Tron: Legacy

Olivia Wilde cute in tron legacy

Tron: Legacy
Place/time: 7:15 showing at Kaleidoscope, Dec. 30 with Nick

Why so late-ious?  There’s a very good reason that I’m a week late on this post.  I wanted to try a little something different with this review, so it took longer than it usually might – but more on that at the end ;).

For me, this movie was very similar to Avatar.  It entertained, I heard more about how the movie looked than how the story was, I didn’t think it was very good, and I wasn’t really interested in seeing it… but AFTER I saw it, I’d wished it was better because of the possibilities.

First of all: the original Star Wars trilogy, The Dark Knight, and The Matrix trilogy.  Seen those movies?  If so, good… because you’ll probably recognize traces of them in Tron: Legacy.  I sure did.  There is even a shot of a man standing on a high-rise building that made me think they were suddenly using extra footage from The Dark Knight (the music didn’t help the comparison, either, but I definitely won’t be complaining about THAT).  I won’t go too far into detail about the story similarities, as to avoid spoiling it all, and I’m actually pretty okay when movies aren’t completely original – as long as what they are doing hasn’t already been done better.

I didn’t grow up loving the original Tron, and I only recently saw it.  After it ended, I was surprised to see that it didn’t actually call for a sequel.  Everything ends just fine, so I was curious to see why (if not just for money) the sequel even needed to exist.  Tron: Legacy is, in large part, for the fans… even to the point of hampering the movie.  There are a number of shots, lines of dialogue, and moments that should have probably been cut – if not for their connection to the first movie.  A great deal of it is wink-wink nudge-nudge type of stuff.  Since I wasn’t seeing this as a fan, though, my only choice was to see how much I enjoyed it on its own.

That, sadly, didn’t go over too well.

Before going on, I have to talk about 4 things that I DID like, because they infiltrate and almost alleviate what I did NOT like.

Olivia Wilde hot in tron legacy

1.  Olivia Wilde.  Sure, she’s hot, and her costume was the thing that 12 year-old boys’ dreams are made of, but that’s not why she’s on the list… and not at all why she’s the first thing I’m mentioning.  I have her here because I loved her in this movie.  Her character was one of the few (only?) that had some well-roundedness to it, and Ms. Wilde made her gal very lovable with how she played it all.  I’d actually recommend seeing the movie at some point, for her alone – even if you’re just in the ogling mood.  If you won’t see it for her, though, than perhaps for…

2.  Daft Punk.  Digitized-BWAAAAAAAAAAAH!  Nick said that when he first saw the movie, their soundtrack almost fooled him into thinking parts of the movie were really great.  Sure, it’s really “cool” that they did music for this movie, but they’re great musicians, and I loved what they created for Tron: Legacy.  I’m listening to the score right now :).  They borrow heavily from Hans Zimmer (with whom they met on this), but it’s very fitting, since ol’ Hans is rather known for his driving orchestral beats and rhythm.

3.  Yeah.. it looked pretty.

4.  Michael Sheen.  Tee-hee.  I like watching him in anything, so this one is the most personal, but in Tron: Legacy he’s an actor without a leash… and he completely chews up the scenery and over-acts every moment that he’s on screen.  I, myself, have done that – as have most of my favorite actors.  It was a great bit of fun to see, though, even if it wasn’t great for the movie, and the fact that he was having such a good time up there on the screen made me do an LOL a few times.  A Charlie Chaplin walk?  Yep :).

Ah, so that’s the good.  The bad?  Everything else.  The story does “make sense”, in that I understood the plot-points, what was said, and where characters were going, but why I don’t like it is because the story just doesn’t add up under any scrutiny.  I’m trying (and failing) to keep this brief, but here’s an example:

Character A is told about this great old gadget.  It’s supposed to be the best of its kind, and there aren’t any others like it.  So, Character A later uses that gadget to escape somewhere, and then just pawns it off like it’s nothing.  This gadget was set up as something great, so I thought, “Oh, cool, so we’ll see that later on at some exciting point.”  Nope.  That’s what I was trying to say above.  It’s not necessarily that the movie is filled with story choices that don’t make any sense, they’re just really, really STUPID choices that SHOULDN’T make any sense.

They also continued the theme of religion and faith from the original Tron, layering it on thicker than before, but if there was a structured symbolism, I couldn’t tell you what it was.  The many religious elements were there, and I could KINDA see where some characters might be seen as one thing or the other, but to say that this character definitely meant this or that would be counter to the story because it just wasn’t cohesive enough to make any strong symbolic undertone stick.  Was it all due to lazy writers?  An inexperienced director?  A rushed production company?  Who knows, but the point is – the movie wasn’t what it could’ve been.

Just like when I left the theater after seeing Avatar, I thought that there were some really interested ideas that just never got explored.  No, that’s not the place for another sequel – it’s just disappointing storytelling.  With Olivia Wilde’s character, a digital duplicate gone mad on a quest for perfection, great music, and a genuinely good start (the opening lines and scenes really set me up for something maybe-good, too), this movie should’ve been pretty darn great – they had a shot.  To my dismay, they missed the mark.

So, story aside (because who cares about that), at least there are the great visuals, right?  It’s even #3 in the “good” list above!  It’s also #2 in the “bad” list right here.  BAM, didn’t expect THAT, did ya?

