Film Friday - The Original Tron
SUMMER SEASON IS MOVIE SEASON.
Whether you are trying to occupy the kids for an afternoon, escaping the heat with some comfy A/C, or simply setting yourself up to be disappointed by the next-would-be blockbuster, the movie theater is a haven in the summertime. And when it’s late, and the sun has set, what better way to end a summer evening than a cold drink and a great flic. Movies were an integral part of the summer season when I was a boy, and they still are, even as a dad with a boy of my own. I love the movies, but I love them even more from May to Labor Day. That’s why this summer at GamingWithSwag, we are going to hit you with Film Fridays and offer thoughts on game-related films and whether or not dads should spend their time watching them. I’ll be honest, the list of recommends is going to be short, but we’ll cover some unexpected areas and offer thoughts on a few films worth watching.
If we are going to talk VIDEO GAME Films, we must begin with TRON.
TRON is arguably one of the most prophetic concept films ever made, a film that was clearly meant to ride the Star Wars bandwagon of the early 80’s but instead gave the world something far different. This amazing motion picture is not only a fun adventure film for children but an impressive artistic endeavor and a fantastic catalyst for philosophic but also religious discussion.
The Plot to TRON is relatively simple. Computer programmer Kevin Flynn tries to hack the Master Control mainframe of the company that stole his in-development gaming program and exploited it for millions. Unbeknownst to him, the Master Control program has become self aware and is evolving at an alarming rate, kidnapping valuable programs and assimilating them into his own data matrix. During an aggressive attempt by Flynn to hack the system and prove his ownership of the work, Master Control digitizes him directly into the computer, where he fights alongside the Security program Tron to defeat Master Control and allow the captive programs to connect once more with their users.
TRON is more than a movie, it’s an experience. Like 2008’s Speed Racer, the film was ahead of its time and has an incredibly rich visual style, albeit one bound to 80’s technology (Editor's note CJ loves Speed Racer, if you don't like the movie replace it in your mind with another impressive technological film). Regardless, of the limitations of the film’s effects, the craft of filmmaking on display is truly remarkable and otherworldly. I’ve son a lot of films in my life, and none of them look or feel like Tron. While some folks will say that’s good thing, the film deserves acclaim for its unique vision and aesthetic that cements it as readily identifiable among the contemporary classics of the sci-fi genre. This is a movie with a unique identity, even as it culls from numerous archetypes and the ever-cited Hero myth. And that, I think is the other great strength of Tron. It’s a movie of fantasy elements that address real philosophical conflicts. The programs ask questions about their creators, The Users, which Master Control tries to stifle in order to maintain tyrannical power. ironically, it’s Master Control itself that brings a user into the grid and validates the faith of rebel programs. Meanwhile, the User, Flynn, is a savior but also a being trapped in a power matrix of the real world. These ideas entice the thinking audience member to ask his own question of the nature of things, the reality of a Creator(s), and whether they are meant to connect as a means of higher freedom. The film offers its own ideas, with which I do not entirely agree, but I love the fact that it addresses the concepts, regardless
SHOULD DADS BOTHER?
Yes. If for no other reason than to be awed by just how prophetic this film managed to be. The relationship of users-to-programs, the fears of AI, the hostile takeovers offered by technology and digital theft. It’s astonishing just how clearly this movie saw the future...of course, it also makes some leaps (including the primary catalyst for the main plot) that are just wonderfully wrong. It’s the type of movie that one can watch and think, “They thought THAT; how absurd.” and yet, also have moments of reflection like, “Wow, this flick is really about something.” Of course, it’s also a fine adventure film for the non-thinking man.
SHOULD THEY BRING THE KIDS?
I will for sure, when he’s old enough. My guess is that this movie will work best for kids around 7-10; although in the internet age of information and jaded viewership, that window may be shorter—like 6-8. It’s hard to say given that the movie has so many scenes of talking and so much less action than say, Star Wars or a Marvel film, but I think kids tend to be open to new experiences, and they might find Tron engaging on an adventure level on an initial viewing, only to find themselves more intrigued by its deeper concepts at a later time. So, yeah, if the kids like a little weird and trippy adventure, this is an 80’s gem worth sharing. BUT What do you think? Is TRON as good as I think it is? It is worth seeing as a child? I didn’t discover the film until I was an adult, so my perspective may be skewed. So, give us your take.