I must have been the only one of my friends to enjoy both Tron and Flash Gordon in the early eightees. The latter gloriously promoted and mocked the afternoon sci-fi matinee into some form of hilarious, camp romp. The cringeworthy diologue, lavish costume design, ropey effects and heart pumping Queen sountrack worked so incredibly well that I couldn’t imagine anyone not loving it. I still think the battle with Prince Baron on the revolving spike board is a fantastic action set-piece. Sci-Fi was on a high with the success of the Star Wars series, Close Encounters… and ET.
Tron didn’t base it’s platform on a tried and tested formula. Yes, it draws from the old chestnut of good v evil, yet it used it’s own form of technology (CGI rather than models) and was cruelly ignored by the Oscars for best effects due to ‘cheating by using computers!’ How crazy does that sound now? People don’t like change and Tron’s biggest critics argued that it was souless, offtrack and had a lack of story/ viewer involvement. However they could not deny was that it was a visual feast, sounded fantastic and Wendy Carlos score is beautiful.
The cast is pretty impressive too. Jeff Bridges is engaging and fun as technological whizz, Flynn and David Warner suitably creepy as his business/ grid adversary, Ed Dillinger/ Sarc. Bruce Boxleitner plays the titular action hero with energy and Cindy Morgan looks rather impressive as the love interest.
Although the effects have understandably dated over the such a long time, the movie still looks unique. It also spawned one of the greatest arcade games of all time (I still want one). Happily the new project, Tron Legacy seems to have built upon the original vision and improved upon it. I rather like how none of the key effects are overused in the movie. The disc and light cycle battle are all carried out briefly in the mid section of the running time and there is no big action setpiece in the finale. Needless to say it was not a box office smash but I would bet my bottom dollar that Tron Legacy changes all that. I just hope it does the original justice.