Tron

Virtual Reality Classic

Main Cast: Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan

Director: Steven Lisberger

Plot Summary: Hoping to find evidence of theft from his friend, a hacker is pulled into the virtual world of the master computer. There he must fight his way to the control system and kill the evil master that rules both worlds.

One of the first movies to rely heavily on computer-generated images, this showcase sometimes eclipses the human actors but never the less is a masterpiece in stylish design and rich visual images. The plot is pure simplicity: a hero must go in and destroy the evil tyrant that holds the world hostage.

In this case, the hero is an arcade owner and computer hacker named Kevin Flynn (Bridges). He thinks that his video game designs were stolen and sold to the big corporation ENCOM. That they were, but more importantly the company holds a secret: the Master Control Program (MCP), an AI with an attitude. It doesn’t like a new security program scheduled to be run inside it, and definitely does not want some hacker looking around its programs. It finds Kevin trying this late at night and zaps him, drawing him into the virtual reality of its massive memory.

There Kevin turns into Clu, a blue-jumpsuited warrior who has to fight in different games for entertainment. Watching over the gladiators is Sark (Warner), sergeant-major and watchdog of MCP. But Kevin meets up with Tron (Boxleitner), the security program designed to pull down the MCP, and together they fight their way past the defenses to the Big Boss.

All this takes place in CGI-designed sets, with cool colors, electronic patterns, and conventional tanks, motorcycles, and disc-like weapons. As I said, sometimes the whole scenery swamps any acting that might be going on (the acting is solid throughout), but overall I enjoyed this classic sci-fi. A bit campy, a bit dated, it still tells a good tale, and is the grandfather of all the CGI films of today.

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