Saturday, June 1, 2013

Movie Review: Tron

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Imaginative story and characters; ground breaking graphics
Cons: Choppy beginning; extremely dated graphics
The Bottom Line:
Ground breaking effects
Fun movie; cult following
But very dated

"Just So I Can Tell My Friends What this Dream is About, Where am I?"

At some point in my life, I know I've seen Tron.  It must not have made much of an impression on me because I couldn't really remember much about it.  With the sequel coming out in a couple weeks, I decided it was time to revisit the original so I'd have some clue what the sequel is all about.  The film is definitely a product of the 80's, but it is enjoyable.

Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) has a problem.  Space Paranoids and several other popular video games were stolen from him by Ed Dillinger (David Warner).  Flynn was then fired.  He operates a video arcade and spends his free time trying to hack back into his old company to find that proof to back up his claim.

However, that's not as easy as it sounds.  There is a Master Control Program who is taking over the entire company's database.  Originally created by Dillinger, it is now power hungry and out of control.  In fact, Dillinger is afraid to cross it himself.

With the help of his friends Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) and Lora (Cindy Morgan), Flynn breaks back into his old company.  But the Master Control Program knows he is there and digitizes him and traps him in the giant database.  At first forced to play gladiator style games, Flynn breaks out and starts an expedition to take down the Master Control Program.  Aided by security program Tron (also Bruce Boxleitner), can Flynn do it?

80's movies have a distinct feel to them, especially at the beginning.  The first few scenes often seemed random and only once the story gets going do you truly understand what they were all about.  That's certainly the case here as I struggled to figure out what any of those early scenes had to do with anything.  But soon I got caught up in the story.

To be honest, the story is fairly straight forward once it gets going.  And there aren't many twists.  There are some plot complications that help keep your interest the entire way through.

The main actors get to play two characters, their human character and an equivalent in the cyber world.  I wouldn't say the two are distinct characters, but I had fun watching the actors taking on the two different roles.  Frankly, I think bringing in different actors for the cyber parts would have made things more confusing then they needed to be.  Besides, it was just plain fun.

Of course, the biggest reason this movie is so famous today is because it was the first to use computer graphic extensively.  Now, 30 years later, that is something of a mixed bag.  To say effects have come a long way in that time would be a vast understatement.  Things are definitely dated now.  I mean, it just screams out "80's movie" with every frame.  And yet, that kind of adds to the charm for me.  I felt like I was back in the 80's looking at the graphics on my old Atari or some other such thing.  Whether they could have done better or not, they perfectly captured the look and feel of video games of the era.  And while the glowing suits and backgrounds are fun, they do get a little old by the time the movie winds down.

Tron is a bit of a cult hit, and I don't see that changing too much.  You have to appreciate the graphics for what they are.  If you sit down with expectations for a movie with today's standards, you will be disappointed.  However, with the right frame of mind, you can find yourself trapped in Tron's world.

End of line.

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