The next day, we saw TRON Legacy. I'm a huge fan of the original film, and I really wasn't sure what I'd make of a flashy sequel. I'll be honest though, it wasn't nearly as horrible as it could have been. In fact, I even liked it.
Things I liked
- All the little references to the original; 'big door', the 'end of line' club, 'greetings, programs'. I actually had tears in my eyes when Clu said that line, and squeezed Moose's hand so tight (I'm told.)
- Bruce Boxleitner.
- Recognizers look amazing now. There were tanks, too, but they didn't do anything.
- Dillinger Jr.
- Lightjets - Moose actually looked over to me during this scene, certain I'd hate them. I actually didn't. In a virtual world where everything's changing and evolving far faster than anything organic, sure, why not make the jump from digital motorcycles to digital planes?
- Initially I was angry that they even had to go and sex up TRON. And admittedly, yeah, there's no purpose to the four sexy models who just happen to have the job of suiting and booting new recruits for the games. After all, it's all digital, and in the original the clothes would have just coded onto him. I couldn't stay angry at it though, because the original film features a scene in which Flynn walks past two very obvious, er, programs of the night, and I don't mean vampires, if you know what I mean.
- Zeus and his whole disco. Anyone saying TRON shouldn't have this sort of scene are lying to themselves. Again, in the original, we get a clear view that there is a society that has downtime and that downtime includes hookers. Why can't it include a little R n' R in the form of a swanky disco?
- The new lightcycles. Their design was awesome...
Things I didn't like
- ...but I hated that they could move in curves, now. The whole point of the lightcycle game is that they cut straight lines and right angles. They ride on the grid. That's what it's called. That's what it is. A grid.
- How black everything was. The uninitiated might think TRON to be very dark with strobe lighting, but that's never really been the case. Look at this .gif from the original movie. It doesn't look dated or 'retro' at all (apart from the suit, I suppose). The whole set (a hard set, mind you, not cgi at all) is vivid and beautiful and screams TRON movie. Legacy was just too dark. The lighting was pretty, sure, but it was very minimalistic and just felt more 'car commercial flashy' than 'digital cyberspace', to me. We needed less strobe lighting and more obvious circuitry. Plus, it's meant to be red and blue (it took me a few tries not to type 'BLU'), not white. All the good guys in the new film were very black/white, not blue - Flynn's entire apartment and new (old) bike screams 'I'm a Mac', which is pretty much the sheer antithesis of a computer programmer, surely? A little computer humour, there.
- Speaking of his bike, why give it such an awesome build up (fastest on the grid, it looks like a proper lightcycle) just so he can go a few feet on it and then donate it to a local hobo?
- Where the hell did they get roast pig from? Why do they need roast pig? Water is their source of energy (it's not really water, it's some sort of odd electric liquid... code, I guess.) They drank it from a lake in the original (scooped up in their hole-less discs). We don't need spring beans and roast pig.
- What the hell were ISOs again? We could have had the entire movie without any impact at all had we just not had that subplot going on. They don't correspond to anything we have in computers, and honestly had nothing to do with the plot at all. It just felt so lazy.
- TRON's redemption. This is the big one. The plot/pacing of this movie was just so off. By the time it comes for Rinzler/Tron to realise his primary function and to boot back to playing the good guy, the film's over and little has come of it. His line 'I fight for the users!' should have been a big dramatic moment and instead fell utterly flat. His sudden turn of heart? he looked at Flynn. Through the a visor that took away any personality beyond "Goth Stig'. It was just hollow, forced, false and dumb, and completely trivialised what could have been a really, really big moment. It should have been brewing for a while. It should have been hinted at from the moment he realised Sam was a User (and since the hell when do Users bleed in the digital world, while we're at it, anyway?) Every moment we saw him fighting Quorra or Sam, I was waiting for some big twist. I was waiting for a sidewards glance, a thrown blow, anything. What we got was one throw away line that should have been amazing, and the promise of a sequel. Poo on that.
Something else that kind of bugged me was the use of in-your-face religious imagery this movie shoved down our throats. When they're on their way to the I/O tower (not a freaking portal, guys. Try and be a little tech about it, dumbing down to the audience or not), Flynn has a freaking halo around his head. They're heading into the cloudy heavens. The original movie was so clever with this. Users are gods. They're not an allegory for Christianity, they simply, quite literally, are the creators of the programs. A character (my dear RAM) exclaims 'Oh! My user!" Early in the original, guards chastise programs for believing in the Users. It's a religion, but it's not anything identifiable (because they are programs, not people, after all). I kind of wish Legacy had gone with that and less with the blunt HEY GUYS HEY GUYS HEY GUYS LIKE GOD, SEE? He's LIKE GOD? See? Guys? Guys? God.
I think that's the largest shame of the film, really (besides the bad pacing of the plot). It tried so hard to be modern and cool and flashy it forgot that it's about computer technology. If you've no interest in the franchise (and let's be honest, few people have), you come out of the movie not really any the wiser as to the actual world. It was pretty unfocused. They don't bother to really explain Programs or Users in any sense (aside from a whirlwind exposition bedtime story at the start), so it all seems to be utterly irrelevant. They could be Navi on Pandora for all we know, just some other species on an alien planet. There is no 'I'm a ___ program', no drumming it into the viewer that no, they're not just people. They're functions. Why not? That's what TRON is. It's not an alien planet, it's the world within our systems and this film just completely overlooked that.
I honestly did enjoy the movie, guys.
...end of line.