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Falling Back in Love with “Tron”

8 June 2010 One Million Watts 4,037 views 3 CommentsPrint This Post Print This Post Email This Post Email This Post

A couple of years back I went to see a rare 70MM screening of Walt Disney Pictures’ technopunk classic “Tron” at the Seattle Cinerama with a couple of friends. The venerable Cinerama, built in 1963 and fully renovated in 1999, has a 30-foot-tall, 90-foot-wide screen and a sound system that is God’s own iPod. “Tron” never looked or sounded better than it did that night, and the good-sized audience responded to the movie as Apple fanboys respond to a unlisted call from the 408 area code.

That was before Disney announced that it was making a direct sequel to the 1982 film called “Tron: Legacy,” due in theaters this Christmas. Now, “Tron” mania is overclocking the world’s geeks into a frenzy. Ain’t It Cool News and io9 post tidbits on the film every chance they get. Disney’s viral marketing campaign has spread from the computer world into the physical one. There’s even a wildly popular Threadless hoodie based on the film. It’s a veritable crushing wave of love for a film property that, as little as five years ago, had maybe a handful of supporters: those nerds at the Cinerama, this guy, and me.

And even I’ve had my doubts about “Tron.” When I saw the film in 1982, I thought it looked fantastic but read flat. Characters were speaking lines of dialogue that don’t even look good on paper (“They haven’t built a circuit that could hold you”), and aside from the Light Cycle chase in the middle of the film — still awesome, by the way — there wasn’t a whole lot of action to be had. But I can’t deny that I paid money to see “Tron” again as an adult, and I’ll see the living hell outta “Tron: Legacy” this winter. Here’s why I’ll be there on opening night, and why you’ll probably be there, too.

“Tron’s” time has come. Every third person I know works almost exclusively with computers. During that screening at Cinerama, the audience laughed hard at the lines that tipped the film’s all-geek heritage (“I’ve been stuck in this Grid for 200 microcycles”) — lines that made no sense to anyone a decade ago. The world is now packed with people who have to know this technobabble in order to make a living, and they want to laugh at it.

On a related note: If ever you’ve wanted to mount a huge Internet attack, you should wait for “Tron: Legacy’s” opening night. Every IT department head in the world will be at the movies with their smartphones turned off.

We want to see if Jeff Bridges sneaks in a reference to The Dude. It’s like what Lenin said; you look for the person who will benefit, and, uh, uh…

Speaking of the cast, I don’t think I’ve seen Bruce Boxleitner at all since “Babylon 5″ was canceled in 1998. It’ll be nice to catch up with him; to see what he’s been up to.

Daft Punk is doing the soundtrack to “Tron: Legacy.” “Around The World.” “Robot Rock.” “Da Funk.” That Daft Punk. Even if the movie isn’t much to look at (unlikely), we’ll be able to dance to it.

We’re curious about the “how will they do it today” factor. “Tron’s” groundbreaking visual effects, the results of thousands of hours of work by dozens of cutting-edge technicians and artists, can now be easily duplicated by any sixteen-year-old kid with a three-year-old laptop. What could they do with the computer world of “Tron” today, given our now virtually limitless ability to create worlds on film?

And do you remember that Light Cycle scene?
If you do, you can’t tell me that you’re not ready for more of that. My “Tron” hoodie is in the mail right now. If you pay me a dollar, I’ll let you try it on.

Geoff Carter

IMAGE: RUSSIAN “TRON: LEGACY” POSTER, COURTESY WALT DISNEY PICTURES

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3 Comments »

  1. I know I’ll be there. Great write up Geoff!

  2. If ever you’ve wanted to mount a huge Internet attack, you should wait for “Tron: Legacy’s” opening night. Every IT department head in the world will be at the movies with their smartphones turned off.

    no worries, any head able to launch an internet attack will be at the movies too…

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