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.
First, 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!
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.
I 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