I go to the movie theater on an annual basis these days. Usually I’ll see a preview, think: Gosh that looks cool, and watch it on dvd six month later.
But the Younger Posse Members still like to go, so over the holidays I herded them into the local multiplex and we watched Tron: Legacy.
I should say at the outset that I had very low expectations for this movie. Action films these days suck rocks. I saw “Inception” for some reason over the summer and thought it a massive waste of time. Oh and Hans Zimmer is a terrible composer with one and a half tunes to his credit that he keeps using over and over (seriously his soundtracks for: Pirates of the Caribbean and Gladiator use the exact same melody), but I digress.
Knowing nothing about Daft Punk, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and while the trailers looked promising, most of Hollywood’s production these days seems to go into making deceptively good trailers.
I must also preface this by saying I loved the original movie and, when I heard a sequel was in the works, I snagged a rare copy of the 25th Anniversary Edition on dvd (and I got it cheap, before the price spiked, more on that later).
All of this out of the way, I really, really enjoyed this movie. I believe movies need to be taken as they are. You cannot lump Casablanca, Star Wars and Airplane all into the same category. A movie should be evaluated on what it sets out to do, and whether it does it. Tron Legacy updates a seminal film about the dawn of the digital age and it does with a lot of style.
It is not a deep film. I derived no great insights from it. It is one of those films that I call “atmospheric” – while you are in it, you are utterly immersed. The Grid is a great place to lose yourself for a couple of hours.
Ironically, the original has aged very well and many of the issues it touched on are more relevant than ever. The rise of Encom has some clear parallels in Microsoft, and looking back on it, the Master Control Program was clearly an early version of Windows.
Tron Legacy also has a few (muted) things to say, and the scene where they discuss their new operating system (same as the old one, but with a new box) causes our protagonist to ask why they don’t give it away.
To some reviewers this is a pointless anti-capitalist techie laugh line, but it is actually a point of heated debate in tech circles. As this post is being composed on a Linux machine, well you know where I stand.
This brings me to the strange behavior of Disney regarding this movie. Where are the dvds of the original? Normally the release of a sequel (or remake) is an excellent opportunity to boost sales of the original. True Grit got a new release, why not Tron? Others have asked the same question, and I’ve yet to hear an answer.
I like the original enough not to sell my copy (well, if anyone wants it badly enough I’ll think about it), but they were going for three or four times their retail value a few weeks ago.
What makes this behavior even stranger to me is the fact that Tron Legacy draws heavily upon the original. No, you don’t need to have seen it at all to enjoy the film, but if you have you will get a lot more out of it. There are tons of references – clearly they wanted to build on the, er, legacy of the original rather than replacing or “rebooting” it.