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|Index||272 reviews in total|
TRON. Now here's a film that seems to generate a wide spectrum of
As for my take on this landmark motion picture, I have to admit that I will always be able to reflect on it in its original context.
In 1982, TRON (along with Blade Runner) was nothing short of breathtaking. And, although it was originally panned by critics, those who have taken the time to look closer, have noticed that there is more to this film than there first seems to be.
One of TRON's greatest strengths lies in its extensive use of parallelism. There is the world of the user (almost a god or demigod motif), contrasted with the world of the programs (very much a metaphor for our world). And, just to enhance this metaphor, Dillinger's helicopter is shown with neon-red lines, and the final fade to black is preceded with a time-lapse of the city suggesting data running along traces.
The obvious parallels are with the use of the same actor for each character's counterparts in the digital world. Flynn and Clu, Alan and Tron, Laura and Yori, Gibbs and Dumont, Dillinger and Sark.
However, we see a number of other characters show up here and there, in more subtle form: For example, there's Sark's second in command on the bridge of the carrier. He shows up earlier in the film as Peter the suit who was watching Dillinger's office. Then there's RAM's human counterpart asking Alan if he can have some of his popcorn.
I find it surprising that many are critical of the 'unbelievable' aspect of this film. However, never is the audience expected to believe that this is the way the computer world really works or that a person could ever be zapped into a computer. In fact, to allude to the type of story that the audience is being presented with, TRON does a near-quote of Alice In Wonderland, with 'Stranger and stranger.' Perhaps Kevin Flynn fell down the rabbit hole . And for those who think TRON is a Disney film watch the production notes and you'll discover that this is not a Disney film (although they did fund it).
Of most obvious interest is the fact that TRON pushed the computer graphics technology of the time to its limits and beyond. And despite many who have said that its graphics are primitive, they're confusing resolution with texture-mapping. The truth is, the number of colours displayed and the resolution shown in the computer-generated components in TRON is higher than most desktop displays even today. To output to film with the level of sharpness and smooth gradients seen in TRON, you'd need at least 24 or 32-bit colour, with a horizontal resolution of approximately 3000 to 4000 pixels. On top of that, it was the first film to use transparency in 3D CGI (the solar-sailor simulation). To my knowledge, texture-mapping didn't exist in 1982. Fortunately, the lack of texture mapping works well with the stylized look of the film's 'world inside the machine.'
As a film, TRON is definitely both unique and entertaining. And, for those who are visual in nature, it's full of splendid eye-candy. The design work is top-rate, and is best appreciated when viewed on film. I recall watching this movie when it first came out in 1982, and have to say that it was nothing short of total immersion. Unfortunately, most of the modern transfers of this film have been pretty rough (with the exception of the out-of-print Laserdisc box-set).
The plot for TRON is actually quite simple. Despite this simplicity, it is cleverly used for the purpose of -- hopefully making the audience think about our world, and how it may relate to some 'higher world.' If we are programs, then who are our users? Is there a level up from us, and do they know all the answers? There is certainly a metaphysical angle to TRON, which the audience can ether pay attention to, or disregard in favour of the simple thrill of watching Light Cycles square off against each other on the Game Grid.
Many elements are combined in this film: the gladiatorial film, the exodus, the revolution, the sentient AI, the battle of good vs. evil, and of course the almost prophetic depiction of the computer industry. Encom and Ed Dillinger are very much parallels to real themes that took place in the computer industry in the years that followed the release of TRON. These themes are very much repeated in more recent trilogy of films. I think the actual name for the Light Cycle game that Flynn mentions will give you a clue as to which trilogy I'm referring to.
Finally, there's Kevin Flynn. Some may be surprised that I left this one to the end. However, I thought I'd leave the best for last. Fact is, Jeff Bridges did a brilliant job with this character. Over the years, I have actually known computer-industry hot-shots who are remarkably similar to Flynn. He made the character believable. And, this carries over to the film itself. No matter how much of a leap you're expected to make when approached with a script or screenplay, be compelling. Jeff Bridges and David Warner do exactly this.
TRON is a movie that really entertains. I like to think of it as a big small movie. One that was definitely ambitious and is presented in 'glossy' and vivid wide-screen, yet has a sort of nice-light-snack kind of feel to it. It's a movie with a great deal of replay value, and one with compelling characters.
In short, TRON like its video game counterpart is fun.
And for that, and a host of other reasons, it will remain on my list of favourite films.
End of line.
I hope some smart person from Disney is reading this: if ever there was
a movie crying out to be re-released into movie-theaters, it's "Tron,"
the dazzling sci-fi film from Walt Disney Productions. If it were
released into theaters today, "Tron" would be a smash hit, 'cause the
movie-audiences of today would understand it a heckuva lot better than
the movie-audiences of 1982.
