The Last Starfighter was better than Tron. Fite me.

In the very early dawn of the CGI era, two films pioneered the use of computers to make visual effects. Everyone remembers one of these films. But they've remembered the wrong one.

In the blue corner- we have Tron, Released by Disney in 1982. Starring Jeff Bridges as a not particularly likeable protagonist, the arrogant Kevin Flynn, who gets sucked into the world of a computer and is forced to fight gladiatorial battles from his own games before trying to hatch a plan to escape. Today Tron remains a sort of curiosity, of a very, very different time in filmmaking. The characters are flat, the story is directionless and the pace is glacier slow. In 2010 it got a sequel, Tron: Legacy, which was about a thousand times better in every way imaginable.

In the red corner, we have The last Starfighter, a 1984 film using similar early CGI effects. Starring Lance Guest as Alex Rogan, a kid who wants nothing more than to escape the quiet trailer park he's growing up in. After breaking the score record on the local arcade machine, he is whisked away into space to discover that the arcade was in fact a recruitment tool, and that the space conflict in the arcade game is very much a reality.

Not nearly as remembered as Tron, The Last Starfighter is a much better movie. Well rounded characters with hopes and motivations, a story that moves along at a cracking pace, likeable protagonist, and the fate of a civilisation at stake! It also doesn't use the CGI as a crutch to take shortcuts in the storytelling. Some of the best moments involve a naive robot copy of Alex trying to fool everyone in the trailer park that Alex is still around while he's really off fighting a war in space.

In essence, Tron is a historical oddity- an early attempt at CGI. It bombed so hard that it's been speculated it set back computer animation by 10 years, because barely anyone wanted to touch CGI after the film's failure. Fortunately there were some who decided to give CGI a shot, and from that The Last Starfighter appeared, showing that you could make a CGI heavy film that was actually a success, even if nobody seems to remember it now compared to the earlier Tron.

The Last Starfighter is totally better then Tron. Its one of those killer movies that ends up being kinda overshadowed by the fact that Tron was one of the first to really use cg, but that's pretty much it.

As someone who wasn't born in the 70s I didn't watch Tron when it came out. I watched it for the first time in like 2006 and found the whole movie ugly and nearly unwatchable. Poor characters, poor acting, poor pacing, and all of the visuals hurt my eyes.

I've never seen The Last Starfighter, but I can't imagine it's worse than Tron. I just absolutely hate the trope of "child goes to other planet/universe/into the game and becomes it's savior."

No, don't want to fight.

Also, I recall The Last Starfighter more. I have seen either since the early 90s. It's just more memorable. I would say that the CGI is probably better in Tron. The Last Starfighter was pretty messy

....Ok, I guess. I've seen both, and not much of a fan of either movie.

Dirty Hipsters:
I've never seen The Last Starfighter, but I can't imagine it's worse than Tron. I just absolutely hate the trope of "child goes to other planet/universe/into the game and becomes it's savior."

Well, that's not exactly what's going on in TLF; the movie has a lot more going on under the hood than that, and it has a lot of heart despite the slightly goofy premise and campy presentation. It has a real "John Mellencamp" vibe, playing off the predominant cultural themes of unemployment/underemployment, sense of the American dream's impending demise, rural community culture, and disillusionment with lower-rung living faced with a loss of social prospect, all rolled up into a coming-of-age sci-fi flick that's a uniquely gen-X take on monomythic storytelling.

I can't remember if the main character, Alex, was still in high school or a new high school grad, but he lives in a trailer park with his barely-blue-collar single mom and kid brother. He's unhappy with his friends who are of the rural American "pile into a pick-up truck and drive down to the lake, get drunk, and screw, then back to work" bro country flavor, and works his ass off to get into university to try to do more with his life. Where the movie starts, is he doesn't get the scholarship he needs to go and is stuck with the prospect of trade school while trying to help make ends meet.

Meanwhile, the alien character Centauri is basically a used car salesman and he was running a con by making the arcade games, and it was pure accident it created results. He oversells the entire situation to Alex which is a huge part of what freaks Alex out to leave, and manipulates Alex into going back after some mild trickery in the middle of a very real crisis. In the middle of it all, there's actually a good scene where Centauri chews Alex out for letting the events of his life knock him down, and not seizing opportunities for himself when available. The Star League needs pilots, badly enough they give Centauri the opportunity to run his arcade game con, but they're humoring the situation to see if Centauri's con has promise as a recruiting tool, and (at first) can afford to lose Alex.

On this side of the movie, the only character who seemed to be consistently on Alex's side in an unqualified manner is his navigator, Grig, who at first doesn't want Alex to be there if he doesn't feel he should be, but later once there's no other choice, pushes Alex hard to realize his potential.