In the beginning of the movie, we see a young Jeff Bridges talking to his son.  At first we are barely getting glimpses of his face, and I thought that they’d simply done some age-reversal effects like at the beginning of the third X-Men movie, and also wisely chosen to hide him in shadow.  I liked that :).  Then, however, I saw that they’d actually just been using the fully digitally created Bridges that we see later in the movie as the villain.  That just didn’t make any gosh-darn sense to me.  If we’re seeing a (sometimes) odd-looking digital Jeff Bridges in the computer world, that’s okay – but then to say that the effects are so realistic that they should be brought to the real world, too, seemed silly.  Also, while this is also a story choice, why did the world look the way it did?  If Jeff Bridges’ character created a new world, why would he make it so stylized, with programs that dressed really strangely?  And, if it was to be completely stylized and unlike Earth, why was there rain?  The Matrix made sense to me – AND they bothered to explain it.  Tron: Legacy didn’t make sense – and they didn’t bother to explain it at all.  Why did Jeff Bridges go from wearing an interesting leather jacket when he first created the world, to some bizarre zen-robe?  Who knows.

And that’s what made me disappointed.  I wanted to know.  I would’ve liked to have seen this movie and thought it was great, recommending it to all of you – but I can’t.  It had its moments, and I wasn’t bored witless, but it was pure popcorn-theater at it’s worst.  It tried, and I honestly believe that those involved were striving for great things… it just didn’t make it.

daft punk in tron

Grade: C-

Now, here is normally where you would click the “Keep Reading…” link to continue on to the spoilers section of my review (and there ARE still plenty of spoilers down there), but as I said at the top, I wanted to do something a little different.  I’m actually foregoing my spoiler-ific part of the review, which is why the above was so lengthy (though I’d still have plenty more to say in detail).  2011 is starting boldly, as I have actually asked someone OTHER than Mark Mushakian of MarkMushakian.com to write in this blog.  What you will find below is a review of Tron: Legacy from a very big fan of the movie (sorry to ruin the surprise of whether or not he liked it).  This person asked me not to list his name, as he MAY or MAY NOT work for a company related to the movie’s production, but for those of you who know him – he’s a conservative Republican, a massive Disney fan, and you may have seen him at Game Night on occasion.  No guessing in the comments necessary THIS time, folks ;).

He’s seen the movie at least 4 times (as of this writing), and knowing just how big a fan he is, I thought it would be really interesting to juxtapose my negative review with what I assumed would be a passionately enthusiastic one (I was right).  If you folks think it’s a fun comparison, I may invite others to do the same later on… to have, in one place, two well-written opinions of why one person could dislike something that someone else loves.  I did this for no other reason than that – it’s an idea that fascinates me, so I wanted to find out why someone loved this movie.

So now that you’ve read what I think, let’s see what HE has to say…

Warning: There be spoilers below…

Tron: Legacy Review
by A Big Fan.

(Completely unedited, this is as it was provided to me. – Mark)

——–

Let me start of by saying that I love TRON.  Loved it ever since I can remember.  I was born the year the first film came out, 1982.  It was one of the first films I saw on VHS.  It was just great.  As a kid, I loved the colors and stylization.  And as a teenager, I was enthralled with the story of how Steven Lisberger and his crew made this landmark film (which was an adventure in and of itself).

But I think the thing I love the most about TRON is the world, and all it entails.  The whole adventure took place inside a computer!  To place this fantastical world inside a thing I used all the time altered the way I thought about how computers worked, and made computer programming somewhat understandable to me.  It gave the computer – something that is cold, calculating, and unknown to most (especially in 1982) – humanity, a spiritual side, a soul.  I could imagine all those little blips of data as humanoid programs, traveling by solar sailer and light cycle to transport information throughout the system.

As I got older, TRON’s significance opened up even more.  My political and philosophical mind was being shaped in my college years, and TRON reflected the conservative philosophy I was ascribing to.  Tron, Flynn, and Yori were fighting to make the ENCOM system free like America.  And the villainous Master Control Program represented the repressive, tyrannical state that got too big for its britches.  Tron and Flynn were two sides of the America psyche: the brave soldier with a solid moral compass and the resourceful smart-ass who makes up plans as he goes along.

The MCP was fixated on ridding the system of the Users, finding them superfluous.  Despite the fact that he was created by the Users, he renounced them, saying that no one User created him.  Master Control made believing in the Users forbidden, like so many repressive regimes.  Government must be god, and the citizens must be fully dependent on the state.

Like the repressive leftist regimes of Eastern Europe at that time, the MCP and his cohorts repressed belief in the Users and attempted to force programs to rely on the MCP for sustenance.  The MCP slowly took over a program’s functions, and if a program cannot be used for the sake of the massive MCP, they got “the bits blasted out of [them] on the Game Grid” – a futuristic gulag.

But the film’s deepest meaning came to me as I became a Christian near the end of my college career.  I could now identify the soul of TRON to be one of Judeo-Christian origin, with the programs seeking salvation and direction from the Users (humans).  I remember a short dialogue between two conscripted programs that summed up the spiritual heart of the film:

RAM:  You believe in the Users?
CROM:  Of course.  If I don’t have a User, then who wrote me?

The Christian author C.S. Lewis said that because God is sovereign over everything, and He is indeed the final arbiter of morality, everything created by man within this “moral storytelling” has a hint of God within it – even if the author of the work did not have God in mind.  We all have a “great longing” that manifests itself in the creative works we produce, and makes us accept certain stories and reject others.  TRON is no exception.

I was a TRON fan at a time when very few people my age even knew what TRON was.  The ones that did (including friends of mine) ridiculed it and wrote it off as hokey and outdated.

Pop culture poked fun at TRON.  I remember a joke from The Simpsons in which Homer was sucked into a computer generated world.  When asked by his friends to describe where he was, he hesitantly said, “Did anybody see that movie TRON?”  To which all replied “No,” without hesitation.

