Tron

Tron

Ashe never got to see a ton of modern classics from his youth, so we’re making him watch them all as a nostalgia-less adult. Check out the inaugural article for more info. 1980s pop sci-fi month continues! I’ve been trying to be picky because, well, there are a lot of movies that could count as pop sci-fi from the 80s and there are only four weeks in a month. Tron was on my list from the get-go, however, because I’ve wanted to see it for years and just never sat down and actually watched it. Now I have! Basic plot summary, in case it’s been a while: Young Jeff Bridges gets stuck in a computer system that has more in common with retro video games than actual computers. That’s… really about it. It’s not exactly plot heavy. In fact, some of the plot makes zero sense but gets handwaved away. What exactly is the extent of Flynn’s “User” powers? Why exactly does a User get more power inside the computer anyway? Apparently, he just does, consistency be damned.

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kosinski

With only two films under his belt, director Joseph Kosinski‘s architectural background rings loud and clear. From his approach to framing to the elaborate sets, everything feels deliberate. For Kosinski, that purposefulness doesn’t purely derive from painting a shiny picture, but from building character. For his second feature film, Oblivion, the director follows his dissatisfied protagonist, Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), through isolating and contrasting settings highlighting his dillema. Jack’s conflict is what drove Joseph Kosinski to spend the past few years of his life developing the project based on an idea of his own. The TRON: Legacy director wanted to make a character-driven science-fiction film, not a set-piece one. Kosinski’s film isn’t one packed with set pieces, making the movie rest on Jack and Cruise’s shoulders. Kosinski, despite his busy schedule, made the time to speak with us this week after the film’s successful release. Here’s what he had to say about the heart of the film, his favorite set, and how video games differ heavily from movies.

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commentary-tron

Nowadays, it’s no big deal to see computer animation in films. In fact, the use of CGI in films can range from being mundane to being annoying. However, three decades ago, computer animation was in its infancy, and one of the biggest pioneers of its use in major motion pictures was Tron from Walt Disney Studios. Tron’s legacy led to the development and release of its sequel Tron: Legacy two years ago from Joseph Kosinski, and now the release of Kosinski’s latest film Oblivion. However, without the original Tron, we might not have the use of virtual environments that moviegoers are used to now. Dialing back the digital clock to 1982, let’s take a look at the original Tron through the eyes of its creators, whose ambitious little computer cartoon revolutionized an industry. Director Steven Lisberger, along with the producers and visual effects supervisors, recorded a commentary for the film for the 20th anniversary 2002 DVD, which is also available on the 2011 Blu-ray release.

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Look – computers will never have souls. It’s disappointing to admit, but we all have to face facts at some point in our lives. Maybe one day they’ll manage to act alive, but they will never feel our love. They have no feelings. They are soulless, uncaring devices that we all too often assign our own humanity to – just like cats. But of course, in film, that would just be no fun. It’s better to have an A.I. that is dynamic and has some kind of personality, even if that personality is a lack of any kind of personality. The key is the voice, and here are some of the most unforgettable ones…

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Years ago, commercial director Joseph Kosinski was one of the hottest up-and-comers, with a bright, bright future. Then we actually saw that his feature debut, Tron: Legacy, didn’t play as much more than a technically impressive showcase for the filmmaker. He took $150 million and had Jeff Bridges saying stuff like, “Bio-digital jazz, man.” Money not put to good use, I say. Kosinski was then written off as a director with nothing more than a nice eye, no true knack for storytelling. But after seeing the first full-length trailer for his new sci-fi epic, Oblivion, I think maybe some of us spoke too soon. This original science-fiction pic, starring Tom Cruise roaming a desolated Earth, seems like a fairly routine hero’s journey, albeit told on a far more ambitious canvas than what we saw on display in Tron: Legacy. This trailer does a fine job of setting up film’s the world and Cruise’s character, Jack Harper (not to be confused with Jack Reacher). Take a first-look at Oblivion for yourself after the break (or on Apple.com).

