Tron Legacy, the sequel to the 1982 film Tron, is being released in December and anyone born in the last 10 years probably has no idea why. Looking at it from 2010, the film looks cheesy, boring and ugly.
So, to help put the film in context, I'll give a brief overview of why Tron is one of the best science-fiction films ever made.
The movie follows Kevin Flynn, a video game programmer played by Jeff Bridges, who is abducted to a surreal "world" inside computers where programs are people fighting in games. He joins "Tron", a security program played by Bruce Boxleitner, in his struggle to overthrow a dictatorial program known as MCP (Master Control Program), played by David Warner.
Let's look at the culture of the year 1982: Arcades were king at this time, because it was the only real way to enjoy video games. In the early 80s, an IBM personal computer cost about $4,995 ($10,662 in 2008 dollars). So back then, you could purchase a new car or get a PC. Game consoles, like the Atari 5200, were incredibly popular, but looked more like stick figures fighting. If you wanted to play a popular game then you had to go to the arcade.
Movies about video games and computers, like Hackers or Matrix are common today, but in 1982 these films were unheard of. Even basic computer ideas like the character "Bit" that only responded with "Yes" and "No" - a parallel to the binary one and zero - left people scratching their heads. So, for many, it was an educational experience to understand the computer revolution occurring all around them
Finally, let's look at the special effects technology of the 1980s. Lucas' Star Wars was the pinnacle of movie effect technology, but CGI simply didn't exist in film at that time beyond simple wire-frame raster graphics. This was the first time that live-action and computer graphics were combined in a movie, and the effect was stunning. The 80s neon glow "computer world" effect was achieved by filming the live-action scenes in black-and-white using back-lit screen projection on black sets. This technique led to some of the stilted acting, since it was almost impossible for the actors to know what they were responding to.
The film single-handedly affected the way people think about computers, video games and the role of CGI in movies forever. All that in a film from
BONUS LINK: Steve Lisberger, Exclusive TRON (Disney) Interview
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