TRON 1982

Tron

Critics Consensus

Though perhaps not as strong dramatically as it is technologically, TRON is an original and visually stunning piece of science fiction that represents a landmark work in the history of computer animation.

72%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 65

69%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 72,622

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Movie Info

When talented computer engineer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) finds out that Ed Dillinger (David Warner), an executive at his company, has been stealing his work, he tries to hack into the system. However, Flynn is transported into the digital world, where he has to face off against Dillinger's computerized likeness, Sark, and the imposing Master Control Program. Aided by Tron (Bruce Boxleitner) and Yori (Cindy Morgan), Flynn becomes a freedom fighter for the oppressed programs of the grid.

Cast

Jeff Bridges
as Kevin Flynn/Clu
Bruce Boxleitner
as Alan Bradley/Tron
David Warner
as Ed Dillinger/Sark
Cindy Morgan
as Lora/Yori
Barnard Hughes
as Dr. Walter Gibbs/Dumont
Tony Stephano
as Peter/Sark's Lieutenant
Craig Chudy
as Warrior
Sam Schatz
as Expert Disc Warrior
Jackson Bostwick
as Head Guard
David Cass Sr.
as Factory Guard
Bob Neill
as Guard
Ted White
as Guard
Erik Cord
as Tank Gunner
Charles Picerni Sr.
as Tank Commander
Pierre Vuilleumier
as Tank Gunner
Eric Cord
as Tank Gunner
Loyd Catlett
as Conscript
Dave Cass
as Factory Guard
Richard Bruce Friedman
as Video Game Player
Rick Feck
as Boys in Arcade
John Kenworthy
as Boys in Arcade
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News & Interviews for TRON

Critic Reviews for TRON

All Critics (65) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (47) | Rotten (18)

  • Director Steven Lisberger treats his actors like props, which is understandable when one considers how technically oriented the project is.

    August 4, 2020 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • For most people, TRON's importance is as a historical footnote. It's the Model T of our CGI age. But the film's fans are passionate ones.

    April 7, 2011 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
  • It's a simple idea that ought to serve, but Lisberger's failures of pacing, structure, variation, and characterization ultimately make the film seem monotonous and distant.

    June 4, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Tron is loaded with visual delights but falls way short of the mark in story and viewer involvement.

    June 4, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Tron never reaches a level of excitement commensurate with its effects budget.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • A dazzling movie from Walt Disney in which computers have been used to make themselves romantic and glamorous. Here's a technological sound-and-light show that is sensational and brainy, stylish, and fun.

