December 22, 2010 --- The Grid
All Hail the Creator. All Hail.
No? Eh, that's ok, I understand your lack of enthusiasm. Tron:Legacy didn't live up to all I'd hoped for, but then again, what was I hoping for?
When I first saw the trailer on comingsoon.net a few months back, I got pretty excited, vague memories of light cycles and glowing discs danced around my head. So, like any good geek,I decided to watch the original again, as much for old times sake as for background.
In the original Bridges plays hacker extradonnaire Kevin Flynn; Flynn has his ideas swiped by THE MAN, a co-worker, the ever evil David Warner. Warner doubles as Master Control Program in the film, his digitally devious counterpart in The Grid. In attempt to overthrow Master Control Program and design the perfect system, Flynn creates Clu, an homage to the programming language invented by programmer and MIT professor Barbara Liskov.
There are varying degrees of campiness in the original, but it has, like so many marginally successful sci-fi films, built quite the cult following. Actually, in that film, there were several references to what would later come to be known as the transhumanist movement, but more about that later.
Together with Clu and Tron, Flynn successfully defeats Master Control Program through various races and disc throwing contests, all with obligatory neon and glow accompaniment.
Fast forward nearly thirty years. From the opening sequences, you know this newest installment into the Tron storyline will be as much a feast for the eyes as its predecessor, albeit for a newer, sleeker generation.
After that initially mesmerizing opening sequence, however, the movie languishes for about half an hour trying to establish a believeable plot in an increasingly improbable world.
Sam Flynn, son of the missing Kevin Flynn, is now a majority stakeholder in the software firm his father helped to create. One day, Alan Bradley ( Bruce Boxleitner) receives a page, A PAGE!,from Flynn's old arcade. From then on, the visuals make up for any lack of cohesive story.
After digitizing himself accidently, an event that itself stretches the limits of believability, Sam finds himself on The Grid. Darren Gilford, Production designer for the film conceived of the Tron universe as,'an evolving digital simulation that takes place inside a solitary isolated super computer'. Right. This basically translates into a ominously dark city, predominately black clad city dwellers ('Programs') and, of course, The Games, all with neon accoutrements . Trust me, the effect is tre cool.
Sam is presented to the audience as a sort of avatar ( no, not that kind of avatar), a vantage point for the audience to experience this alien universe.
And experience it you do.
While, I was mostly pleased with the films cinematography and visual effects, the story left me wincing.
Bridges, er, Flynn, er, C.L.U...The Creator as he's known on The Grid is God. Or something like him in the film. Bridges' sort of channels his 'Dude' role from the Big Lebowski, mixes in a little Kevin Flynn and Obi Wan Kenobi and what comes out is...a hacker hippie zen priest. Oh Boy.
After the introduction of Bridges, the story, or what was left of it, takes a nosedive into the realm of techno-religion. Transhumanism. The melding of man and machine. Not to say that I'm against Transhumanism as a concept; evolution is evolution after all. But in the movie, it's a bit overdone.
So, that being said, if you're looking for a movie to just gawk at for about 2 hours, please, by all means, indulge your inner geek. But, on the otherhand, if you're looking for intellectually stimulating movie drama...go see a Meryl Streep Film. Peace.
Benjamin Burton Jr. 12/23/2010