Thursday, 9 September 2010

Tron: A Blast from the Past

When I was a kid, we would rent videos from the little shop in the village. There wasn't a wide selection, but my and my brother were happy with watching a "Star Wars" or "Indiana Jones" for the seventeenth time. We would get a chocolate bar or treat of some kind and settle in for an afternoon in front of some adventure film or other.

One such occasion was a viewing of "Tron". My only memory of which is that a giant face blasted a man against a wall, the man then screamed and got dissolved.

It was at this point that I stopped watching. The intensity of the agony on the man's face and his screams had shaken my childish resolve and I decided I would rather go upstairs and eat a Kit-Kat than watch a scary film.

This was most likely in the mid-late eighties. I would never watch "Tron" again.

Until now.

Fast forward twenty-odd years, and there is a new, state-of-the-art "Tron" film coming out, getting rapturous receptions at nerd-fests and lighting up the internet with groovy neon flashiness. I have lived through "Tron" references in movies and tv shows, seen the film go from box-office failure to cult film to massive summer blockbuster sequel fodder, and never once revisited it.

So, I'm in Blockbuster the other night, with my brother and my sister (my sister didn't even exist at the time of my first "Tron" viewing attempt), looking at new releases. As usual there's bugger all out, so after picking up "Kick-Ass", my brother wanders into the rapidly diminishing "Old Film" section. He sees a 2-Disc deluxe DVD edition of "Tron" that was released about eight years ago. He saw a copy of "Super Mario Bros" first, but that's not really relevant to this story.

So we go home for the traditional film night, sitting round the telly like "The Royle Family", and fire up some hot "Tron" action.

The man-dissolvey scene takes place in the first five/ten minutes or so of the film and is, of course, nowhere near as Kit-Kat necessitatingly scary as my childhood-trauma suggested. The tension of waiting for that scene to appear now released, I was entering unknown territory...

And here's the thing. Cult-favourite, well-loved, culturally significant, seminal CG movie "Tron" is a load of shit.

It starts out confusingly jumping between the real world and the computer realm, never actually establishing a world for us to engage in. Characters drift into the narrative, spouting exposition laden with techno-babble computer jargon, performances range from bad to fucking ridiculous, with only The Dude and David Warner injecting anything approaching personality into their characters, there is little logic in the plotting, the dialogue frequently has to announce what just happened or is happening due to the barrage of nonsense on screen, and the whole thing is dull, flat and uninvolving.

The only thing that sets this film apart is the look. The pioneering CGI is amusing to behold, though it renders the action scenes stilted and slow moving, and the green-screen sets and wacky costumes help define the iconic style of the film, although the fact remains that this is merely a sub-"Krull" 80s adventure film with unusual special effects.

A friend of mine said that this is how people will react to "Avatar" in twenty years time.

We put "Super Mario Bros" on after "Tron", and Hoskins and Leguizamo were infinitely better company than Bridges and his digital buddies for an hour and a half.

Let's hope they actually try to make "Tron: Legacy" a film instead of a CG showreel.


  1. Bah. Way to destroy my memories, Mass. I'm going to have to watch it again now.

  2. So you have a bar of chocolate then go upstairs and eat a packet of kit kats, ha ha jim royle

  3. In the same sense as one might say "The book was better" about a movie, in this case, the arcade game was better, and it was not one of the better games of its era.

    At least the sequel has a cool subtitle.

  4. I like the look of the new one--wasn't alive for the first one--and watching the trailer, it looks like it very well may have a story but it too may be slightly confusing. I rented the original Tron last year and had the very same impression about it. I much more preferred watching my computer nerd friends play the game during class in high school.

  5. Tron was before my time as well, lol. I was never terribly interested in watching it until I saw the trailers for the new Tron film, which looked interesting, so I figured I ought to watch the first one. Apparently it's not worth the effort, so thanks for the info, and sorry you didn't get your kitkat bar :p

  6. I've never seen this movie, but, maybe it's so bad that it's good?

  7. Hmm... perhaps 'Tron' being a cult film doesn't necessarily mean its good :/

  8. I'm old. Saw it in the theater when I was 12 and it had just come out. It was visually mind blowing. The stilted dialogue and lame script were easily forgiven because of the amazing visuals.

    Yes, Tron is a time machine. You are looking into the future of Avatar.

  9. You're an idiot and obviously have shit taste, but I guess that doesn't matter when you have a bunch of loyal idiot sycophant fans lapping up the idiotica you piss all over the place.

  10. what a wimpy kid. you can't watch a de-rez without chocolate comfort? go cry to mommy. "sub-krull"? yea right. loser.

  11. Josh, you're just jealous that you don't have any loyal idiot sycophant fans to speak of and consequently have to get stray cats and hobos to lap up the idiotica you piss all over the place.

    Angry Tron fans unite! If we stamp our feet loud enough maybe this movie won't suck so much!

  12. Wow, can't believe I missed these! Notice how none of the fervent Tron fans can actually defend the film, they instead resort to attacking the person who criticised it.

    Josh: An insightful and incisive rebuttal of my criticisms. Allow me to counter with "YOU ARE!"

    Anon: "de-rez"? And I'm the loser?

    Everyone else, thanks for being my loyal idiot sycophant fans!

  13. I got an email notification that a (spam) comment had been posted here, but it's not here, which tells me that someone must have removed it.

    As a loyal idiot sycophant fan, I'm glad to assume you're alive. Cheers!