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The two Tron movies were the first or second thing (don’t remember) I watched when I subscribed to Disney+. I subscribed for the MCU, NatGeo, and Star Wars; and I was intrigued by Pixar (I had never seen any of those movies), but I watched the Tron movies before any of those.
I’m not sure if Tron: Legacy is actually a guilty pleasure. Rotten Tomatoes reports scores of 51 from the critics (who I don’t care about) and 63 from the audience. The 63 is technically a “fresh” score, but just barely. Still, I suspect it fair to call this a guilty pleasure if for no other reason that the sequel, Tron: Ascension, was scrapped due to a poor box office. That could have been an awesome story of Clu’s invasion of the real world.
Besides a really good cast, there are three things I loved about the movie. First, “Radical, man!” “Far out, man,” “We were jammin’,” and the like. Based on the story, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is clearly a man out of time, and everyone he knows from the VR world would similarly be so. Even if new lingo had developed within the VR world, Flynn’s isolation would keep his vocabulary stale. It seemed like almost every sentence Mr. Bridges spoke contained a smattering of 80s lingo. That’s a hell of a way to tug on the heartstrings of a child of the 70s/80s like me.
Second, I like when a movie plays on the notion of the grass being greener on the other side. The idea of plugging ourselves into a virtual reality world is something that intrigues a large percentage of us (if not a majority), but Clu has the exact opposite perspective. He’s in that VR world and is doing everything in his power to get out. What’s more important: Being able to move like Neo in the Matrix or seeing a true sunset? I think the former is more important. We don’t really see sunsets, but rather how our brain interprets sensory data from our eyes and intervening parts. If the brain can be sent signals for a sunset even when the sun isn’t up, it’s no different from the real thing and could actually be programmed to be better. So, in the VR world, you can have both. Regardless of whether you agree, the point is that many of us want VR, but human nature is such that humans who’ve always existed in VR would probably want to see the real world. Everyone wants what the can’t have.
Then there’s the music. I have music from both Tron movies on a playlist I frequently enjoy. I’m a child of the 80s, so I loved the scene when Sam turned on the power at the arcade, and Separate Ways belted out. However, Legacy took place much later, and Daft Punk captured the upgraded feel very well.
If Tron: Ascension were ever made, I’d be there opening weekend.
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