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Tron

USA 1982
produced by
Donald Kushner, Ron Miller (executive), Harrison Ellenshaw (associate) for Walt Disney Productions
directed by Steven Lisberger
starring Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan, Barnard Hughes, Dan Shor, Peter Jurasik, Tony Stephano, Craig Chudy, Vince Deadrick jr, Sam Schatz, Jackson Bostwick, David S. Cass jr
story by Steven Lisberger, Bonnie MacBird, screenplay by Steven Lisberger, music by Wendy Carlos, mechanical special effects by R.J. Spetter, visual effects by MAGI-Synthavision, Information International, Digital Effects Inc.

Tron

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Flynn (Jeff Bridges) could be one of the top programmers (or users, as they are called in this film) of the country, and head of the leading software company, but Dillinger (David Warner) has stolen his best programs (videogames, actually), has risen in the ranks of the company in no time, is now head of the company ... and he's seen to it that Flynn got fired. Since then, Flynn tries to hack his way back into the company's Master Control Program (MCP) to find evidence against Dillinger, but thanks to Dillinger, the MCP has taken on a life of its own, and has the intention of, through computer interfaces, one day rule the world - which is much more than even Dillinger originally had in mind.

With the help of his friends and fellow users Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) and Laura (Cindy Morgan), Flynn gets into the company's office building and tries to enter the MCP pretty much from the inside, but the MCP is so desperate not to let Flynn know too much that it scans him into the computer and thus into its datasphere - I mean totally scans him in.

The inside of the computer network the MCP controls is nothing like you'd imagine it to be, it's actually a big, dark, maze-like world all of its own where all the computer programs are actually living in as actual persons. And the MCP forces the programs it no longer likes to participate in gladiator-like games based on the videogames in gaming acardes, only the programs don't control the games from the outside but are the actual protagonists of the games, which are supposed to end deadly.

Flynn is mistaken for a problem program and forced to fight in the games, but having been the best gamer in the real world, it's not problem for it to win game after game in the virtual world. He soon makies two friends, Ram (Dan Shor), an insurance program that dared to ask too much questions, and Tron (Bruce Boxleitner again), a program incidently written by Alan that was supposed to be the MCP's watchdog but has now become its prisoner.

During one of the games, in which Flynn, Tron and Ram are pitted againstfighters of the MCP, our three heroes don't only manage to win but also escape the game grid on light cycles and make it into the MCP's very system, always pursued by tanks and weird flying machines. Eventually, Ram dies and Flynn and Tron are seperated, and while Flynn tries to make it to the heart of the MCP on his own, Tron, who doesn't even know that Flynn is still alive, hooks up with his girlfriend, program Yori (Cindy Morgan again), and the two get a data disk which Tron is supposed to throw right into the heart of the MCP to shut it down.

Eventually, Tron and Flynn team up again, and it's thanks to Flynn's ingenuity that Tron makes it to the heart of the MCP, and when the MCP's defenses seem to be insurmountable, Flynn jumps right into the center of the MCP to distract it while Tron is able to get a good shot at the system's heart and shuts it down.

... and as a result, Flynn is teleported back into the real world, where he finds the evidence against Dillinger right on his printer ... and before you know it, he has taken over Dillingers job.

 

As you might be able to judge from my synopsis, Tron has absolutely nothing to do with the inner workings of a computer, it's rather a fairy-tale set in a weird world nobody knew too much about (remember, in 1982, PCs let alone the internet in every home were still a thing that sounded like science fiction at best) ... and if you can accept that the film is nothing more than just that, pure fantasy, it totally works. Much of the fascination of Tron comes of course from its computer effects that were trailblazing in 1982, but of course seem outdated by now - and yet timeless, because they were supposed to create an artificial and often almost surreal world and within all their limitations did just that, and in the process created some iconic images of the early computer age.

Now granted, next to all the special effects, the film's story falls relatively flat, but Tron is the one film where this doesn't matter terribly much. Recommended, actually.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD