I was a little too young for the original "TRON" when it was released in 1982. It was only a few years ago that I finally sat down and watched it, but I was definitely aware of the film throughout my childhood. I always remembered the imagery, especially the circuit-patterned bodysuits - a wonderful product of the neon-fixated early '80s. As a kid from Southern California with a serious Disney habit, it was hard to avoid "TRON." Stills and clips from the film regularly showed up in the Disney literature and TV retrospectives. The toys and merchandise were floating around, and the fanboys were already spreading the word and solidifying future cult status.
But my best memory of "TRON" comes from the now defunct PeopleMover ride at Disneyland. Up until it closed in '95, it had a TRON-themed section, where some of the CGI segments of the film were projected on giant screens decorating two tunnel segments. My mother was a big fan of the PeopleMover, since it was a long ride where we got to sit down, and it didn't move too fast. Unfortunately, it also had a habit of breaking down as it got old and creaky in the 90s, usually only for a few minutes at a time before lurching back on its merry way. Having been stuck in the TRON tunnels during a few of these breakdowns, listening to the blaring soundtrack of the lightcycle sequence, I would know the sound of those pixels anywhere.
It's odd to feel nostalgic toward a movie that I didn't actually see until I was well into my adult years, but that was part of the fun. The film's visuals were so strong and so iconic, I didn't need the story to feel the impact of "TRON." In fact, knowing the plot probably would have ruined the film's mystique for me. I did enjoy "TRON" when I finally saw it, but the best parts were the bits I'd already experienced - the visual effects sequences and the sound design.
I'll readily admit that "TRON" is still mighty impressive to this day, and holds up better than films half its age. It's pure popcorn, though, and I have no illusions that it's anything else. And that's all I really expect the new "TRON Legacy" to be - a big, loud, shiny, crowd-pleasing action movie. From the new trailer that was released last week and the Comic-Con test footage that left the fanboys euphoric, it looks like Disney is going to deliver. The updated visuals look gorgeous and the leaked plot details suggest the story will be solid, if not very ambitious.
But mostly, it's good to hear those lightcycles again after all these years. I can't wait for December.