TRON (1982)

Film review: TRON (1982), directed by Steven Lisberger

tronAs we rented TRON: Legacy and I declared that I had never seen TRON, the Squeeze made me watch this before we got to the other one, as the new film would probably make more sense if I knew the original story. He wasn’t wrong.

Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) and Lora (Cindy Morgan) work for a big software company, ruled by Ed Dillinger (David Warner) and a computer program called Master Control. Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) was fired from this enterprise, but he’s at home trying to break into the company’s system in order to prove that he was the one who invented some video games – that Dillinger took the credit for and became filthy rich as a result.

Flynn, aided and abetted by Bradley and Lora, breaks into the company’s headquarters to find information, and as luck would have it, Flynn gets sucked into the computers. Inside, the virtual world is dominated by the evil Sark (Warner, again), and he has to find his way through the maze of technology and pretend he’s a computer program in order to fight back and find his missing files. And make friends with Tron (Boxleitner) and Yori (Morgan).

Also starring Barnard Hughes as Dr Walter Gibbs and Dumont, Dan Shor as Ram, Peter Jurasik (Babylon 5) as Crom.

TRON is … peculiar. First of all, you have to buy into the whole quaint concept of programs personified as humans in overalls, and everything that goes with it. It’s very difficult to suppress laughs, but this film is as old as yours truly, and back in those days, computers were a great big mystery to most people.

That being said, the animations, some even look like very basic actual computer animations, are amazing – considering when they were made. TRON, when it came out, was groundbreaking in the special effects department. The film also manages to have a coherent plot, silly though it is to the more computer-savvy, and it’s actually rather intriguing, and I didn’t fall asleep once. (80s fantasy movies seem to always send me to sleep. I’m not kidding, I should make a list! Maybe I stayed awake because this is sci-fi.)

While the effects nowadays are really dated, I was still impressed by them, just because of when the film was made. It remains a firm cult favourite. And sure, TRON certainly isn’t bad, even if the games arcades and users and dot matrix printers and all the rest of it is ancient history to us.

4 out of 5 lightcycle things.

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