May 30, 2010

Rabid Rewind: Tron

Title: Tron (20th Anniversary Collector's Edition)
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, Barnard Hughes
Director: Steven Lisberger
Released: Walt Disney Pictures (1983?)
Genre: Science-Fiction

I haven't seen this movie in what must be twenty-five years. It's maintained a certain level of cult status among sci-fi fans and gamers, and now there is a sequel about to hit theaters ... in 3-D no less. I caught the trailer for the new movie, Tron Legacy, and spied Jeff Bridges. I'm not sure if he's in the actual sequel, but it reminded me that I ought to check out the first movie to see if holds up over time. Lord knows I can look back at some of my childhood favorites with rose-colored glasses. Transformers, I'm looking in your direction.

Tron, I am sorry to say, is not a movie that holds up well over time. It was pretty to look at, especially after watching the making-of DVD extras, but the story and dialog were pretty awful. It's not all the way bad, and that's due to some tremendous CGI and special effects that still jump off the screen like lightening bugs, as well as Jeff Bridges' acting. He was pretty much pitch perfect through the whole movie as Flynn, and even Bruce Boxleitner--a name I haven't heard mentioned in years--did an admirable job as the anthropomorphic computer program and title character, Tron.

Imagine a super computer, Master Control, slowly reaching its virtual talons out and subjegating computers and programs alike. Programs it has no use for it banishes to a virtual game world, like a computer's version of the Roman Coliseum. Jeff Bridges' character is the slighted software engineer who was cheated of his game designs by the man at the top of the corporate ladder and human servant to Master Control. When the computer realizes he's a threat, he very conveniently zaps him with a laser--literally--and imprisons him in the game world. Flynn then joins forces with Tron to try and escape the virtual world and also destroy Master Control.

Again, story is pretty sad. It was the 80s though, and movies of the time seem to be light on strong storytelling from what I've seen replayed on television over the years. What matters is the action, and for a movie of its time, the effects are pretty amazing. By today's standards, they look like a bargain basement Saturday morning cartoon, but the look is so stylistic and neon-drenched I considered it all eye candy.

Tron was made during a time when Disney's live-action ventures were pretty pathetic--Herbie the Love Bug, anyone?--so the fact that they found a hit with this film is commendable. After seeing this movie, however, and also witnessing some of the atrocious attempts by others at drudging up 80s franchises and giving them a 21st century spit shine, I'm not eager to see Tron Legacy for anything more than what special effects they have conjured up.


  1. Along with The Black Hole, I watched Tron more than any other VHS tape "back in the day". The dialogue is just stilted and silly. was an interesting (even if ridiculous) premise. I always wanted one of those bad-ass tanks, personally.

  2. I recently viewed Tron for the first time in roughly twenty years and found it excruciatingly difficult to sit through, though I'll readily grant that the Light Cycles were -and still are- incredibly cool.

  3. Aaron - The Black Hole, now there's a movie my child's mind has fossilized with pleasant memories, though I doubt I'd be able to sit through it today. I had tried to request it at my library this year, but what I got instead was a horrible B-movie starring Judd Nelson from 2006.

    Chicken Wire - Yeah, if nothing else, the light cycles are kind of bad-ass.