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(1982)

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9/10
TRON: 'All that is visible…'
J-bot612 November 2004
TRON. Now here's a film that seems to generate a wide spectrum of reviews.

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.
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9/10
Put "Tron" Back In Theaters!!!
Gazzer-230 September 2004
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. :-)
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Poetical cyberadventure
regiedunlop20036 June 2004
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.
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10/10
Beautiful film that presaged the future of film making.
Robert Morgan16 October 1999
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.
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9/10
Groundbreaking and still entertaining today
DrLex10 April 2005
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!
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8/10
Someone had to try it
Francisco Huerta19 September 2000
"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.
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7/10
Dated.....But Still One Of Those One-Of-A-Kind Movies You Should Check Out
ccthemovieman-12 September 2006
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.
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10/10
The film that The Matrix wishes it was
mentalcritic26 November 2004
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.
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8/10
Tron works
Stefan Kahrs1 April 2002
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 peculiarities?

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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2/10
Sadly Overrated
Rodrigo Amaro2 April 2010
The idea of a hacker transported into a computer having to destroy an evil program was brilliant. But something was missing in "TRON". A more developed story, substantial dialogs and, yes, a director capable to do his job in a better way than Steven Lisberger, master and commander of this sadly overrated movie. How in the world Disney green lighted such a good project in the hands of an amateur?

I'm dazzled with the positive reviews of the many viewers of this wrecked project quoting that this was an underrated film when the time of its release. Sorry, that's not just the case. The story wasn't that appealing as "Matrix" was. The real life sequences were far more interesting than the whole visual effects side, that got overlong, boring, and nowadays dated. I was trying not to sleep in many parts of that long race between the characters (something like a car chase scene but instead of cars running chips and programs chasing each other). Jeff Bridges holds this movie very well and David Warner plays the usual villain as he almost always does. But, if you want to see these two actors in a good movie go rent "The Big Lebowski" (in which Bridges star) or "Time After Time" (an awesome sci-fi movie starring Warner as villain).

I only watched this movie because: 1) In 2005, The Strokes (one of my favorite rock bands) made a video clip for the song 12:51 in which "TRON" was used as reference to the whole thing. Very Interesting by the way. And 2) I heard that "TRON Legacy" is going to be released this year so I thought "Let's see what this movie has of interesting". And the result came to nowhere. And I'm glad that Supertramp, another of my favorite groups, wasn't available to contribute to songs in this wreck. The music in the movie, by the way, is so strangely executed.

The dated visual effects has some charming things that remind us of the 1980's with a twinkle in the eyes. After all who doesn't love the movies of that decade? I loved the visual concept of the movie along with the brilliant and themed costume designs (Oscar nominated). But its slowed rhythm story and its lack of expectation, lack of a better climax just ruined the movie for me. I hope that "TRON Legacy" became a better project. At least, I know it's going to be because Lisberger is not directing the movie, but his hands are in the screenplay again so let's hope he makes something good this time. 2/10
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8/10
A Beautiful Film
chris-m-c22 January 2005
More than just reminiscent of Lang's Metropolis, Tron is a beautiful, well made exercise from a main stream producer (Disney) which reminds us of the time before Jurassic Park and Episode One where creative skill was left to human perception rather than a computer's digitally correct ideal. Owing more to the human colourists than the now outdated computer effects, this film is evidence - similar in a way to Kubric's pre-Moon landing, pre-CGI 2001 - to the creative and more sensory-pleasing abilities of the human artist over soul-less programmers, from a time before when a box would 'parse' it all for you. It's difficult to express how high-powered computers fail to create an image that is satisfactory to the human eye; there is always something that rings false about it. Tron was created in a period of wire diagrams being the best you could coax from a computer; anything else was added by human hand. A film that makes you nostalgic for the time when Disney made films that were accessible for all, almost Bakshi-like in its disregard for the mainstream. There is struggle against adversity; there is an oppressive, evil regime; there are two heroes who survive despite all odds; and there is love conquering all (a token woman is included as love interest. Ironically like the IT industry). The naive use of technical jargon merely adds to the "computer program" style setting and this film is ideally suited for today's retro-chic society. As a Disney film this is aimed predominantly at children, so if you fail to understand the plot then I would recommend sticking to the Lion King or some other pabulum. This is a great film - watch it.
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3/10
Hal Rebooted
thesar-27 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
And to think: as lackluster, boring and trite the year 2010 for movies has turned out, I was really looking forward to Tron: Legacy. Even without seeing the original. Ever.

