Director: Steven Lisberger
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan
Synopsis: Kevin Flynn (Bridges) is attempting to track down evidence that an executive at his former company, Ed Dillinger (Warner), stole his programs for video games that could have made him millions. In the process, however, he is abducted into the computer world by Dillinger’s Master Control Program. The only way to victory is by defeat of the MCP, which he can only manage with the assistance of a program created by his friend Alan Bradley (Boxleitner). When he meets the program, it resembles Alan in appearance, but refers to Alan as his “user”, whereas he himself is Tron.
A review by Film Nerd.
Following on from my last review of The Thing, there was one other 1980’s film that I was aware of that will very shortly have a follow-up feature released in cinemas. Tron is one of those films that images from it are absolutely iconic, whether for good or bad reasons (yes, i am referring to YOU, Tron Guy), and yet its original performance was poor, and it is my understanding very few people have seen it in its entirety. I have always intended to see it, and with a lot of promotional material now out for the sequel, Tron: Legacy, I thought now was the perfect time to get moving. When popping in the disc to watch it with Bride of Film Nerd, our consensus in the first ten minutes is that this was just weird, and it is somewhat understandable why it failed to spark more interest than as a cult favourite.
I am the type of guy that will stick with any film, despite the necessity to cringe all the way through it. And I do think in this case I was rewarded by that perseverance. An element I find common in Baz Luhrmann films is that they have such cringe-worthy starts, yet the extent to which the beginning is ridiculous puts you in a frame of mind that anything slightly less ridiculous afterwards strikes the viewer as comparatively normal. Given what would have been an outrageous concept in 1982 (people living completely separate lives within computers….ummmmm?), the film benefits from this, though I still would not put it on par with a Baz Luhrmann epic, of course.
The film is largely passable throughout, after one gets beyond the initial concept. The scripting is cookie-cutter good versus evil, with big bad corporations against the innocent little guy. The acting is nothing spectacular, yet it progresses the story-line along effectively enough. Bridges I always find very watchable. At this stage he hasn’t honed his craft to the level it is at now, but the hints of what to come are there, and he is still a delight on screen.Warner’s villain could have had more shades of grey, and Warner’s talent is capable of a lot more as evidenced by his Captain Sawyer in the Hornblower series), but he does make the most of what is available to him in the script. Boxleitner and Morgan are passable, but as their work is not quite as familiar too me, it is difficult to narrow this down to scripting or talent. Given the former is on the cast list for Legacy, I may be able to refine my opinion of him then.
I also must comment on the special effects. By today’s standard of CGI, they are amateurish at best. Taking it in context though, this was really one of the earliest attempts to combine computer style graphics with live action performance. Given that the graphics replicate gaming graphics of the time, the standard is really forgivable, and also almost affectionately retro. Given what we are capable of today though, I am now very keen to see what Legacy‘s update is going to do. Given that people now do live entire lives in a virtual realm, the film will have a lot more significance and impact for a modern audience, making the franchise ripe for an update. I have kept myself away from the promotional material until now, wanting to approach the original unaffected, I am hearing some very good things though, and might go now to download some trailers!!
3 stars (out of a possible 5)
Tron on IMDB
Tron on Rotten Tomatoes