(If this is your first time on this blog, I ask you to read my About page first! You can find a link to it at the top left-hand corner of this blog. Thanks!)
If you combined The Wizard of Oz with Wreck-It Ralph, Tron is probably the movie that you’ll get. Released in 1982, the film has since become a cult classic. Is it deserving of that title or is it a bit overrated? Let’s find out together as I honor the request of a reader, luminabalderson, and take a look at Tron!
(Due to being busy with finals, I wasn’t able to make this review as long or as funny as I wanted it to be. I apologize for that.)
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
The movie begins inside the inner workings of a popular video game called Lightcycle. We see that the “programs” and “characters” of the game are personified and exist in the computer system. This is a game that is produced by the computer company, ENCOM, and is “ruled” by a Master Control Program, or MCP, for short.
Inside the world of the video game, the various “programs” have some identity crises of sorts. Well, many of them believe that there are “Users” who created them. But, the MCP via his second-in-command program named Sark, played by David Warner, and his soldiers, often ends all “religious” talk of that sort as soon as possible! Programs that believe in “religious nonsense” are put to battle each other in a digital version of the Hunger Games.
Back in the real world, Kevin Flynn, played by Jeff Bridges, is a software engineer who used to work for ENCOM. He was actually the guy who created Lightcycle and other video games for the company. But the credit was stolen by another worker named Ed Dillinger, played also by David Warner. Because of that, Dillinger ended up becoming the Senior Executive Vice President of ENCOM, whilst Kevin was fired and now owns a video arcade.
But, Kevin tries his best to hack into the ENCOM system to find evidence of that states that he is the creator of Lightcyle and the other video games. But, the MCP discovers this and blocks his access to the system. The MCP also informs Dillinger about the attempted sabotage. It’s an interesting dynamic as Dillinger thinks he’s in control of the MCP, but in reality, the MCP is growing in power and pretty much has Dillinger under its control.
Kevin gets another chance to hack the system though via his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend, Dr. Lora Baines and Alan Bradley, played by Cindy Morgan and Bruce Boxleitner, respectively. They also work for ENCOM and after some convincing from Kevin, they sneak him into the facilities at night so that he can hack the system directly.
Although they manage to sneak in, the MCP is aware of Kevin being there and activates a laser machine (that I can only describe as being a Wonkavision) at him. The “Wonkavision” was created by Dr. Baines and another doctor to digitize objects and transport them elsewhere. And that’s exactly what happens here: Kevin is digitized and transported directly into the computer system itself! He’s now a user amidst a world of “programs”!
Understandably, Kevin can’t believe what’s happened and the other programs there assume him to be just another program. He is soon put to compete against other programs, but escapes with two of them, Tron and Ram, played by Bruce Boxleitner and Dan Shor, respectively. The soldiers chase after them, but the trio gets separated from each other for a while. You see, they’re trying to access an input/output tower to communicate with Alan to figure out how to destroy the MCP. Destroying the MCP will get Kevin back to the real world and end the authoritarian grip that the MCP has on the system’s programs.
Ram later dies due to wounds, but Kevin traverses on to the input/output tower. On the way he realizes that since he’s a User, he can manipulate matter down there and even builds himself a flying vehicle.
Long story short, Kevin reunites with Tron and they get to the input/output tower, learn what they must do to defeat the MCP, and do it. Kevin is then zapped back into the real world where a nearby printer prints a file showing that Kevin was indeed the creator of these video games. Kevin goes on to become the CEO of the company, while Dillinger is presumably jailed, or at least fired.
And that was Tron. So, is it great or is it overrated? It was….amazing! It’s a milestone movie that helped audiences see what how CG can be used in films. Overall, the best part of the film was the amazing graphics, overall look, and CG effects that made us feel like we were in the Tron world! Interestingly enough, the film was deemed unable to qualify for the Best Visual Effects award at the Academy Awards because they thought that using computers was “cheating”.
The story of the film was also engaging. It’s your digital The Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland story. Instead of falling through a rabbit hole or getting transported in a tornado, our protagonist gets “Wonkavision-ed” into a computer system! And like The Wizard of Oz, all the main characters play counterparts of themselves in the digital world too!
The story does explore some deep concepts too like religion and totalitarian governments that control its population, especially its population’s religious beliefs. It parallels our world very well!
