The Electronic Gladiator
Running Time: 96 minutes
Country: United States
In the Eighties, when computers were relatively new and still as big as your sideburns, there was a creeping fad for the digital world on the big screen. Even though cyber space was still the domain of the geeky teenager sitting in a dark room in his bean-stained pyjamas, it helped that young actors with credibility, like and Jeff Bridges and, to some extent, Matthew Broderick, were brought onboard to ease the transition into the mainstream.
However I describe the plot, it sounds ridiculous, but here goes. Programmer and arcade owner Kevin Flynn (Bridges) has had his best game ideas stolen by his former colleague Ed Dillinger (Warner), but believing that he can steal his ideas back, he hacks into his enemy’s computer system. Dillinger finds out and uses a new weapon to ‘digitise’ Flynn and turn him into a computer file and imprison him inside a computerised world. When in the colourful, crazy digital world, Flynn has to avoid SARK – a control programme tasked with eliminating him – whilst trying to find TRON – a monitoring programme that can actually help him escape.
The script is not the best which doesn’t really do the complicated story much good and the dialogue is slightly on the naff embarrassing side. It is a lot of fun though and at times is surprisingly deep and ahead of its time with themes that still strike a chord in today’s technological times. The compact running time gives Tron an impressive action to minute ratio which is a thing that I’m always happy with (2012 take note).
Tron looked cutting edge at the time and even as comically as it sounds now, it was nominated for two Oscars for it’s costume design and a music score that were held up as ‘innovative’. Actually, the unique looks are still kind of impressive from a kitsch point of view and it certainly stands out from the crowd no matter how ridiculous it looks.
At the end of the day, Tron is a cult film so it’s not for everyone, especially those who were born before the computer revolution and those who suffer from epilepsy, but it’s an enjoyable romp through a world with ADD and a snapshot into a future that I hope will still happen.
It's Got: A charismatic performance by Jeff Bridges, a pretty nonsensical plot, 'cutting edge' graphics, cult status
It Needs: A better script
DVD Extras 2-disc 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition - a technology heavy commentary, Making Of doc, deleted scenes, trailers and a few featurettes. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10
Alternatives:The Running Man, TRON: Legacy, Wargames
Tron was the acceptably naff face of geekdom back in the Eighties and it’s not as cutting edge as it seemed at the time but is still good fun nonetheless.