There aren’t too many science fiction movies I consider to be personally seminal.
Ergo, the kind of film that literally changes your life, the way you look at the world, or the way you create and imagine.
1982’s TRON was one of those movies.
In fact, I’d consider TRON to be my most personally seminal film of all time, in terms of how often I have watched it, how many times I have referenced it, how easily I can quote and recall lines or scenes, and how — on an unconscious level — I find myself going back to the movie for inspiration, contemplation, or revelation.
So naturally the advent of TRON Legacy has me more than a little excited.
How long, precisely, have we TRON aficionados waited for our sequel? 27 years? Make it 28 years by the time the film actually hits theaters in 2010?
Too long. Or just long enough, depending on how you look at it.
There is no question that the CGI technology available to Disney in 2008/2009 is light-years ahead of the CGI then available to Steven Lisberger in 1981. But if all there was to TRON was CGI methinks it would not have had any larger of an impact on filmed SF than movies like The Last Starfighter. (No offense intended to fans of that particular film.)
TRON’s lasting appeal, I suspect, has as much to do with its allegorical implications as its futuristic, techno imagery. There are themes present in the original that resonate beyond its Cold War roots: belief, unbelief, salvation, redemption, the manipulation and control of information, the rise of a computer-connected society… The list goes on.
How well will the new TRON hold up, under the weight of the original’s lengthy shadow?
Like Stars Wars — which waited roughly 20 years between the time of the original film and the time of the first prequel — TRON has had decades during which fans have stewed in their own juices. Fans have created their own games, their own stories, their own personal universes. News of an actual sequel always drifted like smoke on the horizon, but nobody ever actually thought a sequel would come to pass. The original never made enough money, was panned by critics, and was the butt of too many jokes.
But like the movie Bladerunner, which did poorly in its original theatrical release, the movie TRON had cult legs. Fans sprouted like weeds amidst the soil of SF’s greater film franchises. To be a TRON fan was to acknowledge that you were cutting against the conventional grain. You believed, more or less, in TRON as a visionary product. Something with resonance, perhaps for a time when more of society would be on the TRON wavelength.
How can TRON Legacy possibly live up to our expectations?
As with Star Trek 2009, I am going to be cautiously optimistic. CGI isn’t the brand new toy it was in the early 1980’s. We will need more out of TRON Legacy than light cycles and chase scenes. The trailer indicates that the Electronic World has evolved along with the platforms that support it. The EW has become slicker, darker, more sophisticated. Much like many of us who fell in love with the original when we first saw it in the theater as impressionable children.
Jeff Bridges’ involvement gives me hope, as Bridges was the keystone actor they needed to bring back in order to achieve proper continuity. Unless Bridges has been paid a great deal to overlook script defects, I think the pressence of Bridges — who certainly never needed to do a TRON sequel, for his career — tells us that there is some decent writing afoot. Possibly great writing?
One wishes and hopes so badly….
Also, does this presage a wholesale resurrection of the franchise, with other sequels, new video games, merchandise, etc, in the works?
The box office will dictate, I think.
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