And, the whole setup isn't even really presented as an existential crisis until near the end. By no means is the Star League really presented as an underdog, and Xur isn't a huge threat initially; it's presented as an entirely winnable, but perhaps costly, war. If anything, the Star League's overconfidence in their capability to handle the threat costs them, considering Xur uses trickery, sabotage, and psychological warfare to shift the odds dramatically in his favor. And, the only reason Alex, and Earth, are at risk in the first place is because of Centauri's meddling.

Eacaraxe:

Dirty Hipsters:
I've never seen The Last Starfighter, but I can't imagine it's worse than Tron. I just absolutely hate the trope of "child goes to other planet/universe/into the game and becomes it's savior."

Well, that's not exactly what's going on in TLF; the movie has a lot more going on under the hood than that, and it has a lot of heart despite the slightly goofy premise and campy presentation. It has a real "John Mellencamp" vibe, playing off the predominant cultural themes of unemployment/underemployment, sense of the American dream's impending demise, rural community culture, and disillusionment with lower-rung living faced with a loss of social prospect, all rolled up into a coming-of-age sci-fi flick that's a uniquely gen-X take on monomythic storytelling.

I can't remember if the main character, Alex, was still in high school or a new high school grad, but he lives in a trailer park with his barely-blue-collar single mom and kid brother. He's unhappy with his friends who are of the rural American "pile into a pick-up truck and drive down to the lake, get drunk, and screw, then back to work" bro country flavor, and works his ass off to get into university to try to do more with his life. Where the movie starts, is he doesn't get the scholarship he needs to go and is stuck with the prospect of trade school while trying to help make ends meet.

Meanwhile, the alien character Centauri is basically a used car salesman and he was running a con by making the arcade games, and it was pure accident it created results. He oversells the entire situation to Alex which is a huge part of what freaks Alex out to leave, and manipulates Alex into going back after some mild trickery in the middle of a very real crisis. In the middle of it all, there's actually a good scene where Centauri chews Alex out for letting the events of his life knock him down, and not seizing opportunities for himself when available. The Star League needs pilots, badly enough they give Centauri the opportunity to run his arcade game con, but they're humoring the situation to see if Centauri's con has promise as a recruiting tool, and (at first) can afford to lose Alex.

On this side of the movie, the only character who seemed to be consistently on Alex's side in an unqualified manner is his navigator, Grig, who at first doesn't want Alex to be there if he doesn't feel he should be, but later once there's no other choice, pushes Alex hard to realize his potential.

And, the whole setup isn't even really presented as an existential crisis until near the end. By no means is the Star League really presented as an underdog, and Xur isn't a huge threat initially; it's presented as an entirely winnable, but perhaps costly, war. If anything, the Star League's overconfidence in their capability to handle the threat costs them, considering Xur uses trickery, sabotage, and psychological warfare to shift the odds dramatically in his favor. And, the only reason Alex, and Earth, are at risk in the first place is because of Centauri's meddling.

If I recall correctly he had finished High School. An early scene has him read a letter from what I presume is a prestigious university rejecting him - given his social status, I?m guessing it was a rejection for a scholarship. His mother then says he can still go to a city college with his friends.

Also Last Starfighter is fucking awesome and Craig Safan?s main fanfare theme deserves recognition as being equally fucking awesome.

No need to fight, I have your back! I loved The Last Starfighter when I was little. Tron was... okay.

(Pleeease don't remake)

I would say, all in all, that Tron was the better movie.

The Last Stafighter is superior to Tron in the strength of things like it's characters and plot... but The Last Starfighter is just an above average post-Star Wars space opera clone. Nice enough in many ways, but what really is there to it except to say "Yep, fun enough". Very little, I would suggest.

Tron, however, despite its weaknesses in some conventional facets of what makes a good film, was an aesthetic and technological tour-de-force: it is an iconic movie that was unlike anything else and was unforgettable in its day, that inspired and amazed many people who watched it. The problem with a movie like Tron is if you came to it long after its release, in a world where CGI is ubiquitous and the aesthetic has already been cannibalised by so much, it doesn't have anything like the same impact. But I don't think that negates what an achievement it was at the time it was made.

It seems someone missed the "movies that deserve more love" thread, didn't they? You can give love to TLS without making it a fight.

PS: Tron is better than TLS and Tron: Legacy.

Agema:
I would say, all in all, that Tron was the better movie.

The Last Stafighter is superior to Tron in the strength of things like it's characters and plot... but The Last Starfighter is just an above average post-Star Wars space opera clone. Nice enough in many ways, but what really is there to it except to say "Yep, fun enough". Very little, I would suggest.

