| April 14, 2011

Jeff Bridges is a computer wizard who goes from writing programs to being one in Tron, Disney’s envelope-pushing entry into the cinematic summer of ’82. Steven Lisberger’s directorial debut–OK there was the animated Animalympics–recently released in a set with its recent sequel, Tron Legacy, under the title Tron: The Original Classic in a Special Edition. It’s the film which played a role in forming the legions of cinematic aficionados who have taken to the blogosphere and opined on an array of movie matters in a number of chat rooms and on imdb discussion boards.
Finding something rotten going on at ENCOM, former employee Kevin Flynn (Bridges) investigates and in the process winds up in a world where the rules of the real world don’t apply. It isn’t flesh and blood but pixels. His adversary (David Warner, long a genre favorite who was just getting his feet wet in fantasy as his recent forays at the time were the malevolent adversary of the titular tiny trio of Time Bandits and as Jack the Ripper in the under appreciated and underrated Time After Time), is the overlord of this realm. A world which apart from the hardware, bears little difference to centuries ago when one’s hate was decided in the arenas of ancient Rome.
While it captivated many young audiences, this writer among them, Lisberger’s vision was quashed by such other genre offerings that summer as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Steven Spielberg’s magnum opus (and for a time the highest grossing film in history) E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. His name would not be remembered–except for die hards who watched his follow-ups Hot Pursuit (1987) and the virtually dead on arrival sci-fi offering Slipstream (1988)–like James Cameron and Peter Jackson; still, his tale managed to snare a cult audience which was built via the home video market, cable viewings, and probably a smattering of showings over the years in repertory programs.
Compared with its recent follow-up, the original Tron offers a bit more substance and with a budget but a fraction of Tron: Legacy and a more easy to endure running time of 96 minutes compared to its follow-up’s running time of over two hours. Seeing the presences of a pre-Babylon 5 Bruce Boxleitner (who basically cameoes in the sequel), comely Caddyshack-er Cindy Morgan, and the aforementioned David Warner playing both flesh and blood characters and their computer program counterparts are nowhere to be found in the recent effort

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