I knew that there was too much potential in TRON for Disney to resist.  Little gems started to appear gradually: a video game sequel, comic book, etc.  But all of these things failed to ignite the fire necessary to revitalize TRON.  As Imagineer Josh Shipley wrote in his fascinating Disney twenty-three article, TRON creator Steven Lisberger was simply waiting for the original TRON kids to grow up and take over Hollywood.

When I first heard that a TRON sequel test reel was shown at Comic-Con 2009, I leapt out of seat with joy.  I only regretted I wasn’t there to see it firsthand.  A couple weeks went by, and it was released on the internet; I loved it.  Light cycles!  Dark terrain!  Identity discs!  JEFF BRIDGES!!  TRON was finally going to get the treatment it deserves, with today’s technology behind it.  I just hoped the final product was good.

So, how did TRON: Legacy hold up for me?  It was absolutely sublime, a treat all around!  Just what all the TRON nerds were waiting for.  I knew that some people weren’t going to get it, and I was okay with that.  I didn’t care.  I got what I wanted out of it.

Now I was going to go in depth about what I thought about the special effects, acting, visual look, etc.  But Harry Knowles over at Ain’t It Cool News beat me to it (link).  I agree with virtually everything he said about the film, and he said it in a more articulate way than I ever could (with sentences like that, you know it’s true).  So I junked my initial review thanks to Mr. Knowles to avoid accusations of plagiarism.  I want to delve more into the spiritual aspects of the film.

First, the negatives.  The film isn’t perfect.  There were two things that stuck out in my mind.

Tron (my favorite character) got way too little screen time, and his transformation from Rinzler back to Tron was rushed.  I thought the twist of Tron as a baddie was interesting, but I wouldn’t have minded an additional 10-15 minutes weaved into the story in order to make Tron’s rebirth more impactful.  Perhaps while Clu and company searched Flynn’s hideaway, Rinzler could have come across some artifact that caused his memory to flash back, but kept it to himself.  That would have been an interesting mirror to Clu, who had a physical reaction to his triggered memory.  Or Rinzler and Flynn come face to face at some point, and Flynn recognizes him as Tron, making Rinzler doubt his identity even more.  Despite all that, I still happily giggled when Tron said, “I fight for the Users,” and rammed Clu.  Awesome.

The film relied heavily on the audience knowing about the world beforehand, be it from the first film or from the graphic novel (TRON: Betrayal) and/or the video game (TRON: Evolution).  Now for a TRON nerd like me, the plot was super-easy to understand because I had read everything prior.  But I’m sure the average moviegoer must have been lost at some point.

Little things like the plight of the ISOs and the Clu’s resentment of Flynn are more fleshed out in the graphic novel and video game, resulting in stronger character empathy.  You can’t leave a character’s emotional connection to the audience up to other media.  One of the cardinal rules of screenwriting is assume you audience knows almost nothing about the world and slowly reveal what’s going on.  The first TRON did this very well with lots of visual storytelling.

And now the great stuff.  This film is a real sequel.  It built upon the spiritual/philosophical foundations of the first film and took it in a direction I was not anticipating.  But here are some aspects that really illustrated the point.

At some point between the first film and the graphic novel, Flynn got the idea to build a perfect system – a digital utopia.  He was playing God to the hilt.  The only problem is that because we are human beings with flaws and sin, perfection is unknowable.  Flynn discovers this truth by the end of the film, when he realizes his mistake and repents (he’s had 20 years to think about it).  In his pursuit of perfection, he lost part of his humanity – personified by Clu’s relentless pursuit of order.  An argument as to why human being are not (and should not) be gods.

Clu was an interesting character.  He is the Satan of the digital world: created to serve a purpose, second-in-command to the Creator, and rebelled against said creator because he thought he had a better way.  Satan resented humanity because God showed His favor upon them, much like Flynn showing favor to the ISOs (difference is the creation of man was planned and the creation of the ISO was not – another side-effect of man playing God).  And like the difference between angels and humans, the ISO were free-thinking beings whereas programs are guided by their instructions.

Clu’s motivation reflects the will of an imperfect god (Flynn).  But in a way, Clu can also be seen as analogous to humans and how God’s word can be misconstrued to do evil.  He was made in Flynn’s image, and given an impossible instruction (create the perfect system).  Clu took this to an extreme and ended up doing great harm.  Flynn does not hate Clu, which is evidenced by his wanting to reason with Clu and the end of the film.  He even apologizes to Clu for giving him an unattainable goal, something I could see an imperfect god doing.

It’s intriguing that Clu seeks perfection from something that is imperfect, much like the modern socialist/communist movement seeking forced equality of status, while enslaving the population to a dark, hellish existence in servitude to the leadership class.  Dissidents and “strays” are sent to the Game Grid where they are dispatched, or “rectified” and re-educated.  Like all the bloodthirsty totalitarian movements of the 20th century, Clu’s regime is atheistic.  Clu himself is billed as the “liberator” for confining the creator to exile, and openly mocked Flynn to his army of dependent automatons.

To make the similarity more apparent, Clu exterminated the ISOs because he saw them as inferior, imperfect beings – much like the barbaric extermination of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis.  Hitler saw the Jews (among other groups) as an imperfection, in spite of the Jews being named numerous times in Scripture as God’s chosen people.

For all intents and purposes, Flynn has given up on ever defeating Clu, despite the fact that Flynn created Clu.  Disillusioned, he hides from his creation and does nothing to stop him, rather than risk getting caught.  This illustrates the principal that evil triumphs when good men do nothing.  It is only through the love of his son that he is compelled to act.  Flynn’s love for Sam is stronger than his fear of Clu.

