03 March 2011

[liff] TRON: Legacy - A Fitting Sequel

2565.The Wife™ and myself finally got the chance to see TRON: Legacy  at the Academy Theater out here, Montavilla way last night.

It's worth the wait. The Academy, which was a whole lot of things for a whole lot of years after it quit being The Academy for a while, is a theater reboot done right; the original details preserved, the archiectural designs and history honored, and with 2nd-run movies at Very Nice Prices Indeed (2 adults can get in on Tuesdays for $4 for the both). The Academy is our choice, both in and out of these sketchy economic times.

As far as the movie went, though, it shouldn't be a huge suprise to find out that I'm not only a huge fan of the original movie but own its 25th Anniversary edition. TRON, for all its flaws - and they're legion - is a smart, inventive and, for its time, risk-taking motion picture, if only for the fact that it gets you to buy into a concept that's gibberish on its face: the programs we wrote as little-kid BASIC programmers were little beings that looked like us, had lives, saw their own purpose, and saw us Users as Creator.

Life on the Program level, it turns out, involves an innumerable pantheon of gods.

Bringing TRON into the world of 2010 couldn't have been easy. The evil ENCOM megacorp was drawn so sketchily that about all that you could tell about it was that it was a huge company that did something with computers somehow - just what, aside from a kickass security program and world-beating video games that still appeared kind of lame next to the games we actually played at the time - was never made clear. The ENCOM of "today" is a lot more clear - it's a software and hardware giant of the stripe of Apple or Microsoft; the distraction to kick-off the story, the worldwide release of ENCOM OS 12 - "the most secure operating system of modern times", as Ed Dillinger, Jr (apparently, greasiness runs in the family) termed it, happened at midnight, just as big-ass software releases do here in Realtopia (I imagine, in the film's world, geeks of all strips were lining up around Best Buy to purchase the first retail copies).

And what does the main characater, Sam Flynn - disaffected but still the majority shareholder do? He hacks the mainframe and makes ENCOM OS 12 available for free - "On the Web", as Bruce Boxleitner's Realtopia characater, Alan Bradley, observe drolly in the ENCOM board meeting just minutes before the midnight release. Sam Flynn's hackerly might is evident. Bow before it.

Another subtext I enjoyed was the weaving of themes I can only think of woven in from Buddhism, mostly as expressed by the character of Kevin Flynn, who has been living in the "Outlands", off the Grid in the System, for the 30 years he's been captive in the system (when his digital double, CLU 2.0, took over, Flynn couldn't get back to the I/O Port in time and it closed, locking him in the system, almost as a wu-wei counterpoint to CLU's active conquering of the System, sincerely following the dictum of his creator - create a perfect world. As most quests for perfection go, it's misguided, possibly by an unfortunate misconception I find quite often, that perfect means flawless.

Perfect, it ought to be remembered, also means finished, completed. Flawed things can be just as perfect as flawless things.

The quest in the movie takes the form of Sam and Kevin's attempt to Go Home Again™ while keeping Flynn's identity disc out of CLU's hands. Kevin Flynn, being who he is, has everything ever needful to know about The System in its entirety encoded on the disc, and its information would be CLU's key to expanding his persuit of a perfect world from The System itself - which resides on a squestered computer (with a kickass interface) in the basement of Flynn's Arcade (now closed in what is now a deserted, neglected area  of The City) - into Realtopia itself. The disc does change hands a few times, and the Quorra character (the adorable Olivia Wilde) gets. The movie riffs in manifold ways on the old prequel - CLU's carrier bears a strong resemblance to SARK's from the original movie, and there is a ride on a Solar Sailor across the Simulation Sea. It dances around questions of life and death, mortaility and philospohy and religion the way the original one did.

But above all, it was a good time, and it did what I thought would be difficult - continuing the story - with aplomb and unexpected deftness.


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