Monday, June 30, 2014

Tron ★★1/2

    With the progression of computer generated imaging in today's film industry, it is hard to imagine a time when special effects were influential or groundbreaking. The 1980's was a decade littered with science fiction films that dared to venture into the realm of these efforts and provide an aesthetically pleasing experience for viewers.

    "Tron" is the epitome of these films, as it not only provides an array of newly developed film technologies, but it centers its plot around the inner dwellings of a computer. Although the fascination of this mystical world has all but dwindled, it remains as one of the few pictures to break the barrier of technological limitations. Yet, even with an enticing atmosphere and an original story, "Tron" simply fails to break free from its own constraints.

    Kevin Flynn is essentially a grown child. He spends the better part of his time indulging in video games at the local arcade, which he lives above in a cluttered apartment. Of course, this is on top of the fact that he is a brilliant software engineer, who has created several commercially successful video games, although his name has been unaffiliated with the projects.

    Flynn is not only a former employee of ENCOM but a victim of opportunity. Ed Dillinger, our ruthless antagonist, passed off Flynn's creations for his own, thus seeing himself to numerous promotions and Flynn to unemployment. This leads to Flynn attempting to hack into the system of ENCOM and provide evidence of his victimization; however, this will not be an effortless task.

    Dillinger has constructed the Master Control Program (MCP), an artificial intelligence entity with plans of its own. Flynn will need the help of his ex-girlfriend, Lora Baines, and fellow engineer, Alan Bradley, to sneak into the vast empire of ENCOM to provide Alan's security program, entitled Tron, with a gateway to the MCP and a path to his personal mending.

    Jeff Bridges provides us with the persona of Kevin Flynn. Bridges' performance is routine at best, as it becomes apparent that the characterization of our protagonist was shunned for more time inside the mainframe system of his former employer. The human element is relatively short-lived and, once transported into the digitalized world, we start to wonder if we ever really knew Kevin Flynn at all.

    Flynn seemingly owns the video arcade that boldly displays his name on the brick exterior; however, there is never an explanation as to how he became the founder. (Was there a severance package obtained once released from his position at ENCOM?) Nevertheless, if there is one aspect of Bridges' role that should be commended, it would be his ability to act in the virtually nonexistent and intangible ambiance that the film permits--a skill that every actor or actress has now become very accustomed to.

    Within the confines of this computerized extravaganza, Flynn teams up with Tron and makes a break from the gladiatorial games in which they are forced to participate to advance to the lair of the Master Control Program. There are several obstacles that are avoided and, the film essentially becomes a drawn-out race to beat Ed Dillinger's computerized persona from stopping them at the door of victory. Their journey culminates in a rather tedious fashion, thereby summarizing the picture unknowingly.

    "Tron" is practically a simplistic film that has now become more of a statement than a vessel of entertainment. It is a pure and genuine illustration of what could be accomplished with the combination of computer programming and the medium of film. Although this film competed with the likes of "Blade Runner" and the family inclined adventure of "E.T.," it has remained as the pinnacle of potential.

    In the end, this is a difficult film to critique considering the time period in which it premiered and the influence it subsequently had on the film industry. In order to view this film in all of its technical glory, it would have had to be seen relatively soon after its initial release. Ultimately, "Tron" is a time capsule of a period in film where experimentation was rarely seen; it is a film to be experienced in a particular era, otherwise losing its meaning.

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