REVIEWED
7/7/04

STORY



LOOK

Tron
Director: Steven Lisberger
Year: 1982
TRT: 1:36


Well, thank this bastard for starting what is now an ongoing trend in this weird videogame/movie synergy (no thanks to Uwe Boll), and to Disney for creating the ultimate marketing ploy, combining two of the biggest grossing industries of the consumer market and making even more money to build their empire. Did the video games come first, or the movie? (The movie did **[see posts below for some clarification on this]**) Truly great exploitation of the next generation of arcade-going kids. It'd be interesting to see how much the movie itself grossed, and the amount the slew of video games released in conjunction with the film made (not even a quarter at a time at this point as "home entertainment systems" were finally growing beyond the limited realms of Pong and Atari...(Tron grossed about $33 million in the theater, and while I couldn't find exact numbers, just the original Tron arcade game took in more gross funds than the film itself).

Back when computer programmers were geeks (oh, wait...) and the videogame arcades were flourishing (ah, the days...), one corporation who dominates the market in both games and analog-to-digital physical transmutation is under attack by hacker and previous employee Tyler Durden or some such. He hooks up with some old friends and yet-still-employed hooligans at the very same said company who are a bit disgruntled as well. Hilarity ensues. Oh, no, wait. Wrong movie. Hilarity, in fact, does not ensue, but a battle of the programs ensues from within the computer world. You know, from the "humanistic digital" standpoint. I don't know, eat some shrooms or smoke a bong before watching, it'll make this film, while already kinda cool, a helluva lot cooler.

The movie's not so bad, really, if you look past the dated "hip" computer buzzwords of the early 80s and nostalgia of back when videogame arcades were the shit. Pretty inventive look at how the the innards of computer programming work. But time has passed, and computer technology has grown in leaps and bounds. Considering that, the crew here pulled off a pretty impressive feat with "CG" effects before it was even called that, including early work by now widely recognized FX wizard Rick Baker. And hey, when your songs are by Journey, how could you go wrong? (Luckily you only hear it for about 30 seconds tops)

Now, I can honestly say I was at the tail end of the "classic" video arcade experience (this would be signaled, I think, by the introduction of Street Fighter and a slew of other copycats and higher-res driving games that lost my interest quickly), and I must admit my favorite of the uprights of old was not the classic Tron (which I still quite enjoyed), but the Deadly Discs version that, well, when I could find it, would take many a silver token from me. That and the (totally different) Intellivision game of the same title. Damn the 80s. Just wish I'd gotten my hands on the IntelliVoice version of Tron. Now that would have been cool. And a lot cheaper.

Great Scene: Nice little humorous touch with "Bit" (aka Yes or No).

DVD Notes: Crap. It's the "20th Anniversary Collector's Edition" 2-disc set that makes me wonder where the fuck time went. Fortunately it's a great 2-disc set put out by our "friends" at Disney, including great THX audio and perfect video transfer. The first disc is the movie itself, with optional commentary by the director and the major SFX guys, which is pretty informative if not a bit dry. But the 2nd disc has a great amount of nicely done featurettes on the making of the film, but the key one is an hour+ "The Making of Tron" which includes recent interviews with the majors and clips on the preproduction and FX. Really great look into how unique the film really is, and how difficult it was to actually get made.