Maybe it was because one of my all-time favorite arcade games was, and still is, Tron. Perhaps it was the wonderful trailers? Or the fact, I love Jeff Bridges and give "The Dude" kudos for making a well-made decision on making a movie/sequel.

So, naturally, I have to see the first one first before venturing into the winter of 2010's only promising release. After growing up on the game, the theme music and the anticipation of the (almost) 20 year-follow-up I must say: what a letdown.

I don't want to take away from what the original writers/director created here. Surely, they had something going for them in 1982: an original idea, a complex action film with futuristic graphics – for its time. Does it hold up? Apparently not, in my opinion, since I had the privilege of watching for the first time in 2010.

I'm not knocking the graphics. I simply can't – that was the technology back then. And they even showed things (like the touch screens) that had years left to be developed. So good for them. But, my problem was that there was just too much. They wanted to be too many movies wrapped into one without focusing on the center of the plot. Or any heart. You wanted to care for some of the characters, but they were so thrust onto the screen with little to no background and then yanked away to make room for more "plot developments." And speaking of which, there were so many plots and subplots, it was hard to keep up where this movie was going.

Recently, I watched Disney's other big live-action "blockbuster" relatively in the same era, The Black Hole and as much as I rated only 3/5 stars, at least that had a central idea and went with it. Tron is all over the place and requires several viewings to get it all straight.

Let's see, it's been about a week since I've seen Tron and I'm going to try to remember all that it was about, or all the subplots: Oust developer Kevin Flynn (Bridges) is recruited to thwart a supercomputer (i.e. Hal from 2001) master program who is gaining a bunch of power from mini-programs to be the ultimate dominator. Years later, this would be portrayed in The Lawnmower Man, Terminator: Salvation or The Matrix.

Meanwhile, there's the corporate bigwig who wants the same thing, a rouge ex-girlfriend bent on stopping the madness and Flynn who's inadvertently thrown into the "game" or "program" to prove himself against the computer's main competitive baddie.

This is how forgettable this movie is, aside from those who first viewed it in 1982. It has only been a week and I've already forgotten the dozen or so subplots and reasons for the movie. I guess suffice to say, it's a "heart-whelming" story of the dangers of technology and despite the limitations of 1982 graphics, it will be really fleshed out in decades to follow with much better products. A good idea at the time, but just have patience, audience and you'll have a much better movie to watch. And to follow.

Will I still see the sequel? Of course. I'm still looking forward to it and hopefully will watch the progression and ironing out the problems with the original. Also, I give a plus to Disney for not following the recent trend of "rebooting" and sticking with the time-honored tradition of simply releasing a SEQUEL.
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3/10
One-dimensional storytelling in 3D!
Adam27 May 2006
Tron reminds me of another one-word titled film that relied on special effects to bring in money: Them! from 1954. Neither film's effects hold up over the years. That is where the comparison fades since Them!, bizarrely, is the only one of the two with a slight focus on dialogue and plot. Tron lacks all the vital elements for a good film and instead hurls us into a nonsensical world of pastel colors and cheesy effects. Dialogue and plot may not exist within the mind of a super-intelligent computer, but any somewhat-intelligent human should be wondering where they are. With shots and ideas stolen directly from Star Wars, something must have gone wrong at a fundamental level to make Tron look like Star Wars's ugly cousin.

The suspension of disbelief is important for a viewer to have when watching a movie. Tron is certainly no slice of life, but has characters that look very much like a slice of key lime pie. I am well aware that the possibility of Jeff Bridges being transported into a computer is fairly slim. It does not especially bother me that Tron, Yori, and Sark all look like people he knows in the real world. For all I know, he could just be really, really high. But the fact that Flynn (Bridges) and Tron and Yori are all wandering around in costumes that Star Wars's stormtroopers would laugh hysterically at sort of grates my nerves. The film is not the visual feast it thinks it is. Honestly, the film is not remotely entertaining. The sense of urgency we are required to feel in this adventure does not seem plausible when one stops to think, "If a user's program took this long to contact me when I tried talking to it, I would go outside and play baseball and maybe hope it would talk to me in an hour or two." There is no urgency. There is no logic in Master Control's desire to take over the world. In fact, that is a subplot so desperate to draw us into the story that the movie is obviously using scare tactics to convince us we think it is cool. Yes, Master Control, you are so cool. You shrunk Jeff Bridges. You are making him perform tedious tasks instead of killing him when he obviously would waste no time in killing you. You know, Tron's a pretty capable hero. I think he would make it OK without Jeff Bridges, but never underestimate star power in a bad Disney film. He even manages to kiss Yori without making her short circuit, in a proud tradition of female Disney characters who could not possibly be more one-dimensional.

