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Computer camp . . . no not that kind of camp

  • Feb 14, 2007
Pros: Campy, somewhat funny but for unintended purposes.

Cons: Cheesy special effects and a dull storyline.

The Bottom Line: Only watch this movie for camp value. It isn't cool and if you thought it was cool in 1982, you won't think so now.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals everything about the movie''s plot.

I typically write reviews off the cuff, then edit. As of right this moment I have no idea how to rate Tron.

I was thirteen the first time I saw it and at the tail end of a video game addiction (it is hard for me to stay addicted to something that 1) is designed to make sure you lose and 2) doesn’t really tell a story). And even for the special effects of 1982, Tron doesn’t rate.

The plot is fairly simple. Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is a rogue and renegade programmer whose programs for video games were stolen by Ed Dillinger (David Warner). The company they worked for installed a master control program that became, in the words of The Terminatorself-actualized. The MCP wants to take over the world. Flynn is only trying to get evidence that he created the video games. While doing this, he is pulled, literally via laser, into the ‘game grid’ where he is expected to play games until he dies. He and a couple of other renegade programs run through a type of virtual city minus windows to get to the MCP and destroy it. Will they make it?

This is a movie made during Disney’s dark days. Tron and the uber dark The Black Hole were movies that the studio was making as the ship was sinking. The Little Mermaid saved Disney from the trash heap. But there is one thing that all Disney movies have in common: they all have happy endings (or sappy endings, they rhyme which is close enough for Buena Vista).

I can argue that the film gave us three things only one of them can be considered to be ‘good’ and at that only as a time waster. Due to certain scenes that occur while Flynn transports in and out of the game grid, I can argue that the developers of Tetris were fans of this film.

Computer viruses are another thing I think you can blame on Tron. They would have happened anyway because programmers are programmers and will play naughty when playing nice stops being fun or profitable. But given the structure of little blue programs running around in a very red world causing havoc where they go . . . that is the definition of a computer virus even if viruses aren’t necessarily blue.

Perhaps the evilest thing of all that can point to Tron as the precedent is The Matrix. I kind of liked the first one; I totally hated the second one, and never bothered with the third. However, the idea of someone within a system becoming self actualized and fighting a computer program to find some meaning or freedom . . . Pure Matrix--the word is also used in Tron.

A tiny portion of the special effects are still good today. Anything involving the light cycles is still pretty top tier. Everything else though is behind the times even for 1982 since the world had been given 2 of the three Star Wars movies. It shows you how close to the edge Disney was. The worst thing of all was what are called grid bugs: they are green 4 legged spider things that not only look very much like Marvin the Martian but have all the look of being drawn by hand with an amateur holding a t square the wrong way.

For camp value alone, the movie is worth it. It isn’t hysterical camp though, just more droll—you’ll smile at the cheep costumes and props , but likely not laugh. Any movie as dated as this one will bring a chuckle considering the clothing, hairstyles, and glasses (I had no idea that everyone who needed them wore HUGE glasses). At the time, it is possible to believe that some of the cast would be considered attractive; however looking with eyes that are now 25 years older (man I’m about to be sick), not a single cast member would rate.

If you want a trip down Camp Lane or Amnesia Lane, this is worth the time spent. If you remember it being cool, better not to watch it at all—it will only disappoint.

What follows is a symbolic reading driven by politics that could not have been foreseen in 1982.

All of the evil people in the film are piped in red faux neon, the good guys are in blue. The big red thing, the MCP is very red. The MCP wants to take over the world and likes to watch blue guys kill each other—in fact requires this to happen. When the goodest guy throws his Frisbee (yes a Frisbee, it is the so-called code disk) at the MCP and destroys it, all of the red turns blue. One of the blue people now running to clean up the mess made by the very red man is carrying a blue tinged Frisbee. If their aim is true, will they succeed in creating a new happy ending, or is that just the stuff of b movies? ;-P


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December 18, 2010
Not a fan of this one, but I tolerated it. Thanks for the great review!
More TRON (1982 movie) reviews
review by . September 26, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****    There are a handful of films that I admire and enjoy for their unique, groundbreaking visual style alone and Steven Lisberger's "Tron" is just one of them. Critically, it is - honest to God - just not a very good film. It's plot is simplistic and fails to match the amount of imagination put into creating the world that it inhabits, the characters aren't very well-developed and therefore come off as disposable, the pacing is sometimes a mixed bag, and it is, …
review by . June 20, 2011
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At first I thought the distance between ‘Tron' and ‘Tron Legacy' may have been in style and substance. After all ‘Tron' at its inception was an organic movie conception from the popular arcade games filling bars and shake shops during the late seventies and early eighties. I wrote a review panning ‘Tron Legacy' even after seeing the impressive visual advancements and seeing it with 3-D glasses at an I-Max theater. I received a lot of negative feedback, including one young blogger who commented in …
review by . June 28, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: All those fancy computer scenes, light bikes     Cons: Dated technology. Plot? What's a plot?     The Bottom Line: 20 years and still as much fun as it ever was.     Somebody tell me: What is it about all those cult movies that were once considered horrible that they get "special" DVD releases for their landmark anniversaries? It's 2002 and Tron hits the big 2-0 this year, so it gets its own big DVD compilation for its birthday. Why …
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Paul Savage ()
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I name and describe everything and classify most things. If 'it' already had a name, the one I just gave it is better.
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is a 1982 American action science fiction film produced by Walt Disney Productions and Lisberger Studios and released by Buena Vista Distribution Company. It stars Jeff Bridges as the protagonist hacker Kevin Flynn (and his program counterpart inside the electronic world, CLU), Bruce Boxleitner as Tron (and Tron's "user", Alan Bradley), Cindy Morgan as Yori (and her "user", Dr. Lora Baines), and Dan Shor as Ram. David Warner plays all three main antagonists: the program Sark, his "user", Ed Dillinger, and the voice of the Master Control Program.

Tron was written and directed by Steven Lisberger, who has a distinctive visual style, as it was one of the first films from a major studio to use extensive computer graphics. Decades after it first came out, it has spawned a franchise consisting of a sequel film, multiple video games, comic books and a planned television series.

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Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release Date: July 9, 1982
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: Charles Haas
DVD Release Date: Buena Vista Home Entertainment (May 19, 1998)
Runtime: 1hr 36min
Studio: Walt Disney Productions, Lisberger/Kushner
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