Thursday, September 11, 2003


A Video Review of "Tron"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Decades before The Matrix cyberspace first appeared on the big screen in Tron. Hackers get sucked into a computer to come face to face with the video games they designed. A cyberpunk nightmare years before it became hip to make movies about it.

1982's Tron the film and the video games based on it are still fondly remembered among myself and my age group. I fully expected though that it wouldn't age well when I saw it again recently. I was wrong.

Flynn played by Jeff Bridges is our hacker whose video game designs have been stolen by an evil corporation (aren't they all?) whose computer system has gained sentience. Once transported into the computer Flynn and a renegade program Tron battle for freedom against the evil Master Control. I won't even get into the folks who believe Tron is a Christ figure in the 'program world.' It's a little bit much.

The scenes in the 'real world' are rather pedestrian except for bad guy's Dillenger's cool desk with the computer keyboard and monitor built into it. Do we have those yet? If so, I want one. When we switch to the other side of the computer screen to the world of the programs it's a whole other story.

In the dark prehistoric days before CGI the effects for Tron were done quite simply. The 'program world' footage was all done with black and white film then colored in later. The colors were sparse but bright and effective, blue for good and red for evil for the most part. The actual computer effects were done frame by frame and took a hell of a lot longer than it does today. On an interesting side note, the Academy Awards passed over Tron for the Visual Effects Oscar because they felt using a computer was 'cheating.'

On the music front, while Journey's "Only Solutions" is one of their finer compositions the real star here is synthesizer impresario Wendy Carlos. Her electronic score is one of the finest ever produced and is outstanding in the field even today. Until its recent release it was one of the most sought after movie soundtracks in history.

Even twenty-odd years later Tron holds up surprisingly well. I think it rivals even The Matrix in style and originality. It's a great cyberpunk movie years before its time. See it again or for the first time. It's worth it.

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