The year was 1982. For me, it was a golden age of video games, synth rock and the occasional Santa Claus-esque visit from the Ice Cream Truck Guy. But one of the best things that came out of that year for me was a simple movie known as ...
Okay, sure. It wasn't a very popular mainstream movie, but for those who ever made weekly (or daily) trips to the bliss-filled havens known as Video arcades, this was the film that was our banner to prove to the rest of the world that we were cool. Sadly, it just cranked the geek-o-meter to 11. Somehow, the idea of a computer hacker trying to find evidence of his stolen game ideas, while battling a computer who looks like a relative of the Kool-Aid guy, didn't appeal to a lot people in 1982.
Movies that involve computers really are reaching when they try to bridge a chasm of two worlds. Tron and The Matrix somehow tried to make you believe that slim, good looking guys are computer-chic techno geeks. When you see hollywood's computer hackers looking slick like this:
In real life, they are actually more like this:
Now, in sharing childhood memories with my wife, I had asked if she wouldn't mind watching this movie with me. Cautious and pensive, my wife reluctantly agreed. (Yes, I am a Tron Fan AND I have a wife. It IS possible my friends, shaky, but possible!) The main selling point was that I mentioned that it starred Bruce Boxleitner of Scarecrow and Mrs. King fame. My wife is a huge "Scarecrow" fan. Although, I think nothing could have softened the blow in her mind to see him go from this:
I don't blame her. It can be a jolt if you have no history with this movie. I had no history of Scarecrow and Mrs. King and have been watching the episodes lately. Since I never watched "SMK" before, I cuddled up to the idea that while in pursuit of an enemy cold war agent, he could throw a glowing disc at him or trap him in a square of jet walls from his lightcycle/Porche. But going from Scarecrow to Tron proved to be a bit more jarring on her. Some of the things going on in her mind were easily summed up by the constant furrowing of her brow through the entire movie. The experience left her with sore forehead muscles for the remainder of the evening.
Welcome to my world, baby
Now, I do have my own personal problems with Tron as far as storytelling. I'm not alone with others who know that this computer lingo they speak hardly ever makes sense.
Five bucks says that he'll get a syntax error
Sark, buddy, the MCP will not blast you into a "dead zone." A bad cluster, maybe, but not a "dead zone," sheesh.
The feel of the outside world is very dated now, but one thing we all agree on is that we want this desk:
It's shiny, black and frickin' huge!
Another sign that this is a movie made by geeks for geeks is that there's only one female with lines. Place technological double entendre here
"Heh Heh! Girl!"
Well, anyway let's hatch the plot: Our hacker friend sneaks into his former employer's laser lab armed with a forged group 6 access to try to find evidence of his stolen video game ideas. Everyone with me so far?
This shot always gave me the heebie-jeebies. Why place a terminal in front of a LASER that looks like this?
Or any laser for that matter?
Well, let's keep going: Flynn gets cocky and throws code at the MCP to try to distract him, but the MCP gets him back by zapping his null unit into the computer.
Compact Disc technology test goes awry!
Welcome to the Geek Lair! New to Role Playing, are we?
I love this movie. So Flynn is now in computer-land and meets a whole sort of friends and foes.
Foe: See a pattern?
Outsourced Union Temp
So anyhoo, Flynn and his new band of cohorts play a series of games which include:Lightcycles...
And Ultimate Frisbee...
Remember, in here, there is no reset button
They then break out of the game grid and assault the Master Control Program and his right hand man, Sark, with a little help from Whamo!®
C'mon, who didn't try to play this in the backyard?
Through a cooperative effort, Flynn and Tron destroy the MCP and the system becomes free from the tyrannical grip of Microsoft XP. Flynn is sent back into the outer world and the info he was looking for prints out on a ridiculously heavy dot matrix printer.
Yes, but will it hold up in court?
I've been scared of that terminal ever since
The next morning the Senior Executive who stole Flynn's ideas, sees that the MCP has crashed, the secret's out and realizes that he is about to get fired.
That's the "I-better-steal-the-towels-out-of-the-executive-washroom-before-I-put-my resume'-in-at-Steak-n-Shake" look
And within the course of 5 minutes or less, Flynn is placed in the top position of the multi-billion dollar company - with a free helicopter. No questions asked. Yeah. It must have been settled out of court.
A Winner is You!
The movie then ends with a time lapse on the cityscape to show how we and the electronic world are very similar, even though I've never been forced to wear tights.
We are all programs! BWA-HA-HAAA!!!!
Now order some neon wire and make your own costume.
You know you want to...
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