Salvaging the Legacy of TRON

My wife and I watched the original TRON movie the other night. I borrowed it from the library. I hadn’t seen the movie since I was teenager. Back then I loved the movie. I loved the visual effects, the action, and the idea of being inside a computer. I think the latter was the most appealing to the 13-year-old me: that being inside a computer was just like playing a video game. In that respect the movie was made for the first generation of kids to come of age with video games.

I also fed many quarters into the original TRON game at several arcades.

As a teenager I also owned what my friends and I called a “TRON mirror.” It wasn’t a mirror. It was a glass part of the video game cabinet. It was cool. It had been salvaged from the Bally Midway manufacturing plant that was in my town. My friends and I would salvage materials from the dumpster at night. Materials were thrown away if they had even slight blemish. Bad for arcades but cool for us geeks. I once got a Wizard of Wor sign that was used for the top part of the arcade cabinet.

The TRON panel I had was from the large cabinet for the Discs of TRON game. You can see it here.

It’s the portion with TRON’s arms held up over his head. It was fairly large. This I did not salvage myself. Someone else did and I traded cash and few other things (I think 5 1/4 inch floppy discs). Oddly enough, I don’t ever remember playing Discs of TRON.

I had that glass panel for many years and then it was sold at a garage sale when my parents cleaned out my old bedroom.

My future wife wouldn’t let me bring the TRON panel into our apartment when we moved in together.

Which is just as well, I suppose. TRON is not as good as I remember it being to my teenage self. The movie has little to almost no character development and a plot that is quite thin. Though still much better than TRON: Legacy. That was a horrible movie with great special effects and an even better soundtrack by Daft Punk (which I still listen to quite frequently). Whereas the first movie could have told a more complete and interesting story, but didn’t, the sequel tried to cram too much story into a short period of time leaving numerous plot holes.

There are so many plot holes in TRON: Legacy that there are several web sites dedicated to pointing them out.

This is a shame because with time and hindsight, and a better budget, the sequel could have been an improvement to the original TRON. As it stands now, TRON: Legacy looks more like a missed opportunity for making what could have been a compelling piece of science fiction.

P.S. I also learned, thanks to the DVD extras, that the original TRON was not nominated for an Oscar for Best Special Effects. The reason given was that because they relied on computers to generate the special effects that it was somehow “cheating.”

P.P.S. My wife hated TRON: Legacy and I think still holds it against me for wasting two hours of her time.

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6 thoughts on “Salvaging the Legacy of TRON

  1. I never remember telling you that you could not bring the TRON mirror into our apartment. But it should have gone without saying.

    Also, I didn’t hate Legacy. I just thought it was a really, really crappy movie.

    • I remember you saying that it was not welcome when I casually brought it up. :) though I have to agree that it was better suited to a bachelor pad or a teenager’s bedroom.

  2. Whaaaat?? That thing looks sweet anywhere! Rich, the “mirrors” that we used to get were mostly all “marquee” mirrors…the BIG DoT mirrors that we got were actually backglass for the original game, which was a big box you stood inside. Light came through that huge piece of silkscreened glass into the game. The one that you pictured was the marquee for the 1st version if memory serves…though you didn’t say otherwise.

    Steph, thread carefully, this stuff is INGRAINED into Rich and I and fueled our shared passion for computing forever! ; ‘)

    Great read Rich as always!

  3. And yes, I think that both Trons (looking back) were pretty crappy movies, especially the new one. Still, give them props–it started the trend of video game/movie tie-ins (yep, the very first one) and–importantly for where we grew up–it created a shitload of jobs. Granted, both Tron and Discs of Tron SUCKED but that didn’t stop Rich and I from pumping what was probably hundreds of dollars into the damn things!

    The machine that we got the BIG glass from was apparently called “Discs of Tron Environmental”–remember the huge sheets of tempered glass that we would simply toss on the cement to hear them explode?–THAT version is damn near impossible to find.

    Reading this piece made me so happy and pretty nostalgic for the old days!

  4. We tried to use our bikes to move them but eventually just said “screw this” and tossed those $5000 puppies on the concrete. Boy were we a group of assholes! ; ‘)

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