September 20th, 2004

Saw a movie.

I saw a movie a couple weeks back that suprised me, despite the fact I'd already seen it before. A plot synopsis:

Before our story opens, a dark god rises to rule the heavens by stealing power from the trickster, a mischevious but brilliant rising younger god. The dark god tricks the trickster, banishing him from the heavens. The dark god createss a dark lord, who rules the mortal world for him.

One task of the dark lord who rules the world is to hide the proof of his maker's treachery, and as our story opens the trickster sends a warrior into the world to steal it back. But this warrior is caught, brought before the dark lord's champion, and executed. Together the dark god and his dark lord build a wall to keep the fallen trickster from further meddling with the mortal world.

This wall inconveniences some of the other younger gods, who complain to their ruler. One in particular has lost contact with his pet project, a champion he created to bring justice to the world. The dark god is told of this champion by the younger god asking for the wall to be torn down, and the dark god sends him away without a real answer. The dark lord, who was eavesdropping, is upset since this champion (by his very nature) would oppose the dark lord. In his anger, the dark lord reveals to his maker how powerful he has grown (very), and threatens the dark god, promising to reveal his treachery to the other gods if he is not obeyed.

The wall also attracts the attention of the old father of the gods, who created the heavens and the mortal world but was never interested in ruling either one. He's sympathetic with the younger gods, but hasn't got the raw power needed to challenge the dark god directly. Instead, while the dark god was rising to power, the father of the gods spent his time with some of the younger gods (most closely a young goddess), building a bridge between the heavens and the mortal world. (The bridge isn't finished yet, but it's pretty cool anyway. No god has ever personally visted the mortal world before.)

The god of the champion and the goddess of the bridge guess that their old friend, the banished trickster, might be the reason for the wall. They go to visit him in the underworld, where he tells them his story and gets them on his side. The trickster invented contests for mortals which amuse the gods of the underworld, and the dark god claimed these contests as his own creation. The trickster survives by running a few arenas, but the power he can raise from this is a pittance compared to what he sees flowing to the dark one, and even his own arenas feed the dark one more than him. The goddess of the bridge suggests that the tools created by the father of the gods, with which they built the bridge, may be able to reach past the wall, if used by one who could reach all the way into the mortal world from the underworld, back before the wall went up.

So the god of the champion and the goddess of the bridge sneak the banished one back in the heavens in the middle of the night, so that he may use the goddess's tools to reconnect the champion of justice with his creator, who can then defeat the dark lord, and reveal the dark god's treachery, thus redeeming the trickster and allowing him back into the heavens permanently. That's the plan, anyway.

Unfortunately, though the dark god is sleeping the dark lord never sleeps, and he adds his power to the unifinished bridge to tear the trickster from the heavens, and fling him into the mortal world as a helpless prisoner.

There the banished god (now _thoroughly_ confused, since he was never actually told about the bridge) is imprisoned, with the other prisoners of the dark lord's armies. The spread of the dark lord's power has been no more than a vague concern in the heavens (and merely a rumor in the underworld), but now the fallen one sees the full extent of it. The dark lord plans to replace the gods, and is on the march. The dark lord has already captured thousands of civilians, and conscripted those who would renounce the gods into his armies. Those who continued to believe are trained as gladiators, and sent into arenas to fight for their lives, both as adversaries to train the dark lord's warriors against and for the amusement of the dark lord and other distant gods in the underworld, from whom the dark lord has been gaining power. The champion of justice is now one such prisoner, and one of the most accomplished gladiators.

The trickster wins his first gladiatorial bout easily, not even taking it seriously, and is horrified when his opponent is killed after he refuses to finish him off. In the next bout, the banished god and the champion of justice wind up together. The fallen god recognizes his friend's handiwork (and to the champion's confusion addresses him by his creator's true name, just before they're all thrown into an arena for a magic chariot race.

But the trickster's time in the underworld was spent ruling over such contests, and both magic chariots and the arena itself were among the stolen creations of the banished god. Thus he does the impossible and escapes from the arena (bringing the champion of justice and another prisoner along with him). They are pursued by larger war chariots (some flying) driven by the dark lord's soldiers, but he also invented those, and is able to escape them. (This isn't quite how the trickster had planned to free the champion when he snuck back into the heavens, but hey, it worked.)

The champion and other prisoner teach the banished god to live off the land, and they agree to make their way to the dark lord's citadel. (The champion because he knows his god's will, and the banished god because he wants to go home. The prisoner because nobody's ever escaped from the arena before, he expected to die there, and in general hanging around these two has worked out pretty well so far. Besides, he was a prisoner because he wouldn't go over to the other side when he was captured.)

But before long, the pursuit catches up with them and separates them. The trickster and the prisoner are believed killed, and indeed the prisoner is mortally wounded during this, so the banished god takes shelter with him in the ruins of one of the giant flying war chariots (ironically, one destroyed by the banished god's own champion during his capture). The banished god learns to (very clumsily) use his powers in the mortal world when the chariot partially reassembles itself at his idle command, at least enough to get airborne. Thus the prisoner learns of the godhood of the trickster, and the prisoner's dying request is that he help the champion defeat the dark lord. Now alone, the banished god sends the shambling charriot lurching towards the town near the citadel.

