December 18th, 2010

geek, lotr, ring, gaming

Tron: Tragedy Part 2

So what is actually so wrong with this movie that I woke up early on a Saturday and couldn’t fall back to sleep without writing it down?

1) The Grid is too real.

The Grid is not the Matrix or even the Matrix’s Construct. It is not a simulation of reality, it is a metaphorical representation of emergent behavior (unintended consequences) within computer software. In the original movie, the computer world is obviously computer-generated. The rotoscoped actors floated in a sea of special-effects. The effects were twitchy, and you could tell they held Frisbees and wore spandex, but through the magic of suspending disbelief you would see the circuits and the flowing energy. It was constantly obvious that it was not supposed to look real. Tron: Legacy’s choice to go with beautiful but often realistic CG environments and practical effects for costumes destroys this. The entire movie is real actors in real glowing clothing walking in (due to our advanced CG technology) physically-real-looking environments. It doesn’t feel enough like we’re in another universe, it just feels like we’re looking into a club that’s too fancy for us to afford matching costumes. It looked real, and there was no disbelief to suspend, no reason to take your mind where they wanted it to go. It felt better when they were playing games, but again, the breaking glass and bodies and machines disintegrating into physical fragments were choices that make the world feel more real, more solid, and less like another universe with different rules.

I am not saying the original makers of Tron wouldn’t have made the same mistakes presented with today’s technology, but they couldn’t and didn’t and now we have our reading of the original film to inform our decisions about how to make a sequel. (And I would argue that the choices they did make among the techniques available to them does suggest they intended and desired the otherworldly-feeling they achieved.)

The flashbacks to Flynn in leather jackets on the Grid just made me roll my eyes.

2) It is too long.

While there were a few unnecessary scenes in the original, this movie at times felt interminable. People talking about things we don’t care about often in ham-fisted attempts to evoke the original film I can do without.

3) It isn’t a good sequel. Collapse )