by Ryan Green
heckling by Chris Skaggs

This last weekend, some of the guys at Soma took a field trip to the theater to experience TRON: Legacy in its full IMAX 3D glory. (I have it on good authority that for true awesomeness and full rumble effect, rows 4-7 front and center is the sweet spot.) Mike and I, who are stationed up here at “Soma Games : High Altitude Command” in sunny Colorado, were pretty disappointed to miss this event with our fellow mouth-breathers and resolved to plan our own nerd-outing.

Quorra is HAWTFirst, however, I had to come clean with the boss. I had never seen the first TRON. His response reassured me I wouldn’t be kicked to the virtual curb: “The original Tron was a bit like the first [name withheld for boss protection] movie – it kind of sucked. You’re not allowed to SAY that in geek company but it’s the truth we all know about. We still love you Ryan.” – (Chris: The movie in question is Star Trek. C’mon, you know I’m right.)

As a wanna be filmmaker, programmer transplant from the business world and fan-boy in training,(trust me dude, you’re a Black belt geek) I felt it was my duty to experience such a film, and so after a call to five local Blockbusters and the Village Vidiot, I discovered that not only was the one copy each possessed checked out, but that TRON has been locked in the dreaded Disney Vault. You can’t buy a copy anywhere but Ebay and, well, I’d rather eat glass than bit-torrent a movie. A Facbook post and promise of Chipotle burrito compensation brought the 20th anniversary edition of TRON to my door. (while a different Soma employee felt no such compunction and proceeded to tell us all what various things were…Radiago…)

I hurriedly popped the disc into my Xbox 360 and quickly found out that TRON did indeed kinda suck.(told ya…) But I did discover a glorious virtual world in which the user has awesome special powers, openness rules, tyranny drools and the programmer has ultimate creative power. Needless to say I was hooked. 10:30 pm couldn’t come any sooner!

Don't remember his eyes being quite that big, but thanks Storymancer

TRON: Legacy picks up about 28-ish years after the original movie. Young, Rebellious, Parkour practicing, Ducati riding, pretty boy Sam Flynn is haunted by the disappearance of his Father, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges.) ENCOM has since been taken over by enemies of open and free software, and slacker Sam spends his time punking ENCOM executives. Kevin’s trusted confidant Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) receives a mysterious page from Kevin’s long disconnected office number at Flynn’s arcade. (Which somehow contains several $k of undisturbed electronics in a destitute part of town…but whatever.) Alan is waiting for him at home after Sam’s latest Punk’d episode lands Sam in the clink. Sam, smelling of jail and sadly sipping his beer is reluctantly convinced to investigate (don’t drink and ride kids) and after discovering his dad’s secret coder cave, is accidentally sucked into the virtual world that his Father created in the 80’s

Thankfully this virtual world is candy-coated awesome-ness. If you’re like me, you’ll spend most of the film with your jaw on the floor as programs shatter into a million pieces and light vehicles paint liquid ribbons across the sky. (word) Director Joseph Kosinski really knows how to move a camera as the audience is flown through the liquid glass landscape and the score by Daft Punk made me wish electronic music had been invented before the original TRON, it may have sucked less.

The script felt a bit stiff and sometimes “The Dude’s” dialog felt out of place, however what I was most struck by and impressed with in TRON: Legacy was that they attempted to address the moral and meta-physical questions such a world would present.

What is perfection? Is perfection knowable? Is a “perfect world” free of imperfect, illogical creatures that don’t serve the common good; a theocratic, tyrannical world of order where the weak are discarded and only the useful survive even desirable?

What if man participated in creation of self-aware creatures. Would he be a good creator? A selfish creator? Would he love his creation? Would he die for his creation?

I left TRON: Legacy satisfied, and sorry boss, but happy that my formidable nerd years are being spent in a golden age of 3D animation and game development. I get to fully benefit from the imagination of the stone washed, tight jean wearing futurists of yester-year who dare imagine a “second-life” lived in the machine.

Best BA name in agesI agree with Ryan that the movie was quite a bit more than I was expecting based on the first Tron. That’s not to say I expected junk, but I didn’t expect awesome, and I really didn’t expect “Deep.”  The film is seriously working with mega themes that span the digital, human, and heavenly realms.

That said, in the end there were far more questions than answers. It was as if the writer was a whirl of searching thoughts and incomplete answers. Jeff Bridges is part Buddha, part YHWH. Sam is a sometimes Christ, sometimes Adam, sometimes James Dean. Of course we may simply be looking at the result of a while generation who thinks all spiritual thoughts are essentially equal but it might also belie the deep confusion that is caused when life, driven by technology, moves so fast that the center can’t hold and we all loose our ethical moorings.

So what is the “worldview” of Tron if one even exists? For us at Soma…we’re still working on that.

BTW, if you think this whole worldview question is moot, here are our thoughts on that kind of nonsense: Every Game Has A Worldview – Whether You Like It Or Not

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6 Comments
  1. Okay, so having seen the movie now, I feel like I can comment a little more accurately. First off, I really liked it. But having seen it with my mother, who really disliked it to the core, I can recognize that it wasn’t a great movie.

    The plot is truly the weakest part, but I felt like this was a result of the writer (or director? editor?) making the movie about the spectacle and fact of being within the computer world, rather than about a compelling story. And yet it wasn’t so bad that I was instantly re-writing the story in my head as I left the theater, as was the case with Transformers 2.

    I’ve now read several reviews that were unfavorable. I’ve also read a few that thought the movie was great. Given this disparity of opinions, and reinforced by my own experience and conversations with mom, I wonder if the worldview of the film (or anything, really) isn’t more in the eye of the beholder than I first believed. Obviously the creators had a vision, and brought that to fruition. Their own worldviews impacted those of the characters, and what they tried to convey to the audience. But it seems to have been done pretty poorly. Can a worldview be determined by the audience?

    Inception is a great example of this question, I think. *SPOILERS, in case you haven’t seen it.* The audience is asked to determine what is real and what is not at the end of the movie. This is very obviously intentional on the part of Nolan. I wonder if a poorly conveyed worldview can have the same result unintentionally though, causing us to scratch our heads and ask ourselves what the movie/game/whatever was really all about, as seems to be the case to some degree with Legacy.

    This may all be because I read something recently that has me thinking about themes in a new way. ( http://www.kaykenyon.com/2010/09/07/whats-it-all-about/ ) I’ve been asking myself what the theme of Tron Legacy is. And I can’t really answer, which makes me wonder about it’s worldview.

  2. Ryan

    If by visit, @John, you mean come over to Mike’s basement or my living room and play Guitar Hero, I’m sure that could be arranged 😉

    High Altitude Command is in Loveland, CO

    Oh and Chris, we’ll have access to a recording studio in January…

  3. I LOVED sneakers – I totally forgot that flick. I remember it was the first time I really was aware of Robert Redford and also that I was still crushing a little on Stands With A Fist.

    You’re right though. This techno-retro thing is a fascinating bit of what’s happening in our collective lives right now.

  4. it’s so funny how Tron is more of an experience, than a movie…

    http://www.delawarereclaim.com/2010/12/18/tron-legacy-the-legacy-experience/

    My computer movie over the years is “Sneakers.” My AP Comp Sci teacher in High School said it was awesome, and what an impression it left on me. I was quite void of technological influence most of my life, and these movies captured the “why we should care” feelings.

  5. I didn’t read the whole thing (I’ll read and comment once I’ve seen the movie), but I couldn’t help but notice that Soma’s got a High Altitude Command in my very own home state! That’s pretty cool. What part? Maybe I could come visit and do some VO for F. 😉

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