Movie Review: Tron
Rated PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Recommended for ages 9 and up
Run Time: 96 minutes
Quick Take: Despite the dated special effects, kids will still love the concept of this video gamer's fantasy.
Early CGI Makes Tron Worth a Look
Video games are light years away from what they were during the time of Tron -- Bridges' Flynn runs an arcade, to give you one idea -- but contemporary kids will still be taken by the movie's concept and even its archaic effects.
Tron was one of the first films to combine live action with computer-generated imagery, and while the standalone CGI animation is rudimentary, the scenes integrating the actors into the backgrounds look like nothing before or since. The actors' faces are drained of color, while neon streaks outline their costumes and surroundings. It's as if 1927's silent, science-fiction classic Metropolis was being screened in a disco. The very concept of getting sucked inside a computer game so that you can play "control-free" is a perennial gamer fantasy, one that has only become timelier. What is Tron, after all, but a few steps beyond Nintendo's Wii? No wonder a remake is in the works for 2011.
Kids Will Like:
The games Flynn plays inside the evil computer, which range from a lethal version of Frisbee to a "lightcycle" race that is essentially Tetris on wheels.
Parents Will Like:
David Warner plays the CEO whose company created the rampaging computer, and his desk is an amusing display of techno-evil production design. Black, gleaming and with a touch-screen computer built into its face, the desk is like an early, giant prototype for the iPhone.
The violence is mostly of the virtual kind -- death and pain occur, but none of it seems very realistic. Flynn reunites with two former coworkers (Bruce Boxleitner and Cindy Morgan) and there is some mild innuendo as part of the love triangle that ensues.
Yes. The story leaves a lot to be desired, but this is a fascinating technical artifact from the dawn of the CGI era.