Cyberpunk Review » Tron

January 28, 2006


Year: 1982

Directed by: Steven Lisberger

Written by: Steven Lisberger, Bonnie MacBird

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

Key Cast Members:

  • Kevin Flynn/Clu: Jeff Bridges
  • Alan Bradley/Tron: Bruce Boxleitner
  • Ed Dillinger/Sark/Voice of Master Control Program: David Warner
  • Rating: 8 out of 10

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    Overview: How could a cyberpunk review site NOT have Tron? We’re talking about the first CG movie, and truly, a groundbreaker VR movie. Make no mistake, this is a pre-cyberpunk movie, complete with corporate greed, theft, integration of human and computers, ubiquitous access to information, a dystopian world (inside the program, anyways), and pure cyberpunk visuals and style. While Tron is slightly cheesy in parts, its still a hell of a ride!


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    In Tron, a computer programmer (Jeff Bridges) who has his programs stolen from him tries to go back into the corporation to get them, but somehow gets sucked back into the game he developed. From there the fun begins, as Bridges has to square off against contestants and the Master Control Program in order to escape back to the real world. Most of this adventure takes place within the program world, and involves some awesome games and fun chase scenes.


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    Like the Wizard of Oz before, and eXistenZ and Thirteenth Floor after it, the players in the game bear a striking resemblance to their human users. Some movies call this “residual self image” - others just build this concept into the design of the system. But while this convention existed in fantasy realms, Tron successfully set the pattern for most future VR films - you look the same on the inside of the VR system as you do on the outside.


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    Tron has a rather silly aspect about it in that it continually uses computer terms in non-sensical ways. As steeped in computer-speak as we are today, these stick out like a sore thumb. However, at the time (1982), very few people would have noticed this. The idea was to just get the cyber-atmosphere permeating the movie, which Tron did most effectively. In setting the trend for most most cyberpunk movies that follow, neon colors are “In”, as is the idea of a single dominating color the permeates the movie - in Tron’s case we get mostly blue, along with red representing the bad guys.


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    Yes the FX are dated now (God I hope so!). We’re talking about the real early days of computer graphics. Still, some of the shots still hold up well, and overall, the visuals are still very enjoyable. Tron is designed to have a sense of wonder about it - this still works. The car race game in particular is still VERY fun! Another thing that still works is the music accompanyment - Wendy Carlos’s synthesizer-laden soundtrack fits this movie perfectly.


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    Overview: Jeff Bridges, Babylon Five’s Bruce Boxleitner, and David Warner as the evil bad guy (The exec Ed Dillinger, the game player Sark, and the Voice of the Master Control Program) all provide very fun performances. They are able to make this crazy environment work well enough that it still comes across as a rather cool cyberpunk flick. And truly, if you’re into VR cyberpunk movies, Tron is a MUST SEE - so much so that one point has added to this review score for its historical place in VR films.

    ~See movies similar to this one~

    Tags: cyberpunk movie review Tron

    This post has been filed under Security-Surveillance State, 8 Star Movies, VR Movies, Hacker Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 1980-1989 by SFAM.


    January 28, 2006

    Karolo said:

    Great movie, great game.
    Anyone plays Armagetron?

    SFAM said:

    OH wow, no, hadn’t seen that. I did see Xirdalium’s a nice little entry on Tron 2.0 though. I need to give these games a whirl!

    January 31, 2006

    Terminal Reality said:

    I remember I had played demo of Tron 2.0 once. It was good. And I have just download arnagetron. It’s fun. Thanks to Karolo for the cool stuff.

    February 1, 2006

    SFAM said:

    Cool. I gotta get to armagetron…just about to go live with the forums though.

    February 27, 2006

    DoomAng3l said:

    SFAM, heres another child, commenting with Crayons again.

    SFAM said:

    Ah, the benefits of success. I’ll see if I can put up with just deleting that kind of crap. Hopefully I can, and more importantly, hopefully Akismet starts helping - otherwise I have to go back to moderating comments, which significantly cuts them down. :(

    DoomAng3l said:

    Some people just have no manners, or suffer from adt in that guys case…. its a sad world ;)

    May 16, 2006

    Stormtrooper of Death said:

    The computer grafix for the movie Tron were done by good old Cray II Supercomputer system. In those days the computer grafix of Tron were the best you could get.

