CATCHING UP #2.1 – “Tron”

Catching Up Season 2 Number 1: TRON

(Yes, yes. I know. It’s been a while. …you know what? I’ll continue when you’re done shouting; you know I can’t talk to you while you’re angry. I’ve been negligent of my duties due to circumstances related to my own projects (SHAMELESS PLUGGING!) and finding full time employment. I also might have been forcing some poor bastard in Kentucky to eat his own beard. Choose your own reality. The point: I’m back, hookers. Let’s start this bad boy.)

WHY AM I WATCHING TRON?

The sequel came out this Friday and I need to catch up on the continuity.

After all, I can’t waltz into a movie tripping face on a mushroom smoothie with an ayhuasca chaser without a proper grasp on the story. I’d be lost.

Alright. That’s a lie on two counts. I could go in like that, but I’m going in WITH backstory and WITHOUT drugs; despite what underground comix from the 80s tell you, sometimes it’s best to go into something like “Tron: Legacy” with a clear head as to fully appreciate the filmmaking. And my shrooms guy has locked himself in a closet with a pair of sharpened drum sticks because Klaus Nomi and the devil are inside his room looking for his stash and they’re totally gonna sell him out to the cops, man.

It’s not like I haven’t had the opportunity to watch “Tron”; it’s one of those movies that started to show up on G4 on Sunday afternoons a few years back. The problem: any movie I saw one to two years ago on TV on a Sunday afternoon was seen through the misty veil of a hangover.

Ah, college in Richmond, how I miss you.

These days, I really don’t hang around in front of a TV. I set the DVR to catch what I want and that’s that. “Well, you could have just set your DVR for ‘Tron’,” says the voice in my brain, which sounds suspiciously like my friend Kip, whose nagging was the whole reason I started Catching Up. Well, voice-that-sounds-like-Kip, Tron is not a priority.

Or, rather, it wasn’t.

I found out when I tried to find a copy of my own on DVD (as I love me some special features), Disney had locked this bad boy back in their mythical Vault. I imagine this Vault to be a dank, moist dungeon, a dark reflection of the screaming nightmare of a Vietnam War vet, where the mold-covered concrete walls echo the sobs of beloved classics: “The Black Cauldron” is asleep, despite the noise and sorrow around him. “Black Hole” is the grizzled veteran of the outfit; nobody wants him on Blu-Ray. The “Witch Mountain” trilogy sing nursery rhymes together to keep sane, while the remake (looking like Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson) taunts them from the other side of the blood-rusted bars. The original 1961 version of “The Parent Trap” has found a glimmer of hope in Lindsay Lohan’s downfall.

And “Tron”.

“Tron” has been in and out of this grim place a few times, but now sits and mopes. He could be out there! It would be a great marketing move! Have him hold hands with an extended trailer or a glimpse behind the scenes of what was once known as “Tr2n”!

But no. The Mouse is a cruel, heartless jailer that collects “Tron”‘s tears to use in his breakfast burrito made of greed and sadness and butchered German folk tales. The Mouse knows that “Tron” is right, though; it would have been a smart move to put him out on the shelves months ago. Now, however, it is far too late.

…wait, fuck, where was I?

Right. “Tron”. Disney Vault. Couldn’t find it. Thus, through begging, borrowing, and stealing, I’ve managed to get my grubby little fingers on this movie. And I will watch it. Will I enjoy it? Stay tuned.

BRIEF SYNOPSIS

This synopsis is based on whatever limited knowledge I have going into the movie. I did not look up anything on the Internets.

Jeff Bridges and his friends wander onto a green screen set, and thanks to early CGI, were able to convince 1980s audiences that, yes, they had indeed wandered into a video game, and no matter how advanced video and/or gaming technology looked, video games would never never EVER look as cool as “Tron”.

AFTER THE FACT

1980s audiences were right; video games won’t look as cool as “Tron”.

…Before you start shouting at me about how advanced the next generation of game systems are going to be, you need to calm down and let me explain.

Eighties science fiction, particularly in the cyberpunk subgenere, were able to predict the creation digital worlds like Second Life and devices like SmartPhones with relative accuracy. Ever talk about something you saw on Twitter? Next time you do, after the shame goes away for realizing you spoke aloud about Twitter, take yourself to the 1980s and ask, “Might this show up in a William Gibson novel?” I guarantee you, there’s a good chance the answer will be yes. The world of “Tron” (and similarly, cartoons like “Reboot” and “Cyber Chasers”) exists in another future, one that may be far away and nigh unobtainable, where computer teachers don’t get angry about you taking literally the videos that explained how computers work with men in costumes. Why wouldn’t they? Because computer actually work that way in this mythical alternate future! Your RAM was a frazzled, lumpy chain-smoking man with rolled-up shirtsleeves and a loosened tie. Your motherboard was a matronly-yet-attractive woman, who was sometimes corrupted by the villain of the piece, the vampy Vy Russ. All of it existing in a painstakingly-rendered infinite cloud field of glossy textured geometric shapes of early CGI.

In that future, all of our computer parts and functions are blessed with feelings and emotions. It was all done as a way to help computer users understand their systems better and, as it happens with most innovations in the digital age, eventually because

And this is right about where “The Matrix” would take place.

Instead of “Tron”, though, we’ll probably get something closer to that “Chapelle’s Show” sketch, where the Internet is a shopping mall, that, like most modern shopping malls, embodies what Obi-Wan Kenobi might deem a “wretched hive of scum and villainy.”


My rant on the future aside, I thoroughly enjoyed “Tron”.

The sole exception to this is that the POV arcade screen shots of Flynn’s face are…creepy. Jeff Bridges is staring you in the face. He is looking into your soul. And he laughs.

Yes, yes, the story was looser than [insert joke about someone’s overused orifice here] and was more or less an excuse to showcase the sweet new CGI Disney could utilize at the time. That said, it was fun. REALLY fun. It held my attention from beginning to end, and made me even more excited to see “Tr2n”.

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