A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 25 – TRON

TRON – March 25, 2010

Andy and I are going to be attending PAX East this weekend, so we thought we’d watch some videogame-related movies (and Stand By Me, because Wil Wheaton is giving the keynote address at the con). So, TRON first as a pre-con treat. And wow, it’s been ages since I watched this. I think it’s probably been at least fifteen years. You know what’s weird? Jeff Bridges is in this. He won an Oscar this year. Fisher Stevens was in last night’s movie and he also won an Oscar this year (I’m totally serious – he won for the documentary about dolphin hunting). Total coincidence. We picked Hackers last night because sadly enough, Acid Burn is the strongest female programmer character I could think of in our collection to celebrate Blog About Ada Lovelace Day with. Strange. Whatever.

You know who else is in this movie? David Warner. In a triple role! I have a mild fondness for David Warner for some bizarre reason. He’s popped up in the oddest places. This, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze, Quest of the Delta Knights (one of our favorite MST3K episodes and a double role there), and my favorite version of A Christmas Carol. Looking at his IMDB page, he’s been in everything! He’s everywhere! Also in this is the dude who played Grandpa in The Lost Boys, which is providing more than a little amusement for me. I keep expecting him to pop up with a stuffed gopher or something.

It’s fun to see the vastly outdated computers and tech in the movie, though to be honest, I can’t really speak to how far off the existing tech was at the time the movie was made. I wasn’t really paying attention to that originally. But the thing is, what saves this movie from the laughable ridiculousness of Hackers fantasy tech is that in TRON it’s supposed to be fantasy tech. That’s the point. It’s a science fiction movie about hackers and programs that have developed sentience. It’s not supposed to be realistic. That would defeat the point.

I can see why this movie has remained a cult favorite. Even dated as it is, it’s got a good plot and it’s still fun to watch. I’ve been avoiding previews and whatnot for the upcoming sequel/remake/whatever because I get burnout too easily on new stuff and I don’t want to ruin it for myself, but I’m curious to see how it will turn out.

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March 25, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

TRON

March 25, 2010

Tron

Greetings, programs!

In celebration of the Penny Arcade Expo video gaming exposition that we’re attending this weekend Amanda and I are watching movies about and based on video games this weekend.  First up we have the seminal video game movie from the early eighties when Disney wanted to take advantage of the popularity of arcade games to make a movie about them.  the result: TRON.

I’m amazed by how well this movie has aged.  I mean, sure, the live action parts of the movie takes place during the eighties.  Everybody uses big clunky terminals.  Arcade games are still in.  But most of the movie takes place inside the computers with the struggle of the everyday working programs against the megalomaniacal Master Control Program.  And although the state-of-the-art computer graphics of the day look slow and plodding, they are perfect for the world of TRON.  The truth of the matter is that the world inside the computers was dated when the movie was first made, and so it hasn’t aged at all.

I’ve always thought that the computer segments were highly derivative of early silent sci-fi films.  It’s the make up, and the colorized black and white.  And the silly helmets that cover the actor’s hair.  It looks like something out of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

I think there are three things I really like about this movie:

1) The world building.  They’ve invented this entire universe inside the computers where programs live.  A world where our video games are a diabolical arena where programs captured by the MCP are forced to battle lest they be deleted.  I love the tanks and the light cycles and the recognisers.  I love the light discs.  It’s all so very cool.

2) The soundtrack.  Wendy Carlos’s great digital music is the perfect fit for the world inside the computer.   It has a synthetic feel (being all synthesized) but it also feels epic and grand, which is what the movie needs.

3) The games themselves.  Or more accurately the promise of the games.  When I saw this movie I wanted to play the lightcycle game and the disc game.  They just look so cool to play!  At the time that this movie came out (or about a year later, since the games didn’t come out in the arcade at the same time as the movie was in theaters) I used to go to Kelly’s, a local ice-cream parlor, which had a few great arcade cabinets.  They had the TRON light disks game there.  I remember playing it a couple times and being disappointed that it didn’t live up to the promise of the movie.

If anything I think that TRON has improved with age, as the nostalgia for a time of arcade cabinets and the dawn of computer graphic effects in movies adds a patina of wonder to the film.  Here’s hoping that the sequel is as much fun.

March 25, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment