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The Story of Tron 367

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the not-just-an-arcade-game dept.
An anonymouse reader writes "Tom's Hardware has a feature up on the makings of Tron which may interest latent fans. Through interviews with the creators they explore the makings of Tron, from how it came to be picked up by Disney to how the effects were put together ('While the majority of the film takes place in the computer world, only 15 minutes worth of footage actually used CGI', because it would have taken years to make the film otherwise). They then explore why the film flopped at the box office. 'It was like we put LSD in the punch at the school prom and it was just way more than they can handle,' said Steven Lisberger."
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The Story of Tron

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  • by fredistheking (464407) on Friday March 17, 2006 @05:40AM (#14940386)
    honestly think about tron without the image of the tron guy [tronguy.net] coming to mind?
  • Well, (Score:2, Interesting)

    the box office flop is all the proof that I need that people really are idiots, I mean, did they even see the lightcycles?!

    ptsch.
  • Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @05:41AM (#14940391)
    Special effects != Return Investment

    May the wind be always at your back,
    -Empyrealmortal
  • by cbuskirk (99904) on Friday March 17, 2006 @05:43AM (#14940398)
    The rumours few around a few years back but with this years aquissition of Pixar by Disney it could be a huge blockbuster.
  • Easy answer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Friday March 17, 2006 @05:45AM (#14940403) Homepage Journal
    They then explore why the film flopped at the box office.
    Same reason many special-effect movies flop at the box office.

    They started with a lousy script, and an implausibly silly plot that its very hard to look past. The market for movies that look pretty but don't engage on a human level is very, very small.
    "The Master Control Program has chosen you to serve your system on the Game Grid. Those of you who continue to profess a belief in the Users will receive the standard substandard training, which will result in your eventual elimination."
    See? That's dialogue bad enough to have come from one of the Matrix sequels.
    • by include($dysmas) (729935) on Friday March 17, 2006 @05:47AM (#14940417)
      ""The Master Control Program has chosen you to serve your system on the Game Grid. Those of you who continue to profess a belief in the Users will receive the standard substandard training, which will result in your eventual elimination.""

      hey! but thats what i tell all my new sysadmins!?!
    • Re:Easy answer (Score:3, Insightful)

      by solarbob (959948)
      Pretty film that flopped. Final Fantasy:- The Spirits Within. Looked nice but just was so very very boring. You can get something that looks nice (Toy Story) and still have a decent plot (Toy Story) and does well (Toy Story)
    • Re:Easy answer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zakezuke (229119) on Friday March 17, 2006 @06:09AM (#14940476)
      "The Master Control Program has chosen you to serve your system on the Game Grid. Those of you who continue to profess a belief in the Users will receive the standard substandard training, which will result in your eventual elimination."

      See? That's dialogue bad enough to have come from one of the Matrix sequels


      It's a laugh isn't it? Take this for example

      The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't. --Douglas Adams


      In order to take Tron seriously, you have to not take it so seriously. This was what 1981 or 1982 or so... video arcades were newish and computers were fancy mystical machines no one understood, esp this whole concept of easily editable word processed documents I.E. how someone with no real skills can delete someone else's name and take credit for their work, or worse yet create a program which will do this automaticly. Take into the account the 1980s mindset of computers which for the most part would be arcade style video games, using them and some spiffy new computer animation and you have the perfect vehicel for satire. And yes, the dialog is the likes of which that you would find in a Matrix sequal... and *that* is what makes it so funny.

      • Re:Easy answer (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kjella (173770)
        The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't. --Douglas Adams

        I just wish the movie was better. I recently grabbed it on DVD, thinking it couldn't be so bad... the plot changes weren't so bad, but I really hated the parts where they kept the plot, and left out the punchline. I honestly don't know what happened. Either

        a) Adams didn't want to repeat himself and threw the baby out with the bathwater
        b) They never let him put the good parts in
        c) They ripped out the good parts after his death
        d)
      • Movie critics.... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Savage-Rabbit (308260)
        In order to take Tron seriously, you have to not take it so seriously.

