March 28, 2012

Tron: Legacy

By Andrew at 9:18 AM

There are several movies that I especially appreciate for various reasons.  Oftentimes, I will appreciate a specific aspect of a movie, even though other elements may be sub-par.  If I were to list some of the movies that I thought were the best-made movies of all time, I would consider titles such as “The Dark Knight,” “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” or “Inception.”  But in selecting my favorite movies, I do not necessarily define them as the best-made movies of all time.  Instead, when selecting something as subjective as my “favorite,” I choose according to what I enjoy most.

Back when I was in middle or high-school, I was beginning to explored the long and intriguing history of animation and computer graphics.  While studying the life of Walt Disney for a report, I discovered a 1980s cult-classic called “Tron.”  The original Tron movie pioneered technologies in the computer graphics field that we know today, even though at that point the complexity of those graphics was extremely limited.  In “Tron,” the concept of humans entering the virtual world intrigued me, but apparently not enough for me to make it a point to see the movie for quite some time.  It was not until college that I saw “Tron,” and I really enjoyed it.  Sure, the production technology after twenty-some years was extremely dated, but the charm remained in the history of the methods more than in the technical execution.  It was not a movie that I would watch over and over, but I did appreciate the visual style.

Jump forward a couple of years, and the long-awaited sequel, “Tron: Legacy,” was slated for release.  I did not immediately see the movie when it was released, but when I eventually did, I was blown away.  While I still will not say that it is the best-made movie of all time, it is my personal favorite.  The visual style, the technological references, even the mock theoretical concepts mentioned in the dialogue are very intriguing to me.

For those of you who have not seen this movie, in brief summary, it is the continuation of the original “Tron” of 20+ years before.  The movie opens with the disappearance of a programmer, and it follows the escapades of his trouble-making son 20 years later.  Through a sequence of events, the son ends up inside a digital world where he must discover what happened to his father and how to escape this oppressive digital realm.  The premise is simple; however, it is the subject matter and history behind the premise that makes the movie much more intriguing to me.

The visual style generally focuses on drastic contrasts between dark, subdued background canvases with crisp, bright outlines which become indicative of whether a character is “good” or “evil.”  There are exceptions, however, and the changes in color scheme can indicate passing from one side to the other.  The soundtrack is another bright spot in this film, a brilliant blend of traditional orchestral scoring and the music of the French electronic musical duo Daft Punk.  The styles blend so well that it is hard to tell where one style ends and the other begins.  In addition, before this movie I did not necessarily see the need for using stereoscopic 3D in movies.  However, the 3D was executed so well in this movie that I now can see hope for 3D as a routinely utilized technology moving forward.

I imagine that the main reason I enjoy “Tron: Legacy” so much is due to my involvement in computers and computer graphics.  However, I also appreciate that it was done in such a way that it could be enjoyed by almost all viewers, staying well within its PG rating.  It is the little things, such as the subtle jabs at the tech industry, that help me identify with the characters, even though I imagine that the actors do not know Python from Perl when it comes to programming languages.  But in general, “Tron: Legacy” was a movie that renewed in me an appreciation for the art of movie-making, especially for movies that reach out and impact the lives of viewers where they are.

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