There are no impressive twists or turns in this film, and not a single, catchy one-liner to be heard in a string of flat dialogue. The film lacks charm, story, but at least I can be glad we have come a long way since 1982... sort of.
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8/10
Tron Version 1.0
Matthew Kresal4 January 2011
Having seen Tron: Legacy at Christmas, I've spent the week or so since then trying to track down the movie that Legacy is a sequel to: 1982's Tron. If you're like me and have been doing the same then the following will come as no surprise: it has become rather hard and/or expensive to find thanks to it being out of print and highly in demand. So imagine my surprise when I went into a local Blockbuster with a friend and found a DVD of it sitting on the shelf. Needless to say I scooped it up and rented it! So, given that I had seen the more recent sequel first, what did I make of the original movie?

For starters it has a pretty good cast. Leading the cast is Jeff Bridges as computer programmer turned arcade-owing hacker Kevin Flynn whose attempts to prove that his work was stolen by a rival programmer leads to him being sent into the digital world of the movie. Bridges gives Flynn an eccentric yet everyman quality that, while perhaps not serving the character best in the opening part of the movie, works perfectly when the character of Flynn ends up trying to make sense of the digital world he finds himself in. Bruce Boxleitner plays computer programmer Alan Bradley and his creation: the heroic security program named Tron. The two are very different characters and at times it is hard to believe that are being played by the same actor. Aiding them in both the real and digital world are Cindy Morgan (as Lora and Yori) and Barnard Hughes (as Dr. Walter Gibbs and Dumont) who, like Boxleitner, find ways of making each of their characters different from the other. Opposing them, and perhaps giving the best performances in the movie, is David Warner as program stealing executive Ed Dillinger in the real world as being both the digital world menace of Sark and the electronically distorted voice of the the dictatorial Master Control Program. Put all these actors together and the result is that they give this digitally set movie a human grounding.

Which brings us to perhaps the most iconic part of the movie: the digital world the majority of the movie takes place in. Given that the nearly thirty years that have passed since the movie was made have seen a true revolution in special effects, one might expect that the effects (including some of the earliest CGI effects) would look rather passé now. The truth of the matter is in fact quite different: the digital world of Tron is a truly immersive, and highly original, one.

The production design, costumes and effects all go towards creating that unique world. The production design imagines a digital world that is both alien and yet familiar with its take on tanks, ships and perhaps most famously cars in the form of light cycles. Then there are all of the unique costumes of the digital characters with their stark whiteness contrasted by the illuminations of the apparent circuitry on them with a truly unusual look being the result. Last but not least on this list is all of the effects work. The effects would seemingly be the most dated part of the original Tron and to some extent this is true on the surface. But if you scratch below the surface you'll discover that those seemingly dated effects are surprisingly effective. Two perfect examples can be found in the light cycle gaming sequence where there is a point of view shot that gives the viewer a true sensation of speeding along a maze of lines or during the chase sequence that follows directly on from it when the "camera" follows two ships that are pursuing the escaping light cycles. If you are however looking at the effects of the movie cynically from the viewpoint of today's CGI here is another way of looking at them within the logic of the movie: the film is set and uses early 1980s computers and therefore it makes perfect sense that the digital world reflects the technology of the time rather the more advanced and evolved digital world seen in Legacy. Back to the main point: the result of all these elements put together is that the digital world setting of the film remains both unique and immersive almost thirty years on.

No review of the film though would be complete without a discussion of its script or storyline. The basic plot of Tron are quite simplistic: in the real world Flynn is trying to prove that Dillinger stole his programs to further his own career while in the digital world Flynn and Tron end up on a quest to save to free that world from the tyrannical reign of Dillinger's Master Control Program and its minion Sark. The dialogue too is often as simplistic as the plot and can be at times either corny or cringe-worthy. Yet Tron's script and story are full of fascinating ideas: Programs acting as avatars of their programmers with deletions being their literal death (or derezzing), information and programs being sent along by incredible vehicles with energy or light used as paths, and and even religious undertones to the relationship of programs to their users. Tron then, on the script and story level, is very much driven by its ideas rather then its own plot. As a result Tron on the script and story level is very much driven by its ideas rather then its own plot.

