In an effort to place movies I enjoyed in my youth in their proper perspectives, I have decided to rewatch some of my favorite flicks of yesteryear through the critical eyeballs of adulthood. This is not a malicious attempt to invalidate anyone’s childhood, but I hold, if you are old enough to give your life for your country, you’re old enough to know the truth about some of your movies that just don’t hold up as well as you remembered now that you’re all grown up.
TRON Reviewed: by Joe Oesterle
It’s fun to find a TRON fan, and tell him the movie sucks. (Trust me, I’m not being chauvinistic, if you find a TRON fan, you have also found a him.) The truth is it only kind of sucks, but only in the way all-live action Disney movies after 1978 sucked. They still have some measure of charm, but it kind of feels like Disney films had been fighting a losing battle of making wholesome entertainment for a couple decades since the Beatles made long hair on teenage boys fashionable and hadn’t figured out how to produce films that the public would enjoy and still not compromise their family-friendly values.
This movie owes everything to the success of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, and while some scoffed at the special effects at the time, especially when compared to the aforementioned George Lucas classics, what should be noted is TRON is probably more visually compelling now than when it originally hit the theaters.
CGI was barely in it’s infancy in 1982, but the artists and designers for this film truly deserve most of the credit for making this movie stand above some of Disney’s other efforts of the time (see Herbie Goes Bananas.)
Every single frame of film during the “inside the machine” sequences is a work of futuristic minimalistic art, and visually, comparisons to Fritz Lang’s classic silent sci-fi, Metropolis, are well warranted.
Master Control Program happily informs us in one scene that it is 2,415 times smarter than a human being. You know why that’s hard to believe? Because if it truly were 2,415 times smarter than us that computer would have killed us by now. We humans are nowhere near that many times smarter than cows and we kill the shit out of them on a daily basis.
The bigger point is, right after bragging about being 2,415 time smarter than us, it asks a human to download a file so it can speak Chinese. If that computer is so damn smart, how come it never heard of Babblefish.com? This isn’t even Cantonese… we’re just talking regular Chinese here.
If we as a species were only 50 times smarter than we are today we’d all speak Chinese. No problem. Obviously the Chinese would, and there’s a ton of them, so that’s a lot of humans already speaking Chinese and that’s a huge head start. But I’d venture to bet if cows were 2,415 times smarter than they currently are they’d all speak Chinese fluently enough to order Beef and Broccoli, in Swahili if they so chose. They’d also be smart enough not to order beef and anything, because they don’t want to catch Mad Cow Disease, but now we’re getting off topic.
The heart of the matter is this computer is nowhere near as smart as it pretends to be. If you’re 2,415 times smarter than humans, speaking Chinese has to be in your arsenal. That computer is either padding its stats, or it’s the laziest computer ever.
The moral of the story is simple enough, man will always be better than machine because man has a few inherent game-changing intangibles – love, friendship, teamwork and the undying ego of software engineers.
Another moral might be, all cows are evil and need to be slaughtered, cooked and smothered in sauces ranging from ketchup to Béarnaise before they become smarter than us. They’ll barbeque us and eat us if we give them half a chance. Look it up on any super computer.
I rate this movie as “cool hoke.” Expect nothing, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Expect anything, and expect disappointment.
Here’s a link to TRON 2.