"Tron" tells the story of a young computer programmer named Flynn (Jeff Bridges) who gets sucked INTO a computer, and must fight for his life playing life-or-death video games, run by the evil Master Control Program. With the aid of a good warrior program named Tron (Bruce Boxleitner), and Tron's significant-other Yori (Cindy Morgan), Flynn must put a stop to the MCP and set things right in the computer world once again before returning to his own world.
With breathtakingly beautiful computer-animation (and the very first film to use computer-animation extensively), and presenting an original, dazzling world where energy lives and breathes inside a computer, "Tron" was way ahead of it's time. This may explain why the film was greeted with incomprehension from critics and audience members alike back in 1982.
The problem was, back in 1982, there was no such thing as the Internet, and, apart from business types, most people didn't really know diddlysquat about computers yet. As a result, the computer jargon heard throughout "Tron" went sailing over most audience members' heads, and for many, the story was difficult to follow. Critics complained that "Tron" was all special effects and no story. And, for the final insult, "Tron" wasn't even NOMINATED for Best Visual Effects at Oscar time, presumably because the Academy in 1982 didn't recognize computer-animation as "genuine" visual effects, i.e. "it's animation, not visual effects," they thought to themselves. "The Abyss" changed all that in 1989, but that was a big seven years after "Tron." Obviously, everyone in 1982 had missed the film's point.
But the passing of time has been very kind to "Tron." Today, the film has a major cult following, and is recognized by many as the landmark sci-fi film that it truly is. Looking at "Tron" today, the movie has aged very well indeed, like a fine wine. Now that time--and people's knowledge of computers--has finally caught up with "Tron," now would be the PERFECT time for the world in general to take another look at this amazing film.
Message to Disney: put "Tron" back in theaters! Clean it up with a new remastered print & remastered sound, and let the world rediscover this sci-fi classic. It WILL be a smash hit! In 1982, people just didn't understand "Tron." Today, they will. Trust me. :-)
Excuse me, but : wow ! I feel sorry for those who are disillusioned,
but Tron (1982) is nothing to me but pure magic ! A poetical
"cyberadventure" where the cyber world is a methaphorical
representation of the "real" one. And to think that those images were
produced, and more unbelievable, imagined, in the early eighties ! OK,
by today's standards, it might not look so impressive to some viewers,
but still... And the imagination behind that movie, those graphics :
wonderful ! I wish to be yet surprised by unexpected ideas such as
Tron. And I am not necessarily thinking about a sequel : just surprise
me ! Tron (1982) : a classic of the 7th art !
Eric Quebec, Canada
P.S.: Excuse my English, I am French-Canadian.
I was terribly excited about Tron when it came out theatrically; I was all
of 8 years old, but was already a computer geek. 15 years later, I ended up
purchasing the $100 Archive Edition laserdisc box set as my very first LD.
Tron definitely made an impact on me.
Tron has survived the years- more so than many other contemporary SF films, and more than I think most critics would have guessed. Instead of looking out-dated and corny, as the years have passed, Tron has aged gracefully. Sure, the monochrome-screen terminals might look a bit old, and the arcade is a distant, fond memory, but the SFX are still beautiful, and the storyline, in this era of the Internet, seems shockingly modern.
One of the reasons Tron's SFX have aged so well is because they did not try to simulate anything already existing. We have no basis to determine if the architecture of the MCP's world is out-dated or not-hip; everything is styled so uniquely that it's never going to look wrong. Much like the design of Maria in Metropolis, the look of Tron is never going to be laughable or quaint.
The storyline is lacking a little bit; you can see the ideas the script writers wanted to insert, but there are too many ideas for only 2 hours of film. There are quite a few points in the film that are mentioned and then ignored (Grid bugs, anyone?), and occasionally the film digresses from the plot for no other reason than to digress- the digressions being unimportant to the story at hand. But, despite the problems, the philosophy of user/program interaction, and the handling of technophobia are both handled admirably.
I recommend every video game, computer, and SF fan to watch Tron at least once. I echo the call for it to be the widescreen version, but I am disappointed with the DVD's extra features- or lack thereof. The LD is much more full featured, and better for fans, despite the side breaks every 30 minutes.
I still remember having seen parts of this movie when I was a very
little kid and I thought it was incredibly cool, I hadn't seen anything
like it. Now I have bought the 20th anniversary DVD and this was the
first time I watched the movie in its entirety (and with a developed
brain). And I still like it. Not in the same way as when I was young,
because now I understand the story (I didn't understand English back
then and I couldn't read the subtitles) so it's different from what I
imagined back then, and now I have seen a truckload of modern movies
with CGI effects.