        It is amazing how many people fail to understand that simple truth. Take for example 'The Mummy' and it's sequel 'The Mummy returns' It's always funny to read reviews of those movies talking about overacting, a bad plot, bad script, over reliance on special effects etc... It's fun to read those reviews because the snobby film critics who write them have completely missed the point which is: "For god's sake man it's a MUMMY MOVIE! The fact
      • by hey! (33014) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:56AM (#14941553) Homepage Journal
        The geeks I knew back in the day loved Tron, not as satire, but possibly something more like burlesque. But even though it was brain-dead fun, there was something more to the movie that made us accept it. That wasn't easy; we weren't an easier audience to please than modern geeks, who roll their eyes at the cliche "tap-tap-tap we're in" hacking scene. Nobody feels affection for a movie if they don't sense some level of truth in it.

        As implausible as the plot devices were, Tron actually captured something about how it felt working with computers in that era. You had a great deal of control, but programs had reached a point of complexity where different pieces of software almost had a mind of their own. And since the suits only had a vague idea of what you did, they tried to avoid you as much as possible, which meant on a day to day basis you really interacted with bits of software more than you did people. There were no ex-geek managers for the simple reason there were no ex-geeks.

        Add to that, very few of us had computers in their home; the home computers that existed were for practical purposes not much more than toys.

        The upshot was, when you sat down in front of that terminal at the start of the work day, it really felt like preparing to dive into an alternate universe, with its own population.

        And furthermore, there was no Internet. Internet means you're handling emails, IM, blogging and interacting with real, flesh and blood people; or at least what those people are pretending to be. Having the Internet means that software flows in and out of your computer like electricity. In those days your computer was isolated, like one of the Galapagos Islands, and sparsely populated with humans. The real people were, in the cast of characters a distinct minority. When you chatted at the watercooler about one program or another idiosyncracies, it was gossipping.


                "O wonder!
                How many goodly creatures are there here!
                How beautious mankind is!
                O brave new world,
                That has such people in't!"


        Tron, while it may not be Citizen Kane, captured the feeling of an unique moment in computer history.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      They started with a lousy script, and an implausibly silly plot that its very hard to look past. The market for movies that look pretty but don't engage on a human level is very, very small.

      "The Master Control Program has chosen you to serve your system on the Game Grid. Those of you who continue to profess a belief in the Users will receive the standard substandard training, which will result in your eventual elimination."

      See? That's dialogue bad enough to have come from one of the Matrix sequels.

      Speak fo

    • Re:Easy answer (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      I liked the plot. It was just badly handled with a poor script. The basic idea of going into the computer and teaming up with a superhero program is kinda goofy but a pretty cool idea for kids. Plus I think the idea of anthropomorphic computer programs working in the computer was pretty cute. The same basic concept was used fairly well on Reboot.
    • See? That's dialogue bad enough to have come from one of the Matrix sequels.

      Yeah, I mean... um... er, OK, I've got a Zardoz quote in my sig. I'll shut up now.

    • Re:Easy answer (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jamshid (140925)
      Tron had a really interesting message about openness that is very appropriate today. I remember seeing it again last year and thinking alot of the things it said about the freedom of programs to interact directly with their users could be applied to the Internet and the importance of everyone on the Internet being able to be a server and everyone on the Internet being able to talk directly to each other, not go through an MCP.
    • Re:Easy answer (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dachannien (617929) on Friday March 17, 2006 @06:38AM (#14940543)
      Sure, you can take any line out of context and make it seem soulless. The point of that particular line was that it was dripping with cynicism. The MCP wasn't giving those programs a place of honor to "serve their systems" at all. Programs were sent to the Game Grid to die. In fact, Sark probably would rather have been doing something else. The only enjoyment he got from his little speech was the opportunity to kick the prisoners in their religious nadgers, which made a nice counterpoint to his later conversation with the MCP:

      Sark: I don't know, I mean, users wrote us. A user even wrote you!
      MCP: No one user wrote me. I'm worth millions of their man-years.

      It actually has interesting parallels with Cold War indoctrination and Stalinist gulags, with a hint of medieval religious indoctrination as well.

      Another interesting concept brought up by the line you quoted was the staggering difference in time scale between the real world and the computer world. The religious pogrom in the computer world had the flavor of something that had been going on for decades. But actually, users were able to work with their programs right up until the point where the MCP shut down Group 7 access ("just to be safe"). The efforts of the MCP and Sark to eliminate belief in the users must have started after that point, and it was a matter of mere hours from then to the time at which Flynn found himself trapped on the Game Grid.

      • But actually, users were able to work with their programs right up until the point where the MCP shut down Group 7 access ("just to be safe").

        Um, so they couldn't print, right?!

