Tron, the movie
As far as sci-fi films go, Tron is an absolute classic. The sets and combination of black lights and Disney animation give the film a truly unique feel and the story has inspired countless of movies such as the Matrix.
But Tron is cooler than the Matrix because it was first and it focused on telling a simple story. The story centers around a programmer named Flynn who runs an arcade. Only before he was an arcadier (I just made that up), he was a programmer. He was
the best programmer ever. He was so good, in fact, that another programmer stole his programs, claimed them as his own, and got Flynn fired. But Flynn didn't take it all lying down, he spends every moment of free time trying to break into the company's Master Control Program to get the evidence he needs to prove his genius and reclaim his place in the company.
You see, once the other guy stole his programs, the company made him CEO because that's how it works in big business- they're constantly making programmers company officers.
Flynn hacks into the system through programs he writes to evade the Master Control Program. To the fantasy of every programmer, the programs are played by actors who refer to their creators as users. The programs all live as a community in the computer world. Only it's not a really happy world as the Master Control Program runs it (and the company) with an iron fist.
To make matters worse, the Master COntrol Program has gotten wise to Flynn and restricted access to the system. On top of that, the Master Control COmputer is a sadistic jerk.
When he's not telling the CEO what to do, he's punishing other programs by making them play games to the death, or deletion. That and he's denied that the users actually exist and punishes any program that says otherwise. SO in the computer world, there are no civil liberties whatsoever.
Once access to the computer is restricted, Flynn's friends get wise and decide to tip off Flynn. Well, this really gets Flynn going so he decides to retaliate by breaking into the company and hacking his way back into the computer. They manage to succeed and Flynn finds a terminal where he can hack back in. But the Master Control doesn't like this and manages to zap Flynn with a laser
that digitizes his body and transport him to the computer world.
The Master Control has plans for Flynn, he wants to punish him by making him play on the game grid. Of course, this shouldn't be a problem because Flynn made the games, runs an arcade and is really good at video games. But that's ok because you know that the games are really cool at this point and you're just chomping at the bit to watch Flynn kick some serious computer program butt.
Once transported into the computer world, the Master Control wastes no time in putting Flynn to work. He quickly defeats an accounting program in some sort of futuristic computer version of jai alai and manages to meet Tron in the holding pen. Yes, they've even captored Tron, the security program designed to defeat the Master Control. But there's no time for conspiracies here, the Master Control is quick
to put Flynn, Tron and some other loser program back to work wth the light cycles. Only this time, the cunning programs and Flynn have some tricks up their sleeve.
They manage to knock a hole in the grid and just drive on out of there. After all, they've got a mission to accomplish, they have to defeat the evil Master COntrol and free the computer
to go back about its business. It's a struggle for freedom. Well, the Master Control is displeased so he puts his best man on it. So the game is afoot. Can Flynn and Tron reach the modem program before time runs out?
I won't go into the details because you've got to see it, but Tron and Flynn get separated and they fear the worst. But it's ok because Flynn manages to find his computer program girlfriend (who looks just like her user, Flynn's real life ex-girlfriend) and make it to the modem-communicator program that will allow him to communicate with his user.
The modem dude is old school and remembers the good old days when programs could interface with users. There's a whole lot of
Matrix mumbo jumbo about reality and metaphysics, but they get to pass and tron gets to communicate. But then the Master Control cronies catch up and the chase is on again. Flynn and the chick manage to hitch a ride on a data packet or some other computer train thing and Tron is in hot pursuit too. Will they reach the Master Control in time? Will they be able to destroy it?
They better hurry because the Master Control's chief security officer is facing off against Tron and he just grew to be about 50 ft. taller than Tron. So by now you're realizing the Matrix wasn't so original after all, but there's no time to dwell on the similarities. Flynn figures that if he can get into the beam that links the Master Control to the outside world, he can destroy it before the Master Control deletes the entire computer world.
There's a heartfelt goodbye between the cyber ex-girlfriend and Flynn as he chooses to get
into the beam. And then, he leaps into it, disrupts the Master Control and get un-digitized back to reality.
He did it! The Master Conttol shuts down and the computer world is free to go about doing their computer stuff again. But will Flynn be able to adjust back to the outside world?
Never fear, he does just fine because the company makes him CEO and ditches the old evil one that originally stole all of Flynn's programs. Justice has been done and it is sweet.
I realize that this is really a brief overview of Tron at best, but there's just too many cool things. The light cycles and various games are pretty neat and I was definitely addicted to the original Tron video game after the movie came out. Watching it as an adult, you realize just how many other movies have stolen outright from Tron, and how much Tron borrowed from the early German Expressionist motif. Sure, the dialogue is pretty lame and full of jokes that only a mainframe programmer from 1984 would appreciate, but the overall aesthetic is still
If you haven't seen Tron yet, add it to the Netflix list, it's pretty worthwhile- at least it was way better than the third installment of the Matrix.