    By the way, did somebody play the computergame Tron II or Tron ?

    SFAM said:

    Hi Stormtrooper, check out Xirdalium’s entry on Tron 2.0.

    June 26, 2006

    Keith Perez said:

    TRON was actually rendered on a Foonly F-1 which was a clone of a Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) PDP-10. The Foonly was produced by a company called Triple-I. DEC purchased the rights to the design and came out with a newer version of the PDP-10 they called the KL-10, which ran much faster than the previous model. Info on the Foonly is available on WikiPedia.

    Rich Alderson said:

    My friend Keith is a little confused. Foonly was the name of the company as well as the name of the computers that they manufactured. III (pronounced “Triple-I”) was a graphics terminal company that did the work on the TRON graphics, on a Foonly F-1.

    The KL-10 is based on the never-built SuperFoonly designed by the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL), who were a major user of terminals from III, and a large PDP-10 site.

    June 27, 2006

    SFAM said:

    Hi Keith and Rich, welcome to cyberpunkreview! Thanks for the background. Do either of you have a link to Tron’s background on that history of DEC computers site you link to above?

    August 7, 2006

    Adam Doub said:

    I think this is one of the only films where our opinions GREATLY differ. I was never an avid Tron fan, even when seeing it when it was a fairly recent film. I think my good friend (Author of the infamous Cyberpunk Fakebook) Bart Nagel put it best :

    “First use of great computer graphics in an idiotic movie.”

    SFAM said:

    Hi Adam, its nice to see a fellow Matrix Revolutions lover :)

    But truly, if we only differ widely on a few movies, that’s sort of incredible. And I can certainly see someone being put off by the overly cheesy nature of Tron. I just happen to truly dig the innovative nature of this film.

    ETM said:

    I would never call TRON idiotic. That term is reserved for films that have far less greatness in them. And you can always label it a children’s film, which usually justifies silliness - I know it’s one of my fondest childhood movie experiences.

    January 4, 2007

    Dyltron3030 said:

    Idiotic? This is a movie for children, and as child this movie was as big as it got. Adults watching and critizing this film are the idiotic ones.

    Not “Cyberpunk” at all in my books since everything was so…clean.

    l1zrdking said:

    I loved Tron when I was a kid. I loved the arcade game just as much, but, I can’t say I’ve watched this movie in the last decade or more. But what I remember, I don’t think it would stand the test of time. Only one way to find out, off to bt sites. heh

    January 5, 2007

    Mr. Roboto said:

    I’ve played the Tron arcade game… both of them! The second game was also from Midway and was called “Disks of Tron.” It was like the duel between Tron and Sark near the end, only on the elevated circular platforms. You just keep shooting disks at Sark until he derezes while avoiding his disks and other projectiles.

    As for the movie’s graphics… definitely dated compared to what computer graphics are today. Even so, they still ape it. There’s a car commercial that looks like the light cycle battle. A link to it is in the Meatspace forums under the “Favorite Cyberpunk Scenes” topic. You may need to search for it, though.

    March 10, 2008

    Kris said:

    Just saw one night screening of Tron at the Cinerama in Seattle. It was absolutely fantastic to see it again on the big screen and based on the audience’s reaction it has definitely withstood the test of time. If you go in with the understanding that this was made as a children’s movie by Disney in 1982 the “cheese” is hysterical. I can’t remember the last time I was in a movie that had the whole audience hooting and cheering right up to the credits!

    “Who do you compute you are?” - classic.

    End of Line.

    January 12, 2009

    April said:

    My husband and I are big fans of this movie and we have an anniversary coming up…been looking for this movie for a long while. Does anyone know where I could purchase a copy?

    January 17, 2010

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    August 9, 2011

    ISO 3166-2:f-i said:

    so classic and funnily epic, i wanna watch it again.

    April 20, 2012

    Criticas de cine said:

    One of my favorite movies of all time… Great Review :)

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