Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is a software engineer formerly employed by ENCOM. He wrote several video games, but another engineer, Ed Dillinger (David Warner) stole them and passed them off as his own, earning himself a series of promotions. Having left the company, Flynn attempts to obtain evidence of Dillinger’s actions by hacking the ENCOM mainframe, but is repeatedly stopped by the Master Control Program (MCP), an artificial intelligence written by Dillinger. When the MCP reveals its plan to take control of outside mainframes including the Pentagon and Kremlin, Dillinger attempts to stop it, only to have the MCP threaten to expose his plagiarism of Flynn’s hugely successful games. Flynn’s ex-girlfriend, Lora Baines (Cindy Morgan), and fellow ENCOM engineer, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner), warn Flynn that Dillinger knows about his hacking attempts and has tightened security. Flynn persuades them to sneak him inside ENCOM, where he forges a higher security clearance for Alan’s security program “Tron”. In response, the MCP uses an experimental laser to digitize Flynn into the ENCOM mainframe, where programs appear in the likeness of the human “users” who created them. Flynn quickly learns that the MCP and its second-in-command, Sark (Warner), rule over Programs and coerce them to renounce their belief in the Users. Those that resist are forced to play in martial games in which the losers are destroyed. Flynn is forced to fight other Programs and meets Tron (Boxleitner) and Ram (Dan Shor) between matches. The three escape into the mainframe during a Light Cycle match. When Ram is mortally wounded and dies, Flynn learns that, as a User, he can manipulate the reality of the digital world. Flynn needs to stop Sark and the MCP with the help of Tron & Yori and retrieve the evidence against Dillinger…

“Tron” was disqualified from receiving an Academy Award nomination for special effects, because the Academy felt at the time that using computers was “cheating”. At the time, computers could generate static images, but could not automatically put them into motion. Thus, the coordinates for each image, such as a lightcycle, had to be entered for each individual frame. It took 600 coordinates to get 4 seconds of film. Each of these coordinates was entered into the computer by hand by the filmmakers. Many Disney animators refused to work on this movie because they feared that computers would put them out of business. In fact, 22 years later Disney closed its hand-drawn animation studio in favor of CGI animation. Hand-drawn animation was ultimately resumed at Disney at the behest of new creative director John Lasseter, also head of Pixar- ironically a computer animation company. All the live action that occurred inside the computer was filmed in black and white, and colorized later with photographic and rotoscopic techniques. Although the film was an initial failure, the arcade video games based on it proved to be a tremendous hit and actually out-grossed the film. Due to the poor return at the box office, following this film and its predecessor The Black Hole (1979), Disney Studios did not make another live subject film for ten years. The film was well received by critics. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four out of four stars and described the film as “a dazzling movie from Walt Disney in which computers have been used to make themselves romantic and glamorous. Here’s a technological sound-and-light show that is sensational and brainy, stylish, and fun”. However, near the end of his review, he noted (in a positive tone), “This is an almost wholly technological movie. Although it’s populated by actors who are engaging (Bridges, Cindy Morgan) or sinister (Warner), it is not really a movie about human nature. Like [the last two Star Wars films], but much more so, this movie is a machine to dazzle and delight us”. Ebert was so convinced that this film had not been given its due credit by both critics and audiences that he decided to close his first annual Overlooked Film Festival with a showing of “Tron”. InfoWorld’s Deborah Wise was impressed, writing that “it is hard to believe the characters acted out the scenes on a darkened soundstage… We see characters throwing illuminated Frisbees, driving ‘lightcycles’ on a video-game grid, playing a dangerous version of jai alai and zapping numerous fluorescent tanks in arcade-game-type mazes. It’s exciting, it’s fun, and it’s just what video-game fans and anyone with a spirit of adventure will love-despite plot weaknesses.” In his review for the Globe and Mail, Jay Scott wrote, “It’s got momentum and it’s got marvels, but it’s without heart; it’s a visionary technological achievement without vision”. As of July 2013, the movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes rated the film at 71% on its Tomatometer, based on the reviews of 48 critics. A consensus statement for the movie said, “Though perhaps not as strong dramatically as it is technologically, TRON is an original and visually stunning piece of science fiction that represents a landmark work in the history of computer animation.” Weirdly enough I never saw “Tron” or “The Black Hole” when they came out (until this year), but bought the graphic novels from both movies and I guess I was excited to read them. This was something new and boundary breaking in the early 80s. I reckon that this is also the downside for me, I didn´t see “Tron” in 1982 and created an emotional connection to it then, like I did with “Star Wars”. Seeing this “unique” film today is not very exciting if you ask me, because it´s just not an exciting movie. But, the story is there, it´s just not handled properly. I simply see all the dodginess that most likely looked great in 1982 and it didn´t make the 10 year old me inside jump of joy as he might have done then. Which was a disappointment as I have waited to see this for years and now when I finally did, it lost all the magic you thought it contained infront of your eyes. But, it made me a bit nostalgic about arcade games and arcade game halls, as I used to love going to those places and play when I was a kid. And it was nice to see the lovely Cindy Morgan. (2 and a half out of 5)

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