While it may be lacking in plot, Tron makes up for that in other ways. That includes the cast which makes the most of the duel roles that most of them have. Where it does that mainly though is in the immersive digital world it is set in and the ideas that lie behind it. Tron therefore is perhaps more a triumph of style over substance but it more then makes up for that fact.
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9/10
This Is Why We Have Pixar Movies
DJ Zurn5 September 2013
John Lasseter once said that without Tron, there would be no Toy Story. While working as a Disney animator, Lasseter caught a glimpse of the light cycle chase from Tron and his eyes opened up to what could be accomplished with computers and computer technology. Thus, he would go onto be one of the founding fathers of Pixar, which of course has spun a massive web since it's inception in the mid 80s. Of course Lasseter and the people at Pixar weren't the only ones inspired by this film. The French band Daft Punk was inspired by the film's electronic score and video game like sound effects, so much so that they even assisted Hans Zimmer in composing the score for Tron's sequel. But for how groundbreaking Tron was when it first hit theaters back in 1982, is it even a good movie? Is it's story compelling and relatable and can we see ourselves as parallels to the characters of the movie? I would say so.

It's all how you look at it.

Tron still holds up incredibly well 31 years after it's original release and while the effects can be a bit wonky from time to time, they give the movie a certain edge and stylized feel. When I think of this movie, shades of blue, red, orange and black come to mind, for those are the colors seen frequently throughout the picture and the fact that some of the effects look grainy at times really makes the film's environment look more digitized in my eyes. I also like the look of the characters, particularly Tron, Sark and the Master Control Program, who looks like Zordon's cousin three times removed. He spins around, freezes when he wants to talk to someone and his voice (provided by David Warner, the same guy who plays Sark) is one of the most intimidating voices I've ever heard. You could take this guy's voice and put it over Darth Vader. It's just that awesome and mighty.

The acting is pretty decent. Jeff Bridges is great as always, playing the fun loving schmuck Kevin Flynn who "plays video games better than anybody" and Bruce Boxleitner is a gallant Alan Bradley/Tron who is determined to take out the MCP and bring balance back to the cyber world. He's the Chosen One in some ways and the most heroic out of the programs, although Kevin Flynn builds up his bravery and assists Tron in the MCP's defeat. David Warner has that presence to him that really makes him a force to be reckoned with and his portrayal of Sark and the MCP stand apart from all the other film's performances. Every time this guy enters the picture, you can just tell that some crap is going to hit the fan. He's plays two of Disney's most memorable adversaries and he's probably my favorite player out of the film. He also plays similar characters in Titanic, Star Trek 5 and 6 and he even plays the voice of Ra's Al Ghul in Batman: The Animated Series.

The last thing I must talk about is the film's awesome score and sound effects. As I said before, this is what inspired Daft Punk to do what they do and it's not that hard to see why they got so enraptured. The film's score, composed by Wendy Carlos is an electronic feast for the ears, with a very exciting, blood rushing excellence only accomplished through computer chips. It's so catchy that they even used the music in the Tron arcade game, just listen to the film's score and then listen to the music from the game. It's identical. And the sound effects really make this film feel like a video game movie. Every time a character walks, there's this slight "clink" noise and the sound effects for the disk throwing, the light cycles and the character deaths makes me feel like I'm standing right in front of an arcade cabinet playing a game from the golden age. They really do a good job of making you feel part of the Tron universe and adding that bit of magic that takes you out of reality and places you in the realms of a digital fantasy.

Tron is an all around great thriller and would change Disney forever. Perhaps without Tron, there would be no Toy Story 3 or Monsters Inc. or Finding Nemo. Maybe Disney wouldn't have had their grand Renaissance. Maybe special effects wouldn't have progressed the way they did. Maybe Jeff Bridges wouldn't be the highly profitable actor he is today. It all makes you think, doesn't it?
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10/10
one of the most mind blowing pieces of science fiction i've seen!
kim3036 October 2005
OK, this is one of the very, very few movies I've ever granted a 10 with.