    • consider that dialogue, which is NOT from a HUMAN BEING, is in fact very good, as it's a rather mechanical and acerbic line, of the type I'd consider possible as the output of a first gen AI.

      Having experience with a great many non-native english speakers, from eastern europe and islamic countries, some asian, I know that the best of them still use funny sentence construction at times...
    • See? That's dialogue bad enough to have come from one of the Matrix sequels.
      Oh dear... the MCP isn't going to be very happy with you. Oh, well. After you're gone, there will be more cycles for the rest of us.

      --- SER

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @05:45AM (#14940404)
    I can handled some better grammar and/or editing
  • The movie is absolutely great. I saw it in the cinema twice. The DVD version I have contains a great making-of and I enjoyed the movie again since I bought it a couple of times. Actually I always wondered why this is a Disney film...
    • The point of the DVD version is that you don't have to buy it every time you watch it. Or you have to upgrade your player. ;)

      Regarding the Disney bit, they apparently weren't actively involved in the design of the movie. Sometimes even the major Hollywood studios don't mess with the filming too much.
  • by TrueKonrads (580974) on Friday March 17, 2006 @05:48AM (#14940421)
    Slightly OT, but i'd like to read TFA, but I ran out of patience clicking "next" and "next" and then watching as some overlay pops every time i accidentally move my mouse over underlined words. Sheesh. No wonder nobody reads TFA
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @05:53AM (#14940432)
    Who would have thought it was a bomb? I remember seeing it and loving it as a kid - and loving my toy lightcycle and some of the video game - and the movie seems to be so well known. If you ever mention it to someone, they know what you're talking about. It amazes me it was a flop.
  • by tinkertim (918832) * on Friday March 17, 2006 @05:56AM (#14940444) Homepage
    I saw Tron, opening night, and its one of the things that made me really, really want to figure out how those nifty looking typewriters with screens could do so much. I didn't know what memory was, I didn't know what a processor did, I barely understood how a calculator worked and if you said Binary I'd say "Sure, I have a Huffy!".

    We're always looking at value as something monetary. Tron made me go get my first trash-80 (Err Tandy TRS-80 heheh) and later my first Commie. I wanted to know how those things worked.

    You all may remember the short lived series "Whiz Kids" , with the talking computer that looked like it was assembled from stereo components. That was another one way ahead of its time.

    The value of the film wasn't how much it grossed , if you want to calculate that, then calculate the life time earnings of those who got into computers partly because of seeing it and you may be surprised :)

    However only 15 minutes of CGI? I somehow (not sure why, because I know what was available then) thought most of it was CGI.. but yes, that would have been very very difficult at the time. My bubble sort of broke reading that article, never really thought about the making other than being fascinated as a child with the results.

    Much like the show Whiz Kids, it was just a little too abstract for most people. Entertainment isn't entertainment to most if it requires too much thought.

    Tron got to be the pavement others were able to ride in on. So wallet aside, I don't think the film was a flop. I was too young to remember any hoop-la coming from Disney about the film.. I wonder how it would have done if it had been underplayed before release.

    Cool article, if you can wade through the advertisements :)
    • calculate the life time earnings of those who got into computers partly because of seeing it and you may be surprised :)

      I resemble that remark. (Even ended up working with a III system later in '82, though not doing anything nearly as interesting with it...)

      Yeah, the dialogue is awful (though not as bad as The Black Hole), but the look [development01.com] and soundtrack are still inspiring. As another poster said, this film was ahead of its time - by at least a good twenty minutes [maxheadroom.com]...

      <grrr />
  • Because the script and the dialogs were dreadful.
    • > Because the script and the dialogs were dreadful.

      I thought it was a yawner too, though I'm surprised to see several people posting to that effect. For some reason it seems to have a reputation of being a cool movie. I couldn't understand that even back then; how anyone could rave about it now is beyond mystery.
  • by Hoab (961817) on Friday March 17, 2006 @06:28AM (#14940520)
    Tron cost 17 million to make and pulled in 33 million. How is this considered a flop?

    It was 22nd in the top grossing films of 1982. Blade Runner was 27th that year.

    Maybe it wasn't the smash hit they were hoping for, but it looks like it did very well.

    http://www.boxofficemojo.com/ [boxofficemojo.com]

    • I think the reason that many consider TRONStar Wars and that movie changed the standards for what is a hit. But TRON making back double what it original cost to make would make it a success to me.