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If you’re “too old” to skulk around all hunch-backed in your own yard looking for the painted eggs your little cousin hid for you, why are you holding that remote with the Pause Button at the ready? We all love hunting. It’s in our nature. Just like we love discounted Criterion titles, free scotch and foot massages that don’t mean anything sexual. So here are some Movie Easter Eggs to hunt down. Bonus one? They involve movies, so you have a solid excuse to just watch movies all week. Bonus two? If you can’t find them, they won’t smell rotten after a few days. And be sure to add your favorite in the comments section for fellow hunter/gatherers:

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Alamo Drafthouse Summer of 1982

Blade Runner. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The Road Warrior. The list of incredible films released during the summer of 1982 goes on and on. From E.T. to Tron, it could very well be the greatest summer of movies in the history of nerds, geeks, lovers of cinema and eaters of popcorn. It was one of those summers that defined the term “Summer Movie.” The only sad thing about it is that 1982 came before many of us were born. An entire generation of movie geeks who grew up with these movies, but never quite got to experience them all together as they did in that one magical summer. The Alamo Drafthouse is looking to change that. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the “greatest summer of movies ever,” our friends at the Alamo have designed a screening series unlike any other. Mirroring the release schedule — to the best of their ability — of the Summer of 1982, the Drafthouse will present 1982’s best blockbusters in 35mm, with plenty of Mondo posters, special guests and a few other surprises that — and I say this with only limited knowledge beyond what we’re telling you here — will absolutely blow your minds. They’ve asked a special group of websites — Film School Rejects included — to co-host each screening. We drew The Road Warrior. It’s basically the greatest thing to happen to us since, well, we first saw The Road Warrior. So if you’re in the area of an Alamo Drafthouse, we’ve […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly round-up of entertainment news and tidbits written by a Doctor Who obsessive. But you already knew that. If you didn’t, you’re about to. The sixth season of Doctor Who debuts this weekend on BBC and BBC America (at the same time!!) So of course I’m writing something about it. I just found out that season passes for ‘Part I’ of the Matt Smith-led sixth frame are available on iTunes, for those (like me) who eschew the bonds of cable providers. Also, if you’re looking to throw a Doctor Who premiere party — and invite your favorite film blog publisher — the BBC America page has Doctor Who recipes, including Ginger Companion cookies and Radioactive-Spuds with Cool Avocado Cream. Don’t put these in front of me, because I would easily EXTERMINATE! them. Get it? I’m like the Daleks of food.

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Drinking Games

Greetings, Programs! There was a time when Tron was as cool as it could get. Then, in a world of liquid metal and computer-generated dinosaurs, it suddenly wasn’t… and it disappeared off the grid. But like anything buried for years in the sand, it has become cool again. Some may argue that the original 1982 classic is cooler than the long-awaited sequel Tron Legacy. Now that both are available – and on stunning Blu-ray, no less – you can be the final judge. This game works for either flick, so you might just end up like the geriatric Kevin Flynn by the end, but you’ll have fun going for the ride and knocking on the sky.

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This Week in DVD

Welcome to the first week of April! Now that all of the internet jokes, gags, and pranks are out of the way it’s time to settle in with another week of movies and TV shows on DVD to keep you entertained at home. Like every other week of the year this one features a fairly interesting array of titles that run the gamut from the good to the bad, but we also get two offbeat comedies that I think are worth a purchase for fans of oddball romances and charmingly humorous characters. Oh. And two shitty Tron movies hit shelves this week too. Year Of the Carnivore A young woman named Samantha Smalls (Cristin Milioti) has a terrible sexual experience with her guitarist crush, and he suggests she cut loose, have fun, and gain some more experience in bed. And so she does… and along the way she learns everything you’d expect her to in an oddball, indie comedy from Canada. Milioti is adorable, endearing, and truth be told pretty damn sexy as the shy tomboy who giggles whenever guys touch her, and the movie features more than a few laugh out loud scenes of highly inappropriate self discovery.

