Movie Review 2008 #31: Tron

I was inspired to rent this classic from the 80’s, although a viewing proved that I didn’t remember it as much as I thought I did. Starring Jeff Bridges, David Warner, and Bruce Boxleitner.

Computer Users and Programmers team up to prevent the Singularity by stopping the plans of a rogue amalgamation of software called the MCP.
That’s the short, geeky version of the plot. The movie revolves around a sentient piece of software, the Master Control Program (MCP). With dominance over a pre/non Windows cyberspace, its influence into the real world is through its original creator, Ed Dillinger.
Jeff Bridges plays Kevin Flynn, former ace programmer. His efforts to stop the MCP in the verite world gets him literally zapped into the computer environment, and forced to play games that he is not only expected to lose, but die in the process. Fortunately, he soon meets Tron, a program created by fellow programmer Alan Bradley, oddly looking much like his creator, and the two together set off to escape the games and stop the MCP in its tracks.
Tron has been described as the “first Matrix” and there are definitely parallels, playing with levels of reality, computers as entities, and more. Although the graphics are primitive today, the story and the breadth of imagination are still top notch, and the movie is shorter than I remembered. It’s a bit slow until we get Kevin into the computer world, but the movie picks up wonderfully at this point.
I remember fondly playing videogames based on the movie, and watching lightcycles, tanks and disc throwing in the movie brought back not only previous viewings to mind, but those games as well. I had forgotten or never really recognized some of the details and commentary that this movie showed on this viewing. For instance, there is a strong spiritual element to the movie, on both the virtual and verite levels. And the music is very good, too.
The technology of the computers in the verite world are primitive by today’s standards–dumb terminals, no signs of Macs, Windows or even Linux. However aside from that, the movie is still damned fun and entertaining. A landmark Science Fiction film.
I wouldn’t mind owning this movie in my DVD collection.