      I think the problem with TRON was that it came out at the wrong time, a time before most people were very familiar with computers. Due to this some of the humor in the movie did not instinctively carry to the average viewer.

      But some elements of the movie still hold up to this day. The light cycle sequence has b

    • According to "The-Numbers.com" it only made $26,918,576 at the box office in 1982. Still, that would be a decent ROI for $17,000,000 you'd think. But that $17M number - which is only an estimate it seems - may exclude marketing etc etc, which would explain that it was considered a flop compared to the expectations.

      http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/1982/0TRON.html [the-numbers.com]

    • by 0123456 (636235) on Friday March 17, 2006 @07:44AM (#14940690)
      "Tron cost 17 million to make and pulled in 33 million. How is this considered a flop?"

      Because you generally need to make several times the cost of the movie at the box office to break even. Theaters take a cut, distributors take a cut, then there's the advertising costs to pay on top... which can be massive: in the extreme case of low-budget movies, they can be many times the cost of the movie itself.

      $33,000,000 gross for a $17,000,000 movie probably just about paid for the advertising and the coke and hookers budget.

      "Blade Runner was 27th that year."

      If I remember correctly, 'Blade Runner' was considered a disaster when it was released: hence the voiceover and happy ending tacked on to try to raise revenue with Joe Sixpack.
    • by skribe (26534) on Friday March 17, 2006 @08:10AM (#14940747) Homepage
      Tron cost 17 million to make and pulled in 33 million. How is this considered a flop?

      A good rule of thumb is that you need to earn 4x the budget to break even.

    • ron cost 17 million to make and pulled in 33 million. How is this considered a flop?

      Well, they expected it to make $400 million, so it was a disappointment.

      And if it made $400 million, it's still a disappointment because they expected it to make $2 billion.

    • by ianscot (591483) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:33AM (#14941375)
      [Tron] was 22nd in the top grossing films of 1982. Blade Runner was 27th that year.

      Man, I hadn't remembered that those came out the same year. I biked maybe five miles to see Tron at the local theater that was showing it, at least a few times. I remember locking the chain around the bike rack and walking from the summer heat into that run down theater with its thinning carpet and whiff of warmed popcorn. That movie made frisbee extra fun that year. Later on the Intellivision games, with the Recognizer "bosses"...

      "Blade Runner" we were too young for, it being an R, so my older brother took us to that for my birthday. That means it was late June. What the heck was anyone doing releasing that movie as a summer blockbuster? The theater was basically empty except for us.

      Neither one of them got the box office that its studio was expecting. As investments, though? I'm not that keen on either one as a work of high art, but the ripple effect they had was really something, culturally.

  • by ettlz (639203) on Friday March 17, 2006 @06:30AM (#14940525) Journal
    For Tron's special effects — The Super Foonly F-1. I bet it had a phat exhaust, blue downlighting, a killer sound system with a 16 inch subwoofer, and a stylish fibreglass skirt fitted to the front of the reel-to-reel cabinet.
  • The Matrix (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Monte (48723) on Friday March 17, 2006 @06:35AM (#14940535)
    ...was a really great sequel to TRON.

    Or at least that's what I think.
  • by farrellj (563) on Friday March 17, 2006 @06:52AM (#14940573) Homepage Journal
    Check out the website of Wendy Carlos, who composed and performed the soundtrack...her website is: http://wendycarlos.com/ [wendycarlos.com]

    ttyl
              Farrell
    • by Anonymous Coward
      She's got a great style. Sort of a more epic version of Vangelis or Tangerine Dream. It's pretty damned cool that they remixed some of those tunes into Tron 2.0.
      • by Erbo (384) <obreerbo@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:02PM (#14942617) Homepage Journal
        I have a couple of her other albums, which are also good. One is Switched-On Bach 2000, in which she revisited the material she covered in the original Switched-On Bach album, with modern synthesizer gear and period-correct Bach tunings. She added one "bonus track" as well, a rendition of the famous Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor--perfect for Halloween music. The second is her collaboration with "Weird Al" Yankovic on a rendition of Prokofiev's Peter And The Wolf, as well as a new piece, Carnival of the Animals, Part Two (parody of Camille Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals). She proved she could be as much of a parody artist as Al, throwing a bunch of references to other pieces into her compositions to counterpoint Al's bizarre sense of humor.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday March 17, 2006 @07:29AM (#14940658)
    1982 it was not "cool" to be a geek. It was not cool to "live" inside the computer. 1982 was a time when computers (and even more consoles) were considered toys, not an essential part of our life.

