Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
Ever wonder what happens to a program when it is no longer useful, or where it goes when it disappears or becomes corrupted? Ever wonder how a program executes its function? Well the makers of the classic 1982 movie Tron did, and I’m grateful they did, otherwise I would not have this review to share with my loyal fan. This is another review in my ongoing mission to bring classic movies into the light of day so that they can become what they always should have been: icons of Americana.
The principals of the film are as follows: Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) an ex-software engineer turned hacker. Lora (Cindy Morgan), another programmer, is working on a new laser that digitizes objects and puts them into the computer. Programmer Allan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) is working on a high-level security program named Tron that will monitor his company’s system efficiently. Ed Dillinger (David Warner) is the Senior Executive Director of Encom, and creator of the Master Control Program (MCP). MCP is a sentient program that is snatching up all the useful programs for itself to increase its power and puts the useless ones in savage games inside the computer world. But he’s getting out of control—too greedy, too powerful.
Kevin is looking for evidence that Dillinger stole all of his programs. Dillinger is trying to stop Allan Bradley from completing his security program because MCP refuses to be monitored or controlled. When Dillinger mysteriously cuts off Allan’s access to his Tron program, Allan, Kevin and Lora break into the labs one night, to find out why. Kevin tries to hack into Master Control Program’s systems and MCP fights back, using the system’s new digitizing machine to put Kevin into the computer. Kevin is captured, trained and put to the games. MCP’s orders are to making him play until he dies, playing. But when Kevin meets Tron, Allan’s program, the two join forces, escape the games and go in search of a way to destroy MCP.
Kevin soon discovers that he has more power than he thought in this new world; he can reprogram things by touching them. He uses this ability to steal one of MCP’s ships and break into one of the command bases. Tron, meanwhile, finds a way to contact Allan—his user—and get the information needed to destroy MCP. It all leads up to a final confrontation between Sark (Warner), MCP’s right hand program, and Tron, for the liberation of enslaved programs everywhere.
That’s the story in a nutshell. What makes Tron a classic, worth admiration? Well, aside from the programs (Tron, MCP, Clu) being played by their counterpart characters in the real world, which I thought was great, it was interesting to see how the computer world paralleled the real world of the movie; how the problems of the programs held universal truths, like the right to live free and the necessity to overthrow tyrants.
The games are inventive and fun to watch, variations of several, real-life games, with their own twists. I think the heart of the movie is the fun of these games; I could have spent two-hours just watching them, sans storyline, and probably been happy. They manage to sneak in a few laughs along the way, without being too overt about it or making it look like a cheesy sci-fi comedy.
While the special effects are overly flashy and look almost like badly drawn cartoons, they, nonetheless, have a certain appeal to them. The computer characters look like just that, characters that one might find inside a computerized world. I think if the world looked too much like our own or too dull, it would have taken away from the movie. Besides, I believe they modeled the computer world in the fashion of the video games of that time, and if so, they did a good job.
The collector’s edition DVD’s special features include early developmental tests, director’s interview, digital imagery, a making of Tron featurette, deleted scenes, storyboards, and publicity footage. You may not care enough about the movie to buy the collector’s edition, but you should at least rent Tron and watch it with an open mind. If you’re capable of getting past the fact that it is an old 80’s sci-fi flick, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t love the movie as much as I do.