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A Review of Tron 2

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Tim Wilson
A Review of Tron 2
on Apr 26, 2009 at 4:57:54 pm

More specifically, a review of the rapidly emerging news about the slice of nerd-vana that may or may not be named Tron 2.

Along with the new news, there are some reminders of why this is a film to be appreciated...not that you need me to remind you.

In any case, I think you'll dig it. Please take a gander, leave some comments...and watch the movie again!



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Mark Suszko
Re: A Review of Tron 2
on Apr 27, 2009 at 3:17:36 pm

I mentioned it in the blog, just to repeat here; the technology is very interesting but it always has to be in support of story, so I'm more urgently interested in the actual plot of this long hoped-for sequel than the cameras used. I hope they get that part right. Everything else is a bonus.


Daft Punk is a good musical choice from a marketing view; perhaps Jarre or Vangelis would have been more in the original spirit of the 1.0 though. I remember Wendy when she was Walter:-)

Tron 1.0 was really just a little beyond what the technology of its day could affordably and effectively deliver, it was very ambitious and expensive for its day, and that's one reason I think Disney got gun shy about CGI, as they said in the articles. But when you are reaching for something just beyond what's ever been done before, that's when you make those awesome breakthroughs that never would have been, without that too-hard goal. It was doing the "impossible" that drove Doug Trumbull to make his best advances.

I feel the movie that got everybody back to thinking this CGI stuff might work for films after all was "The Last Starfighter", which benefitted from the early effects of Moore's Law making the platforms cheaper, and some gaming-inspired shortcuts and improvements in shaders, procedural textures and rendering engines.


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Tim Wilson
Re: A Review of Tron 2
on Apr 27, 2009 at 5:07:25 pm

Keep going back to the comments there, please. It's where I'll keep adding new stuff, including the link I just added to the latest news on the plot. Pretty interesting stuff.

That said, I still can't tell you anything about the plot of Tron beyond "The Dude gets sucked into a video game," even after seeing it a couple of times in 1982, and watching the 20th anniversary DVD -- which is unbelievably cool. (Thanks Ron!)

And as Steve Wright notes, Tron drove a stake through the heart of CGI in movies for years. I agree that The Last Starfighter was the first wall-to-wall interesting movie with CGI. To your point, that movie was SO plot-driven that the technology could have been Clutch Cargo-level and still worked. I really love that thing.






That said, it didn't really kickstart much. The CGI was rarely more than transitional, and an awful lot of the space stuff was shot the old-fashioned way. Even though it was good, and pointed the way toward CGI as a budget saver rather than a budget buster, the fuse didn't get lit until Jurassic Park, where CGI was integral in every way. Only 6 minutes of the total was CGI, but, well, you know the rest....

Anyway, I've actually added some more Tron stuff to the story at the blog, as well as a killah (if I may say) follow up on the director, Joseph Kosinski. His work in commercials and shorts mixes CGI in ways that I think are really truly groundbreaking. Please take a look. I was flabbergasted at his stuff -- never seen anything like some of it. Even if he wasn't doing Tron, I'd be desperate to see whatever he was doing next. I think he's one of the most creative minds working today, and again, even apart from Tron, I think he's rewriting some of the rules about mixing CGI and live action. That follow-up is here.

Also noted in that article, his collaborations with David Fincher. One of the best (semi-formal) things I've written. Please do check it out, and please comment there about stuff I wrote there as appropriate. It helps a lot.

Now, talking about Last Starfighter, THAT we should do here. :-) Lance Guest is barely a week older than me, so if they were working on a sequel now, it might come out in 2010 or 2011, which would make him 50-51. Definitely too old to be a starfighter, and since he turned out to not really be the last, it would be interesting to see what he's been up to for the past 30-ish years.

Hey, and TLS was LG's first feature! Talking about landing with a bang....


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Mark Suszko
Re: A Review of Tron 2
on Apr 27, 2009 at 7:16:48 pm

I can see this new forum is going to shoot my productivity straight to hell:-)

You just HAD to put that "Clutch" clip there.... did you know the guy doing all the other voices besides Clutch, like "Swampy", in Clutch, and "Taurus"/"Proffessor Mace"/"The Chief" in "Space Angel", is the actor that played Otis The Drunk on The Andy Griffith Show? And that he's a noted screenwriter and director in his own right?

I used to watch Clutch and the sister show "Scott McCloud: Space Angel", on the local WGN kids show every day after school in the 60's. (Garfield Goose & Friends) Space Angel was designed and drawn by Lazlo Toth, a comics and graphic artist who also later gave Jonny Quest it's signature look. Lazlo died at his drawing board a few years ago now, but his work on these synchro-vox limited animation programs was groundbreaking.

(BTW bad news, looks like they are going to make a Jonny Quest movie with Zak Effron as Jonny, gag. He's too old to play a 9-10 year old).


Back to Last Starfighter, I'm not sure you can claim the cgi was only transitional... there was not a single "real" model used in that movie, AFAIK, all the flight and space shots were CGI, no traditional stop-mo models used. Same models used in the footage of the fake in-movie "game console" too.

The body suits in Tron were a stopgap measure, I'm told: there was no time or budget to fully animate the people, even using rotoscoping, so the scotchlite-tape-covered suits were the cheat they improvised. Same scotchbrite material that was later used to make Jor-El Brando's clothes glow in the first Superman movie, and to make the mechanical light saber rods glow on-set in the original Star Wars ( Glows to the prop sabers were added in post by some guy named John Knoll, who wrote some custom software to help him paint and roto digitally... you may have heard of it...):-)



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