Best Movies of All Time + Tron



You can watch the trailer here

I can see why Disney decided to recall every last copy of TRON circulating through today's society. Apparently they're absolutely terrified of releasing the original film on Blu-Ray. Over the summer, the original film was played at Disney World in the hopes of instigating a new wave of fans as they made their final preparations for the release of the sequel, TRON: Legacy; unfortunately, the film was laughed at and ridiculed beyond belief. By recalling all copies, Disney has essentially created the possibility for people to see TRON: Legacy WITHOUT seeing its predecessor. I, personally, refuse to watch a sequel without seeing the original film, so I had already come to terms with the fact that it would be a while before I could see the newest installment (in theaters on December 17). However, as luck would have it, my dad found and old VHS copy of TRON, giving me the opportunity to view it in all its 1980s glory.

TRON, which was directed by Steven Lisberger, follows a software programmer named Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) who lost his job at a gaming company called ENCOM after a fellow programmer (David Warner) stole his work on a series of new video games. In an attempt to take back what was his, he enlists the help of two friends in the company, Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) and Lora (Cindy Morgan), to help. While cracking into the Master Control Program (MCP), Flynn is transported into the realm of the program's universe which takes pieces of each of his video games and creates a living, breathing environment. He learns that he is the only "user" surrounded by a series of "programs" manifested as other people. He meets TRON (also played by Boxleitner), the program created by Alan to help break through the MCP's layer of security. The two set off on their journey to take down the MCP with the help of Yori (also played by Morgan) and a program named RAM (Dan Shor).

Normally, I talk about the film's screenplay at this particular juncture; however, I think it makes more sense to talk about the film's positive attributes first. One of the reasons TRON was essentially laughed out of the theater at Disney World was for its simplistic and dated special effects. Sure, by today's standards, they're absolutely ridiculous, but I can imagine the fascination and wonder of those people in the early '80s who had never seen anything like this before. There was a reason that this film became a cult classic, and it was not the story or the acting. It was the special effects, all of which were generated through a computer. This had never been done before, and it was absolutely groundbreaking at the time. So, yes, nowadays we have some spectacular special effects, but thirty years from now, the next generation will probably look at the effects in Avatar in the same way.

The acting is okay, but it's really nothing to rave about. Bridges is always a revelation to watch, and if it weren't for him, this film would probably be a total train-wreck from a storytelling and acting standpoint. He just exudes this level of unmistakable charm in each one of his roles, and it's hard not to like him. His supporting cast does just enough to keep you engaged, but it's really Bridges who acts as the glue holding everything together.

There's two main problems with TRON's screenplay (and I know this is probably nitpicking considering you should never critique this type of film this harshly, but still). For starters, everything seems to come just too easily for Flynn and his fellow programs. I get that they're all computers (or computer-savvy), but there was literally no thought process when it came to solving the problems they faced. They were just able to do everything at a moment's notice, as if being thrown into this fascinating world made perfect sense. The second problem was that Flynn had absolutely no character arc. Neither did any of the other characters, but they're computer programs, so maybe they shouldn't have them anyways. However, Flynn starts and ends the exact same person, and it just bugged me a little bit. I'm not asking for some grandiose change or some Oscar-worthy emotional breakdown, but a little bit of change and recognition of his experience would have been greatly appreciated.

Overall, I'm not quite sure if I really want to recommend this movie. If you can watch it for what it is (a dated special effects bonanza) and appreciate how groundbreaking it must have been in 1982, then it's probably for you. I can't help but think that TRON was the Avatar of the early 1980s: groundbreaking technology meant to wow and amaze while putting little to no emphasis on legitimate story or acting. At least now I can watch TRON: Legacy in all of its special effects glory in theaters where it is meant to be seen.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: C-
Thumb... Sideways

1982, action, Bruce Boxleitner, Cindy Morgan, Dan Shor, David Warner, Disney, Jeff Bridges, movie review, Oscar nom, scifi, Steven Lisberger, and more:

Relevant to: TRON + Tron