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Posts Tagged ‘you young whippersnappers’

Tron Of Thought

November 28th, 2010 No comments

A couple of the geek magazines that I read, Wired and Game Informer, have recently referred to Disney’s seminal cyberspace flick Tron in ways that suggest that it may be something their readerships barely remember, if at all. I’m surprised. I’d expect that of a general audience, but hardcore nerds? It may be a generational thing, but for dorks of a certain age, Tron is one of the watershed movies of 1982, itself a significant year for the sci-fi/fantasy crowd.

I’ve argued that Tron is a unique film in the pure sense of the word. There is, of course, a sequel about to come out, but it won’t be the same. That’s not a knock on Tron: Legacy, but a recognition that the methods used to simulate a digital world in 1982–a combination of early computer animation, traditional cel animation, impressionistic sets, reflective costumes and black-and-white photography–are no longer necessary.

Tron was a financial failure in its day, but it was one of the earliest visual depictions of cyberspace, a concept that early ’80s audiences were only beginning to comprehend.

One thing that’s always intrigued me about Tron is its handling of the “Man Who Would Be King” trope. That’s when a traveler encounters a less-advanced civilization and is treated as a god. The difference here is that the computer programmer played by Jeff Bridges really is a god to the denizens of the digital domain.

In case you can’t tell, Tron is a film that, despite its occasional cheesiness, I love unironically. And I cannot wait to revisit that world a couple of weeks from now.

I wonder how today’s audience will react. Some of Tron‘s core visuals–the light cycles and the flying discs–were intended to evoke specific video games of thirty years ago such as Snake and Pong. Will they mean anything to a generation weaned on Wii and World of Warcraft?

My Favorite Martians: The Visitors

September 1st, 2009 No comments

I’ve already written enough about the Visitors (here and here, not to mention an entire frickin’ website), so I’m not going to launch into an extensive recap of the original V miniseries or its followups. I’d rather discuss a rare commodity in the era of instant gratification: the power of surprise.

I hope that you’ll forgive me for the “you young whippersnappers” attitude in the following. Look, I’m 45, and that feeling grows stronger with each passing sunset. You kids really don’t know how good you’ve got it. Why, in my day, all we had to eat were astronaut food sticks and Sweet’N Low…

Where was I? Oh yes, lizard space Nazis.

So, in the nearly-forgotten era before Google and spoiler sites, if you wanted to know about an upcoming sci-fi show, you most likely read about it in Starlog magazine. As I recall, Starlog‘s only mention of V prior to its premiere was a brief article short on details. And so it was that I came to assume that “V” probably stood for “Virus,” as a spaceborne pandemic storyline seemed like just the sort of lame-ass shit NBC might foist on us in a sweeps period.

Then I saw the teaser promo. And the spaceships.

When the fleet of fifty motherships came to rest above Earth’s largest cities, I was astonished.

When squad after squad of jumpsuited aliens marched out (to the tune of a high school marching band rendition of  the Star Wars theme, no less), I was captivated.

When that woman’s jaw distended and she gulped down that guinea pig, my own jaw hit the floor.

visitors

Wait, they’re really reptiles wearing human skins? They want to steal our water? And have us for dinner? By the end of the four-hour miniseries, I could. not. wait. for the next installment.

It didn’t come until next May. And I didn’t know what would happen that time either.

When that lizard baby crawled out of that teenager’s stomach, the girls in the dorm screamed and screamed.

Those were the days, you young whippersnappers.