TRON (1982)

tron-poster“Tron,” even decades after it release is still an incredible and astonishing movie. It is one that pre-dates computer generated science fiction blockbusters like “Avatar” and is somewhat of a precursor to “The Matrix.” Comprised mainly of special effects, animation, and newborn CGI technology, also celebrating the entertainment of the video game world that later became a cult all on its own. “Tron” has been an admirably influential science fiction epic, in spite of its poor box office grosses, spawning many knock offs like “Arcade” and “Spy Kids 3D,” also managing to outlive most special effects motivated films from the eighties.

That’s because “Tron” has a real heart to it, which is astounding considering it’s primarily set in the confines of the video game world where intelligence and emotions are artificial. “Tron” was just too ahead of its time, and oddly prophetic. It is a futuristic science fiction epic now just being appreciated as a potential property for an epic narrative and a breeding ground for new characters and stories. “Tron” is one of the first movies to appreciate the magic of the video game mixing the blossoming craze of computers and turning it in to a world, where programs are taken prisoner and turned in to gladiators fighting against pre-programmed menaces from the Master Computer.

The villainous Master Computer is a gradually growing artificial intelligence planning to dominate the world‘s computer systems while sapping the memory of many rival programs and users. Kevin Flynn, as played by Jeff Bridges, is a hotshot cocky computer programmer and hacker who takes to breaking in to the computer systems of his ex-company ENCOM. ENCOM is a corporation that abandoned him after inventing a revolutionary computer program leaving him penniless and running an arcade. After Flynn convinces his friends Lora and Alan to break in to ENCOM to corrupt the Master Computer, now running its user Dillinger blackmailing him and manipulating him, Flynn is zapped in to the mainframe.

Now he, as a user and player, is forced to play the MCP’s series of games along with the other individual programs struggling to survive in this new world. All of whom are at the clutches of this intelligent supreme being. Bridges is fantastic as gamer Flynn, a loud mouthed slick nerd and gamer who takes to this world with ease and skill. He engages in (still) harrowing action scenes involving light cycles, and memory disk combat all the while becoming a hero among the programs who turn to him for help against the MCP when they discover he’s much more than a program in this world.

Flynn, after quickly learning the intricacies of the vehicles and machines of the world, meets Tron and Yori (program representations of Alan and Lora) where he helps them bring down the MCP and free the programs from its clutches. With the use of rotoscoping, animation, and computer effects, “Tron” is still a wildly visual and imaginative science fiction adventure with a great sense of excitement. It conceives this amazing innovative technological world with a bold vision that warrants exploring. And while “Tron” is primarily a Disney film, the narrative is much more complex beyond action and romance. It’s often present with themes of religion and the dangers of artificial intelligence.

As well it draws the classic tropes of the genre with a new hero dominating a foreign land, and being the one key to helping mankind as well as this world before him. Lisberger directs a masterful and bold vision with vast possibilities and it’s a unique action film that deserves its cult audience.