By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Two Beers) –
Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is a genius programmer who gets sucked into a computer while trying to hack in. He finds that the inside of the computer is a whole other world, with programs literally personified in human form. The computer world is controlled by the sociopathic Master Control Program (or MCP for short) who captures and punishes all programs resistant to his rule by forcing them to take part in gladiatorial combat (in the form of video games). It is here that Flynn meets the program Tron (Bruce Boxleitner) a program designed to take down the MCP. Flynn and Tron team up to escape and challenge the evil computer program.
A giant spinning top from hell
Director Steven Lisberger and team created a visual feast with Tron, building from the ground-up a kind of fantasy world that is truly original. The scenes taking place within the computer world were shot in black and white, and hand-colored afterwards to create an electronic glowing effect.
This was combined with many shots which use computer-generated graphics, a brand new technology at the time. When Tron was being filmed they didn’t even have the technology to animate the computer graphics on the computer, so each frame had to be individually rendered. The visual style this created was far cleaner looking than traditional animation, which worked perfectly given the computer-world concept.
Who wouldn’t a chance to ride in one of these?
Jeff Bridges delivers a typically solid lead performance, fitting perfectly within the hero’s journey guidelines. He serves as the everyman character that allows the audience to learn about the computerized fantasy world without it feeling too overly expository. But the real highlight of the film performance-wise is David Warner, who plays three different roles. As Ed Dillinger, he plays the real-world villain responsible for stealing Kevin Flynn’s programs. Dillinger oversaw development of the MCP (Voiced by Warner) and his assistant Sark (also played by Warner). The MCP has become so powerful that his influence threatens to spread into the real world, having already blackmailed Dillinger into doing his bidding. Warner was perfectly cast, and in fact he played a very similarly technology-obsessed villain the year prior in Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits.
Evil isn’t just a job, it’s a profession.
While the film is immensely watchable and fun, the dialogue often times feels stunningly amateurish. At times, it makes the otherwise epic scope of the film approach shlock levels. It also dates the film considerably, placing it firmly in the early 1980s. Since all of the other elements fall into place however, this is easily forgiven.
A highly stylized and innovative fantasy adventure. (Oh and by the way, does the MCP look familiar?)
“No cake for the impurity”
Take a Drink: for any reference to the MCP
Take a Drink: whenever the Users are mentioned
Do a Shot: for each scene that is blatant advertising for a video game release