So, as I said I would,I made sure to TRON: Legacy on a bigger screen. The graphics are even better than I'd guessed with the small screen,. I almost regret not watching it in 3-D as I hear they were very impressive. I watched a couple of scenes more than once, just to admire.
The digitally de-aged faces were worse than I had suspected and must have been a true disaster on screen, though the film is helped here by the fact that everyone, Sam included, looks a little bit plastic on the Grid.
So then I watched TRON again for the first time in a few years. After getting over the fact that Young Flynn and Young Alan had faces that moved, I started looking at the rest of it. The graphics have aged, quite definitely. The movie is hurt less than I'd have expected by this because they look like 80's arcade games, which is exactly what was intended.
Aside from that, I enjoyed the story. It's a fun story of adventure, heroism, and friendship. I never get tired of those. Flynn has to destroy a ruthless enemy, the Master Control Program(1), survive the Grid, and save a group of programs who have become his friends. He'd also like to get back to our world, but isn't sure that is even possible.
I thought the User/Program doubling was much better used in TRON than in Legacy. Because Tron echoes Alan, we--and Flynn--learn more about both characters. Tron's presence is felt before he actually appears on screen both because Alan talks about him and because we realize, upon spotting Tron, that we really already know him. He shares Alan's basic decency, good sense, and determination. The same is true for Lora/Yori. Neither is much developed as a character(2), but they clearly share a sense of adventure and a willingness to take risks for people and causes they care about.
The grid friendships Flynn forms are possible because of this. Flynn first trusts Tron primarily because he knows Alan, but the later, real-world ease between the two--briefly glimpsed in TRON and shown as developed in Legacy--is possible primarily because he has come to respect Tron and thus also Alan.
TRON has something else that I missed in Legacy: Geeks as heroes. Alan, Lora, and Flynn are all programmers. Flynn's "rebellion" takes the form of owning an arcade. He wrote most of the games in there. Ram, one of the secondary characters, may be a skillful fighter, but he only really smiles when he starts talking about accounting.(3)
Oh, and there is Bit. What's not to like about a sarcastic, two-word pet?
Is TRON a deeply meaningful story full of profound and penetrating insights into the human condition? No. Is it staying in my collection? Yes. Definitely.
(1) Who doesn't need to bring armies to the real world. He's got the Pentagon on call--or will in a day or two. He's also got plans for the Kremlin, and he must want those Chinese language files for something.
(2)I like Yori/Lora better than Quorra as Representative Woman on screen (Yes, both films are weak when it comes to gender). She seems more real and varied and is not left carrying the burden of an entire race all on her lonesome.
(3)Mr. Entity (who loves both films) reminds me we get a brief look at Ram's user, too. He's Alan's cubical neighbor at ENCOM. I have to admit all I remember about that guy is that he likes popcorn which provides very little by way of character insight.