I mentioned in an earlier post that December 17, 2010 will be a very busy day at the movies. That day will see the release of The Smurfs, Yogi Bear, Tron: Legacy, and The Green Hornet. I am eagerly awaiting Tron: Legacy and I can already hear my twin daughters -- who will be 33 months this December -- trying to pressure me into taking them to see The Smurfs or Yogi Bear.
Late last year, Disney released a teaser trailer for Tron: Legacy that demonstrated how cool lightcycles look with modern computer effects. They looked stunning with 80s "super computer" visual effects, and the new ones are just as mind-blowing as the original effects where when they first came out.
I have always thought that the original Tron film did a great job of conveying basic computer concepts to a wide audience. The fact that it conveyed these concepts with visual storytelling concepts made it all that much better. I wonder how many Gen X computer programmers and video game designers were inspired by Tron? The inter-relatedness of programs in Tron, and its use of the "Master Control Program," predated the internet and the Windows operating system -- or the Apache HTTP Server Project -- but the world presented in the film "assumed" such advances would take place. The film forever shaped how I viewed "cyber landscapes" when I read the fiction of William Gibson or Bruce Sterling.
It's hard for sequels, especially sequels separated by decades, to recapture the magic of earlier episodes of a film series. In many ways, remakes have an easier time introducing entertainment to new audiences or rekindling fandom among old hands. Compare the Star Wars prequels and Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, and their reception, to JJ Abrams' Star Trek or the Battlestar Galactica television reboot. The "sequels" earned fan ire, and didn't fire the imagination of new generations in the same way as earlier entries had.
Tron: Legacy is taking the more difficult path. It is a direct sequel of the original film, though one where the "real time" between the two films is the same as the time that has passed during the films. The use of the narrative trope of a son looking for his lost father -- and his legacy -- is as old as Homer, and it is a good narrative technique for introducing new audiences to old ideas without overly irritating the older audience. One can forgive narrative exposition when it has a narrative purpose. I don't know how this story will play out, and one can certainly induct very little about the plot of the new Tron movie from the newest trailer, but the more I find out about the sequel the more I want to watch it.
Obviously, this is a film that I will have to see in 3D.