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'Tron' the Original Elicits More Than a Primitive Arcade

  • Jun 20, 2011
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 an urgent way not to touch his beloved movie.

I wondered if maybe I was older and the novelty had worn thin. Maybe it was generational. Some of us have not been impressed by the enhancements seen in games since the simple charms of "Pac-Man," "Asteroids," and "Donkey Kong". I thought maybe I was merely enthralled by the original because I had the mind-set of a college student, and maybe that was why younger viewers hold their own ‘Tron [Legacy]' so dear.

To test the truth of my observations, I had to see the first one again to be sure. Yes, the visuals were blockish, but I felt that I had forgotten the joys and nuances of the film. It was as if though I were seeing the movie for the first time. On the other hand, as little as I had remembered about the original, my hunch about my hypothesis held true: The original was much more suspenseful, harboring a much more tangible menace than its successor. The tension and chase were far more believable, and the contests--although cruder--were more harrowing in presentation.

I'll give ‘…Legacy' its due, though. The arcs of neon light emanating from the characters and their discuses are an appropriate update to the franchise. It's just that the script back then was crisper, the characters easier to identify, and the pace was nearly exceptional.

Mostly original, I have to adhere to my first reservations which came seeping into my memory: ‘Tron' did take us inside a computer for the adventure, but the outfits, the enemy, and some of the battle scenes--even some of the dialogue, no less--seem more than heavy borrowing from the ‘Star Wars' franchise. For it is no revisionism to note that among the many alchemies of Lucas's creation (myth, ‘The Wizard of Oz,' ‘Buck Rogers,' and Silent Running'), the original ‘Star Wars' was (among other achievements) the premiere movie to tap into the video arcade.

My final test would be to sit back and recommend (respectfully, of course) that teenagers and young adults take a look at the original ‘Tron,' and let the rest of us know what they think. In their minds, this ‘Tron,' could be lame, half-baked, wooden, or irrelevant. On the other hand, they may find, like I did, that the pace, the music, and other nuances, give this primitive, trail-blazing, pioneer movie an edge they could not foresee in the advanced version of ‘Legacy'.

Either way, we could all agree that, a third ‘Tron' movie with all the right ingredients: today's effects matched by an able story, proper pacing and editing, and (especially) without the "wooden" effects of fake spectators, we'd might be able to see the arcade movie of our dreams.

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June 20, 2011
quite a pretty thorough review, JP. I have to admit, I barely remember this movie, but I do plan on seeing it again one day. Thanks! How have you been? btw, move this to Movie Hype? ;P
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review by . September 26, 2012
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*** 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 . February 14, 2007
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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 …
review by . June 28, 2002
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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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John L. Peterson ()
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I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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About this movie


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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