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This Week in Blu-ray

This Week in Blu-ray, it’s off to the late 70s, early 80s, mid 90s and the future as seen through the mind of a computer. I won’t even dare mention the trip back to the home of The Fockers, as it’s but a slight detour on our road to an excellent week of Blu-ray releases. So get ready for the old, the new and all of the best in-betweens, because it’s time to go shopping. TRON: Special Edition It’s time to go back to where it all began. That’s what Disney did with this wonderful release, they went back to a time when TRON was new and incredible and captured it. We often see releases touting a “restored” or “enhanced” version of a pre-DVD era film, but rarely to we see a release with such a noticeable restoration. There is a vibrancy and pulsing energy to the world of TRON on Blu-ray that was never included on any DVD release. The journey of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) inside the computer has never been so life-like, nor has it ever looked so now. As the cherry, the TRON Blu-ray is lined with special features — several hours worth, to say the least. The best of them is “The TRON Phenomenon,” a look at the pop culture impact of Steven Lisberger’s technoventure. If you found yourself wondering why folks were so emotionally invested in TRON: Legacy‘s release, this featurette helps give you the why. The Blu-ray itself is a big slice of […]

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Last week, a Tron fan site claimed that there was going to be a teaser trailer for Tron 3 (or Tr3n if you’re nasty) on the Blu-ray of Tron Legacy when it comes out later this year. That seemed surprising (and a little bit like fanboy wishful thinking), but now an even bigger Tron fan site (Aint It Cool News) has released details about the teaser. According to them, the Tron 3 teaser trailer includes a scene with Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) and Ram (a briefly seen real world counterpart to the program inside The Grid from the original movie, played by Dan Shor). It also includes a scene with Quorra (Olivia Wilde) being mobbed by press outside of Encom for 1) being attractive 2) theoretically dating Sam Flynn and 3) claiming she just spoke with Kevin Flynn (maybe even the human version) the day before. The third segment is the villainous fruition of a single-line cameo from Cillian Murphy in Legacy which sees his character Edward Dillinger speaking with father Ed about how their plans are going according to, erm, plan. Why does this signal a good start for the movie? Because all of these moments, as brief as they are, focus on character and plot. A forged connection from the past, a press anxious to find out information about a woman that wasn’t born in the real world, and two business-savvy men plotting their own self-interest. The teaser could have been more light-based transportation, and while that would have […]

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For those that simply look at domestic box office numbers (and who really does that?), it might appear that Tron Legacy was a failure. Of course, it was a failure in the sense that it didn’t kick the door to the theaters around the country right off its hinges, but it was still a success considering that it pulled in $300 million-ish worldwide and probably sold double that in video games and plastic toys that young children can throw at each other while chanting, “De-rezzzz!” Tron Legacy needs a sequel, and Disney might be in agreement with that statement if the rumors are to be believed. The film itself almost seems secondary to the largest beast – the toy creating machine – but with another sequel, everyone involved has a chance to create something that works on the story level as well as for the soundtrack and flashy images. That would be something to look forward to. [Aint It  Cool]

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There are few movies that demand sequels. There are even fewer bad movies that demand them. The sequel is such a precious and fragile concept; it’s the continuation of characters that we love going on new adventures. That’s dangerous ground no matter what. A delicate balance to strike between keeping the characters exactly the same and giving the audience something new. More than most movies this year, Tron: Legacy emerges maybe not as the most obvious candidate for a next installment, but as the film that most deserves to see the sequel light of day. The film, despite it’s many, many flaws has all the ingredients to make an electric blue stew of sequel-y goodness, and the world would be a better place if Tron: Legacier were slated for 2012. So why does a film that’s struggling to meet box office expectations against a sea of critical (and popular) apathy deserve a sequel? It’s simple.

