Tron (1982) Trailer Reboot

Apologies for making March an unintended "Tron" month, but the final entry for the month just had to go to this expertly recut trailer for the original Tron using today's marketing sensibilities ala my previous post. When you watch this and compare it to the trailer for the Tron Legacy, you start getting a very real sense of what the sequel is lacking...at least in terms about what it is about, or what they want us to know about it.


Tron Legacy

There is a new trailer for the film which calls itself Tron Legacy. I say "the film which calls itself Tron Legacy" because if the word "Tron" were not part of the title, one may certainly not think it had anything to do with the classic film from the 80s set in the world within circuitry and microchips. Though the trailer is rather vague about the story, intentionally so as this is just a teaser trailer, the obvious point of the footage shown is to sell the world of Tron. In this regard, all visuals seem to say that the creators have missed the mark. The attempt to deliver a more realistic interpretation of the Tron-verse only betrays the nature of the film itself. Can the audience be transported to a unique world when so much of it is so similar to the one they occupy? The production design is certainly exquisite...for an extrapolated vision of the future, but does not necessarily lend itself to what Tron is (or should) be. Sadly, the trailer gives a glimpse of characters in obviously rubber suits with lighted trimmings; of light cycles kicking up rain rooster tails in the night; of Recognizers that appear to be futuristic construction equipment; of a "Tron car" creating billows of smoke as it performs burn outs; of characters riding up fiberglass-like elevators to the game platform; of a Tron apartment decorated with very familiar looking furniture; of a girl lounging on a sofa with a trendy off-the-shoulder outfit. This is not Tron. They may want you to think it is, but it is not. The film may have Bruce Boxleitner and Jeff Bridges, playing both an old & young (the film's best special effect) Flynn, but it is not Tron.

Tron is a world of light, data, apps, programs, electricity, bytes, bit streams, etc. The audience need not, and should not, connect to the real world. Our physics do not apply there. Our mechanics don't work there. Our textiles and materials do not belong there. Unfortunately, the filmmakers have decided to bring Tron closer to the film-goer's imagination, instead of taking them to a place beyond it, which is what a film like this should be doing. Right?


Bay Rong (Clash)

Bay Rong is the second film by Vietnamese-American director Johnny Nguyen in which he takes the concept similar to Mr. and Mrs. Smith and exploits it as it should have been in the Hollywood version. This is a high energy martial arts crime thriller pitting two ex-cons and would-be lovers against the gangs that had put them in prison. Nguyen's previous film, The Rebel, has also been highly praised and very well received in Vietnam and Bay Rong has built up on that momentum exponentially. Reports suggest that at least domestically, Bay Rong, has been the hands down box-office hit of 2009. Below is a new 2010 trailer, which seems to hint that Nguyen and his film are ready to tackle the international markets after dominating it at home.

Impeccably well shot, the intense and kinetic fight scenes seem to balance nicely with the character work as well as the overall plot line. That final line also suggests a good bit of humor can be found as resting points between the fist-a-cuffs and fireworks. Let's hope this gets picked up internationally soon.


The Karate Kid (remake)

I'll be upfront, despite misgivings, the above trailer sells a solid-looking film. Certainly another film in the long line of remakes that are being manufactured by the Hollywood machine, but one that at least does not repeat the original version's cues verbatim. The transfer of the setting makes sense with regard to making this about Chinese martial arts rather than Japanese, thus necessitating the casting of a familiar face in the mentor's role. I think without Jackie's involvement, this film might turn out less impressive, at least at the sales stage.

That being said, I won't participate in the net controversy over the title. Some points are valid, others not so. They can call it whatever they like, justify the reasons for it, but if the film does not deliver, then what does it matter. However, what I have been struck by is the surprising level of negative comments the original film is taking. Charges of "corniness," "lameness," "eye-rolling," etc. to describe memories of watching the film and justifying anticipation for this remake had me scratching my head after watching the trailer. The charges leveled on the original seem superfluous considering this remake is hitting all the thematic beats of the original. The bullied lead seeks a way to strike back at his tormentors, seeks the advice of a humble man who turns out to be more than he seems, learns from him that martial arts is not about fighting, but is begrudgingly allowed to display what he's learned to his tormentors in a proper venue that will satisfy both characters' curves. Many familiar scenes seemed to have been creatively transposed to China & Chinese philosophy, and all that remains to be seen is how far they will let Jaden Smith's character "fail" or "lose" before the ultimate "feel good" ending.

So, I don't really understand how folks could be excited about this while disparaging the original. At least to my eyes, this remake seems to be successfully adapting the original's themes to a new era and a new location. If you thought it was "corny" then, then you will probably be rolling your eyes to this one as well....