    Especially, the audience for such a movie was too small. And the studio was the wrong one. First of all, it's Disney. Back then, what did you get from Disney? Cute li'l films about cute fuzzy animals having some cute adventures. So people did not expect a "serious" science fiction movie.

    Second, it was the wrong kind of science fiction for this time. Science fiction back then was either in a galaxy far, far away or equally far away in the future. But most certainly not NOW. How can you make science fiction in the NOW? Now is the real world. The movie was simply not credible for the audience of then.

    Before someone quotes E.T.: E.T. was credible for the simple reason that it was a "real" drama movie with an alien element. Not a "real" science fiction movie. There were no laser beams and no robots.

    Tron was also not the stereotypical science fiction movie, it didn't carter to the SciFi crowd of those times. No aliens, no space battles, no epic hero. Instead a very dramatic personal battle for Flynn and Tron, with a lot of abstraction that only someone who has at least a clue about computers can comprehend and appreciate.

    In total, it is a movie for computer and game geeks. And those were rather scarce back then.
    • Disney did the Black Hole 2 years earlier, and in the 70s did a number of sci-fi films (some funny, some not - Escape/Return to Witch Mountain, Cat from Outer Space) so they'd already established that they could do serious, if teen-oriented, scifi. Hell, Disney was on the cutting edge of the "epic" film back in the 60s with 20,000 Leagues and a few others.

      I agree the timing was just a little early. We needed Wargames *first*. Show us what happens outside the computer world when a modern computer "thinks"
  • I suspect a lot of people saw Tron as kids. I saw it as an adult and didn't like it. From what I remember it was for much the same reasons Bladerunner works and Johnny mnemonic doesn't. Hence, Disney?
       
  • I actually saw Tron when it came out in the theater, I thought it was great. I didn't care about any bad reviews, I enjoyed it because it was total fantasy. The effects were great (at the time) and the lightcycle bike scene was the best.

    I am not sure if it would have ever been made today, but I think this exactly the kind of movie that needs to be made - sheer fantasy to escape from the realities of this world.
  • Please... saying Tron flopped at the box office is like saying Gigli is a thought provoking masterpiece. Box office sales may have been somewhat pale, but they're comparing it to Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., and Conan the Barbarian which were also released around the same time.

    Very misleading summary. Tron was, and still is, a nice piece of movie history. The arcade game was also great, I could almost guarantee there is a Tron machine within 50 miles of wherever you're reading this from.

    I'd love
  • by CrazyTalk (662055) on Friday March 17, 2006 @08:36AM (#14940820)
    "Has anyone here seen Tron?"
    "No"
    "No"
    "No"
    "Yes - I mean no."
    • I think that a wonderful homage to Tron comes from South Park. When the children at the Jewbilee camp summon Moses, and he appears in the shape of MCP, it is a precious moment.

      I suppose that people who never saw Tron missed the reference.

  • I first saw Tron as a small kid. Didn't understand much, but I remember that I liked it, the looks, the heroes, the glowing fresbees, everything. During the years I watched it a couple of times and I always liked it. Now I have the latest DVD, and I just watched it recently, and guess what, I still like it :D Thing is, every time I watch it with a different perspective, when a kid, I took it seriously, good guy bad guy fighting whatever, this last time I thought it was real fun, I laughed on the lines a lot
  • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao@noSPaM.hotmail.com> on Friday March 17, 2006 @08:43AM (#14940838) Homepage
    Armagetron Advanced [armagetronad.net]
    GLtron [gltron.org]

    Both free, for Windows/MacOSX/Linux.

  • ...that a film like Tron was conceived while playing the first video game ever created.

    ehhh, not quite. Space War [wikipedia.org] preceded Pong, and the table tennis [osti.gov] game at Brookhaven preceded even Space War.

