The 30th Anniversary of Tron.
The funny thing is, I was planning a Tron post as it was, and then realized that today was the 30th anniversary of the film. I figured I may as well blend my planned article with this bit of news.
I was six years old when I saw Tron in the movie theaters with my Dad. I was blown away by the vivid colors, the wild effects, the excellent score, and mostly, it was a film about digital warriors fighting inside of a computer. This whole life inside of an arcade game or an IBM. It made you reevaluate the idea of “Game Over” for the hundreds of Pac-Men and Space Invaders that fell by the wayside in the name of entertainment.
Looking back, Tron is a modern day Wizard of Oz set inside a tiny world of circuitry and microchips. E.T. beat it out for “Best Special Effects” because the use of CGI in a movie was considered cheating(!) – And it wasn’t that Tron had an easy time in remaining in the annals of movie or sci-fi history. Outside of a few toys from Tomy, two arcade games from Midway, and three Intellivision titles from Mattel, Tron came and went pretty quickly.
But not for me.
When I got into the video game industry (no small part in being inspired by this film), we worked next to an arcade and vending machine distribution place. I went in there often to get an advance peek at some newly released title, or play a number of classics on my breaks. It was one day that I saw a Tron machine, and decided that I had to have it. Of course, when I went to ask about it, it was sold off to the local college, and so ended that dream. But a funny thing happened: The machine came back a few months later, and I didn’t waste a second in paying it off. My first arcade machine. Tron was mine. And at home, the competitions among friends were fierce and LONG lasting.
I thought that was going to be the end of my Tron story. Disney certainly wasn’t doing much with the property, much less acknowledging it, and talks of a sequel seemed to long gone after a while. 28 years for a movie sequel? And yet, it came true. To a Daft Punk soundtrack, no less.
From the second I saw the Tron Legacy preview at Comic-Con, then later Disney’s California Adventure, it was over for me. Bad enough California Adventure created “ElecTRONica”, complete with an actual Flynn’s Arcade.
When December 17, 2010 came around, I was pretty happy:
So with a new sequel on the horizon, I await to see what happens next. But in the meantime, Tron: Uprising has come, and six episodes in, oh man, is it good.
Focusing on young mechanic turned renegade Beck, the series is an interquel between the two movies. The luxury of a series allows the show to really breathe ideas into the concepts introduced in the two films that admittedly, never got explored enough. It also bridges the gaps between the two distinct visual styles, with really nice nods to both films. If you enjoy the movies, there is more than enough fan service.
The series is also very well acted with a a really nice voice cast. There is a surprising amount of drama and introspection that again was merely hinted at in the films but didn’t get a chance to find its place. And the action scenes are just fantastic. It’s non-stop disc battles, light vehicle chases, and a lot of derezzing of characters. It doesn’t hold back from ending the digital lives of the the grid’s inhabitants, something that I found surprising, yet tastefully done. The music is also done by the person who supervised the overall score from Tron Legacy, so while new, it’s very familiar in tone. And best of all, it doesn’t lose its video game “feel”.
My biggest concern is that it will have to go the route of The Clone Wars eventually in that you’ll know the fate of certain characters, while others will be pretty obvious in why they are not around in the films. The show does a good job of making you invest in the characters, but you just know the writing one the wall the first minute in, and now it’s just a matter of finding how it will all play out in the final episodes.
The only other outstanding issue has nothing to do with the show itself. Disney XD needs a much better way to promote their upcoming shows that having these HUGE file folders expanding to cover 1/4 of the lower screen. Seriously, when “pop-up ads” are covering the entirety of a character’s mouth and nose when they are delivering lines of exposition, it’s really distracting. I want to buy the series on disc just to not see that.
So Happy 30th anniversary, Tron. It’s nice to see the franchise get some love after a nearly three decade hiatus, and the future of where everything is going simply speaks to that six year old who went to battle it out in the arcade, and still does so today.
End of line.