Quorra’s speech to Sam about meeting Flynn immediately conjured up memories of the story of Jesus helping the adulterous woman in John 8:2.  It’s almost as if it was written from the perspective of the woman! Quorra describes her encounter with Flynn (whom she calls the Creator) as a “rescue,” which is what Christ does for each of us.  But in our case, He saves us from our sin as well as outside forces.

Quorra was also an interesting character.  After her rescue, she becomes a disciple of Flynn.  In her reading of stories about the real world, she began to wonder about it, longing to see a sunrise (something that never happens in that world).  The look she gives Flynn and Sam as they are reunited and embrace is one of quiet intrigue and bewilderment.  She is profoundly naïve, and has probably never seen physical affection before.  It’s a frame of film I could hang on a wall and ponder what she is thinking.

The coolest spiritual analogy was at the climax.  Flynn sacrifices himself to prevent Clu from entering the real world, and to get Sam and Quorra to safety.  Jesus said in John 15:13, “greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  In fact, Christ did this Himself.  To Sam, this was his father showing his love for him (Clu didn’t understand this).  To Quorra, Flynn was the creator and savior, sacrificing himself for her and all programs by absorbing Clu (taking on sin), thereby ridding the system of Clu’s evil.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Flynn lives on in the system as some kind of spiritual guiding force, like Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia.  That would be cool.

As one of my friends told me, computer data can always be recovered.  So I hope we will see more of Flynn and Tron in another film.

Now perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but I don’t think so.  Art is subjective, and we all see what we see.  TRON: Legacy was all I wanted it to be.  Despite some minor flaws, I enjoyed it on many different levels.  And it gets better with each viewing.  If you’ve written it off, I hope you’ll give this film another try.

The world of TRON is fantastical and mystifying, and holds so much more potential than perhaps its current torchbearers even realize.

Let me start of by saying that I love TRON. Loved it every since I can remember. I was born the year the first film came out, 1982. It was one of the first films I saw on VHS. It was just great. As a kid, I loved the colors and stylization. And as a teenager, I was enthralled with the story of how Steven Lisberger and his crew made this landmark film (which was an adventure in and of itself).
But I think the thing I love the most about TRON is the world, and all it entails. The whole adventure took place inside a computer! To place this fantastical world inside a thing I used all the time altered the way I thought about how computers worked, and made computer programming somewhat understandable to me. It gave the computer – something that is cold, calculating, and unknown to most (especially in 1982) – humanity, a spiritual side, a soul. I could imagine all those little blips of data as humanoid programs, traveling by solar sailer and light cycle to transport information throughout the system.
As I got older, TRON’s significance opened up even more. My political and philosophical mind was being shaped in my college years, and TRON reflected the conservative philosophy I was ascribing to. Tron, Flynn, and Yori were fighting to make the ENCOM system free like America. And the villainous Master Control Program represented the repressive, tyrannical state that got too big for its britches. Tron and Flynn were two sides of the America psyche: the brave soldier with a solid moral compass and the resourceful smart-ass who makes up plans as he goes along.
The MCP was fixated on ridding the system of the Users, finding them superfluous. Despite the fact that he was created by the Users, he renounced them, saying that no one User created him. Master Control made believing in the Users forbidden, like so many
Like the repressive leftist regimes of Eastern Europe at that time, the MCP and his cohorts repressed belief in the Users and attempted to force programs to rely on the MCP for sustenance. The MCP slowly took over a program’s functions, and if a program cannot be used for the sake of the massive MCP, they got “the bits blasted out of [them] on the Game Grid” – a futuristic gulag.
But the film’s deepest meaning came to me as I became a Christian near the end of my college career. I could now identify the soul of TRON to be one of Judeo-Christian origin, with the programs seeking salvation and direction from the Users (humans). I remember a short dialogue between two conscripted programs that summed up the spiritual heart of the film:
RAM: You believe in the Users?
CROM: Of course. If I don’t have a User, then who wrote me?

