From the vault: The new Tron movie

(Now that I have updated the website, I am doing some electronic housecleaning. Sometimes I run into a fairly complete, but unpublished essay, such as this one.)

So, we saw the new Tron movie.

I have inexplicably fond feelings for the old one. I saw it as a teenager, but even then I realized 1. It wasn’t very good, and 2. Jeff Bridges was great. Sure, it was kinda stupid, but it looked cool and it had David Warner as the villain.

The new movie is stupid, and still looks cool. But it doesn’t look new and innovative cool. It looks like the old movie with !Hey! Wow! Computer effects have really come a long way, haven’t they! added on. When Tron was the only movie that ever looked like that, it seemed cooler.

This time, the villain is creepy computer-de-aged Jeff Bridges as a rogue computer version of himself. Which isn’t as cool as David Warner, who has that sneering contemptuous British way of being a villain (like Alan Rickman as Snape) that I love, because it always makes me feel a little bit like he deserves to be the villain, because other people really are that stupid.

Evil De-Aged Jeff Bridges (EDAJB) plays something like a computer program Hitler, what with his own Triumph of the Will moment, and a lot of talk about purging and perfection, and it ends up being just insane, because we are just talking about a computer program here aren’t we? I mean, what can he actually do? Other than prevent our heroes from getting back to the real world?

The movie makes a really pathetic attempt to manufacture real-world consequences for its dream-world logic, by inventing some kind of — spontaneously generated computer life form that will save the world because — and EDAJB wants to prevent this life form from — ah, I don’t even know. The list of things in this movie that make no sense is so long that it’s pointless to try to dissect it. It’s like pointing out the logical fallacies in a Sarah Palin tweet. Where do you even begin?

So, this movie is stupid and makes no sense and I didn’t like it, and the original movie was stupid and made no sense and I liked it anyway. Maybe it’s just me. I’m not a teenager anymore. And maybe it’s that young whoever (starring as the son of Jeff Bridges’ character Flynn) is no Jeff Bridges. And even in this movie, Jeff Bridges is no Jeff Bridges. I mean, “phoning it in” doesn’t even begin to describe the uninvolved-ness of his performance. Every line he delivered, he gave the sense of looking at his own mouth, thinking, whoa, did I just say that?

But it seemed to me while I was watching it that the movie wasn’t so much crushed under the weight of its own stupidity, as it was crushed under the weight of its own weightiness. Maybe it was that I was watching it on an IMAX screen six stories high, with funky 3D glasses on. But a lot of it seemed to reflect the trend in big action movies these days, which is that they are inexplicably boring.

It’s like everybody thinks they’re making The Dark Knight (which I didn’t even like much) even if they’re making Tron 2. So everything is heavy and important and solemn and whatnot. Everything is so meaningful. And deep. And requires swelling music. Mood lighting. And people yelling each other’s names.

I mean, I know you have to stop for a quiet moment every once in a while to let the mayhem sink in. But you have to have the mayhem first in order for that to work. It seems like modern action movies are all quiet moments where we’re supposed to feel some kind of deep emotional thing.

The moments where the makers of Tron 2 actually have any fun at all are few and far between.