Depressed, despondent, and upset about the shitty treatment Tron received in the big budget crapfest Tron: Legacy, I decided to pop on the original 1982 classic to see him in his full glory. All I can say is that this flick still rocks 28 years later. Not only is it one of the best movies of the 80’s, not only is it one of the best films Disney ever produced, it’s also one of The Greatest Movies in the History of the Human Race.
I touched upon in my Tron: Legacy review that Tron was a big part of my childhood. It was one of the most-rented films of my early movie-watching career (mostly because the video store only had about five movies in the Kid’s Section) and probably started my insane love of video games. God knows how many quarters I put into the Tron arcade game, but I’m pretty sure the amount I spent playing that game could’ve single-handedly balanced the national deficit.
Because of my strong boyhood connection to the film, it’s kinda impossible just to watch Tron. Whenever something cool happens in the movie (which is pretty often) I usually have a flashback to when I was five years old watching the flick and playing with my Light Cycle toys. I mean take the Light Cycle sequence for instance. Every time I watch that part, I can’t really marvel at the technological wizardry it took to create this scene. I don’t really appreciate the directorial skill that went into making it exciting and suspenseful. No, all I think about is being a five year old kid hopped up on Gummy Bears and Coca-Cola jumping up and down like a goddamned madman and screaming “LIGHT CYCLES! LIGHT CYCLES!”
Or when the character of Yori (Cindy Morgan) shows up. Many times I don’t even listen to what she’s saying because I’m too busy looking at her cyber camel toe and remembering how she forever shaped my heterosexuality when I was a kid. Yeah, Cindy may have been hot in Caddyshack and all, but to me she looked even better all done up in that skintight circuitry outfit.
The central conceit of Tron is that a computer programmer (or “User”) puts so much of his heart and soul into writing his programs that they take on a life of their own inside the computer. Therefore, the User is an almost godlike entity that speaks to the Program, who blindly follows his commands. This is an especially heady concept for a five year old to embrace, but I embraced it anyway. Looking back, it’s kinda a goofy idea, yet if you let the five year old inside of you do all the thinking for you, then Tron is a perfect movie.
If you let your grown-up brain think about the film too much, it’s liable to give you a headache. Like, how can Flynn (Jeff Bridges) do all this crazy stuff like rebuild Recognizers with his mind, divert energy beams, and turn his suit from blue to red? A grown-up would say that it’s just lazy screenwriting, but the five year old would say, “He’s a USER! Duh! He can do whatever he wants!” And that kind of logic serves the movie well.
I think there are people that crap on this movie because the movie is called Tron and Tron (Bruce Boxleitner) isn’t really the main character. I think that is what makes the movie unique. I mean Flynn is the main character but Tron is definitely the hero and gets all the hero moments. After all, Tron is the guy who kills
Bridges is great as the cocky Flynn. In a career full of awesome performances, this is definitely one of his best. And I liked Boxleitner a lot in this flick too. His portrayal of Tron as a hopelessly square do-gooder fits the character perfectly since he’s a computer program. And besides, not many people can look cool while dispatching dudes with a Frisbee, so he has that going for him. David Warner also does some fine work as the slimy Dillinger/Sark combo.
More than anything, Tron is a product of it’s time. In 1982, the kids were all about video games and Frisbees and this movie perfectly exploited both of those crazes. To me, that’s about when civilization hit it’s peak. And if watching Tron back in the day was the epitome of awesomeness, then watching it now in the 21st century is a reminder of a better, simpler time. I know the movie has it’s flaws (particularly in the third act), but it still remains one of The Greatest Movies in the History of the Human Race if only because every time I watch it, it makes me feel like I’m five years old again. And that is about the highest form of praise I can give a film.
Tron is on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of 1982 at the Number 8 spot, which puts it in the middle of Basket Case and Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3-D.