Meanwhile, the champion of justice (thinking the other two dead) has tracked down an old friend (a priestess of the goddess of the bridge), who is still free because she's working in a relatively harmless capacity, helping build a new type of sailing ship. With her help, the champion sneaks into the local temple, and she convinces the elderly priest (of the old father of the gods) to let the champion speak with his god.

This is a big moment, and one of the things the banished one was trying to accomplish by sneaking back into the heavens. The champion goes into the temple, where light from the heavens stabs down and the voice of the champion's god booms a quest at him. Thanks to the trickster, the champion's god is able to enchant the hell out of his weapon and tell him the ritual to kill the dark lord with it.

The champion of justice and the priestess escape the temple just ahead of the dark lord's champion and the soldiers converging on it. (The priest who helped them cannot leave his temple, and is captured.) Meanwhile, the trickster flew his charriot into the town (literally, it crash landed back into a pile of rubble), and magically disguised himself as a soldier of the dark lord (more or less accidentally). He's trailing along behind the dark lord's champion and the soldiers looking for the champion of justice.

The priestess and the champion of justice flee to the ship the priestess has been building, and send it out along the river. In the process, the champion of justice fights off a number of the dark champion's soldiers, almost smiting the trickster in the process but recognizing him and saving him from the river at the last moment. The dark lord's champion regularly travels in his flipping huge flying aircraft carrier style thingy (rank hath its privilidges), which almost captures the priestess's ship them before she raises the sail and shows that her new ship was designed for _speed_. In the lull that follows, the trickster tells the champion and priestess that he is one of their gods, although he's not following a grand master plan but basically winging it. (This confuses them.)

The dark lord nearly smites the dark champion from afar for letting them get away (the dark champion regularly reports in via a magic circle), and sends a tidal wave down the river and flying chariots up it, trapping the priestess's ship between them. The trickster saves them by grabbing the flood waters and using them to pick the ship up and cary it to another nearby river, sending the rest of the flood to swamp and drown the pursuing charriots. Then with proof of his divinity before the champion and the priestess, he passes out from the strain and wakes up with a hangover.

While the trickster is recovering, the dark champion's carrier catches up with them, ramming the smaller ship and pulling the trickster and priestess from the wreckage. (The champion of justice is presumed dead, but is actually outside clinging to the carrier's hull.)

The trickster and the priestess are thrown in a cell with the priest of the father of the gods (from the temple earlier, now a prisoner for helping them). The dark champion enters the cell to taunt them, but is confused by the appearance of the trickster (whose champion earlier was created in his image, and was tortured to death by the dark lord in front of the dark champion). The dark champion thinks the unknown god's champion has returned from the dead, and retreats in confusion rather than deal with him directly, taking the priest with him as a sacrifice for the dark lord, and setting the carrier to self destruct (magically vanish) with the other two still onboard.

Of course the trickster doesn't vanish, and he grabs the priestess and restores her as she starts to. The carrier can't completely vanish with him still on board, and after the earlier charriot he commondeered, he has some experience keeping things airborne that are only kept up by a refusal to look down and notice there's nothing holding it up. He drags the priestess to the control room, so she can steer what's left of the carrier to the dark lord's citadel.

The dark champion fled to the citadel in the carrier's lifeboat, with the champion of justice clinging to the outside. In person, the dark lord is a tower of flame. The dark champion brings the sacrifices inside (including the old priest) for the dark lord to suck the life out of. (In person, the dark lord is a tower of flame, a bit like sauron's eyeball in the lord of the rings movies). But almost immediately, the dark champion is called out of the citadel by the champion of justice, and the two of them duel.

Both champions are masters, and the duel is quite a light show, but the champion of justice wins in the end and mortally wounds the dark champion. The dark lord responds by pouring power into his champion's dying body, making a giant impervious to the champion of justice's weapons. This weakens the dark lord.

The trickster sees this, and jumps out of the flying carrier into the dark lord's tower of flame, turning it blue and setting it spiraling out of control. This distracts the giant, allowing the champion of justice to hurl his weapon at the dark lord, bang.

And then the MCP explodes, Flynn winds up back in the lab with a printout that said Dillinger stole space paranoids, Tron gets to kiss Yori, Dumont shows them the I/O towers lighting up, Dillinger gets canned and Flynn promoted into his place, Alan and Laura presumably get engaged, presumably Walter gets to go back to work on his laser molecular digitizer thingy uninterrupted, and all is right with the world...

The movie is, of course, Tron. I saw it when Jay Maynard was in town introducing it at the drafthouse, and was struck by how well it's held up despite being a 20 year old move about technology. No wonder geeks like it, it's a sword and sorcery epic that puts computer geeks in the role of gods. Convincingly. The audience's point of view is the gods' point of view, and it constructs a remarkably believable "mortal world" as created by us, that (in the movie) worships us without us even knowing it. (And like any good SF movie, it only asks for one big suspension of disbelief, and everything else follows logically from that.)

I mean hey: that's cool.

I hope Pixar's serious about doing a sequel. Now that Pixar and Disney have broken up, this may be derailed. I dunno...
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