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Getting hired to pen the 28-year-later sequel to TRON must be one of the luckiest and also one of the most nerve-wracking writing gigs a writing duo could get. You’re asked to help invent a gigantic franchise, build a unique and detailed world on page, and walk a fine line of avoiding cheese. Light cycles and body-splitting light discs are badass, but if done wrong, they could be total camp. A lot of this deals with execution, but also depends heavily on writing. Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis are the (very friendly) duo that got this cool, but also seemingly scary gig. A TRON sequel has been talked about for years. A lot of ideas must have been thrown around, but according to Kitsis and Horowitz, they started anew with a fresh story. Both writers are mainly known for their work on Lost, and now they’re putting their mark on features. I talked to both of them on Friday, and they seemed both nervous and excited about the release, and understandably so. Disney has a lot riding on this release. Ever since the film was announced there was a polarized reaction, and that response remains the same. Both Kitsis and Horowitz talk about the critical response below, as well as building a world on paper, handling the character of TRON, and the writing process in general. Note: This interview contains what are commonly known as spoilers.

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There have already been a surprising number of modern sequels and remakes made from the movies of 1982. Films like The Thing and Conan The Barbarian have remakes coming down the pipe while the Rocky franchise has been continued, and The Dark Crystal and Mad Max franchises have both been promised a latter-day continuation. There’s a lot of rich material there, and this weekend sees Tron: Legacy come out almost three decades after the film it’s following. Of course TRON deserves a sequel because of its large cult appeal and the potential expansiveness that the universe always held. However, there are several other films from 1982 that may even be more worthy to get the way-too-late-in-the-game sequel treatment. Here’s six of ‘em.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr enters the grid (which is what he likes to call his local IMAX theater) to try and find an old and hairy Jeff Bridges amidst a bunch of young-looking sexy-time people in tight body suits. Afterwards, he has a pic-i-nic at Jellystone Park and faces a bear attack. It’s a good thing he had his hunting rifle with him… but he still wonders why that grizzly he shot was wearing a hat and tie. Finally, he hands out some grades on two limited release award flicks that really don’t jazz him as much as a big, dumb IMAX 3D movie.

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. Today’s trailer is programmed by Master Control to survive by all means. A computer genius is taken prisoner and held captive inside the computer itself, forced against his will to play electronic games of Ultimate Frisbee Deathmatch. Welcome to The Grid. This one’s pretty obvious, eh? Check out the trailer after the jump.

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You’ve read the interviews and read our take on the film, but all of that falls to the wayside to explode into millions of pixels now that you’ve seen the film yourself. Or haven’t seen it. There have been three years of hype, Comic-Con carnival barking, and a huge wave of expectations. Now that Tron: Legacy has been laser beamed from the real world into the theater, what did you think? Rant and rave away.

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Editor’s Note: This interview originally appeared this summer in our Comic-Con coverage. That’s why it’s dressed like a character from Sailor Moon. For a brief moment in the latest Tron: Legacy trailer, you can catch a glimpse of Michael Sheen in a snow white jump suit taking things way over the top. He must have been the set designer’s worst nightmare, and the make-up department’s best friend. On the second day of Comic-Con, already confused by a lack of sleep and a mysterious amount of whiskey missing from the $6 bottle in our hotel room, I stepped into a pitch-perfect re-creation of Flynn’s Arcade. Tron the Game stood like the dot on a dusty exclamation point at the top of the room, and plastic covered each game as if time wouldn’t get to them anyway. I was led through a dark hallway, only lit by blue LED runners, and out into the open expanse of the bright white nightclub set from the new film. Clear bottles with blue liquid in them stood like soldiers in the back of the room, and I sat down next to Michael Sheen on a luxurious couch to talk about his beard, his best David Bowie impression, and his unsnobbish willingness to take his classical training into the genre world.

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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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