And why? Because of the visual style & unmatched originality alone! I just saw this today for the first time, and was completely awestruck from the beginning to the end. The style that the computer sequences are rendered with is pure gold. This movie really shows how limits may benefit art. I can't imagine a movie like this would work now that the technology is in no way limiting what can be done with 3D-software.

The airbrush work is sleek in the same minimal way as the wire-frame day-glo vector stuff.

The black & white human figures complete the totally ageless look of the CG sequences of this film.

I think this is one of the most underrated scifi-films of all time, and sincerely believe which will rise in artistic recognition as time passes and these beginning steps of computer graphics are just a page in the history books.

This is really an image of a very, very short span of time when computers were entering our world, but still missed a recognized position in people's imagination and everyday life.

I didn't know it beforehand and only realized it when the ending credits hit the screen, but visually this was a co-op between Jean "Moebius" Giraud and Syd Mead. The first on is my all-time favourite scifi-artist, and the other my most favourite visual designer in the movie field... Go figure :)
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10/10
The Stuff Dreams are Made Of...
eltanan23 February 2005
This movie shaped my childhood. Everything in my mind that is 'cool', 'awesome', awe-inspiring or deeply emotional, is visualized in terms of the visuals of this movie. I still have dreams about Tron to this very day. Every time I hear the ending credits music (not the Journey song, the Wendy Carlos stuff) I still get all misty-eyed. Above all other television, movies, books, or any media, THIS is the story that exists eternally at the center of my consciousness. Thank you, Tron.

As an after-effect, I seem to be unable to dislike anything I see Jeff Bridges or Bruce Boxlitener in. As long as they're on screen, I'm happy. Funny how that stuff works. OF course, Babylon 5 is excellent anyway, but the fact that Boxlitener is a main character is definitely a bonus. I wonder what would have happened if JMS had written Tron?

As another added note, the recent 'Tron 2.0' first-person shooter game is one of the best PC games I've ever played. I highly recommend it.
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10/10
Ahead of its time.
write-sam27 June 2004
Sure, to viewers from 2004 Tron seems dated and silly. But the writers, directors, and animators were far ahead of their time. They were prophesying a world in which computers took over our day-to-day tasks (see Dr. Gibbs' great soliloquy towards Dillinger), video games became a way of life, and computer animation changed the way movies are made.

It's no wonder that the minds behind Tron went on to form Pixar Animation.

If Tron is watched by someone remembering that it was made when Gibson's ideas of "cyberspace" were only twinkles in science fiction's collective eyes, and see Tron as a forbearer of movies such as "The Matrix" (thematically) and "Toy Story" (technically), then to discount this film as silly or cheesy sci-fi would be a real shame.

Every sci-fi or animation buff should see this movie.
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10/10
An underrated landmark in Sci-fi flicks!
Darth-Helmet10 December 2003
A computer gamer named "Flynn" ( Jeff Bridges) breaks into an experimental computer to prove his work was stolen by another executive. He gets zapped into another dimension, which happens to be a video game dimension as he races against time with cyberfriends to battle a evil foe who has controlled the cyber world.

A masterpiece of the sci-fi fantasy genre from Disney, this movie has groundbreaking special effects and early CGI for it's time. It still hold up today especially in today's CGI obsessed studios, this movie is the anchestor to those special effects. The plot is a little complicated but the movie is highly entertaining and the special effects are just spectacular including the famous racing scene.

Also recommended: The Running Man, The Matrix Trilogy, Star Wars, The Fifth Element, Total Recall, Blade Runner, The Dark Crystal, The Last Unicorn ( Another Bridges 1982 masterpiece).

9/10.
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10/10
My all time favorite film
SmokeManmuscle16 September 2004
Most people view this film with a feeling of nostalgia, myself included. However, Tron is more than just a piece of the 80's. Some of the most creative and unique action scenes ever put on film are featured here. David Warner and company create memorable and believable characters. Tron employs some of the best cinematography ever done; when you see the close-up of Sark's eyes at the conclusion of the ring game, you feel the tension. The crew put in an untold of amount of hours to manually insert the brilliant colors seen throughout the film. Wendy Carlos and Journey both contribute to a superb soundtrack. Tron is a surreal experience that remains a true science-fiction classic.
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8/10
A Milestone in Cinema History
Claudio Carvalho12 December 2009
While unsuccessfully trying to hack into the mainframe of the corporation ENCOM, the programmer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is detected by the Master Control Program that protects the system. Kevin worked in the company and is seeking evidences to prove that he had four video games including the successful Space Paranoids stolen by his colleague Ed Dillinger (David Warner) that was promoted to senior executive of the software corporation. Kevin's friends Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) and Lora (Cindy Morgan) visits him is his arcade and they decide to help him to break into the ENCOM to use Lora's terminal and find the evidences while Alan uses his security program Tron to shutdown the MCP. However, the MCP identifies Flynn and brings him to the virtual world. Flynn associates to Tron and Ram (Dan Shor) and they are helped by Yora to reach and destroy the MCP to end the dictatorship in the virtual world.

