Wednesday, Mason and I went to see TRON: Legacy together. I was nine-years-old when the original TRON was released back in 1982, and Mason is nine-years-old now. So, yeah, full circle and all that.
The original TRON impacted me in many ways. Obviously, the computer animation that TRON has become known for was definitely awe inspiring to a kid that was into computers and video games. But more than that was the world of TRON itself; that concept of thousands of programs interacting with one another without human intervention (today we call that “the Internet”). That concept of living “on the grid” was fascinating to a kid like me back in 1982; today, kids watching TRON: Legacy can’t seem to turn off their cell phones for a two-hour movie. Be careful what you wish for, I suppose.
It’s hard to imagine what it will take in the future to raise the special effects bar, but as far as virtual action scenes go, TRON’s sequel delivers. Just like the original, viewers are quickly thrown into “the games”, where I quickly found myself hanging on the edge of my seat as I watched a bunch of obviously computer-generated light cycles dancing around one another. And just like during the pod racing scene from The Phantom Menace, while logic tells you that nothing you are looking at on screen is “real”, your reflexes still occasionally tell you to duck.
The plot of TRON: Legacy isn’t particularly deep; then again, neither was the original. It wasn’t about that, really — it was about imagining the world of computers from the inside out, talking to programs as if they were people and, even more fanciful, watching how programs interact with one another while human beings (“users”) are away. (In TRON: Legacy, they hang out in digital bars, hitting on digital chicks.)
Both TRON films have plot holes you could drive a light cycle through, but I don’t they weren’t built to stand up to heavy scrutiny; instead, I’d like to think that they were made to entertain, and ultimately inspire. Most nine-year-olds today are familiar with video games, but if movies like TRON: Legacy make them wonder even just for a moment what’s going on INSIDE those video games, or inspire just one of them to put down the joystick and thumb through a programming book … then yeah, TRON: Legacy is definitely a success.