I write this post at the risk of losing geek credibility.
Until last week, I’d never seen the original TRON movie. I don’t know how I made it through the 1980s without seeing it. The big movie of 1982 for me was E.T., not some flick about computers and video games. As the years went by, TRON never crossed my radar again – not on cable, not on videotape, not playing on the television at a friend’s house.
When the trailers for TRON: Legacy started popping up in 2010, I thought, “Hey, that looks pretty cool… what was the original all about, though?” It wasn’t something I needed to rush out to see, since it wasn’t part of my childhood.
I couldn’t understand why my geek friends were so excited. I didn’t share their enthusiasm. Some were saying that the original TRON was a formative experience of their lives.
So, last week, while on vacation, I downloaded a copy of the original TRON to watch before taking April to see TRON: Legacy in IMAX 3-D. It was a date night, and, in retrospect, we could’ve made a better date night movie choice than TRON: Legacy, I’ll grant you.
I watched the original TRON, and I found it boring. My 2010 (soon to be 2011) adult sensibilities had trouble sitting through a 1982 sort-of-kid’s movie. The concept was cool, a man being transported into a computer world where he could interact and battle with computer programs. But it was slow and silly and can’t hold a candle to more recent movies of a similar vein. Maybe TRON was the first, but it’s certainly been done again and again since then, and that’s the mindset I came from.
I’ve seen The Matrix, what could TRON do for me?
Anyway… TRON: Legacy was a different ballgame. Now I was viewing something new, something modern (post-modern?), where I was in the right context to see it while it was fresh.
And it was definitely visually cool. Not necessarily anything we haven’t seen before; in fact, I can’t today remember anything visually that was new to me. Which, really, is what you want to get out of an event movie like TRON: Legacy. I saw Avatar last year in IMAX 3-D, and that seemed groundbreaking at the time. TRON: Legacy didn’t have the same effect on me.
As for the story… well… I feel like I’ve seen it somewhere before.
Young man grows up without his father, likes fast-moving vehicles
- Young man displays skill at a form of battle that he’s never seen before
- Old man in a hooded robe teaches the young man how to hone his skills, with a mystical bent
- Old man in the hood has a past with the villain, the villain being his former protégé who is now on the side of evil instead of good
- Old man, young man, and a young woman break into the bad guys’ place to steal a ship
- Old man is seen by a guard, does something with that mystical bent to get the guard to ignore his presence
- Villain raises an unnatural army of troops, all copies from the same template
- Old man does battle with the villain in order to save the young man and the young woman, and sacrifices himself
- Young man and young woman seem to have some chemistry, but there’s also something there between them that precludes them from getting it on
- Young man takes to the ship’s turret to shoot at the ships that are chasing them
- One character’s weapon of choice was a solid beam of light attached to a handle
- The old man’s other protégé turns on the villain to switch back to the side of good as his last act before death, redeeming himself and foiling the villain’s master plan
That’s right, I’m saying it — TRON: Legacy stole its story from Star Wars!
By the end of the movie, April was nauseous from the IMAX 3-D, and I had a sour taste in my mouth because the second half of the movie was such a blatant re-hash of Star Wars (and Return of the Jedi, and a little Attack of the Clones).
But, hey, it was cool to look at, so at least it had that going for it….