Amoeblog


All That Biodigital Jazz, Man

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, December 30, 2010 10:55am | Post a Comment
tron arcade game legacy disney upright set
I remember the first time I caught sight of the glowing, blacklit neon appeal of TRON. The boxy upright console outshone the others in my hometown Putt-Putt arcade and I couldn't help desiring to bask in its purple hazed portal though I'd always considered Centipede to be my one and only love. Let's be honest, playing TRON was about as exciting as the saccharin in a can of Tab, no matter how romanced I was by that Starlight Express meets Pinball Wizard of a design story. It's a silly game popularized a silly movie and it seems the good folks down at Disney completely understand that. TRON may never be taken seriously for its dramatic narrative and that's exactly right-on, but it is bursting with cinematic content. For me, re-viewing the 1982 classic TRON flick and the recently reimagineered TRON: Legacy was pure pop Sci-Fi pleasure the likes of which anyone this side of the Logan's Run Carousel knows better than to over-analyze.

Anyway, what better way to punctuate sweet freedom of another semester completed and celebrate the spirit of the season than seeing TRON: Legacy in IMAX 3D over Christmas vacation? Disney's new take on the ambitious yet sketchy Rotoscoped, post modern, science-fantasy arcade-gaming jam delivers a not very smart but sometimes clever cross-section of tired sci-fi/fantasy genre clichés, slickly redesigned to diamond-cut, mind-blowing visual perfection, ever flying the promotional gaming flag and still driven (literally!) by a pre-Lebowski albeit CG'd Jeff Bridges (which raises questions about the ethical treatment of dead actors' imminent bodies of possible future work) as well as the more popular (and less obviously plasti-complexioned) post "Dude" Jeff Bridges. Aesthetically, TRON went from this: 
tron original 1982 jeff bridges color design story set cinematography
tron original 1982 graphis effects design set cheesy
tron original 1982 graphis effects design set cheesy
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to this:
tron legacy castor party sequence sexy costume disney
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tron legacy disney movie film lovers
tron legacy disney movie dinner scene design furnishings white weird
...clunky helmet no longer required. I really love the visual shift in the application of a primary color scheme from TRON's UV tinged, patent eighties neons to the updated laser red, tungsten yellow and halogen blue as they appear both on and off their respective renderings of "the grid," not to mention the thrilling, hi-tech hard edge TRON: Legacy has over the crappy vectorgraphic "effects" dealt by its predecessor. However, TRON: Legacy does manage to shovel its fair share of shit: what's with that queeny Castor character and his, or should I say HER, swishy hardly-head-of-security counterpart? Accommodating the Brits-as-villains Star Wars stereotype much? Castor's little ditty and dance act should be cast out. And how about all that easy, cheesy dialogue? I swear some of those lines were straight up lifted from the Matrix --- is that why this film wasn't made ten years ago? And while I'm not buying so much the Neo/Jesus/Skywalker/Solo vibe of Kevin Flynn's son (played by Garrett Hedlund), Sam, I am totally vibing on Jeff Bridges' Obi Wan/God/Gandalf "zen thing" update of his completely timelapsed character, under the influence of a heavy dose of his Dudeness (Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing). I mean, really, if Bridges hadn't had his prior engagement with the brothers Coen, TRON: Legacy would probably only have its visual wizardry going for it and zero characters for folks like me to latch on to. Besides, I was more than ready to settle in and enjoy the ride after that opening sequence: Bridges' voice, speaking over Daft Punk's excellent score of electronic minimalism meets classical orchestration --- incorporating Wendy Carlos' original TRON soundtrack in a fitting homage --- urging us to think of a time when computers seemed more magical than mechanical and menacing, the inevitability of A.I. more a willing dream than nightmarish catastrophe. "The Grid," he recalls: "A digital frontier. I tried to picture clusters of information as they move through the computer. What did they look like? Ships? Motorcycles? Were the circuits like freeways? I kept dreaming of a world I thought I’d never see. And then, one day, I got in."

In short, the good parts of TRON: Legacy are really
tron legacy bike ten speed neon lights bicycle good and they mostly make up for any short-comings Disney inserted or let slip into the big picture. The restraint in shown in choosing to present certain scenes in 2D and the impressively seamless transition from early eighties to late eighties to present day, not to mention tasteful use of songs by Journey and the Eurythmics, add a touch of class and sophistication to what should by any reckoning be a silly remake of a silly movie concerning an attractive yet silly video game where hot fem-bot types still manage to stomp it out stilettos and impossibly wide tires, or whatever, corner like a ten-speed on ice. Whatever, Daft Punk's cameo was flawlessly fun and I got a kooky idea for an interior lit Jedi cloak that'll look fabulous flapping in the wind while riding a TRON bike. Plus, seeing TRON: Legacy has only kicked off my holiday Sci-Fi/Fantasy movie marathon extravaganza by putting me in the mood for, well, every film I've mentioned above plus about ten others like Bladerunner, Soylent Green, Westworld, Zardoz, They Live, Star Trek IV (the one with the whales) and Star Trek VII (the better one with the Borg), just to name a few. Here's the trailer, if you choose to go out and see it, do yourself a favor and shell out the extra ducats to see it in 3D IMAX, it really should be the only way to view it.

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Tron (7), Legacy (2), Sequel (2), Scifi (1), Movie (5), Film (79), Biodigital (1), Jazz (113), Lebowski (1), Disney (30), Dude (1)