The Christian author C.S. Lewis said that because God is sovereign over everything, and He is indeed the final arbiter of morality, everything created by man within this “moral storytelling” has a hint of God within it – even if the author of the work did not have God in mind. We all have a “great longing” that manifests itself in the creative works we produce, and makes us accept certain stories and reject others. TRON is no exception.
I was a TRON fan at a time when very few people my age even knew what TRON was. The ones that did (including friends of mine) ridiculed it and wrote it off as hokey and outdated.
Pop culture poked fun at TRON. I remember a joke from The Simpsons in which Homer was sucked into a computer generated world. When asked by his friends to describe where he was, he hesitantly said, “Did anybody see that movie TRON?” To which all replied “No,” without hesitation.
I knew that there was too much potential in TRON for Disney to resist. Little gems started to appear gradually: a video game sequel, comic book, etc. But all of these things failed to ignite the fire necessary to revitalize TRON. As Imagineer Josh Shipley wrote in his fascinating Disney twenty-three article, TRON creator Steven Lisberger was simply waiting for the original TRON kids to grow up and take over Hollywood.
When I first heard that a TRON sequel test reel was shown at Comic-Con 2009, I leapt out of seat with joy. I only regretted I wasn’t there to see it firsthand. A couple weeks went by, and it was released on the internet; I loved it. Light cycles! Dark terrain! Identity discs! JEFF BRIDGES!! TRON was finally going to get the treatment it deserves, with today’s technology behind it. I just hoped the final product was good.
So, how did TRON: Legacy hold up for me? It was absolutely sublime, a treat all around! Just what all the TRON nerds were waiting for. I knew that some people weren’t going to get it, and I was okay with that. I didn’t care. I got what I wanted out of it.
Now I was going to go in depth about what I thought about the special effects, acting, visual look, etc. But Harry Knowles over at Ain’t It Cool News beat me to it (link). I agree with virtually everything he said about the film, and he said it in a more articulate way than I ever could (with sentences like that, you know it’s true). So I junked my initial revue thanks to Mr. Knowles to avoid accusations of plagiarism. I want to delve more into the spiritual aspects of the film.
First, the negatives. The film isn’t perfect. There were two things that stuck out in my mind.
Tron (my favorite character) got way too little screen time, and his transformation from Rinzler back to Tron was rushed. I thought the twist of Tron as a baddie was interesting, but I wouldn’t have minded an additional 10-15 minutes weaved into the story in order to make Tron’s rebirth more impactful. Perhaps while Clu and company searched Flynn’s hideaway, Rinzler could have come across some artifact that caused his memory to flash back, but kept it to himself. That would have been an interesting mirror to Clu, who had a physical reaction to his triggered memory. Or Rinzler and Flynn come face to face at some point, and Flynn recognizes him as Tron, making Rinzler doubt his identity even more. Despite all that, I still happily giggled when Tron said, “I fight for the Users,” and rammed Clu. Awesome.
The film relied heavily on the audience knowing about the world beforehand, be it from the first film or from the graphic novel (TRON: Betrayal) and/or the video game (TRON: Evolution). Now for a TRON nerd like me, the plot was super-easy to understand because I had read everything prior. But I’m sure the average moviegoer must have been lost at some point.
Little things like the plight of the ISOs and the Clu’s resentment of Flynn are more fleshed out in the graphic novel and video game, resulting in stronger character empathy. You can’t leave a character’s emotional connection to the audience up to other media. One of the cardinal rules of screenwriting is assume you audience knows almost nothing about the world and slowly reveal what’s going on. The first TRON did this very well with lots of visual storytelling.
And now the great stuff. This film is a real sequel. It built upon the spiritual/philosophical foundations of the first film and took it in a direction I was not anticipating. But here are some aspects that really illustrated the point.
At some point between the first film and the graphic novel, Flynn got the idea to build a perfect system – a digital utopia. He was playing God to the hilt. The only problem is that because we are human beings with flaws and sin, perfection is unknowable. Flynn discovers this truth by the end of the film, when he realizes his mistake and repents (he’s had 20 years to think about it). In his pursuit of perfection, he lost part of his humanity – personified by Clu’s relentless pursuit of order. An argument as to why human being are not (and should not) be gods.
Clu was an interesting character. He is the Satan of the digital world: created to serve a purpose, second-in-command to the Creator, and rebelled against said creator because he thought he had a better way. Satan resented humanity because God showed His favor upon them, much like Flynn showing favor to the ISOs (difference is the creation of man was planned and the creation of the ISO was not – another side-effect of man playing God). And like the difference between angels and humans, the ISO were free-thinking beings whereas programs are guided by their instructions.
Clu’s motivation reflects the will of an imperfect god (Flynn). But in a way, Clu can also be seen as analogous to humans and how God’s word can be misconstrued to do evil. He was made in Flynn’s image, and given an impossible instruction (create the perfect system). Clu took this to an extreme and ended up doing great harm. Flynn does not hate Clu, which is evidenced by his wanting to reason with Clu and the end of the film. He even apologizes to Clu for giving him an unattainable goal, something I could see an imperfect god doing.
It’s intriguing that Clu seeks perfection from something that is imperfect, much like the modern socialist/communist movement seeking forced equality of status, while enslaving the population to a dark, hellish existence in servitude to the leadership class. Dissidents and “strays” are sent to the Game Grid where they are dispatched, or “rectified” and re-educated. Like all the bloodthirsty totalitarian movements of the 20th century, Clu’s regime is atheistic. Clu himself is billed as the “liberator” for confining the creator to exile, and openly mocked Flynn to his army of dependent automatons.
To make the similarity more apparent, Clu exterminated the ISOs because he saw them as inferior, imperfect beings – much like the barbaric extermination of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis. Hitler saw the Jews (among other groups) as an imperfection, in spite of the Jews being named numerous times in Scripture as God’s chosen people.
For all intents and purposes, Flynn has given up on ever defeating Clu, despite the fact that Flynn created Clu. Disillusioned, he hides from his creation and does nothing to stop him, rather than risk getting caught. This illustrates the principal that evil triumphs when good men do nothing. It is only through the love of his son that he is compelled to act. Flynn’s love for Sam is stronger than his fear of Clu.
Quorra’s speech to Sam about meeting Flynn immediately conjured up memories of the story of Jesus helping the adulterous woman in John 8:2. It’s almost as if it was written from the perspective of the woman! Quorra describes her encounter with Flynn (whom she calls the Creator) as a “rescue,” which is what Christ does for each of us. But in our case, He saves us from our sin as well as outside forces.
Quorra was also an interesting character. After her rescue, she becomes a disciple of Flynn. In her reading of stories about the real world, she began to wonder about it, longing to see a sunrise (something that never happens in that world). The look she gives Flynn and Sam as they are reunited and embrace is one of quiet intrigue and bewilderment. She is profoundly naïve, and has probably never seen physical affection before. It’s a frame of film I could hang on a wall and ponder what she is thinking.
The coolest spiritual analogy was at the climax. Flynn sacrifices himself to prevent Clu from entering the real world, and to get Sam and Quorra to safety. Jesus said in John 15:13, “greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” In fact, Christ did this Himself. To Sam, this was his father showing his love for him (Clu didn’t understand this). To Quorra, Flynn was the creator and savior, sacrificing himself for her and all programs by absorbing Clu (taking on sin), thereby ridding the system of Clu’s evil. I wouldn’t be surprised if Flynn lives on in the system as some kind of spiritual guiding force, like Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia. That would be cool.
As one of my friends told me, computer data can always be recovered. So I hope we will see more of Flynn and Tron in another film.
Now perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but I don’t think so. Art is subjective, and we all see what we see. TRON: Legacy was all I wanted it to be. Despite some minor flaws, I enjoyed it on many different levels. And it gets better with each viewing. If you’ve written it off, I hope you’ll give this film another try.
The world of TRON is fantastical and mystifying, and holds so much more potential than perhaps its current torchbearers even realize.
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About Mark Mushakian

