Monday, January 10, 2011

"Tron: Legacy" (2010)

The world of "Tron" (1982) was one that as a ten-year-old, I was completely and totally immersed in. I played the video games, I had the toys and action figures, and I even engaged in Frisbee fights with my fellow "Tron" nerds on our front lawns that doubled as the Game Grid. I was in love with the colors, and perhaps unique to me, I loved the sterile coldness of the world, a word of corners and canyons that existed entirely inside of a computer. It was the dream of running around inside of a Lite-Brite!

But I didn't stop there. I actually went further into the psychology of the movie, programming my Commodore 64 computer with a series of "programs" that would respond to me and go into my imaginative little system of 64 bits and do things. What I saw going on in my computer's mind was exactly what the filmmakers of the original "Tron" had fully intended me to see, and it was this charm that kept me engaged as I watched the new "Tron: Legacy," an updated version of the vision, but the charm wore off quick.

I'm not quite sure what I expected, but I was disappointed, and I contribute this entirely to the elephant in the room, which is that technology has advanced so much since the early nineteen-eighties that the mere concept of "Tron" crumbles under its own weight. In a world where the Internet is commonplace, and where smart phones and GPS navigation systems and everything else that technology has given us is fully integrated into our everyday lives, "Tron: Legacy" feels like it's strangely behind the times. Even attempts to update the role of programmer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) as sort of a Buddhist philosopher trapped inside of his own creation, seem far too expanded to work inside the parameters of such a simple, initial concept. Back in 1982, it was somewhat easy to surrender to the idea of this universe due to our own collective naivete about computers. Today, it just seems ridiculous.

With the exception of the somewhat impressive digital manipulation of Jeff Bridges to play both the Kevin Flynn of the eighties and his program counterpart, Clu, the technology of "Tron: Legacy" is not at all groundbreaking. And I'm sad to report that once again, the 3-D is not used to it's full potential, an asset that would have more than likely kept me intrigued strictly for the sake of the visuals. Remember, I did love the colors!

If you were a fan of the original, all the reminders that you loved "Tron" are there, from the glowing disc duels to the iconic light cycles races. But in the end, what you're left with is an attempt to update a universe that not only didn't require updating, but also defied it.