Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tron (1982) Review:

If anyone knew that this science fiction adventure was on its way, my bet would be on the viewers who saw Disney's The Black Hole (1979) three years before. It started out with an electronic grid that digitally introduced the opening credits and it resembles what director Steven Lisberger's most famous film uses in CGI. My question is, why didn't Lisberger go any further than the 80s? Sure he was a producer for long awaited sequel, Tron Legacy (2010), but he hasn't done much else since. Did he lose the Hollywood bug? He made a decent film here.

Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), far right with
some other programs
The plot is about a computer whiz named Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who created an entertaining gaming software for a company called Encom. That is until a corrupt co-worker named Ed Dillinger (David Warner) stole his ideas and became the head of the department. Along with Dillinger, is an electronic associate named the MCP (Master Control Program) that is self aware of its ability to collect data. One day Flynn decides to go back to the building he was fired from and regain the files that were stolen from him. But as he tries to hack into the system, he is zapped into cyberspace from the MCP. There, he must find a way to get back home with the files he needs to reclaim what’s rightfully his.

What's neat is how Lisberger visualized the world of the computer. It is stylistically creative. Each character or "program" in this electronic universe wears a suit that is either colored blue or red. Red means they belong to the MCP. And amazingly, this is not done by a physically lit suit. It was all CGI. That's pretty impressive for 1982. But as everyone knows, the most famous thing Tron (1982) is noted for, is its lightcycle races. Tiny motorcycles that can only make 90 degree turns. It's unusual but its cool anyways.

A screenshot from the lightcycle scene
As Flynn navigates himself through this new world, he also makes new friends. Tron, a program created by a real friend of Flynn named Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) and Ram played by Dan Shor. My favorite character was the "bit" who only knows how to say yes and no, very humorous. What was also clever about these characters is that they are all played by their creator. Boxleitner plays Tron and Bradley, Bridges plays Clu (a program he created) and Flynn and so on. I do have to call love interests into question though. There were a few times where it looked like there would be a love interest but it was never addressed. Did Lisberger forget to write an ending for it? I don't get it.

I liked the special effects a lot. For their time, it was quite an inventive feat to pull off such cinema magic. The action that takes place using these effects were well performed as well. Each sequence looked authentic, like they were really apart of that world. I also enjoyed the music that Wendy Carlos' scored for the film. It did have a reoccurring theme although I don't think it was prevalent enough. But it did go together well with each scene. Since the movie took place inside a computer, it is understandable to why Carlos had synthesizers in her soundtrack. Fairly entertaining.

Tron is the first movie to literally dive into the mainframe of a computer and its visuals are one of a kind. The characters’ relationship to each other can be confusing and Wendy Carlos’ score isn’t John Williams scope, but it works.

Points Earned --> 7:10

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