Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tron (1982)

A while ago (because this is one of them posts I've been meaning to post for some time now) I saw the movie Tron. The original from 1982 mind you. I didn't actually know they're doing a remake until after I had seen the original one and went to rate it on Imdb.com. I'm not sure what hooked my interest on Tron in the first place. Maybe because it was Disney's second ever shot at doing a non-cartoon movie, and since I had enjoyed the first one (The Black Hole) I thought I might enjoy this one as well. It also sports a young Jeff Bridges (mostly known as The Dude from The Big Lebowski), as the main character Flynn/Clu.

There are many things about Tron that are really captivating and interesting. First of all the esthetics are completely awesome. The movie is played out in the "real" world and the "computer" world. The computer world could most easily be described as what a rave party would look like if it ever had a Vector Graphics theme. For computer nerds this is a gold mine in old computers and computing. Even though my family didn't own a computer until the late 90's and I hadn't seen much of them before that, I still love the whole design of the movie. You've got neon-lights everywhere and the costumes are just... undescribable. It's so 80's! The computer animations are awesome (seriously) and because of the technique used, timeless.

Secondly, and here be spoiler, Tron is what the child between Matrix and Terminator would be if they could have children (freaky mental pictures). The whole story revolves around the idea of a program gaining consciousness and plotting to take over the world. So far it's like Terminator. The difference is that it works in the world of the programs and can suck regular humans into this program. Clu get sucked into this computer world where he realizes he has special powers since he's not just an ordinary program like all the others. In that sense it really smells like Matrix. In fact the story of Tron made me do some thinking on the whole "oh no computers are taking over the world, we're doomed" theme that was so popular during the 80's and early 90's. When computers and the use of internet became increasingly popular, people were worried on the side effects. Today we talk about addiction, back then people talked about whether technology would take over our lives in another sense. It's interesting to see this technology optimism, because that's what it is really, but displayed in this apocalyptic manner. Technology is going so fast ahead that we won't know how to handle it in the end. A simple computer malfunction, or even worse, programs becoming self-conscious would leave man completely without possibility to defend themselves. We're putting our lives into these machines dude! What will happen if they start using it against us?

And in Matrix/Terminator style it also tells us that since programs are the creation of man, man will ultimately have the power to subdue program. But not without a cost!

The view on the doom technology can bring on humanity has shifted somewhat since the climax that was Matrix. Now we've got movies telling us what could happen if we let people get too much power over programs. In movies like "Surrogates" with Bruce Willis and "The Game" with Gerard Butler (both awful movies btw, don't see them) we got humans hurting humans through technology instead. Gone is the idea of technology becoming self-aware, apparently.

The hopes for what this new computer technology could bring us was high in the beginning of the 80's (in the late 70's we were still stuck on what space exploration could bring us (Alien, The Black Hole)). And since happy, everything-will-turn-out-just-great movies wouldn't do well in the theatres, that optimism had to be turn into action in the way of technology-apocalypse. I want to think Tron was one of the first movies in this genre. It flopped greatly (the game outgrossed the movie though) and Disney apparently didn't do another non-cartoon for another 10 years after that. But it's genre-defining, and that alone makes it worth seeing.

And now we're getting a remake. Suppose they couldn't let a gem like this lying for long now that we've already had Karate Kid and A-Team (to just mention a few) remade. What other 80's movie would you like to see redone?

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