    October 23, 2004 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for TRON

  • May 20, 2020
    Why did no one tell me to watch this awesome movie? Oh right, everyone did. In any case, spoiler alert, I loved it. There's a particular way sci-fi of this type was done in the 80s, especially from Disney, that I just find so charming. Even within that distinct type, Tron carves its own identity with wild originality. First there's the look. Do I really need to say anything about the look? Well I'm going to anyway. Some may call it dated, I wouldn't, I'd call it of it's time. It's very much that look that we thought of for computers and hacking in the 80s and 90s. It's also got a look distinct to gaming culture too, like the whole film is filtered through an Atari 2600. As someone who plays a lot of old school video games, I dug the hell out of this. The wire frames to the vehicles, the "hit the boss's opening" moments in the final confrontation deeply charmed me. These effects and stylistic choices don't make the movie feel dated, they make the movie feel of that period, and there is a difference. There's some awkward bits, like the costumes do look a little silly and those discs are clearly just neon-painted frisbees, but the overall thing has such style it's forgivable. As for the story, I liked that too. Did I always understand it? No, but I kind of appreciate that. It actually takes its time to tell you everything that's going on. It dumps you right into the middle of the events and let's you catch up as things are happening. You are able to catch up, but you have to pay attention. The story of the Master Control Program is a little kooky and very 80s, but I was along for the ride. What I really liked though was the whole culture of the machines and how they had their own identities and almost a religion around the users, that's actually pretty interesting. Carrying the whole thing through though is our audience surrogate in young Jeff Bridges, who godamnit is just the best. He's got such a swagger and this smugness to him but is still incredibly likable. He could sometimes make me chuckle with just a look or a line that wasn't inherently funny but he made it funny. Tron is very much a product of its time, but in the best possible way. I wish I'd seen this movie sooner, and I completely understand its cult appeal. I debated on how high to rank this, but I settled on going high just for the simple joy it gave me. I love this movie.
    Michael M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 17, 2019
    I don't really mind that the effects are dated as the visual design (silent movie era make-up crossed with 80s neon) remains uniquely odd. Also it's plot, with computer programs imagined as religious zealots and corporate maneuvering centered around arcade games is more compelling than it is given credit for.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • May 26, 2018
    When we describe a film as being "ground-breaking", we very rarely mean that every aspect of it is simultaneously as original or pioneering as any other. Unless you are talking about the very early days of cinema, before the modern language of editing was settled or the Hollywood approach to storytelling began to dominate, there are very few films that would fit into this category. Even if we came across such a film, being ground-breaking is not a guarantee that a film will age well - in fact, it can often mean the exact opposite. In my review of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, I said that its effects "are ultimately far more ground-breaking than either the story or the way that it's told". There can be little doubt of the technical leaps and bounds that George Lucas' film made, but it has its fair share of problems in amongst its paradigm-shifting visuals. We find ourselves in a similar position with Tron, in that its technical accomplishments and legacy (mainly in animation) somewhat overshadow its narrative qualities. But in spite of its many flaws, it remains a likeable film and is more than worthy of its cult status. It doesn't take a mega-fan of all things Star Wars to realise that Tron takes after the original trilogy a lot on both a visual and a narrative level. It's ironic that a film whose plot revolves around accusations of plagiarism should be so unabashed in ripping off other people's work. Some of the resemblances can be written off as coincidental or inadvertent, given the timing of its release: for instance, the fact that MCP looks very much like the power regulator in the centre of the second Death Star from Return of the Jedi. Others, however, are much more conscious and much less easy to excuse. The relationship between the MCP and Sark closely resembles that of the Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader (the leader and the enforcer), the action is driven by two heroes and a heroine (Luke, Leia and Han) and the dialogue is every bit as jargon-heavy as A New Hope. There are even a number of shots which contain visual references to that film: the regulator programs look suspiciously like TIE fighters, and the chase sequence with the light cycles is very similar in tone and style to the Battle of Yavin (which it itself a rip-off of The Dambusters). But beneath the visual references, there is a deeper similarity between Lucas and Tron director Steve Lisberger. In making Tron, Lisberger wanted to break video games out of the "clique" in which they found themselves in the late-1970s; having been inspired by the original Pong, he took the idea to Disney, feeling that they could make computers cool. Lucas did something similar with Star Wars, taking a genre increasingly defined by introspection, seriousness and a lack of emotion, and bringing it back to the crowd-pleasing Flash Gordon films of his youth. Both were at heart thoughtful populists: they wanted science fiction (or space fantasy, at any rate) to be democratic, retaining its ability to make people think (or at least imagine) without keeping it solely the preserve of 'clever people'. You may not like where their intentions ultimately led, but there can be no denying that those intentions were good. At its heart, Tron is a film about the conflict between creativity and commerce. The relationship between Flynn and Dillinger is a clash between the former's creative artistic temperament and the latter's commercially-minded hackery. The film is an argument over the purpose of computers, and by extension all technology: while Flynn believes in using technology to solve problems, in a way which means that everyone can contribute, Dillinger believes that they should be confined to doing business, and that only those who are deemed worthy enough should be involved. There are many science films based around the idea of a computer or perfect machine going wrong and turning on its creators. In Tron this is given a neat twist by the complicity of certain humans in this process, and the focus on personal data rather than the military brute force of Skynet in the Terminator series. Dillinger's initial relationship with the MCP is designed to promote himself, in an unintentional foreshadowing of social media. But bit by bit the MCP demands more and more personal information, harvesting it wherever it can to build up its power. Lisberger could never have conceived of the world of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica when he was scripting Tron, but parts of it feel decidedly eerie in 2018. The film also has an interesting thread running through it about religion and religious belief. The programs appear in the image of the "users" who created them, in a clear nod to the Genesis story in Christianity. But the MCP and Sark spend their time trying to rid the programs of their "superstitious and hysterical belief" that they were created, with the MCP being set up as the new, positivistic 'God' of scientific or technological progress. For all his impressive presence, the MCP is as limited in scope and power as any of his pagan predecessors or any of the golden calves humanity has built in the real world. You could almost liken him to the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz, but with data banks instead of a curtain. Both the users and the programs operate according to plans, with the distinction seeming to be whether either party can create these plans or whether they come from a higher power. The point seems to be that creativity and art are synonymous with faith, while a cold, business-like emphasis on rationality and nothing else prevents true innovation and limits the human experience. C. S. Lewis wrote in The Problem of Pain that if a man were to "close his spiritual eyes against the numinous" - a divine being or presence which inspires awe - he would part company with "the richness and depth of uninhibited experience." Tron clearly doesn't go that far, and its dichotomy between Flynn and Dillinger's positions as is ludicrously simple as the dark and light sides of the Force, but it certainly raises interesting questions. Despite having more substance than you might expect, Tron is still found wanting in a number of narrative areas. The first 20 minutes is essentially little more than jargon, and even once Flynn has been digitised it is a real slow-burner. If you don't have any form of grounding in technology, the opening section will seem so impenetrable that you will struggle to retain any interest when things get more action-packed. Our hand is held by Jeff Bridges and David Warner, who guide us through swathes of exposition in a brace of settled and rounded performances. But when stripped of its visual splendour and philosophical queries, there's not much left that's truly gripping. The main reason to see Tron now is the same reason there was to see it in 1982: its remarkable visuals. A lot of it has of course dated, just as the effects in The Black Hole look ropey by comparison to the stuff that Industrial Light and Magic was doing in the same period. But whether looked on as a period piece or as a harbinger of what computer animation could achieve, there's little denying its power. John Lasseter famously said that "without Tron, there would be no Toy Story", and it's not hard to see the inspiration for PIXAR's early work in here. If nothing else, no film set inside a computer or virtual reality has ever looked this distinctive. Tron is a charming but flawed film which is more than deserving of its cult status. While its storytelling is ultimately found wanting, at least in comparison to its visual achievements, it remains an interesting ideas-driven film whose influence over sci-fi film-making remains writ large. Bridges and Warner anchor the film with two fine performances, providing as much heart as they can in amongst the pyrotechnics. If you have any interest in the history of CGI or animation, this remains a must-watch.
    Daniel M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 27, 2014
    "Do you believe in the Users?" A film ahead of its time, Tron is an extraordinarily creative and imaginative film. The story follows a computer hacker named Kevin Flynn who's transported into a computer system where he discovers a cyber-world that's being overrun by a tyrannical program called the MCP, who's forcing programs to fight to the death on the Game Grid. The plot is full of fascinating, high-minded computer concepts, and presents them in an innovative way. Additionally, the film combines computer and hand-drawn animation, creating a remarkably unique visual style. Still, the look of the film is very dated, and the plot doesn't really follow through on a lot of the ideas it presents. Tron reaches beyond its grasp, but it still delivers an entertaining and fun adventure.
    Dann M Super Reviewer

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