Monday, December 20, 2010

Spoiler questions, now that we've seen 'Tron Legacy'

Posted By on Mon, Dec 20, 2010 at 11:14 AM

You can call me Clu, or Cluder, or El Cluderino if youre not into the whole brevity thing
  • "You can call me Clu, or Cluder, or El Cluderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing"
1. Where is “The Grid?” Disney released the original Tron in 1982, shortly after the introduction of personal computers. In the film, the Master Control Program beams Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) onto “The Grid,” a cyberspace realm that seemed localized on the computer mainframe of sinister corporation Encom. The sequel Tron Legacy has a contemporary setting, when everyone’s plugged into the world wide web. But when Kevin’s son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) gets downloaded onto The Grid, it looks conceptually the same as it did thirty years ago. Is it still the "Encom grid?" Is it on his father's personal mainframe? Does it have any connection to the current global network of Ebay and Facebook and on-line banking? Apart from the improved special effects, The Grid doesn't look very different.

2. Why is Cillian Murphy in the movie? In one of numerous shout-outs to original, Cillian Murphy is introduced as an important Encom programmer and the son of Dillinger, David Warner’s bad guy from the first film. We spend the whole movie waiting for a doppleganger-program of Murphy to show up on the Grid, but he never does. So why even mention him? I can only guess that the filmmakers present young Dillinger as a red herring, and we're supposed to think that he's the helmeted boss bad guy we see early on, and that it's supposed to be a shock when he turns out to be Clu, with Jeff Bridges' face. But people who remember Tron well enough to know who Dillinger is will probably know about Clu already, while uninitiated audiences won't know the difference.

3. What does Gem do all day? My Running Dialogue co-hosts pointed this out: when Sam arrives on the grid, Gem and three other “siren” programs emerge from alcoves in a wall, remove his human clothes and outfit him in gladiator armor. Then they return to their alcoves. Later, though, Sam happens to run into Gem, strolling through a neighborhood holding a neon parasol. So does she live in that alcove all day? Is she on her off-hours? How much leisure/vacation time do programs have, anyway?

4. Why does Clu go bad? In flashbacks, we see that the original Tron, Clu (technically Clu.02, given that Kevin had an ill-fated Clu in the first film) and Kevin collaborated on turning the Grid into a paradise, until Clu’s drive for perfection turned him against the others. Okay, but what set off Clu, exactly? Clu seems kind of like an expansionist tyrant (Stalin to Kevin’s exiled Trotsky), so was he ever good? Did the arrival of the angelic AIs called "the ISOs" drive him insane? Why?

5. Why is The Old Man in the Sea so big?
This is a nitpick, but Kevin’s bookshelf includes classic works of literature, including Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. The volume looks about as big as the Encyclopedia Brittannica, but in real life, the book's barely a novella. Could it be a large-print edition? (Grad students can look for parallels between Hemingway's character and aging Kevin Flynn.)

6. How do those human discs work? All programs carry personal discs that serve as both weapons and IDs. As digitized human beings, Kevin and Sam have discs that apparently contain the means to reconvert them to flesh and blood. Clu claims that Kevin's disc basically contains the secrets to life, the universe and everything. What that actually means isn't clear, but apparently it can turn programs into human beings in our world. But if a program used Kevin's disc, wouldn't they come out looking like Jeff Bridges. Nope, that's not what happens to Quora. And apparently the process can work for any amount of programs, since Clu plans to use the disc to beam his army into our world.

7. Why is Clu’s army so dangerous? Suppose Clu succeeded in beaming his army into the real world, onto the run-down corner where Flynn's arcade still stands. What would they do, exactly? Sure, an army of tens of thousands could conquer the city and hurt a bunch of people, but then what? Do Clu and company have "powers" in the real world? They don't seem like much of a threat.

8. What happened to Tron/Rinzler (Part One)?
Kevin believed that Clu murdered Tron, but it turns out that Clu’s champion gladiator, Rinzler, was actually Tron all along. Presumably Clu wiped Tron's memory and renamed him Rinzler (although if Clu had Tron openly on his side, it would seem to legitimize his reign). So why did Tron/Rinzler regain his memory during the dogfight and turn against Clu?

9. What happened to Tron/Rinzler (Part Two)? After Tron attacked Clu in the dogfight, Tron crashed in the “ocean” and that’s the last we see of him. We can only assume that he survives and is available for a sequel. (I can't remember - do we even see what he looks like?)

10. How can I see the original Tron? Currently unavailable on either DVD or Netflix, Tron might be at your local library. You could also the first Tron mocked "Mystery Science Theatre 3000"-style at Cineprov at the Relapse Theatre on Fri., Jan. 7. They even invited me to be a “guest mocker,” and I couldn’t say no.

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