Yes, 1982’s ‘Tron’ deserves your respect

As a kid in the eighties, the coin-operated arcade game “Tron” terrified me.

Unlike the suspense and suspense movies offered by “Centipede” and “Frogger,” I was never able to last more than a few minutes on “Tron.”

All I care about is how much I can play from 25 cents. I can go far on “Donkey Kong” or “Ms. Pac-Man” but I was never able to get past the first level of “Tron” and found that my quarter was wasted on its difficult levels (ditto“Dragon’s Lair”).

The look and feel of the game has always been something that appealed to me, as it has a purple neon glow and a cool glow that goes beyond any boxy video game attraction that sits next to it. However, despite lightly rating the movie based on it and how some of the older teens around me would brag about their high scores for “Tron,” the repeated experience of crashes and burns fire it up after a few minutes is all that’s memorable I need that the game is not for me.

All of that changed in my thirties.

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One of my favorite places on Earth is the Penny Arcade in Manitou Springs, Colo., home to all the video games (as well as the pinball machine and antique games from the early 20th century) I grew up playing and loved in his childhood.

I became familiar with the game “Tron” and became an addict. In fact, even though “Centipede” is “my game” (how to play billiards has always been my college specialty), I always go right to “Tron” first and find that the game that I can’t beat, let alone pass Level One, now much easier and more enjoyable as an adult.

Maybe my reflexes are faster now or because I don’t take it seriously anymore and just like to have fun. In any case, the video game that used to frustrate me is now a favorite in my “grown-up years.”

Likewise, Steven Lisberger’s film “Tron” (1982) also evolved with me. While the visual delights and a few amusingly personal scenes still suffer, it’s one of those movies it’ll play on The Disney Channel and I’ll quickly switch to HBO or MTV instead.

While my father owned an Apple IIE, I was not a computer junkie in the 80s and did not fully understand the concept of “Tron”.

While the series aired dozens of times on The Disney Channel throughout the 1980s, I didn’t actually watch it from start to finish until decades later. I actually caught up with it for the first time and found it absolutely fascinating, in my 30s, at a midnight screening in Denver.

It’s unbelievable on the big screen.

Today, with the concept of online warriors, digital representations of real players, in the fight against viruses that attack the integrity of their programs, it’s all too easy to grasp. Like a toothpaste ad with Crest’s digital hit wiping away potential cavities, the battles of “Tron,” in an age where most have common knowledge and acumen about how their computers work, very easy to understand and become investment.

“Tron” opens with a glowing computer grid that suggests worlds in worlds, and the “information superhighway” is nothing more than a bird’s-eye view of a bustling city at night.

The sequel begins the same way, though more on the latter.

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It opens at Flynn’s, a video game dream, thrust into the “Ring of Light” game created by the famous Flynn, played by Jeff Bridges. Flynn is the creator of “Space Paranoids.” In the Tron game, Bridges plays the role of Clu, Flynn’s replacement.

In addition to running video games and being a game creator, Flynn is also an ENCOM software engineer, where he works with Avatar Dr. Lara Baines (Cindy Morgan) and Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) The game is the title character.

We knew ENCOM was a big deal, when top-level personnel flew in a helicopter with neon red lights on the propellers (!) and landed on the roof, hitting a glowing blue landing strip. shining.

David Warner as Dillinger, a dark official who oversees ENCOM but follows Sark in the world of Tron, Darth Vader becoming the full-fledged Controller.

While Lara and Alan succeed in “digitizing” an orange, they and Flynn literally enter the world of Tron. In doing so, they take their corporate battle with Dillinger to a literal level, as the rules of this world in the real world threaten their ability to return home.

“Users” are people in real life, while “programs” are avatars in Tron’s world. The story has aspects of “Star Wars” in particular, world building and lore – the most compelling aspect being the reference to religion, which the sequel explores to influence. bigger.

Regardless of how ostentatious the premise exploited the possibilities of novel computer technology, “The War Game” (1983) dug deeper and beat it the following year. I wonder if Lisberger was ordered by Disney to tighten up the first season, since the clumsy edits caused many early scenes to fade out quickly and the title tags worked too hard to tell the story.

As an ’80s movie, it’s an itch for anyone longing for the days of Atari, Tang, Light Brites, and Journey (playing on the soundtrack). As a visual presentation, however, even with the effects that are no longer over-the-top, “Tron” is unbelievably beautiful.

It makes for a surreal action movie and the finale explodes with color and fanciful ideas about alternate identities across the many lands that exist. It’s all very eye-catching, who cares if the setting and the technology are relic?

Speaking from personal memory just like what many people said about “Tron” at the time of its release, the film was too talkative for children and too weird for many adults. Still as goofy as this at times, though, the weirdness of it is interesting, as we’re seeing a new cinematic landscape.

Disney has been heavily involved in this, and while not every scene has been a hit (and the movie is at its best in the mid-range), it’s still easy to gauge how much time has kept up with the film that came before it. this.

“Tron” came out the same year as “Blade Runner,” which is of course a much more profound work, although another that deserves comparison as it took almost a decade to appreciate and acknowledge the achievement. its.

Both had a profound but seemingly stealthy influence on the sci-fi genre; if “Blade Runner” inspired every existential and futurist sci-fi that followed it, then every fantasy game that followed, from “The Last Starfighter” to “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World” for “Ready Player One” owes “Tron” a lot.

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While the dialog feels like a gobbledygook and the plot is hard to follow in the 1980s, the ideas in “Tron,” that a digitized world allow for our true, hidden selves, are on display. and fighting with others, doesn’t seem so far away.

It may be an ’80s artifact to some, but the clarity of its premise and the still-revolutionary, once-revolutionary presentation of its ideas is essential. It’s a classic, a great piece of sci-fi that isn’t often mentioned alongside other iconic works in the genre, but fully deserves its place in the hall of fame. there.

When video game movies from the Reagan era came out, it equated to number one, the kind where a stick of joy and careful button pressing ensures that your initials will remain in history. video games… until they unplug.

Finally, it must be said that the overstated but impressive, wildly ambitious “Tron: Legacy” (2010) movie is a work worth watching. There’s a critical flaw at its heart, and that’s the seriousness of Garrett Hedlund’s main performance; his character is the equivalent of Luke Skywalker, but Hedlund is playing him as Hamlet, adding unnecessary weight to an already cramped movie with hectic world-building.

Most don’t like the way the film presents the “younger” Bridges, presented through prematurely de-aging CGI, but the effects are appropriate, as Bridges is playing both Flynn and Clu, digital doppelganger and sheep his black.

The visuals are still stunning, and the story is a wild biblical allegory: Flynn is God, Clu is the devil, and Hedlund’s Sam is Flynn’s son, in the midst of a fight for domination of Tron.

Add Daft Punk’s best score of the decade and you have a thrilling sequel. Both “Tron” films are worth revisiting, as they are more than expected and succeed in shaping, in Flynn’s words, “a new digital frontier.”

You don’t have to pocket a quarter to appreciate how “Tron” and “Tron: Legacy” beautifully visualize the outside world of the company we work for and the computerized world inside. which we all access every day.

Perhaps that’s the biggest irony of “Tron”: back in 1982, the main characters were “stuck” in their computers, whereas today we’re all too happy to plug and stay in net.

It’s time to kick off those Light Cycles.

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