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 didn't they do this with Raiders of the Lost Ark, a film that deserves its birthday due even more than Tron? Maybe I just slept through it.
Not that I'm complaining. I, like every other hardcore video game affecianado on this planet, quickly developed a liking for this fancy-looking, confusing Disney bomb at a very young age and have fond memories of sitting around watching it with my friends and sister. Needless to say, I was looking forward to seeing it again upon its video re-release.
Being an older, wiser, more mature person who, as an aspiring filmmaker, has developed a taste for what makes movies worth watching, I expected shut off Tron halfway through and then burn the tape, wondering why I had ever liked it in the first place. But I didn't. Instead, I quietly sat right through it with an ear-to-ear grin plastered on my face the whole time. Even upon turning 21, Tron still held the same appeal for me as it did all those years ago. This is a true testament to the universal appeal of Tron.
Now what about the film? Well, it's a video game. We've all heard of film that play like video games, but this one is a video game. The entire plot of the film serves as nothing more than a hastily-thrown-together device for stringing all the fancy computer effects, pretty lights and video game sequences together.
The so-called plot goes a little something like this: There's this cocky but likeable computer programmer named Flynn (Jeff Bridges. I can't believe he was that young at one time!). Five years ago, Flynn worked for a giant, faceless computer developer where he developed a number of very successful arcade games. Unfortunately, Flynn's evil boss, Dillinger (doesn't the mere sound of his name tell you he's evil?), is an ambitious SOB and his apparent lack of talent forces him to steal Flynn's ideas. Dillinger becomes the big-time exec, and Flynn goes off into business with an arcade while searching for the computer file that proves Dillinger's guilt in his spare time. One night, Flynn breaks into the corporation with the help of a couple of his friends to find the file. But the brilliant Master Computer, who doesn't like the fact that it's about to lose this important battle to a simple hacker, zaps Flynn with a laser that drags him into the program.
In the program, Flynn is basically thrown to the wolves, being forced to do battle with other programs until he's killed off. But he also has the fortune to hook up with RAM and Tron, two programs who are bent on overthrowing the Master Computer and making the main system a free system once again. Flynn uses the data he wrote into the program to escape from the hold of the Master Computer, and the three set off for the main computer tower. This being a Disney film, I don't think I'll be spoiling anything by saying that they succeed in freeing the system, and Flynn eventually finds the data he was looking for.
Like I said, it isn't much. The first half-hour of the film is very drab and introduces a lot of character questions that are never answered. But once you get dragged off into computer world, you'll be more than willing to forgive these little nitpicky oversights. In 1982, the computer world was a technological pinnacle that even caused the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to create a special effects category to try to keep up with the trends (yeah, one good thing they did, but not near enough for me to overlook some of their past blunders). Even today, the place looks rather impressive, despite the fact that the technology is incredibly dated. Filmed in eerie shades of blue, the world itself has an impressive aura that can be felt upon entering the room that's showing the movie. The characters are all desigated by their grey costumes with circuit-like lines, deep blue representing the good guys, red representing bad. In one scene, Flynn, RAM and Tron drink glowing water from a pond.
The action scenes are equally as amazing. All the characters carry identity discs that contain everything they know, which double as their main weapons in the various contests. And the Master Computer is apparently hell-bent on making sure no one gets out of his mainframe, because he thought up a wide array of pointless contests. One game involves the good guy standing in the middle of a small group of bad guys, fighting them off with his disc. Another game involves two good guys using hooks to throw a ball of light at each other. Then there are the ever-popular light bike sequences, in which the players ride bikes that create walls behind them. The players eliminate each other by trying to trick each other into crashing into their walls. And all that is just in the beginning. From there, the good guys and bad guys use all of their resources to out-fox each other. Tanks, flying things (I can think of no other word to describe them) and even a windsurfing ship dominate the race to the Master computer, a crystal pod that spins, while stopping occaisionaly to make a threat.
It's true that Tron isn't Star Wars, but really, what is? The only reason Tron was made was to show off Disney's technological superiority. Yes, the plot is flimsier than wet tissue paper, yes the effects are dated. You'd never know that this was once state-of-the-art. But hey, Tron was never made to do anything more than entertain. And entertain it does in spades.
*** 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, … more
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 … more
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 … more
TRON 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.