The first time I watched this film, I was around 9 years old. I rented it from a library and watched it at a friends house, and being honest, it's somehow exactly how I remembered it.
It's quite surreal, having a plot take place inside a computer and it's clear there are places where it's being pulled out of nowhere, using computer buzz words like 'ram' and 'programs' to be cool and fit into the universe, which kinda adds to the weird charm of the film. I cannot tell whether it takes its self seriously or not at all because there are places where it tries to pull at your heart strings or create a serious moment but there are other moments where you just zone out from some of the imagery on screen.
Major credit to Jeff bridges who just seems like he's having a whale of a time. He and the bad guy carry this film by fully embracing this idea and doing the best job they can, although it's clear they have no idea what's going on and that's just brilliant to me.
The main thing I love about this film is the visuals. They are straight out of a tame impala album cover. I can't tell if it's matte paintings or early digital imaging but either way it looks like it was intedned to; it's so dated to the point where it's come back around and looks impressive. I need to see how they did all this stuff in the early 80s, must have blown people's minds.
Although, they never really explain things though. I kinda could maybe tell what was going on because I've seen the film already but half the things they just don't explain, which did get confusing in places.
But generally this films more a delightful time capsule for an era on the dawn of computer special effects, and for that I really liked it.