Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Movies of Moebius: TRON (1982)

Nearly 30 years later, and TRON still looks good.

The computer graphics look dated now, sure, but there remains something masterful about the vision this movie creates. While it's pretty simple overall with its Wizard of Oz-esque plot and fairly low stakes, that doesn't feel like it matters too much in the end. Is it a good movie? Maybe not. But it's an amazing one.

While futurist designer Syd Mead created the designs for most of the vehicles, it's Moebius' touches that truly complete the world inside the computer. His skin-hugging costumes lit up by circuitry and maze-like environments go far to evoke the inside of a computer. The grayed skin tones and muted color palette, except for pops of electric red and blue, look odd and distinctive even now. It's even odder to think that all of this is in a Disney-produced movie that was more or less aimed at kids.

Jeff Bridges is all blue-eyed boyish charm as the main hero Kevin Flynn. He makes video games and is good at playing them and it's no wonder a whole generation found the idea of getting stuck in a video game world appealing. Bridges' Flynn made it look like too much fun. Bruce Boxleitner's Alan/Tron and Cindy Morgan's Lora/Yori are less interesting and the love triangle between the three is pretty inconsequential. But the acting doesn't feel like it matters too much, nor do the human characters. They're just there to serve as guides through this world as we travel from one dazzling set piece to the next.

There's a clear sense of fun and originality to TRON and it seems like the designers got to do what they wanted. It was a collaborative effort, certainly, but the distinctive quirkiness of Moebius' vision remain strong throughout. And it's that vision that keep this movie timeless.

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