The cult "Tron" is a milestone in the cinema industry with a wonderful story of virtual world and a stylish cinematography supported by an earlier CGI work. In 2009, the hardware in ENCOM may be dated, with monochromatic monitors and huge computer units; but in 1982, Atari was the state-of-art video game and Internet was not available. Therefore, I believe that even younger generations that enjoy video game and sci-fi genre will appreciated this film that was certainly a source of inspiration of "The Matrix". When Alan Bradley arrives in his cubicle, there is a poster with the sentence "Gort Klaatu Barada Nikto" in homage to "The Day the Earth Stood Still", the 1951 masterpiece of Robert Wise. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Tron, Uma Odisséia Eletrônica" ("Tron, an Electronic Oddissey")
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8/10
Tron RULES, baby!
Hudson Vandiver31 January 2007
TRON is an EXTREMELY under-appreciated masterpiece. The Academy actually denied the makers of this film a highly deserved visual effects nod because, to their way of thinking, using computer-generated imagery was "cheating". CHEATING! That's like saying the invention of the wheel was cheating. The moral here is, try not to be TOO brilliant or ahead-of-your-time, because you will probably be misunderstood and disrespected by self-righteous idiots. Without TRON, there would most definitely be no Matrix. In fact, it seems like a lot of the cyberpunk, William Gibson-style "reality-within-the-mainframe" existentialism that permeates the fiction of our digital age can be traced back, to some extent, to the technological advent of TRON. RESPECT!!! -H
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10/10
Still great after 20 years
postroom7 March 2003
For me TRON still looks as good as it did when it was released 20 years ago. The CGI looks superb, and the world is visually stunning and the story manages to hold its own. TRON came out way before it's time and took us to a place no-one had ever been before. Looking back its amazing to see where computer technology was in 1982 and where it stands in the present. David Warner is the usual english villian, which he plays perfectly, Jeff Bridges is a confident but likeable Kevin Flynn and Bruce Boxleitner brings out the warrior in the title role as TRON. I couldn't recommend TRON enough to anyone who hasn't seen it. Long may it stand the test of time and continue to endure for another 20 years and beyond.
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3/10
For Nostalgia Only
slumbergod4 December 2009
This was a movie I missed when I was a child; it never screened in my city. I was always disappointed at missing it yet it was only last week that I finally managed to see it.

By today's standards this movie is very embarrassing. If you were in the age group lucky enough to be involved in the emergence of affordable home computers then you'll probably find a lot of nostalgia watching this movie. Certainly, most of the favourable reviews seem to be from people who watched it in their youth. For anyone else, it's likely to be a forgettable or even regrettable experience.

This wasn't a movie intended to develop powerful characters; indeed, they are as one dimensional as a model's photo in a magazine. The acting is poor and wooden. But that is more a reflection of what we have come to expect from movies today.

Arguably the Avatar of its day, its plot is anchored in the 1980s by its connection to what we now consider archaic home computers. We're three decades on now so looking back it is actually quite embarrassing.

Paradoxically, it is the special effects that remain the most compelling reason to see this movie. While some of the ideas expressed by the effects are about as dated as they come ("light cycle" games are about as primitive as they come), the overall effect of the neon-type effects looks quite amazing. Today's special effects border on looking as realistic as possible. Here, the intention is the opposite; they are trying to imagine a world inside a computer. It's quite interesting to see but perhaps a documentary about the making of it would be more interesting.

Tron is supposedly being revamped for the modern screen. Done the right way it could be a really good movie to see given all the stale releases from Hollywood in recent years. Otherwise this one is really just for people who saw it in their youth or were part of the home computing scene.
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