Just a man who loves God, women, kids, dogs, movies, and every other lovely thing in life :)
This entry was posted in Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Tron: Legacy

  1. David says:

    Listen:

    TRON: with Pastor James Harleman [November 19, 2010]
    http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/cinemagogue/t

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    • Mark says:

      Hi David, whoever you may be :).

      Not sure why you wanted us to "Listen" to that clip, since you didn't say anything else, so I can only assume. If it was for the personal inflection of Christian meaning into the story of the original movie, A Big Fan already talked about that in some detail, and I even said that there was tones of religion in both movies – my point only being that to derive any strong allegory from the sequel (which this entry is about) wouldn't be possible because of the inconsistencies that would be present (If Clu is Satan, than Satan is a duplicate of God? Was Flynn God or Jesus? Why would they also use the idea of spontaneous existence, as would be supported by macro-evolution? Things like that). There could be comparisons made, but not as a complete story… and, in that case, ANY story could have small parts of it made to symbolize Christianity, if it didn't have to make sense as a whole – even something as silly as Scooby-Doo.

      If it was to side with A Big Fan's point that God could be found in everything, I don't know why you wanted to reiterate it – though I'll freely talk about it :). I'm a Christian, and unapologetic about it, but it really confounds me as to why folks seek to find a Christian meaning in anything and everything – especially as a means to explain love for a movie. I loved The Dark Knight (another movie he talked about on that site) because it was just an amazingly made flick, and because it told a great story about people. It was very emotional, but not because I was thinking about God and Satan. I thought about people. I thought about how painful parts of that story would be for me to experience, and thought about what I might do. I related to it as a person and as a moviegoer. The argument seems to be that the truth of Christianity is why I even have that emotional response built into my humanity, and as a Christian I wouldn't disagree – but what's the point? One could take The Smurfs and find Christian meaning, or Buddhist meaning, or Nazi meaning, or whatever kind of meaning they want – but does that matter? Would it bring glory to God if I could take any ol' thing and inject my personal faith into it and talk about it as if it makes sense? To me, it makes the Christian seem weak – as if they need to be reassured of God's existence and goodness by finding meaning in art forms that was never intended. I crack up like a nut when I watch The Jerk, and I'm thankful that God gave me a sense of humor, but do I need to find a deeper meaning to enjoy it? No… I enjoy it because it's hilariously absurd.

      The entire point of this whole site is love, and I freely talk about God and my faith on occasion. I simply can't find the value of trying to expand on The Godfather as a Christian analogy, other than to try and satisfy my own need for a vindication of faith.

      Of course, if you meant something else entirely, by asking us to "Listen", I'd love to hear :).

      Like

  2. Nick says:

    I know "A Big Fan" so I'll refrain from responding to an anonymous writer, though I will protect his identity because I just enjoy secret identities;)

    I find it interesting how much of your beliefs you can imprint on a film like this. It's very interesting. Almost as if you are transforming a movie into your own personal propaganda. You are free to do so of course, and I would never fault you for it. After all, this is America 😉

    But when you say "Like all the bloodthirsty totalitarian movements of the 20th century, Clu’s regime is atheistic. Clu himself is billed as the “liberator” for confining the creator to exile, and openly mocked Flynn to his army of dependent automatons." I feel the need to correct you. Not because I am insulted or offended but because it seems like this imprinting of ideals is being used in support of a negative criticism that I feel is unwarranted.

    First of all, it's not true within the context of the film. Clu is not an Atheist, nor is his regime. Clu has met his creator, and acknowledges his existence. In fact it seemed as if the whole of the population believed in Users. They are angry with their "Creator" but there is no doubt of his existence. And in your line of thinking, Clu's plan equates to a group of humans trying to break into heaven (that would make an interesting movie actually)

    Second, Atheism is not a defiance of god, it's a lack of belief in him. And while you may feel they are one in the same, from my perspective as an Atheist, I can't defy what does not exist. You are using this as support of your already established ideals, and the reason I comment on it is that it has such a negative connotation. It's an oversimplification of a complex ideal imprinted on a story that doesn't fit. It's a divisive statement meant to vilify Atheism. And it's in poor taste. As would it be if I used the crusades, or pedophile priests in relation to Christianity and Catholicism. It's ridiculous to see individual believers as defining the whole ideal. And I think both sides could agree that it's destructive, even in such a small context. You could name a list of atheists and Christians who do bad things, but that is never representative of the ideal, as you well know. Say what you will about history. The religious beliefs of men who do wrong can be disputed till the cows come home. But more importantly, it's unimportant. I'll quote Batman Begins on this one "It's not who I am, but what I do that defines me."

    The true meaning of Tron may be as deep as you think or as thinly veiled as Mark sees it. Mark talks about love though, which is something I share an enthusiasm in. So your comments on atheism deserved a rebuttal, if for nothing else then to hopefully enlighten you on another perspective. So take it as a friendly comment, because that is how it is meant.

    End of Line 😉

    Like

  3. A Big Fan says:

    Let me address one at a time.

