Tron Legacy: Serious Business

Above, the new trailer for Tron Legacy. The film's a sequel to Tron, a cult classic about computers that came out 28 years ago. Yes, holy shit, 28 years ago. Jeff Bridges, who starred in Tron as programmer and arcade owner Flynn, was only 33 back then (and looked even younger). He'll be revisiting the role in Tron Legacy and using his Serious Actor Chops, for which he has recently been commended.

If you watch the Tron Legacy trailer, you'll almost forget for a moment how utterly silly the original Tron was. Well, allow me to remind you, via the original trailer.

To review: the plot of the original Tron involved a programmer going inside of a computer, while maintaining a corporeal (miniature?) form, and hanging out with programs. Who took the form of human beings. Who fought each other. In video-games. Also: lots of glowing outfits and glowing frisbees. Very serious stuff.

The only reason why the plot worked at all was because it was 1982. The internet hadn't even been invented yet, and you were considered a collossal nerd if you understood the capabilities of, say, a floppy disk. Whereas nowadays, even your grandmother has a passing familiarity with e-mail, and possibly even Wii Sports.

So, how are modern audiences going to relate to a world in which programs are sentient human-like beings that battle each other inside of every computer? It would be a charming concept for a children's cartoon (and indeed, Disney must've thought so when they put a Tron level into Kingdom Hearts, a game constructed entirely from levels based on childrens' movies). But Tron Legacy acts like it's for adults. And it isn't supposed to be a comedy. Hmmm.

Even my favorite blog on the internet, Overthinking It, claimed that Tron Legacy was a sign of Disney's new maturity. I certainly hope not. I don't think Tron calls for a "mature" or "serious" approach at all.

I think Disney may be missing the point of what made Tron a cult classic: it's a very, very silly interpretation of how computers work, written for an audience that probably didn't understand the first thing about computers and was happy to go along with the fantasy -- and therefore Tron has become unintentionally hilarious for modern audiences who do understand how computers work. Rather well, actually.

Anyway, I'm well aware that I should probably shut up and go with it. This strategy worked out okay for Transformers, and the original cartoons were nothing but silliness. Next up, I'm hoping for a super-serious version of Power Rangers -- or a live-action He-Man! Hey, it could happen.

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