Sunday Matinee: Tron

35 years ago today Disney released a movie into theatres that they would consider to be another box office failure for them (in the ’80s Disney wasn’t doing too good). The movie would eventually become a cult classic and 28 years later Disney would eventually make a sequel.

Tron was the brain child of writer/director Steven Lisberger who had previously made the animated movie Animalympics. Lisberger originally wanted Tron to be a completely animated movie but released that it wasn’t possible at the time. He opted for live action with a mix of backlit animation and computer animation. Tron was not the first film to use computer animation but it was one of the first to use extensive computer animation. 15 full minutes of computer animation including the legendary light-cycle scene.

Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) owns a video arcade. Flynn used to work for ENCOM but several successful video games that he designed were stolen from him. Flynn wants to hack into ENCOM’s computer but needs help from his friends and former co-workers Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) and Lora Baines (Cindy Morgan).

Ed Dillinger (David Warner) ENCOM’s Senior Executive Vice President and the man who stole Flynn’s games also stole a program that he turned into an AI called Master Control Program, an evil program that is trying to take over other programs and thirsts for power. When Flynn breaks into ENCOM Master Control Program digitizes Flynn and transports him into the computer mainframe. From there Flynn ends up teaming with Bradley’s computer program Tron to try and destroy Master Control Program.

After 35 years Tron still holds up pretty good. Sure the effects are pretty basic but they still work and they helped inspire people like John Lasseter. Unfortunately director Steven Lisberger’s career fizzled and he only made two more movies after this his last being the 1989 turkey Slipstream for Gary Kurtz (producer of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and The Dark Crystal).

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