However, even though the effects in this movie are somewhat 'dated', they are still unique. While listening to the audio commentary (which is a must if you wonder how they managed to make a movie like this in 1982), I heard someone stating my thoughts exactly: the unique thing about this movie is that while modern movies use CGI in an attempt to simulate the real world, in Tron one tried to simulate a computer world with real world images. Because they did succeed in this, the movie will never become 'dated', while movies trying to use limited CGI effects will become dated as soon as CGI evolves. The limitations of computer graphics at that time forced the makers of the movie to be very creative. E.g. all camera motions in the CG scenes (including the swinging motions in the chase scenes) had to be calculated by hand, there simply was no software for it! Nowadays computer graphics are nearing perfection, and that's why a movie like this will never be made again.
If you haven't seen this movie yet, to fully appreciate how groundbreaking it is, you must be willing to imagine that you're back in a time where the most complex computer animation to be seen were the moving blocks in video arcades or the 5 seconds of wire-frame models in Star Wars. You might expect that the resolution of the images will be very low and the pictures will be blocky, but this is totally untrue. The images were created at film resolution, often using methods which don't even involve the rasterization of images, so they look perfectly smooth. Some might say too smooth, due to the lack of texture mapping (which hardly existed at that time), but IMHO this is what gives the depicted 'digital world' its unique appearance.
The story is not of great complexity, but it's original and entertaining enough. Of course it's a Disney movie, so there aren't many 'sharp edges' to it (a scene with a mildly erotic undertone was even removed), but don't expect 'Bambi' sweetness either. Grown-ups will probably be more amazed by the kind of effects they managed to pull off in 1982, while children will be enchanted by the strange world shown in this movie. If you want to entertain young kids during a hour and a half, this movie will be perfect. They will like every bit (pun intended) of it!
"Tron" is not for everyone.
This first sentence should make you think that "Tron" is a cult movie. Well, maybe it is. My parents abhor it. My sister detests it. But my friends, who were born in the early 70s (very early, actually) and me see it as an amazing piece of work.
Is it stunning? Yes, even though more than half of the film is colorized b&w. Is it computer animated? Yes, although I am betting your home PC might be able to render the images you will see there without any problem. Maybe not in real time, but almost. Is it special? You bet. Even though CGI had been tried before, Tron took it to the next logical step: creating whole CGI rendered scenes (e.g. tanks, cycles, Recognizers).
The film is confusing at times, and 18 years later you can safely say the script wasn't actually the best. On the light of the Internet, though, it all makes a lot more sense, and it plainly demonstrates that the writers really loved computers. In fact, they were so ahead of their times that I am betting too many people who saw it the first time didn't understand it. That was its failure: only computer geeks could get the whole picture (no pun intended).
Still, I guess Toy Story I and II are the direct development of Tron. And that cannot be bad in any way.
In 1982, the concept of artificial intelligence was advanced enough
that a gamer could easily defeat a computer opponent if he memorised
the sequence of moves that the AI followed. A computer capable of
handing the intense mathematical calculations CGI entailed often took
up an entire room. Video games were strictly two-dimensional, and often
consisted of video displays that a legally blind man could make out the
individual pixels in. Yet they were considerably more fun than most of
the annoyances we have to bear with today. The reason for this is as
simple as it is obvious. In 1982, programmers realized that graphics
are not what make a game fun because graphics could not be made as
"real" as they are now.
Tron fell flat at the box office because the concepts it dealt with were not in the public consciousness. Home computers from many manufacturers were duelling for market share, and the idea that the market could one day all be controlled by one monolithic corporation was far from anyone's mind. This little fact is what keeps Tron relevant nearly twenty-five years later. However, as the information age grew into focus, the number of films that openly steal from Tron are numerous. They try to capture the same level of excitement and intrigue, but they fall down because of an inability to make the audience care about the characters.
Tron begins with simple interactions between the world of the programs and the world of the humans, some of which are programmers, or users as they are called here. The sequence in which one user, Flynn, is sucked into the world of the programs, well, let's just say that the Wachowski brothers obviously watched it very carefully before they penned the screenplay for The Matrix. Only in this case, it is done with much more credibility and impact.
Many have talked about the curse that plagues film adaptations of video games. Tron was the first of many films to have a video game adapted from it, the reasons for which should be clear when one watches the game sequences. During the middle act of the film, Flynn is made to compete in a couple of video games, the first of which, while quite clearly based upon Pong, was adapted more or less element-for-element into a crude tennis game. The latter is more notorious, however. The concept of bicycles that create walls behind them as they move, into which one tries to run an opponent, is one of the simple concepts that kept old 4-bit video game machines like the Atari 2600 profitable for so long.
