Thursday, December 30, 2010

TRON: Legacy Quasi-Review

I didn't set out to review TRON: Legacy, but after reading Max's article on the subject, I wanted to re-post my reply on my Blog, so that you guys can chip in with your thoughts. (Hint, hint: Comment! Add opinions! C'mon, I know you're reading this stuff...)

So, go read Max's article; it's pretty good stuff. And now, the (significantly shorter) reply:

TRON: Legacy (2010)

" [Applause] Overall, excellent work. I have to disagree with the earliest part of your premise though; the original TRON was better, because, quite frankly, the notion of PERSONIFYING computer programs was freaking BRILLIANT. The second time around? Not particularly witty.

The concept that the programs we write become single-minded souls on a mission is awesome, the notion that the larger, overarching code that sets the rules and regulations functions as the law enforcement is equally awesome, and the notion that users throw a wrench into the whole thing is EXACTLY what you already agree with, and EXACTLY the point of TRON. Programs exist FOR THE USER, and the user undoubtedly screws it up, and has to go fix it.

Sure, sure, there are problems. But it's metaphorical; it's imaginative. The very scenario you presented, with the suited guys around the table, wouldn't have been possible to CONCEIVE of if TRON hadn't first presented the personification-of-computer-programs idea.

That said, many excellent points. WALL-E does a great job, but it's not Pixar's first attempt at an important message: Monsters Inc. talks about corporate greed and fear-mongering, WALL-E tackles obesity and the environment, etc. Happy Feet, which I believe was done by different people, deals with animal endangerment. The animated movies are good at it, as they should be.

So what purpose does TRON serve, in light of such powerful, meaningful competition? It serves to broaden our imaginations, to get us to look at our world, even our digital world, in new ways, and to think about the things we are creating with our new technology. There were messages of corporate greed even in this latest TRON movie, pitting "free" operating systems against profits built on changing the 11 to "a 12" (remember that?). This TRON asked us to think about open-source software, and downloads and piracy, all issues facing our future, both in a programming and economic sense.

Do we create movies like TRON because we, as you say, "find computer programs so boring"? I think not. I think we create movies like TRON because we find the possibilities of the technological age so incredible, so endless, so EXCITING. We create TRON because we need to, in some small way, begin to express the magnitude of what we imagine and barely understand. We represent a new frontier in terms of our world, for we have no other way to comprehend it. We're haven't run out of things to say about technology. Rather, we can't find the means to say enough. "

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