Tron, however, despite its weaknesses in some conventional facets of what makes a good film, was an aesthetic and technological tour-de-force: it is an iconic movie that was unlike anything else and was unforgettable in its day, that inspired and amazed many people who watched it. The problem with a movie like Tron is if you came to it long after its release, in a world where CGI is ubiquitous and the aesthetic has already been cannibalised by so much, it doesn't have anything like the same impact. But I don't think that negates what an achievement it was at the time it was made.

I would argue that both used CG in new territory. Though I see what you mean.

Tron is literally all visuals and no substance.

Gordon_4:
If I recall correctly he had finished High School. An early scene has him read a letter from what I presume is a prestigious university rejecting him - given his social status, I?m guessing it was a rejection for a scholarship. His mother then says he can still go to a city college with his friends.

Yeah, the latter part is the movie's setup. In retrospect, I feel that's really what gave the film its narrative core and gave it the charm it needed to stand out, despite being what others call a Star Wars clone. There's nothing inherently wrong in being a Star Wars riff, but it needed some flavor of secret sauce to stand out, and the movie really had that in spades. One example of that is the original script apparently had Alex coming from a very middle-class suburban family, and the director worked with the writer to produce what we ended up with instead, because he felt Alex being of a lower social class worked out better for the movie (honestly, yeah, it did).

I never actually seen Tron. Just here to give some Love to TLS

And here I am sitting in the corner holding my copy of 'The Black Hole'... Damnit that would have been perfect for Kingdom Hearts...

CaitSeith:
It seems someone missed the "movies that deserve more love" thread, didn't they? You can give love to TLS without making it a fight.

Which one? Do you mean this one?

Or perhaps this one? Or perhaps this one? Maybe this one? Or this one instead? Or perhaps this one?
Maybe I've just seen too many to even bother anymore?

Besides. Those threads tend to just be lists. Debate is far more interesting.

Squilookle:

Besides. Those threads tend to just be lists. Debate is far more interesting.

Then choose two films I'm familiar with. My 100% objective opinion and excellent beyond compare debating schools demand justice. :P

Oh my god. This is one of those movies that I must have seen more than a dozen times as a kid, and not ever since so I forgot all about it. But seeing that trailer now brought back memories, fragments of scenes that I once adored. Thank you so much for this. What a glorious day.

Yeah, you're probably right. I mean, I have seen Tron. It has its place in movie history for being a pioneer of the use of CGI, but important is not the same as good, and as a movie, Tron is kinda bad.

I've never seen TLS, but I can believe it's a better movie.

Specter Von Baren:
And here I am sitting in the corner holding my copy of 'The Black Hole'... Damnit that would have been perfect for Kingdom Hearts...

As an aside, that was the first movie I ever saw on a recorded medium (like, VHS or Betamax, etc.). My dad rented a Beta player, so it was before VHS took over everything - I think it was the first and only movie I saw in that format as well.

I was scared by the meteors

but that red robot thing was pretty cool.

...

Huh, I just looked up the movie on Wikipedia, and it doesn't mention ever being released on Betamax at all. So either I'm a liar, a fool or everyone else is wrong.

Specter Von Baren:
And here I am sitting in the corner holding my copy of 'The Black Hole'... Damnit that would have been perfect for Kingdom Hearts...

I certainly would liked that over the Tron Legacy segment in Dream Drop Distance.

Hawki:

Squilookle:

Besides. Those threads tend to just be lists. Debate is far more interesting.

Then choose two films I'm familiar with. My 100% objective opinion and excellent beyond compare debating schools demand justice. :P

Haha, alright, tell you what. You provide a comprehensive list of every film you've seen, and I'll get right on picking the top two for a head-to-head debate.

Some moments of nightmare fuel, great music, nice cgi and a lot of fun. Plus it gave us 'death blossom' as an attack name.

CaitSeith:
I certainly would liked that over the Tron Legacy segment in Dream Drop Distance.

Pfft, I could think of at least a dozen movies that would make for highly entertaining Kingdom Hearts worlds if they'd open up the Touchstone label for use in the game franchise, as it is a Disney property.

Imagine the Good Morning, Vietnam world! Sora gains all new reaction commands and attraction moves such as "Danger Close", "Napalm Time!", and "Agent Orange". Adrian Cronauer could be the temporary party member, and Donald could be in more dire need of a blowjob than any duck in history!

Pretty Woman world? Sora picks up a hooker with a heart of gold, and helps her achieve her dream of a better life with the aid of a man who likes gerbils up his bum!

Face/Off world! Starship Troopers world! Air Force One world! The possibilities are endless!

I kid, but...The Rocketeer was a Touchstone movie. I may have pooped myself a little when I realized that.

Squilookle:

Haha, alright, tell you what. You provide a comprehensive list of every film you've seen, and I'll get right on picking the top two for a head-to-head debate.