It has been said that it is difficult to understand what is going on, which is hogwash. Once you learn some of the basics of computing, or rather the concepts that Microsoft would like to keep hidden from the user such as input-output addresses and the like, and learn to pay attention to dialogue, it is incredibly easy to follow this story. It is, in fact, one of the best renderings of computer concepts on the big screen to date, which is a sad indictment upon Hollywood when you consider how far technology in both areas has come since 1982.
I gave Tron a ten out of ten. It entertained me immeasurably when I was a child growing up on the cusp of VHS technology. As an adult who is having endless fun with the recordable DVD technology, it entertains me even more. Few things grow more relevant with time, in both happy and sad ways, but Tron is amongst them. If every science-fiction film in which computers and artificial intelligence figured heavily were up to this standard, film critics would have a lot less to do.
Did I read that right? The effects have not aged? The effects sucked when it was released; they evoked loud giggling in the theater I saw it in which was half empty by the way. They used these cheesy effects on 1984's The Last Starfighter which also bombed. After that they abandoned them altogether. Please, the cars and tanks look like plastic toys on a badly created grid. The plot, if you can call it that, is that Bridges gets his panties in a bunch because Dillon stole his game, what until you see it, and he wants to get into the system and prove it is his. He gets sucked, the right verb, into the silicon world where, apparently, silicon looks just like Gray spandex jumpsuits that light up in attractive blue and red. This blowing your skirt up? No, it did not thirty years ago either. Throw in terrible acting, which Disney has a patent on, getting lousy performances out of good actors; Warner is the only one who gives a good performance. Even Jeff Bridges, a good actor, delivers a wooden, insouciant, boring reading. Tron shows why Babylon 5 was canceled. Cindy Morgan should have worn a tighter jumpsuit; maybe we would not have noticed she could not act one scene.
There is an uprising, I know, try not to laugh, where apparently silicon chips have a religious devotion to carbon based monkey boys over their own kind. I know, non sequitur, please Disney stick to kiddie movies. Getting that sinking feeling about their Star Wars? I would if I were you, go watch The Black Hole, their last attempt at science fiction. Look, just the sight of these actors wearing fluorescent spandex tights with funny hats and throwing Frisbees around was enough for laughter in the theater. The effects are painful; no, they could not age well because they were awful in 1982. Like all Disney movies, it is full of cringe worthy moments. My friend Eric got the whole room to laugh; Clu bends over his dying friend and the friend purses his lips, for no apparent reason, Eric yelled,"Kiss Me!! The entire theater died laughing. Disney is incapable of making a good serious film. This film features several more unintentionally hilarious moments. The acting matters, because given the utter absurdity of the premise, the bad acting is the death blow. The film was received as almost a comedy given: bad effects, acting, writing and the stupidest premise ever conceived.
If you like seeing actors in glowing spandex jumpsuits babbling on about the sanctity of the users while flinging their glowing Frisbees at the plastic objects; this is your movie. For everyone else, who has read a book, I recommend drinking to lower your intelligence to the level of the brain dead idiots who made this piece of crap. After a few drinks, it will seem cutting edge and stunning; it just takes the right amount of alcohol. It was awful thirty three years ago and guess what it still is awful. The effects look worse if that is possible.
When this came out, about 25 years ago, the special-effects were
eye-popping. I was stunned and saw this twice at the theater, something
I rarely did. Nowadays, it looks primitive. It's like when video games
first came out, compared to what they are now.
However, a few years ago when the DVD came out with the widescreen and 5.1surround sound, it made it somewhat-respectable again in parts and made it still fun to watch.
The story was never that great. There was too much technical talk and the characters were the kind you really couldn't get involved over.
It's nothing super, but if you've never seen it, I still recommend it. I don't recall any other movie quite like it.
For the average viewer, 'Tron' is a puzzling film. The language is loaded
with jargon, the world experienced by Clu and Tron (inside the computer)
appears strange, forbidding and two-dimensional. It is a world that seems to
work though, but how does the human Clu instantly know how to adjust to its
Viewers have come to expect that techno-babble jargon in SciFi flicks is completely meaningless. That isn't entirely the case for 'Tron', much of it is firmly based in computing. Even more importantly, this strange world Clu and Tron inhabit is equally firmly based on the way computer operating systems work, and that is the reason why Clu (in real live a computer hacker) knows how to handle it.
Using this world as the basis for a movie was pretty audacious, especially in 1982. Thankfully, the writers did not compromise on their idea, and consequently the film not only worked but it stood the test of time.
'Tron' works, because computers work.
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