuals alone.

  106. ehaislar, i don’t care if a movie is flawed. But if the movie is honest, it wins me over. TRON LEGACY is like that.

  107. I like Tron and the sequel.. and Dark Crystal and love Blade Runner.

    The latter two actually make sense, Tron…. not so much but its fantasy so you just have to turn logic off and go with it. No story where people enter a computer program will really make any sense because its an absurd notion… but its a cool notion and Tron at least tries to imagine it in a way that has some kind of rules and boundaries to it. They are certainly slow, and kind of clunky in moments but if you kick back and watch it like a lazer show or some such they have the quality of a kind of hypnotic journey in a strange land.

    Not my favorite films but they work for me on that level. Dark Crystal and Blade Runner also have that quality. Its often more about the place and sensation than a gripping drama. It also helps when the music works with that and also dreams you along.

    Blade Runner is in my top 10 though but it has a lot going for it outside the dream like quality, but that is definitely part of its appeal for me. I think what I like best is its commentary on the non heroism of many action characters and a more realistic look at what it means to be a killer for the “good guys.”

    I suppose I really like movies that take place in interesting places and for me the setting is as interesting as the characters and story.

  108. The original TRON seemed awesome to me when I was growing up. Even now, while I find it to be uneven and boring in some parts and I don’t rewatch it that often, it’s still an important movie to me and I am not OK with the sequel changing the look and feel and music style. The original’s computer animation and soundtrack were beautiful. “Their faces look Xeroxed” was exactly what I thought too! And I loved how that looked.

    It wasn’t until seeing the movie again as an adult that I realised “that weird Jabba the Hutt dude”—Dumont—was the computer-universe version of the founder of Encom, Walter Gibbs. Appropriate, since Gibbs is the one who explicitly says that every program has the spirit of its programmer, hence the gimmick of having the programs resemble their users. As we find out when Dumont is being interrogated by Sark, he isn’t actually part of that weird structure; he just sits in it.

    It’s been long enough now that my nerd rage has subsided and I might check out LEGACY if it’s ever on TV. At least give it “the fifteen minute test.” The idea of seeing older Alan and coworker enjoying popcorn does sound nice (though you say that’s an extra so I’d have to look for that part online).

    RRA: The computer animation in THE LAST STARFIGHTER is pretty, I like how 1980s the hero is, and Xur)is enjoyably campy. I’ll admit it’s not a great movie and can become tiresome in parts, but it entertained me at the time.

    WARGAMES is great. Like all movies it starts to lose density in the third act, but the first time you’re watching it you don’t notice because you’re on the edge of your seat. The ending is too sudden—they get Joshua to stop World War III and the credits roll. No wrap-up where David and Jennifer go back to Seattle and decompress, or where Falken, McKittrick, and Beringer carefully unplug Joshua and start fixing him so he doesn’t lock them out next time. Leaves you feeling sort of cheated. We suffered through all that tension and there’s no time to relax and be OK? Fuck. Still a great movie though! Cool soundtrack too.

    Paul: BATMAN & ROBIN is better than BATMAN FOREVER! neal2zod articulates it better than I can.

    SirVincealot: I don’t know much about how computers work. I’ve never set up a little home network. I’m resistant to the switch away from physical media. I’m three decades younger than your uncle and I couldn’t do any of what he did. Is he a retired engineer or something?

    Hunter D. + tuukka: AFAIK the thinking is that if you’re a white filmmaker and you make the villain white, you don’t have to worry that people will read a racist message into your movie. White people are enough of a majority that it’s not going to seem like you’re saying white people are automatically bad. OTOH every minority goes through a journey of representation where they start out being portrayed as scary and evil, then laughable, then sympathetic victims, and finally neutral. It takes a long time and it leaves a psychic scar on the people of that group.

    neal2zod: HOLY COW that is an awesome point about the less flashy/roguish guy getting the girl in TRON! That almost never happens. In most movies Bruce Boxleitner’s character would have what they used to call “the Ralph Bellamy role.” This makes me love TRON even more.

    marlow: The idea that the superpowers at the end of THE MATRIX were just a trick and Neo hadn’t broken free yet was something I completely missed. I should rewatch RELOADED.

  109. One thing about TRON that shows it comes from an earlier era of computing is that it conflates users with programmers. This was true a few years before the movie, when hobbyists wrote their own programs. By 1982 there were users who only used computers and never mastered programming (like me, though I tried several times to learn). Between the 1980s and the 1990s the definition of “computer literacy” changed from being able to code to being able to use a computer. I don’t know if that term is even used any more.

    The program forced to play jai alai is Crom, played by Peter Jurasik, who says his user Mr. Henderson is a manager at a bank. If the movie’s rules are to be believed, this means that Mr. Henderson is also Peter Jurasik and he wrote his own software and installed it on the computer at the bank. Maybe he started as a programmer and got promoted to manager?

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