TRON

I don’t know if I’ll make a habit of writing movie reviews, but I just got back from watching TRON and I can’t sleep, so it’s something to do.

I loved the design, and the visuals, and the soundtrack. I think Clu looked good in a handful of shots, but most of the time he was distracting because he wasn’t perfect. The lipsync didn’t work for the most part, and I spent a lot of time in the theater trying to decide why. I think one thing that was missing were clear tense and relaxed mouth shapes; his lips always seemed somewhere in-between. I’ll have to see it again…I loved the concept of Clu, though, the villain who is a younger alter-ego of the hero. I’m a little annoyed that the story had to be about saving the world, I wasn’t convinced of Clu’s motivation for conquest. And I didn’t buy that a program could leave the grid and become a real, meaty human. I mean, a human going into computer land and driving a digital representation makes sense, but a program, who has never had a real body, manifesting organs and stuff? That’d be a lot of work. But that isn’t really what I was thinking about as I was watching the movie.

Mainly it was that I wish it was nerdier. Comparisons with The Matrix are inevitable, but I felt that rather than step up to the challenge of defining a unique hacker world, it seems like they oversimplified it to make it more accessible, almost as if it’s based on the concepts of The Matrix. To me this feels like they missed an opportunity to really explore some cool ideas.

Since every being on the grid is a program, I really wanted to know their individual functions. Would they each behave differently to correspond with what they’re designed to do? Do they have different languages, or protocols which aren’t compatible with eachother? Are some obsolete? Are some extremely simple, ignoring everything but their task? What sort of tics and obsessions would they have if they were in charge of counting things, or coloring things? What restrictions do Clu and other programs have? (You can’t watch a movie in Word, or write an essay in Quicktime). Are there viruses, worms, trojans, bots, and what would they look like? If we really are at the root level, and every program is manifest in some way, then what about the programs that define the world, like physics, rendering…these programs must be a character somewhere, and what would happen to the world if they were to get hit in the head? It would have been really cool if as Clu was recruiting his army, he was crippling his city by removing key functions. And if he can edit another program’s code, can he edit his own? To what extent can Flynn reprogram stuff on the fly? We saw him do it a couple times, so why hasn’t he programmed his own army, or ship, or bomb? Hacking the world could have been a great mechanic, especially if he had taught Sam how to do it. And what’s the deal with that fancy dinner?

But maybe I’ve been doing too much programming lately.

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