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TRON review

Right now at CINEMA SOUNDS.COM, you can listen via REAL AUDIO to the TRON soundtrack from the original LP! Check it out. I am.

Every now and again I realize that I really do have a cool sister. I’m quite thankful for this, because... well she could be one of them preppy BARBIE loving teens that rebel against all the coolness that I hold dear... BUT.... She isn’t.

This was a big weekend for her. We were throwing a party to celebrate her Graduation from High School as well as her 18th Birthday. I called her up and asked her... What movies she wanted screened during the party and she chose.... TRON and THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD.

Too.... Cool...

You know, it made my heart warm. Here is a now adult female that I helped raise who is so completely... in the cool it’s not even funny. For example... What did we buy her for her Birthday/Graduation? A Volkswagon Bug (69 of course), that cool new MacFarlane MEDUSA toy, a ton of chick action figures, that Nightmare Before Christmas Snowglobe, a Circus Freaks lunch pail (which she’ll use as a purse) and a Basil Wolverton ARTY sculpture. One friend got her a Skull bank, another picked her up a book on the history of Female Murderers (she’s into criminal psychology btw).

But... this isn’t a piece on my sister, but rather on TRON. And I’ll also be writing up a separate review of THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD.

I remember when I was a kid, before I bloated out into my current form of existence, that I was transformed by TRON.

The movie is simply one of those movies that... felt like a religious experience for me. You see, I had grown up with those old 1930’s Warner Bros and Fleischer cartoons that often times took place at a magazine stand or a toy shop or in a book store.... and all the characters would come to life after the clock hit midnight, and they would have some sort of adventure.

So as a kid, I had the thinnest grasp of reality possible. I kept wanting to believe that all my toys had personalities. That the characters in my magazines came to life and interacted whilst I was asleep.

At the same time, at my elementary school (ROBERT E LEE ELEMENTARY here in Austin) we were just beginning to have the first computers and computer classes. We were busy writing BASIC programs. Things like....

10 PRINT “Harry is God”
20 GOTO 10

And then the screen would be filled with HARRY IS GOD.... or if you happened to be RYLAN or JOSH or JEFF or NIGEL or KIELAH... well you too could be GOD.

I remember thinking the computer was fun, but really quite useless. It didn’t really do anything. You had to program everything into it. But then I saw TRON...

And suddenly I realized that the little 10 print and 20 goto program I wrote could live inside the computer world. And that there was this little Harry with all this cool neony designed armor and he could be in a light cycle, or could have his little disc... and that he was trying to fight to reach me... THE USER.

Ok, now that was only the first night’s worth of thought about TRON. But the next day, I began thinking about those Light Cycles, and that cool Dragonfly ship that rode on that laser or whatever it was. I’d never seen images like that before. And I asked my father... What they were. He said it was COMPUTER ANIMATION.

I thought I had a grasp on what animation was by that point in my life. I was well familiar with how Stop Motion and traditional Cel animation was done. I knew the giants in the field. But.... what was this.... Computer Animation?

Dad picked me up the latest magazines on it. I began relating it to Space Invaders and Gunfight and PacMan. I picked up on it in STAR TREK II... and ya know... It fascinated me.

I animated a stick figure. It took weeks to type in all those damn POKE statements. And at the end of it all.... Well... it just didn’t look like a light cycle. SO it frustrated me. Of course that didn’t stop me. I went from my TRS 80 to my SUPER PET to a COMMODORE 64 all the way on up to the APPLE 2e in School.

Computers fascinated me. And it began with TRON.

So... Last night as I watched my print in 16mm and marveled at the fantastic colors... I realized that these effects were PERFECT for this movie. At no point does it not seem perfect for this universe in this story.

Out back... we had a lot of folks, and during the reel changes we would talk about the significance of TRON.... A couple of people saying how this film is much better than THE PHANTOM MENACE... and then I said, “I love TRON as much, if not more than, EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.”

You would have thought I had just confessed to raping their mothers. But ya see. As utterly cool as EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was for me. Sure it’s narrative is stronger than TRON’s. Sure the beauty of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and the emotion of it being Star Warsy is awesome. BUT TRON introduced me to computers. It made me fall in love with this medium that I am now a part of.

It’s part film, part computer. It was about writing on computers. And when I saw WARGAMES... well that was the missing piece that doomed me to computers for life.

Some smart ass started taking pot shots at BRUCE BOXLEITNER... saying, “Boxleitner was robbed at Oscar time!” Of course they were saying it with the maximum sarcasm. I jumped to his defense. He’s not playing a HUMAN, he’s playing a computer program who has a singular purpose... TAKE DOWN THE MCP... He struggles with his emotions and desires beyond that, but nothing can distract him from his task at hand. He has someone he loves, but... when he gets separated from her... he doesn’t go after her... he goes after the MCP. It’s simple and perfect.

And ya know... Jeff Bridges was AWESOME in this film. I loved his character. It’s the reason why I’d love to see him and Terry Gilliam team up on THE DEFECTIVE DETECTIVE.... Similar role with a harder edge. But his FLYNN.... well FLYNN really is a wonderful computer hacker character.

Then people started in on the whole MATRIX is better than TRON rap, and I started wanting to hurt people. I love MATRIX... I’ve seen it... maybe 5 times thus far (seen Phantom Menace 4 so far), but TRON kicks Matrix’s ass. Tron would have opened up a bottle of whupass on Neo.

First off... That little disc of Tron’s is just so much cooler than a buncha stupid guns (albeit the guns in Matrix are very cool). See... I’ve seen guns in about a bazillion action films. But I’ve only seen that badass Disc of Tron in TRON! And ya know... I’ve been waiting for some sort of badass superhero movie with energy weapons coming out of hands, and bolts of power.... ARGH.... Enough with the gun stuff.... Seen it... done it.... move on.

Ya see... It’s why Light Sabres are so damn cool. We don’t got those in every movie. I mean.... when NEO is going after Fishburne he’s supposed to like be able to request whatever the hell he wants to go after him... and he thinks up.... GUNS? I mean... they are currently moving around in a universe with tenticled sperm shaped machines dogging them everywhere... and all Neo in his little world can think of is... GUNS?

Give me any number of things I’ve read about in Sci Fi magazines. I mean... hell bullets don’t exist, neither does anything else, so if it’s all in a land of make believe.... Make believe better than the bad guys.... Right?

Not that this is a major fault with MATRIX. I still love the movie, but not as much as I love TRON.

Meanwhile, the conversations quickly turned to the rumored DISNEY exploration of a TRON sequel. And we all agreed on a couple of things.

We don’t want to see the advancements of digital effects in the TRON universe. Instead... What you have to look at is.... In TRON, the programs have the souls of the writer (singular) that created the program. Well.... in the modern day... No one writer creates hardly anything. Instead... you have entire teams of people working on programs. So... you would have schizophrenic programs... OR.... entire teams of people that all serve a single purpose have to exist.

You wouldn’t have TRON the singular person... instead you would have teams of people that would have the shared goal. They wouldn’t have internal strifes.... or disagreements... they are programed to work together to do... whatever it is they do.

There’s a lot of conceptual fun that can be had in TRON 2000 or 2001. But... the look and feel of the universe established in the original film is still every bit as effective today as it was back in the day it was created in.

God I love this movie. Why the hell does the score not exist on CD? I mean... that score is cool as hell, where is it? I want it. I want to put it in my computer and listen to it for HOURS... I mean.... I have the main themes trapped in my head, but... I want them guys at FILM SCORE MONTHLY to produce this score. It’s a winner. Man.... Come on... Somebody make this score a reality!

Sigh.... So... what do you people think of TRON?

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