In 1982 a friend of mine and I were just geeky enough to be the first in line on the first show of the first day of release for Tron. It was a cool movie and I had no idea it was a Disney movie, not that it mattered. We saw it at Southway 6 Theaters which is now a dollar cinema if I'm not mistaken. Which I suppose is ironic in this case (3:00). Years later Netflix gives me the opportunity to watch the movie again with the kids. I still loved it and the boys liked it but thought the computer animation was kind of weak. 29 years of advancement in computer animation might tend to jade the young'uns I reckon.
Then a friend of mine who also has Netflix told me he could no longer get the movie on the service. I wondered why because we had just watched it. Based on no knowledge whatsoever I concluded that it was simply being re-packaged for re-release after the new Tron movie was headed for DVD. I stand by that theory even though I have to this date done no research to back it up. So now months later, both movies are available on Netflix so I decided to send for it again followed by the new Tron movie, Legacy. It turned out to be a good choice because the boys liked the first movie better the second time they watched it and then a few days later we got to see the new one.
Tron is about a computer technology company (ENCOM) that is taken over by an unscrupulous English person (because they make great villains) who steals the work of a co-worker (Kevin Flynn) and attains the title of Senior Executive of the company due to the success of the stolen software. Flynn (our hero) is reduced to carving out a life by owning a video arcade filled with the games he designed but gets no credit for. He and two former co-workers from ENCOM decide to break into the company computer to get the evidence to give credit where credit is due. Hilarity and Hijinks ensue.
Tron Legacy is about Flynn's grown son (Sam) following his father into the digital world of ENCOM after realizing that he was trapped there all these years and didn't just abandon him. The computer animation didn't disappoint. They even had a "young" Flynn in the computer in addition to the "real" Flynn. The effect was almost perfect, except for the mouth. I'd say more but what I don't know about digital effects would fill a warehouse, or two. Therefore, since I am simply an internet blowhard, who am I to criticize?
Anyway as I was watching the movie and enjoying it, for the most part, I was wondering what was wrong with it. The effects were great and the story was above average, if only slightly. I mean movies with truly awful stories are blockbusters that linger in the theaters long after their expiration date so what was up with this one? It hit me when I was talking to a neighbor who was watching it with his kids the same way I was, on Netflix one after the other. It suffered from what I call the "Dune Effect". I'll explain what I mean by that but give me a minute because I just thought of it...
Ok, got it now.
The movie Dune was created from an incredible story that could have actually been two movies because there was just that much material that could have been explored. Not because the production company wanted to keep shaking the money tree like they're doing with a certain series of movies about a young outcast wizard who can't seem to catch a break. I can expand upon that book and movie series but that's another column. Hoo Boy! Don't get me started. As I was saying it was a good story but the movie moved like an 16 ton brick of jello pudding blocking the main street of Dead Horse Alaska in January. Too much to digest even for people who like that sort of thing. Sorry, I know I didn't have to explain that metaphor, I just felt obligated.
Tron Legacy was like that, only on a smaller scale. It was just slightly too much to digest in one sitting. Like that piece of cheesecake at the end of a meal at the hotel ballroom that you know you're too full to eat but dadgummit you just don't go to these things that often and you don't have to clean the table since it's at a hotel and it's a piece of cheesecake for cryin' out loud and you know it's going to be good. Heck, even if it's only pretty good then it's good enough because you don't have cheesecake everyday, amiright!
What was I talking about?
Oh yeah. The Dune/Tron Legacy thing. No, I'm not saying Tron Legacy was as good a story as Dune. What I am saying is that Tron Legacy would actually have been a good book without ever being a movie. Yes, really. See for yourself.
Tron Legacy (the movie) C+
trailer for Tron 1982
trailer for Tron Legacy
trailer for Dune