    However, Pong was the first widely popular video game and the first home game.
  • Tron vs Titanic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The wonderful thing about creative endeavours - films, books, music, software, whatever - is that they are inherently unpredictable. I've lost track a number things I've seen that claim to be able to guarantee you a hit single or novel say. Tron probably deserved to be a hit but it wasn't. Another big special effects movie with equally laughable acting and awful dialog - Titanic, did alright.
  • by Richard Kirk (535523) on Friday March 17, 2006 @09:07AM (#14940924)
    The article says Disney experimented with using comupters for animation in the seventies. I think the first thing they tried doing was to do in-betweening of hand-plotted vector graphics, animating the series of lines on a vector scope, then drawing the lines to cells using an XY plotter. This was done using an IBM Whirlwind vector terminal in 1959 or 1960.
  • by SynapseLapse (644398) on Friday March 17, 2006 @09:08AM (#14940928)
    One thing the article failed to mention was how ardous it was to make those "mere 15 minutes of cgi." Back then, no animation tools existed nor were there any GUI based rendering tools either. All of the CGI was hard coded by hand using a text system very similar to Pov-ray. There was no animation programming either. To animate something they had to calculate how far they wanted each object to move, then calculate and enter the cordinates by hand frame-by-frame.

    Furthermore, the computers of the time didn't have enough memory to store entire movies, let alone any sort of device to output it to video tape or film like we have now. Instead, they had to render each individual frame, display the frame on a high-resolution monitor and then photograph the monitor onto regular 35mm film. Each frame would take several hours to render further complicating the process trying to keep the lighting uniform on each exposure.

    Now, fifteen minutes * 60 seconds in a minute * 24 frames per second = roughly 21,600 frames. Just an insane amount of manual labor.
  • by zoeblade (600058) on Friday March 17, 2006 @09:27AM (#14941011) Homepage

    Something the article doesn't mention is that Tron also had a futuristic soundtrack [wendycarlos.com] by Wendy Carlos, the same woman who composed (at least, she composed the song Timesteps) and performed the soundtrack for A Clockwork Orange.

  • Imagineering (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:45AM (#14941461) Homepage Journal
    I was working (learning) in the biggest graphics lab in the world at the time _Tron_ was made, Summer 1982. The New York Institute of Technology had a DEC VAX/VMS datacenter, with DEC GIGI graphics terminals and other rendering HW. We were busy scanning 1970s progressive rock album covers and inserting our own adventures into the cover art. Then Disney opened their Tron lab, and we weren't the biggest anymore - just another little college computer room.

    It was like our bong hits wore off, just as someone else at the school prom dosed us all with LSD, then they started flying around the dance hall.
  • by oni (41625) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:51AM (#14941504) Homepage
    From the article: "One of the things I'm most proud about in Tron is there are no guns in the movie -- it's a killer Frisbee!" he said. "I mean, try to make an action adventure movie without a gun. I dare you."

    So, those aren't gun turrets on the tanks? I guess those are love turrets, and they fire love and happiness.
  • First Geek Movie (Score:5, Informative)

    by mbowen (943330) on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:06PM (#14942081) Homepage
    It's rather astounding that there are so many young geeks who think Tron was lame. Of course it's lame by today's standards. But I was an actual programmer on the job in those days when it was considered incredible to get 300KB for your own program's memory. Tron was the first movie about programmers that made our style comprehensible. We were considered truly weird, and somebody as cool as Bruce Boxleitner to star as a programmer was considered a coup. That says a huge amount about the social acceptance of OGs (original geeks).

    The ethic of programs of little fighters within a sometimes incomprehensible system was very appealing. The idea of old crusty programs bearing the likeness of their users was cool. The idea of independently minded security programs running around like white blood cells was also pretty fabulous. In terms of what actual programs could do at the time, Tron was inspirational to real programmers. I mean every program in Tron could communicate to every other program. Strong programs could defeat weak programs by learning new games at the instruction of stronger still programs, all without user intervention. A super program that could heal other programs that had crashed...

    There were realistic in-jokes, like the Bit, the PacMan graphic in Stark's domain, the endless infinty of cubicles, and the fantasy that (arcade) gamers could pull chicks by getting high scores.

    Tron was true the spirit of the then-emerging hacker ethic in many ways that other movies haven't really ever captured. In fact, I can't think of any other that captures more truly on an emotional scale how programmers think about their programs. In fact there is probably only one movie that has ever been cooler to hackers and that is Swordfish.

  • Reboot? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NeuroManson (214835) on Friday March 17, 2006 @05:06PM (#14944792) Homepage
    Just thought it was odd that they failed to mention Tron's "unofficial" sequel, which covered a lot of similar premises (almost every all of them). Since the series came out just barely 12 years after Tron, it's about as good as an homage as any.

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