    I found David's link very interesting. The pastor's interpretation of "TRON" was dead on. It's nice to see that there is a ministry out there doing this type of missionary work. While some Christian ministries (and their congregations, sadly) set themselves apart from the culture at large and do not attempt to mix in, this church is doing what Jesus spoke of: to be infiltrators of the culture, engaging it with the full faith of the Word.

    Finding spiritual meaning in art and creativity is not weakness in faith. God gave us the creative impulse, whether people know it or not. It is not affirmation for the weak of faith, so much as it is a way to see God's glory, and glorify Him in the end. The Christian sees God in these things because God is, indeed, the original source.

    God desires that we grow spiritually, that we continually seek Him in everything we do and who we are. I don't understand why you feel the need to belittle Christians who seek to grow in their faith by calling them weak, Mark. Especially since you count yourself among them.

    It's good that you love film, Mark. I do, too. What I was talking about was the WHY. Why do we react the way we react to certain narrative threads? And I purport that the reason why is because we recognize these narratives from a place deep within us. Some films do it better than others. Some are complex, others are simple. Because God is who He is, he can speak through things as absurd as "The Jerk" or something even more absurd. Nothing is apart from God, even film. And God speaks to each of us differently, so don't belittle this as weakness because God may not speak to you in this way.

    There are certain core beliefs that we as humans respond to because they were put there by a God that made us that way. John 15:13 is a great example – self sacrifice. It may mean literal death (it did for Christ), it may not. But voluntarily sacrificing one's safety, security, dreams, etc. for another is considered noble and good. When it is displayed, we respond in kind. And it's a plot device used in hundreds of films BECAUSE of the reaction it will get from the audience. It makes for compelling narrative because it connects with our core being.

    Now on to allegory. Never once did I state in my review that "TRON: Legacy" is a literal allegory of Christianity, nor did I intend it to be read as such. There is no such thing. Even C.S Lewis' Narnia stories, which were intended to be allegorical, do not get everything right. They are products of fallible human beings. But it's not so much the whole as it is the parts. I pointed out pieces, ideas, motivations, concepts behind the film. In a way, they are clues or fingerprints of a meta-narrative, an echo of God. I picked up on those echoes and enjoyed the film even more because of it.

    As for Nick, allow me to rebut your rebuttal in an equally friendly way. 😉

    I'm not imprinting or imposing my beliefs on anything. It's there already, in the DNA, in the code of the narrative. I'm just simply bringing it to the surface as a reason why I enjoyed it on that level, and perhaps for the benefit of those who didn't see it when they saw the film. Some may agree with me, others won't. Makes no difference to me.

    I'm fully aware that in the context of the story, Clu is certainly not a literal atheist. Satan himself is not an atheist; he knows God exists, he's been in His presence. In a sense, Satan (and the MCP from the first film, for that matter) is a false atheist – those that know God exists and continue to perpetuate God's non-existence as truth. After all, what better way to turn people from God than to make people believe He doesn't exist.

    In his speech, Clu doesn't tell his automatons that there is no creator. He tells them that the creator is weak and false, another allusion to Satan and his rebellion. But unlike Satan, Clu managed to defeat and exile his creator. Clu even egged Flynn on to fight back, to which Flynn responded in kind until years of fighting made him just give up. This made the film a bit more interesting because it shows why humans are incapable of being gods; we're prisoners of our own fallibility.

    My point was that Clu's GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE (such as it is) was atheistic, not Clu himself – meaning it was not centered around the creator and his wishes, but the wishes and desires of the creation, specifically one creation. And the comparisons to atheistic ideologies like Nazism, communism, fascism, and general statism are apt, and even overtly so (i.e. Clu addressing his minions from the podium as a play on Hitlerian grandstanding). As a society drifts further from faith, it eventually delves deeper into tyranny and oppression, which is what happened on The Grid. It's a police state run by a tyrant. All of the above mentioned tyrannies wished to create utopia like Clu – something that is impossible. And they all failed, leaving a trail of death in their wake.

    And yes, those atheistic ideologies killed more people in just the 20th century than Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. ever did in recorded history combined. When the government sees the individual as nothing but a cog in a machine (or a giant cosmic accident), life is inconsequential.

    Now I know what you're going to say…"But what about America? It's not a theocracy". True. America's the exception because we were founded on Judeo-Christian values. Nowhere else on earth is there a founding document that states that our rights and freedom were given to us by a "Creator" and founded in "Natural Law". But like all creations of man, America is still susceptible to downfall.

    Theocracy is also preposterous, and just as bad as the atheistic regimes (look at Muslim countries). Theocracy is antithetical to Christianity because it denies people the God-given gift of choice.

    So what I'm trying to say is that I'm not basing my view of atheism on the actions of individuals. The ideology itself is fundamentally flawed. If there is no God, then there is no core, universal morality and life is meaningless and inconsequential. It goes against how the world works on a purely moral base. I'm sorry, but it's a pretty sad outlook on life. That's all.

    Look, we're not going to agree on this. You know it, I know it. I was just showing you another perspective. 😉

    Like

    • Mark says:

      Fan,

      My comment was addressing David's link and why he might have posted it, which is why I replied to it directly. Though you and the fella in those audio clips seem to follow the same philosophy, I was not talking about you. If you took it that way, I'm sorry for the confusion.