Alright, every film I've seen since 2012 in list form, complete with ratings:

Ball's in your court.

Ball's. In Your. Court.

(Seriously, this is me being a smartarse more than anything).

Hawki:

Squilookle:

Haha, alright, tell you what. You provide a comprehensive list of every film you've seen, and I'll get right on picking the top two for a head-to-head debate.

Alright, every film I've seen since 2012 in list form, complete with ratings:

Ball's in your court.

Ball's. In Your. Court.

(Seriously, this is me being a smartarse more than anything).

Alright, I've already got one from that. Out of interest, have you also seen any of the following: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Red Dawn, or Amelie? Also what's up with this bit?

image

Specter Von Baren:
And here I am sitting in the corner holding my copy of 'The Black Hole'... Damnit that would have been perfect for Kingdom Hearts...

Somebody else remembers "The Black Hole"? I'm pretty sure Disney doesn't. I mean, granted, it's basically 20,000 Leagues under the Sea set IN SPAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCCCEEEEEEEEEEEEE, with a wierd and trippy ending that certainly wasn't made on the drugs.

Speaking of Tron Legacy, I remember seeing it once. Does it ever explain how he manages to bring the computer lady out into the real world at the end, considering she never had an actual body to begin with?

Or did I just put more thought into it then the scriptwriters did?

Dalisclock:
Or did I just put more thought into it then the scriptwriters did?

Very likely.

Although to be fair, they possibly knew full well: narrative and logical cohesion often gets deliberately sacrificed for audience expectations.

Squilookle:

Alright, I've already got one from that. Out of interest, have you also seen any of the following: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Red Dawn, or Amelie?

Fraid not.

Also what's up with this bit?

image

Oh. That.

When I copy-pasted the films, I didn't include the years. So, the first TFA rating is from when I saw it in late 2015. The second is when I saw it again with family in early 2016. That said, 3/5 is my "official" ranking for TFA. While I enjoyed it more the second time, as I've had more time to reflect on it, it's simply an average adventure flick in my mind that, among other things, emulates ANH way too much for its own good.

Dalisclock:

Speaking of Tron Legacy, I remember seeing it once. Does it ever explain how he manages to bring the computer lady out into the real world at the end, considering she never had an actual body to begin with?

I don't really see it as a plothole per se - it's established that all of CLU's forces can get into the real world, even if the science is never explained (because seriously, how could it be explained)? Quora getting out is an extension of the conciet. Per the rules of the setting, she arguably has more of an excuse given that she's an ISO.

Hawki:

Dalisclock:

Speaking of Tron Legacy, I remember seeing it once. Does it ever explain how he manages to bring the computer lady out into the real world at the end, considering she never had an actual body to begin with?

I don't really see it as a plothole per se - it's established that all of CLU's forces can get into the real world, even if the science is never explained (because seriously, how could it be explained)? Quora getting out is an extension of the conciet. Per the rules of the setting, she arguably has more of an excuse given that she's an ISO.

Remember that in the first Tron, it's established that matter can be sent into (and brought out of) the digital world with that giant laser thing. For whatever reason, that same laser is in Flynn's basement in Legacy which sends Sam onto the grid. As the computer lady (Quorra) was an organically developed program within the game, on escaping they were both 3D printed back into the real world by the laser. Only difference being Quorra had never been in the real world before.

Hawki:

Squilookle:

Haha, alright, tell you what. You provide a comprehensive list of every film you've seen, and I'll get right on picking the top two for a head-to-head debate.

Alright, every film I've seen since 2012 in list form, complete with ratings:

Ball's in your court.

Ball's. In Your. Court.

(Seriously, this is me being a smartarse more than anything).

Wait. Empire is 3/5 while the others 5? Hey, I understand that 90% of that movie could be cut and it wouldn't affect the plot. Or characters. But that much of a difference?

Also, which Tomb Raider is earning a high score.

Lastly, are you spreadsheeting this?

trunkage:
Wait. Empire is 3/5 while the others 5? Hey, I understand that 90% of that movie could be cut and it wouldn't affect the plot. Or characters. But that much of a difference?

I understand that I'm in the extreme minority here, that people usually rank Empire as the best Star Wars film, and arguably one of the greatest films of all time, but...I'm not one of them. I've never been that fond of Empire - didn't like it much as a kid, like it even less as an adult. There's certainly strong elements in it, but I just have too many gripes with the film.

Also, which Tomb Raider is earning a high score.

The Alicia Vikander one.

Lastly, are you spreadsheeting this?

Nah. Just Word documents, one for each year. Makes it easy for me to do my "best/worst of X" threads, as well as situations like this.

Also lists. List out the reasons.

Lists!

 

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