Tron Returns to the Big Screen

After the impressive success of James Cameron’s Avatar, a pioneer of computer-generated imagery (CGI) returns to the big screen. Tron Legacy, a sequel to the 1982 cult classic Tron, is due to be released this December. The first fans to see the trailer were appropriately at the Comic-Con and are already buzzing.

Anyone who has taken a class in 3D animation has likely been lectured about the 1982 break through in CGI known as Tron. Those who haven’t will hopefully be looking it up on YouTube. It is a great way to see just how far computer graphics has come, especially when integrated with actors.

The story was ahead of its time too. Some may see it as an early Matrix, where the main character is being held captive in a digital world after hacking into a large corporation’s master control program. Instead of the coolest part of the film being a character dodging bullets in slow motion though, it’s a Lightbike racing scene. In the original film, the computer animation would only allow the bikes to turn on right angles, so it looked like something from an Atari game. Nevertheless, the scene became a legend.

So how will the new film pay homage to the original’s iconic visuals? Will IMAX 3D finally make it a blockbuster film? Was it the 1982 technology that didn’t quite satisfy the viewer’s expectations or was it the story? What does CGI need to do to be fully persuasive and appreciated by both the animation gurus and the general public?

If done well, it could be a successful sequel like the latest Star Trek film where computer graphics dazzle and delight us while the characters and story remain true to the culture and emotion of its fans. If done poorly, it could be another flop but with cooler graphics. Either way, it will remain a pioneer of computer graphics in film.

View the 2010 trailer

View the 1982 trailer

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