      I choose my words as best I can, which is why I said that it makes Christians "seem" weak. There was no condemnation or belittlement there, even though you interpreted it that way – which, I suppose, is part of my point. When Aslan, a lion, is voluntarily led to his mockery and death by a "villain", only to rise again stronger than before… it's very obvious what the story's inspiration is from. I can see it, you can see it, and most any non-believer could see it. When the pastor in the clips from that site was trying to infuse Christian symbolism into what Batman represented in The Dark Knight he gives two examples: first saying Batman is wrong on his viewpoint of having no real hope, but then saying he can represent Jesus and his redemption of Harvey. Neither is something I can obviously see when I watch the movie, nor would most. The people who already agree with his mind-set could see it, sure, but that's not really missionary work. He just adds such an over-dramatic weight to something that isn't really intended to be what he is talking about, that as he says, he walked out of the theater feeling miserable about the state of the world because of it.

      I invited you to write with me because I was genuinely curious as to why someone would love this movie and see depth in it (as you had mentioned before I saw it). I didn't comment on what you said, because you answered my curiosity – not just by your spiritual interpretations but with Harry Knowles' review, as well.

      I'm only responding to you as a hope for clarification (not intending to even write as much as I have), because I've said all that I think I can say (when talking to David) about the idea of what I see as an adding-on of symbolism to something that didn't intend for it. When pastors use movies or other modern things as an example to segue into a topical sermon, that is one thing. What the pastor was doing in that link was much, much more involved.

      Like

  4. Nick says:

    Fan,

    Sometimes I really wonder if you actually process what people say to you before you respond. Because I feel like you missed my point so greatly that it's almost staggering. As if you are so overzealous to discuss your own ideals that you miss the context of the conversation. You have these great stock arguments but not that fit in this debate. Case in point…

    "Now I know what you’re going to say…”But what about America? It’s not a theocracy”."

    That couldn't be farther from what I was thinking at that moment. And it's so revealing because you use this as a segue into further ramblings about the evils of Atheism. Almost like you steered the conversation. And that wouldn't be too far from imprinting your ideals on a film. In this case, you took my point, and proved it unequivocally true.

    Defining a government as atheist when their leader is of a faith (regardless of his defiance of the faith) as are the people doesn't make sense. Nor does it when the people don't follow a dictator as a god but a leader. It's also a great way to lump atheists in with Nazi's and a whole mess of bad people indirectly. It's bigotry in it's simplest and most innocent form. Full of your usual passive aggressive language and thinly veiled arrogance.

    Is comparing the death tolls caused by obvious extremists of any belief a legitimate way to defend your faith? Or mine? "Well they killed more people, therefore they are worse." As I said before, it doesn't matter what faith anyone has or whether or not it led them to do bad things. Because ultimately it doesn't represent the ideal. Men should be held accountable for their own actions. That's the base point you used as a launching pad of your attack. Defining the reasons through faith, and then using those reason as a way of defining said faith as evil or "Morally bankrupt" is just plain manipulation.

    But you know what. forget all that. It won't get through. The insults will. And they aren't thinly veiled or passive aggressive on my side. I say them because it worries me. You are so eager to generalize and segregate verbally. And it's a cowardly way to insult someone. So you don't have to look the individual in the eye. Or hear their story. So that you don't have to face the truth that given a similar situation, you may do the same. You have only one name for them. Enemy. Well here I am Fan, the individual. The atheist without morals, the seed for all this destruction you so willfully credit my beliefs with. And I'm here to tell ya, you look the fool for doing it.

    If there is a god then I sincerely doubt he'd enjoy you throwing his name around in the defense of the most innocent forms of the ugliest parts of humanity.

    Yes, I'm angry. But it's out of frustration. Because it's impossible to make you see any other viewpoint even when I try to be civil. Or without you jumping on some tangent and missing the point completely. Maybe, as you read this and get angry, some of it may sink in. But I have a feeling your constant need to be morally superior will get the best of you once again. Either way, Call it tough love. Because at the end of the day Fan, that's the only thing that really matters. And I think God would agree. You and I used to be closer, and these are the reasons we are not. And it's sad.

    I apologize Mark if I took this down a negative path. And from here on out Fan if you want to further discuss you know how to find me 😉

    Like

  5. David says:

    Mark wrote: "Not sure why you wanted us to “Listen” to that clip, since you didn’t say anything else, so I can only assume. If it was for the personal inflection of Christian meaning into the story of the original movie, A Big Fan already talked about that in some detail, and I even said that there was tones of religion in both movies – my point only being that to derive any strong allegory from the sequel (which this entry is about) wouldn’t be possible because of the inconsistencies that would be present (If Clu is Satan, than Satan is a duplicate of God? Was Flynn God or Jesus? Why would they also use the idea of spontaneous existence, as would be supported by macro-evolution? Things like that). There could be comparisons made, but not as a complete story… and, in that case, ANY story could have small parts of it made to symbolize Christianity, if it didn’t have to make sense as a whole – even something as silly as Scooby-Doo."

    Yes, it was for additional inflection of Christian meaning into the 1982 original film.

    "If Clu is Satan, than Satan is a duplicate of God? Was Flynn God or Jesus? Why would they also use the idea of spontaneous existence, as would be supported by macro-evolution?"

    In TRON: Legacy, I would say Clu/Satan _wants_ to be God. In TRON (1982) Flynn is symbolic of Jesus/God the son because "the Programmer became program and dwelt among us."

    "Why would they also use the idea of spontaneous existence, as would be supported by macro-evolution?"

    The ISOs can be interpreted both in an evolutionary or creationary perspective.
    If one takes the Genesis account literally, then, most life forms came into existence from nothing as God spke them into existence (creation ex nihilo)
    But in the creation of Adam, God first used earth. In the creation of Eve, God fashioned her out of one of Adam's ribs.

    I have just completed a 25 Q & A quiz on TRON (1982) and will post a link here when it's webbed.

    Like

  6. David says:

    The Gospel According to TRON
    A biblical quiz for the digital age
    By David Buckna
    http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2011/s11010071….

    Like

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