Walt Disney Productions
Originally Released July 9, 1982, with Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn/Clu, Bruce Boxleitner as Alan Bradley/Tron, David Warner as Ed Dillinger/Sark, and Cindy Morgan as Lora/Yori.
Reviewed by C.J. Bunce
When the initial rumors of Tron: Legacy, the sequel to the 1980s classic original, surfaced in 2009 I expected an immediate re-release of the original 1982 film known for its ground-breaking special effects. Usually the studios jump at the chance to get the last film in a franchise in consumers’ hands right away. It catches up folks who were not around to see it when it first was in the theaters. And business-wise it means a lot of easy money in studio and distributor pockets. But not so for the original Tron. And Disney never revealed its thinking. The studio known for targeted releases and then hiding its films in the vaults for years just didn’t make sense here.
I managed to buy the DVD when it was last released years ago but tried to buy copies of it for gifts last year to get my nephews up to speed before Tron: Legacy premiered. But no luck. Finally with the release of Tron: Legacy on DVD, Blu-Ray and 3D, Disney has re-released classic Tron.
The original on Blu-Ray was well worth the wait. As much as I love Tron: Legacy and the updated world of the Grid, for me it doesn’t touch the completely one-of-a-kind and unreal world of Flynn and Tron trying to understand their world, trying to fight to survive with identity disk battles, trying to please the creator Users, and Flynn trying to get home.
I first saw Tron with my brother and his friend from high school and his little brothers in the theater in 1982. One of those brothers was a kid ahead of his time…at a time when Burroughs was the big computer company that had a new “mini-computer” that lined an entire wall of its facility, this kid had a clunky early Radio Shack computer with cords everywhere that he used in the back of his van. Laptops were unheard of then. Video games were just beyond the stage of blip games like Pong. It was the time of Space Invaders and Atari. It was in this world that director Steven Lisberger was able to film Bruce Boxleitner and Jeff Bridges in a complex blue-black and white costume and fill in the details in post-production and place them in an infinitely tiny futuristic, universe. The look was both retro to an almost 1940s vision of the future and yet also pushed ahead, way ahead, to some future we will never really meet.
Just look at the scene early in the film where Bridges, using an avatar of himself called Clu well before anyone knew what an avatar was, to break into the ENCOM mainframe:
I challenge anyone to find a more stunning, eye-popping scene in any film today, including the new sequel. And this screencap doesn’t come close to what you will see via the Blu-Ray. Don’t believe those who tell you classic Tron is dated. Sure, the scenes in the 1980s arcade look dated, and Bruce Boxleitner’s character Alan sports a pretty odd 1980s set of eyeglasses, but Tron took place in the 1980s so what would you expect? We also get treated to the best actor to play a villain in any franchise, David Warner (Time After Time, Star Trek V, VI, Star Trek: The Next Generation) as Dillinger. And the light cycle battles are as exciting as ever.
For those who saw Tron in theaters or even on the original DVD release and for those who only know Tron from the poster in Chuck’s bedroom, look forward to a great ride. It’s available by itself both on standard DVD and Blu-Ray and in a bundle pack with Tron: Legacy. The bundle is pricey at around $80 so check around the Web for deals. And it’s loaded with extras, including 5 hours of features.