A scene from TRON, directed by Steven Lisberger for Walt Disney Pictures.

Tron (1982, Steven Lisberger)

It’s easier to stomach Tron if you think about it as a video track to Wendy Carlos’s score. While there’s some technical innovation (shooting actors on green screen, now a norm, got some of its starts with Tron, not to mention the endless CG–except in Tron, at least it was for effect and not some attempt at reality), it’s an almost utterly useless motion picture.

Jeff Bridges probably deserved an Oscar for this one, for keeping a straight face. He’s actually really engaging and entertaining. It’s kind of like Jeff Bridges if he couldn’t act; he’s just playing a grinning, charming guy. He’s really never done any other roles as bland.

However, he’s the one good main performance in the film. If you like Bruce Boxleitner, you might say his Tron performance is earnest. If you’re realistic, you’ll say it’s bad. Same goes for Cindy Morgan, though she’s nowhere near as bad as David Warner, who’s just silly.

Dan Shor’s actually real good. But he’s not in it enough.

Back to the music. Carlos’s music creates this … world in the imagination a lot more vast than the CG nonsense. It’s a mature score, able to be both profound (it’s incredibly passionate, something Tron lacks in terms of narrative and so what if the effects are passionate?) and playful. Far too good to be in something like Tron.

As far as filmmaking innovation–so what? There’s no storytelling inventiveness here, much less innovation, and without that factor, what’s the point?

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Steven Lisberger; screenplay by Lisberger, based on a story by Lisberger and Bonnie MacBird; director of photography, Bruce Logan; edited by Jeff Gourson; music by Wendy Carlos; production designers, Syd Mead and Dean Edward Mitzner; produced by Donald Kushner; released by Walt Disney Pictures.

Starring Jeff Bridges (Kevin Flynn/Clu), Bruce Boxleitner (Alan Bradley/Tron), David Warner (Ed Dillinger/Sark/Master Control Program), Cindy Morgan (Lora/Yori), Barnard Hughes (Dr. Walter Gibbs/Dumont), Dan Shor (Ram/Popcorn Co-Worker), Peter Jurasik (Crom) and Tony Stephano (Peter/Sark’s Lieutenant).


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