Tron: Re-Entering the Grid

GREETINGS, PROGRAMS!

In 1982, moviegoers were transported to the world of Tron — the first cinematic world fully dependent on computer-generated imagery. Sure, a few films like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (which opened a month before Tron) used CGI in a few scenes, but nothing as extensive as Steven Lisberger’s sci-fi classic. Today, Avatar, Pixar movies, and countless other flicks have made such effects commonplace. But 29 years ago, the average personal computer (a what?) had 64 kilobytes of RAM, or about an 8,000th of what the iPhone in your pocket has. The use of computers for Tron wasn’t just pushing the envelope of filmmaking; it was pushing the envelope of what was even technologically possible. We were impressed.

Then there was nothing. Fanboys (and, I guess, fangirls as well) were left with just the memory of a wonderfully crafted universe. Rumors of a sequel would surface every couple of years, but nothing would come of them. The best we could hope for was the ultimately excellent 2003 game Tron 2.0 for PC (and later for Mac and Xbox). Not just a well-made adventure, it also featured a score by Wendy Carlos as good as (if not better than) her original.

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Finally, at Comic-Con 2008, the world was shaken — defragged, if you will. A teaser trailer with Tron-like designs was shown, including things that resembled Light Cycles and . . . wait a second, was that Jeff Bridges? Minds were blown. Hours were lost. Obsession commenced over every detail. The teaser had been created to judge interest in reviving Tron, and it got that in spades. So commenced a marketing, merchandising, and advertising onslaught that would have made George Lucas proud. Oh, and Disney green-lighted the movie.

TronBurstTron: Legacy, shot using an updated version of the 3D technology that James Cameron employed for Avatar, became one of the box-offce hits of the 2010 holiday season. Consequently, anticipating the April 5 release of the original Tron on Blu-ray Disc and Tron: Legacy on Blu-ray 3D, S+V greenlighted my own opportunity to re-enter the grid again, in the hands of the filmmakers.

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