Why Tron Legacy fails for me

I had the opportunity to see the recent Tron movie last night. Already you’re probably wondering what this has to do with Linux on old computers, but bear with me. I can make this work.

I never held out any hope that the new movie would eclipse the old for me. I put the DVD in the tray knowing full well that my fondness for the original, which I saw in theaters probably three times when I was a kid, had doomed the new version from the start.

And that was more or less the case. I don’t point the finger at any one person for its failure to enthrall me. The actors were fine. The effects were up to par. The music was great (and I dare not say any less than “great” for fear all of the Internet’s love for Daft Punk will come down on me like a ton of bricks πŸ™„ ).

But it didn’t have nearly the charm or charisma (or camp) of the original. I can encapsulate my explanation by saying simply, that you had to be a kid in the early 80s to really appreciate the original.

The new one had every advantage the old one didn’t — technology has finally caught up with what the imagination demands. But ironically, after all these years, we’ve seen just about every trick Hollywood has to offer.

Even bullet time CGI is a decade old now. Glossy light cycles and actors collapsing into marbles? It was only a matter of time.

Which means the only thing left to save it was the story. And that failed, tragically. Nothing in the story was the least bit innovative for me.

They would have been better off just remaking the original, and putting to into place the effects we all just dreamed about, nigh-on 30 years ago.

Long on technology, short on creativity. That’s all it takes to be a big-budget Hollywood movie any more. It’s not about a good story, it’s about dazzling people with computerized glitter.

But I hardly blame Hollywood. Public conception of technology isn’t about function, it’s about flash. It’s not about quality, and what does the job, it’s about what impresses coworkers, costs the most, or sparkles when you hold it up in the sun.

Function and quality take a back seat to glitz and gloss, whether it’s a cellphone, a microwave oven, a laptop computer or the operating system you run on it.

So no, I don’t blame Disney for tearing off one more chunk from the corpse of Tron, spritzing it for the younger generation and offering it up for public mastication.

They’re just doing what the crowd wants. Maybe one day there will be a Tron movie that can engross us on the basis of its creativity and imagination, like the first one did.

But I don’t expect it. Our toys get simpler and shinier, and our movies get simpler and shinier. Our lives … well, let’s only hope they’re improving in different ways.

I’d hate to think there was less quality, and more superficiality, in life today.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch the original, one more time. On my 10-year-old laptop. 😈


10 thoughts on “Why Tron Legacy fails for me

  1. ErSandro

    I really wonder which movie the today kids will be nostalgic about in 15/20 years from now. My sensation is that there’s no new movie/cartoon/comic worth to remember out there.

    “Yeah, I remember the golden days of Pokemon…”

    That sentence is someway creepy…

    The first Tron had a big, pulsating heart, that’s why people still loves it. You can tell the same about Navigator, The Goonies, Explorers and lots of 80’s movies.

    Now seems like every movie is just an interlude waiting for the next BIG thing.

    As Mr./Mrs Mandla says, sometimes, less is more.

  2. mitso

    Another letdown is when Hollywood takes good japanese films (and foreign in general), and makes lousy remakes. A good example:

    Shall we dansu? (1996)
    Shall we dance? (2004)

    sorry for the out of topic πŸ™‚

  3. damaged justice

    At least Disney marketers finally deigned to release the remastered original, but only after they’d milked the new one in the home video market and decided it was now safe. Because if they’d released the original too early, the kids would have pointed and laughed and stayed away from the sequel.

    And yes, the remaster is faithful to the original, instead of adding new CGI all over the damn place.

  4. mrreality13

    I agree with you K.M.
    With al the “remakes”-“reboots”-“do overs” coming from Hollywood I just take em with a grain of salt and pray my $12 usd at least gives me a lil joy for 2 hrs.Even the great and mighty Avatar to me was well blah.
    Look at this summer with the up coming remakes-connan-red dawn(decent one imo the original)and i laughed when I read there even makin a smurf’s movie.Ill be supprised if any of them hang around more than a week.
    I’ve started looking at the independent flicks, I saw “winters bone” at a film feast MONTHS b4 the oscars were looking at it and knew it was a Great movie.
    @mitso i hope they do justice to the girl with the dragon tattoo

  5. Dennis Decker Jensen

    Actually, the current degeneration of movies began already in the 1970’ies. If you want to see really great movies, consider the whole history of film. Some of the greatest films were made in the 1930’ies, 40’ies, and 50’ies – and also some in the 60’ies. Most of the monster movies were made in the 1930’ies for example, and the 1950’ies is the golden age of science fiction. A modern movie is nowhere near the quality of those oldies. This also goes for the TV-series at the time: The Quatermass Experiment, Outer Limits, The Tales of Tomorrow, The Ray Bradbury Theater, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and so forth.

    This may seem odd considering the difference in technology, but I guess one is forced to be creative when NOT having access to a lot of money and high-tech.

    Having said that, and luckily enough, the production process is so optimized that Hollywood (and the indian film industry as well) can spit out so many movies that a few of them are bound to be great. But still, by now the great movies seems to be drowning in a mountain of fecal matter.

  6. Nootilus

    I totally agree but on one point. Having Jeff Bridges youngerized that way was pretty amazing. I guess it’ll be a standard effect in a few years. Or just a plugin in aftereffect in another few years.
    Anyway I had the very same mood after watching that long-waited sequel. Knowing now that the producers plan to make a trilogy out of that… Yawn. Yes, Hollywood can’t make a single film anymore, now it’s trilogy-era.

    When we came back from the theater, we played the good old Tron movie on DVD. And we were amazed how original, smart and fun was that movie. And still is, because believe me or not, our 15 years old kid, born with a computer and a cellphone in hands, really loved the old Tron movie (and pointed several leaks in the sequel, also, which was pretty funny).

  7. Karthik

    The movie was completely bereft of substance, as you pointed out; but man the flash was spectacular.

    Incidentally, I found this description of the movie’s special effects much more engaging in the movie itself, and not just because emacs and the shell made a couple of appearances.

  8. Litho

    The movie was pretty mediocre for me as well, though the soundtrack is probably Daft Punk’s finest work to date.


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