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The Tron Scene That Aged Poorly

There were some pretty amazing science fiction movies released in the summer of 1982, including "Blade Runner", "E.T.", "The Thing", and "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" — but hardly anyone ever thinks to include the arcade-inspired "Tron." Directed by Steven Lisberger and starring Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, and David Warner, "Tron" was a revolutionary film at the time due to its pioneering use of computer-generated special effects. Visually, it was something new and exciting to dazzle audiences. But the story of a computer programmer getting trapped in a computer gaming program often felt like you had to be a computer expert to know what anything meant, which likely contributed to a less-than-stellar return at the box office (via The Numbers). It was a movie for gaming fanatics, and there just weren't enough of them yet.

Despite the lackluster showing, "Tron" developed a passionate cult following, as most sci-fi films that break new ground do. So eventually Disney got around to making a sequel, 2010's "Tron: Legacy", which featured both Bridges and Boxleitner reprising their roles–alongside newcomers Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde. With an inflated budget this time, the visual effects were once again eye-popping. But mediocre box office results killed the franchise's momentum.

Still, there's a reason the original "Tron" endures today. It had a massive influence on an entire generation of filmmakers and fans, including Pixar legend John Lasseter, who once admitted "Without 'Tron', there would be no 'Toy Story'" (via Variety). But how does the then-cutting edge movie hold up today?

All the Tron visual effects look iffy now

Time is generally unkind to everyone, particularly for computer-generated special effects. In 1982's "Tron," it's not even so much one particular scene to highlight (because there are simply too many), but rather the entire look of the live-action blend with CGI that fails the eye test in 2021.

It's worse than just looking dated. The effects sequences now come across like someone blended live-action with jib-jab animation, and the result is like "South Park" with real human faces. It's even hard to watch Flynn (Jeff Bridges) work off an old Apple III computer, which now feels about as advanced as an Atari 2600.

"The movie looks incredibly dated and as though it's not aged well to me...For example Blade Runner was made in the same year as Tron. Blade Runner's visual effects hardly look dated at all I'd say and when compared side by side against Tron it really demonstrates how Tron's effects havent aged well," wrote one Redditor on r/movies.

"Man is it ugly. I've seen it once and I could not follow what was happening at all purely because the CGI is so outdated. It aged terribly," wrote another Redditor u/Qyro.

None of this takes away from the sheer ingenuity of the film, but it's kind of funny for a movie that so cleverly foresaw the coming digital evolution to fall short of actually designing that future in a more timeless fashion. Of all the summer of '82 sci-fi entries previously mentioned, "Tron" has arguably aged the worst, visually.