"Tron" turns out to be an inorganic "Fantastic Voyage," a movie with which only a computer programmer could interface.
The new Walt Disney film is based on director Steven Lisberger's screenplay, a circuitry of parallel universes -- one peopled with "users" (computer operators), the other with their software counterparts. The latter look like their "users," but are only programs. They live and die -- really sort of fizzle out electrically -- in computerland, which is ruled by the evil Master Control Program (MCP), a mumbling phosphorescent grid that plans to take over the world.
Already, MCP has short-circuited his user, Ed Dillinger, top executive at a communications conglomerate: It's blackmailing him. It's got the data on him. And it serves him right, because Dillinger (David Warner) got to the top by stealing a computer game program, "Space Paranoids," written by hero Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges). Flynn decides to get Dillinger, with the help of his friend Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) and his program Tron, a software beast also played by Boxleitner. In gaining access to the system, Flynn is somehow input. Then he's called Clu. At first, he is forced to play video games in a light cycle, but escapes when a jet wall, left in the wake of his computer bike, de-rezzes (disappears). He meets Tron and a very nice actuarial program and goes off to pull the plug on this monstrous precursor of the "2001's" Hal.
The backgrounds, all reminiscent of CBS logos and lead-ins to the Evening News, are colored like tropical fish underwater. Everybody seems to be wearing green or gray make-up to go with their animation- enhanced outfits.
Along with all this computer-generated imagery and back-lit, enhanced live action is dialogue as campy as Flash Gordon's, like this between a girl program Yori (Cindy Morgan) and Tron: "I knew you'd escape," she says. "They haven't made a circuit that can hold you."
The acting is everything you'd expect from a Disney film, with Jeff Bridges aping Harrison Ford for all he's worth. There's even a computerized tinkerbell and a computer kiss. It's all a little much too have output.
TRON -- Opens Friday at the West End Circle.