a critiQal film review TRON (1982)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Looking to find evidence the video games he wrote were stolen by his former employer ENCOM, Flynn (Bridges) hacks his way into their system. Trying to stop him, ENCOM's Master Control Program digitizes Flynn and sends him to it's own computer dimension. Now, with the help of security program TRON (Boxleitner), Flynn desperately searches for a way to stop the MCP - and get back to his own world.

469 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 20s)

With the DVD release of TRON: Legacy (2010) next Tuesday, I figured it was a good time to go back and re-visit the film that started it all: TRON. Will the years have been kinder than expected to this 29-year-old graphic-filled film, or is it too dated to be worth watching at all anymore?

A young Jeff Bridges leads the cast in TRON. Having just seen him a short while ago in The Men Who Stare At Goats (2009), it’s amazing to see how, while he may have aged in the nearly 30 years since the release of this film, his appearance doesn’t look that much different. A few more wrinkles, maybe, and a change or two of clothes, but other than that, really not that much has changed.

As far as the acting goes, well, it’s not exactly top-notch. In fact, Bruce Boxleitner (whose biggest claim to fame was the 80’s show Scarecrow & Mrs. King (TV)) seems to out-act Jeff in nearly every sequence, as he portrays a security program in the digital world of the computer. His character is nearly more compelling than Bridges’, despite the storyline centering around Bridges and not Boxleitner, despite the title.

Then again, it’s not really the acting that drew viewers to this film in 1982. Instead, it was the computer imagery used to depict the world of the computer. Paling in comparison to today’s techniques, TRON‘s wire-framing imagery isn’t nearly as stunning as today’s CGI graphics (as can be witnessed by the trailer for the new sequel), and is more of a nostalgic look back at the dark ages of computer imagery these days, rather than for any wow effects.

The storyline is still compelling, however, even if the graphics don’t fully realize the vision to viewers these days. Being sucked into a computer program? How many times has this storyline been re-hashed over the years? From The Matrix (1999) to Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003) and beyond, this basic storyline captured the attention of viewers back in ’82, and hasn’t let go yet.

While TRON doesn’t have the best acting, and the computer graphics are a joke compared to today’s CGI imagery, the storyline still manages to hook the viewer despite all this. Sure, the pacing and packaging leaves a bit to be desired, but that initial hook that kept viewers in ’82 still lives on through repeated viewings these days.

No wonder they made a sequel. While a reboot may have been a bit more desired, re-visiting the computer world in TRON with today’s graphics, even in what most likely is an inferior sequel, still has an appeal for fans of the original.

So re-visit the dated computer world of TRON, before heading out to rent the sequel. And, even if the rest of the film isn’t up to par, the imagery of TRON: Legacy (2010) will be an even bigger highlight.

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