Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Legacy of Tron

My regular profession is Christmas-intensive and so it was yesterday before I finally had the opportunity to see Tron: Legacy, and even now I only have time for a brief expression of my thoughts on the film.  The sequel to the nearly three-decades old original Tron is sparking both critical debate and the usual box-office over-analysis.  Like its predecessor, it is being lauded for its dynamic visual style and technical prowess, but just as quickly dismissed (as was the original Tron) for what many call a slight and often incomprehensible story.  I will without shame admit to having been a wide-eyed, arcade game-enthralled youth of the era that spawned the first film.  Tron holds a very special place in my vault of movie memories and I am very happy to say that Tron: Legacy, in my very subjective opinion (that is certainly influenced by history and nostalgia), lives up to the legacy of Tron.  It's a fun and entertaining ride, and has a great deal more substance to it than you might be lead to believe.

The Tron mythology, not unlike the complicated digital science that inspired it, is not always easy to decipher and digest.  Make no mistake, Tron: Legacy is a sequel, and perhaps Disney's effort to market it as more of a standalone entity has done it a disservice.  I would disagree with those who found it lacking in plot and story, but it does owe much to what went before and director Joseph Kosinski chose to spend little time on retro-expository.  Original Tron fans are not left lacking, but its easy to see how more regular viewers could walk away with some pronounced head-scratching.  There has been a subtle but still distinct disconnect between filmmaker and corporate Disney, and the decision to withhold the original film from DVD release has raised many eyebrows (and conspiracy theories as well).  But I do give the corporate execs credit for allowing Kosinski to fashion a somewhat less accessible sequel rather than a complete and more mainstream-friendly re-imagining.

Tron: Legacy is many parts; fantasy, analogy, philosophy.  But one thing it is not is science fiction.  You can hold its setting of the Grid no more credible than Oz, but unfortunately, many individuals have trouble moving past what they consider the silliness of its concept.  I had no problem doing so, and in turn found the film intriguing and thought-provoking, and most certainly dazzling and technically amazing.  Multiple viewings on Blu-Ray DVD will likely inspire me to write a more lengthy and comprehensive discourse in the future, as I am still eager to explore the Tron universe in much more depth and detail.  Stay tuned.


Andy M said...

If you can find it, the 2003 computer game "TRON 2.0" offers the chance to explore a world halfway between the two movies. I and the others who worked on it acknowledge the flaws, but it's still a starkly beautiful world. In fact, after watching the new movie, I dug up my copy to play again. :)