Thursday, December 2, 2010

A theoretical Catch 22: You have to have seen Tron to understand Tron: Legacy, but Disney won't let you seen Tron.

I generally don't do the whole 'look what this critic wrote', as it's awfully close to just stealing someone else's work for the sake of content. However, now that Tron: Legacy reviews are slowly coming in (pretty positive so far, but I suspect that will even out when the traditional critics see it), there is something that is worth noting. In one of two reviews now up at Rotten Tomatoes, Jenna Busch of JoeBlo.com makes the following comment:

"I just think that all of the things they put in are not going to be understood by people who haven't seen the first film. And there it is. I've spoken to a bunch of people who were at the screening who hadn't. They were bored. Not because it wasn't shiny. Not because they don't like sci-fi. Because they got tired of trying to figure out what the hell was happening. There is a reveal at the end of the film that not one of these people understood. I almost missed it myself, since it was bogged down in other ideas and events."

Okay, so apparently you need to have seen and remembered the original to understand and enjoy this sequel. That's fine and dandy in a normal situation. If this were The Matrix Reloaded or Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, moviegoers could easily check out the prior films in the respective franchises and get caught up with time to spare. After all, anyone who walks into Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I and/or Saw VI without a working knowledge of the prior films has only themselves to blame. But here's the catch: good luck trying to find the original Tron in the next three weeks. It's no longer available to rent on Netflix. It's under 'very long wait' at the Blockbuster Online site, and the in-store copy at my local Blockbuster mysteriously vanished at least a month ago. Want to buy the film on DVD? Well, break out your checkbook because the out-of-print 25th Anniversary edition is going for $160 new and $75 used. On the plus side, for those itching to save a couple bucks, they do have used VHS copies going for a mere $40.

I'm not the first person to notice this. Not only has Disney not put out a Blu Ray of the 1982 original, but they have seemingly gone out of their way to hide the first picture from would-be movie goers in the run-up to this very expensive sequel. We can probably all guess the reasons for this. The original picture is one of those 1980s cult pictures that plays better in your memories than it does in actuality (think The Goonies or The Last Starfighter). I must admit my bias and confess that I never cared for the picture, it just never did anything for me. But regardless, I was curious to rewatch the film in advance of the next chapter. Alas, it is not to be. Perhaps Disney is concerned that today's youngsters will watch the dated special effects (among other flaws in the film) and decide that it's not something they want to pay to see in IMAX 3D.

Alas, if Ms. Busch is correct, Disney is going to have a lot of annoyed and confused moviegoers come December 17th. And it brings about an interesting conundrum. Disney has funded a $200 million sequel to a cult picture, a film that has apparently been crafted to appeal to the niche audience that still adores the first film, and a film that doesn't particularly work on its own as a stand-alone adventure. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a sequel that requires you to have seen the original. But problems might arise if you craft such a sequel for a little-remembered (amongst general audiences) sci-fi picture and then deny moviegoers the ability to actually see the original film before viewing the sequel. We'll see...

Scott Mendelson

7 comments:

Jihad Punk 77 said...

TRON (the 1983 film) was actually aired on G4 channel earlier this year. I know this because I DVR'ed it, because I was excited since I had never seen TRON before and I was always curious about it.

Needless to say, I was bored out of my mind. Like you said in the closing paragraph, people have good memories of TRON but when you actually watch it, it's boring and slow. Just my opinion...

Anyway I disagree w/ you about the Goonies. That movie is STILL damn good! I've seen it a million times and only recently watched it again last year and still love it.

I'm still interested in checking out TRON: Legacy, though.

Anonymous said...

I like the original. It captured my imagination as a kid, and after 30+ years of watching movies it has a place in my heart due to how unique it is.
I will make no attempt to convert the unfaithful, or any female for that matter, but I own the DVD and was anticipating tearing into a special edition Blu Ray about now. I still can't believe Disney didn't release one. Is it official that Disney doesn't want people seeing it or just a fun Internet conspiracy story? I was up in arms a year ago when I purchased the Star Trek Blu Ray box set and realized the Motion Picture was the theatrical version. After
assuming the worst, I later read an article that stated all the redone scenes are in standard definition so it wasn't really possible to have the special edition without a major
undertaking on Blu. Sometimes there is a mundane reason for these things.
Have you seen Tron yet Scott? When can we expect a review?

MDOC

R.L. Shaffer said...

Ahh, The Goonies...

Also, I sold my Tron DVD about six months ago after watching it again and determining that it really is pretty damn boring (and I assumed there would be a cross-promoted BD release). Back then it went for $30. I should have held out and got more for it ;)

Scott Mendelson said...

I don't know if Disney is intentionally hiding Tron, but it seems an awfully big coincidence, MDOC. I too was slightly annoyed that the Director's Cuts of Star Trek 1, 2, and 6 were not on the Blu Rays (especially 1, which is a markedly superior film to the theatrical cut). As for Tron: Legacy, I won't see it until the 13th. It's the first IMAX screening that I will be able to attend (there's one on Tuesday, but I'm seeing The Fighter that night), and I felt it was worth the wait.

Sarah said...

Disney does this. When Nightmare Before Christmas came out in 3D I was working in a bookstore. We had several customers come in looking for the original (probably to get it before any cross-marketed editions came out). However it was 'in the vault' and nigh impossible to obtain.

Scott Mendelson said...

I don't know if Disney is intentionally hiding Tron, but it seems an awfully big coincidence, MDOC. I too was slightly annoyed that the Director's Cuts of Star Trek 1, 2, and 6 were not on the Blu Rays (especially 1, which is a markedly superior film to the theatrical cut). As for Tron: Legacy, I won't see it until the 13th. It's the first IMAX screening that I will be able to attend (there's one on Tuesday, but I'm seeing The Fighter that night), and I felt it was worth the wait.

Anonymous said...

I like the original. It captured my imagination as a kid, and after 30+ years of watching movies it has a place in my heart due to how unique it is.
I will make no attempt to convert the unfaithful, or any female for that matter, but I own the DVD and was anticipating tearing into a special edition Blu Ray about now. I still can't believe Disney didn't release one. Is it official that Disney doesn't want people seeing it or just a fun Internet conspiracy story? I was up in arms a year ago when I purchased the Star Trek Blu Ray box set and realized the Motion Picture was the theatrical version. After
assuming the worst, I later read an article that stated all the redone scenes are in standard definition so it wasn't really possible to have the special edition without a major
undertaking on Blu. Sometimes there is a mundane reason for these things.
Have you seen Tron yet Scott? When can we expect a review?

MDOC

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