The Phantom Tron Menace Legacy: It's the same movie
Tron: Legacy, hittin' the streets on DVD and bluray yesterday, was supposed to be a coup of geekery. A sequel no one really wanted but diehard fans of a box office flop from 1982; it got made anyway -- and against all odds, it looked like awesome 3D geeknip. Jeff Bridges was back and young due to advanced entertainment technologies, lightcycles did badass jumps, and the trailer had a strong case of the Inceptionbooms.
Imagine our surprise when it was a lazy, turgid piece of shit. And when it turned out Tron: Legacy was not just a sequel, but a remake -- and like most, it was not as good as the film that inspired it: The Phantom Menace.
The Phantom Menace, or Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace: 3D: I Waited Twenty Years for This and Now There's Nothing Left For Me, is also a turgid piece of shit. The only excuse for its existence is that George Lucas got bored one day, decided to check out some Star Wars fanfiction on the newly budding internet, and in his righteous anger mapped out every element he hated from every story he read. He placed it in his Darth Vader Trapper Keeper, neatly labeled "The Phantom Menace," and ran off to do his weekly jowl exercises. And later, when it came time to write the script for Episode 1, he grabbed the wrong fucking trapper keeper.
Or he's a hack that got lucky in his first couple movies and had a circle of friends and colleagues (Steven Spielburg, Francis Ford Coppola, Irving Kirshner) that kept his worst instincts in check until they were too tired to care or dead, thus unleashing the unexpurgated Lucas into the world, clad in flannel, filled with power (Some call it The Prequel Trilogy/Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, others call it proof of an uncaring and unjust universe).
TPM is a better film than T:L, which is so bad it makes a strong case that the terrorists are winning and we should allow them to do so. It's barely a movie. 2010 saw the release of the awful Cop Out, The Last Airbender, Grown Ups and Furry Vengeance, to name a few, but these movies are either calculated cash grabs by known cash grabbers, or the result of untalented people. Tron: Legacy separates itself from the pack through sheer force of cynical will -- there's a stench of "We got the lightcycles, the disks, The Dude, that's all the nerds'll care about anyway." In all of the other awful films of 2010, as well as in Episode 1, you get the feeling that at least SOMEONE was at least TRYING.
But that's how remakes go. For every remake that's superior or equal to the source material (Ocean's 11, The Departed, The Maltese Falcon, The Thing, Scarface), there's a million that aren't (Halloween, The Bad News Bears, which I totally forgot was remade, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Fast and The Furious, also known as I Guess You Haven't Seen Point Break Then). Nevertheless, because it's notable for a truly awful movie to be remade into a truly even awfuler movie, we examined in a ridiculous amount of detail and in several categories what went horribly, horribly wrong.
Warning: The following contains spoilers for Tron: Legacy. If these spoilers are the only thing that keep you from enjoying the movie, shame on you.