I only have two complaints to make about the film: First, the woman character, Dr. Baines, was quite pointless and seemed to only exist because they needed a female character, and a doctor one at that. But other than that, the character doesn’t do all that much and could easily have been removed! I don’t have a problem with the actress’ portrayal of the character, it’s just that she doesn’t have all that much material to work with anyway!
And secondly, why is this movie is called Tron? Surely Kevin Flynn was the main character and although Tron was important, I don’t think he was important enough to warrant being the title of the film! Nevertheless, these are minor issues.
This movie almost got 100% from me, but as I’m not that well-versed in judging musical scores (since I barely notice them), I usually give 4 out of 5 points by default in that category. So if you personally think that the music was amazing and the film deserves a 100%, I won’t argue with you. As for me though, this film will get the 2nd highest score on this blog and there’s nothing wrong with that!
(You can click on the image below for an enlarged version of my rating sheet.)
So, the final score for this film is 34/35 = 97.14% (A+) !
The next review will be posted on May 1, 2017.
13 thoughts on “Tron (1982)”
Yay, an “A” score!! Man, it feels like forever since one of those, and I’m glad you considered Tron to be an exemplary film! Even though I’m fairly new to the franchise (only first saw it in 2014) I cannot deny it’s an amazing achievement in special effects, and had an engaging story at well. 🙂
Also, humourous and interesting point about David Warner bearing more than a passing resemblance to Frollo!
Yeah, this and The BFG were two A’s that I gave back-to-back. It’s like a record for me, lol!
This is the first time I’ve watched the movie after only seeing it once when I was a kid, so I didn’t remember anything much from the movie. It definitely deserves its praise!
I honestly just put the Frollo quote in to highlight the relationship between the MCP and David Warner. But now that you mention it, Warner could have played Frollo in a live-action adaptation, lol!
I like Tron…but I am a little bit more critical about it. I think the characters should be flashed out better and the movie drags a little bit at places. Plus, while it was ground-breaking, there is no denying that the practical effects hold up way better than the computer generated.
Still, it is a movie which deserves its place in movie history. If nothing else, it has style. You take any shot from the world within the computer, and you immediately recognize that this is Tron. Few Franchises have such a distinctive look.
Hey swanpride, long time no see!
Your criticisms are fine. I think one reason I loved it so much was I saw it only once before when I was really young, but I don’t remember much except not really liking it. So on this rewatch, I found the film so much more better than I was hoping for, so that could have played a part in my immense love for the film.
But yeah, it does have that look that you can automatically recognize it’s a Tron film, and no other film.
I do have problems with the female character like I said; she could definitely have been fleshed out/used more.
Maybe…I liked it as a child and it didn’t hold up quite as well when I was an adult.
I love so many things about Tron (the visuals, the themes, the story, the music, Jeff Bridges) that it’s a shame I don’t like it much as a whole. I’m still waiting to fall in love with a Tron film, although I did love the TV series Tron: Uprising.
No problem with that. It’s kinda how I feel about The Nightmare Before Christmas. I like and respect many aspects of it: the stop-motion animation, the songs, etc. but as a movie, I just can’t seem to like it.
From what I’ve read about this film, it wasn’t so well-received on its initial release, on account of the story. (In fact, on Rotten Tomatoes, only one-third of the “top” critics’ reviews are positive.) Over time, however, it’s become something of a cult classic, and has garnered such a following that it spawned a TV series and a film sequel.
I guess that TRON is just like NEWSIES, in the sense that its initial reception was decidedly tepid, but its reputation has improved as the years have passed…
Yeah, you’re right. It’s become a cult classic that we look back on now and appreciate.
I’m actually kind of surprised you liked this so much. I thought you might find it boring but yay! I love Tron! One of my favorite Disney live action films
I’m surprised I liked it too as I remember not liking it when I was young. But, I think it’s because now I’m older and since I am studying computer science, I can actually understand what’s going on, lol!
I recognize and appreciate Tron for its technological achievement however, I found the plot idiffcult to follow and the film went at a sluggish pace that I began to lose interest. It wasn’t until the middle towards the end where the film regained my attention. The technology in this film is a nice timecapsule showing how far technology has advanced and improved since the 80’s especially with CGI.