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For a movie getting a lavish update, the original Tron’s been pretty quiet. There was talk of a Blu-Ray release earlier in the year, but it disappeared almost as soon as it was announced. Last week saw a pretty good guess as to why: it’s embarassing. The CGI is all neon grids and pre-Pixar geometry, the lost-in-a-computer storyline feels obsolete in an age of smartphones, and the live-action elements stick out like a forehead tattoo reading “1982.” An HD release would only emphasize the awful truth: this is how we thought computers worked back then.

Which is to say, it’s pretty fantastic—as long as you’re not the type to be embarrassed about the past.

We don’t blame Disney for sweeping Tron under the rug—especially since Tron Legacy is aiming to be as shiny and updated as possible—but there’s a certain charm to the CGI of yore that no sequel can replace. There’s still no other movie that looks anything like it, and if the neon suits look a little tackier than they did 28 years ago, they haven’t aged any worse than Phil Collins. It just looks like an 80s movie. It is an 80s movie. Timelessness is a high bar, but retro flair is pretty good for second place.

And, lest we forget, the dated limbo is where everything’s headed eventually, starting 3D, IMAX and everything else our generation of blockbusters has to offer. By 2038, Avatar will look every bit as embarrassing as Tron. And no one gets a free pass. As Molly Lambert put it, “aging makes LOLs of us all.”

A timeless statement if we ever heard one.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom