Blu-ray Review HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Tron Legacy/Tron: 2-Movie Collection (3D Blu-ray Combo Pack)

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  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Tron Legacy/Tron: 2-Movie Collection (3D Blu-ray Combo Pack)

    Directed by  Joseph Kosinski, Steven Lisberger

    Studio: Disney
    Year: 2010/1982
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/1.78:1; 2.20:1   1080p   AVC codec  
    Running Time: 125/96 minutes
    Rating: PG
    Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1/5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish, others
    Subtitles:  SDH, Spanish, French, others

    Region:  A-B-C
    MSRP:  $ 79.99


    Release Date: April 5, 2011

    Review Date: March 25, 2011

     

     

    The Films

     

    In today’s cinematic universe, showing the insides of a computer or game program is mere child’s play. Even the most complex graphics and the most fanciful flights of the imagination can be brought to the screen if one has enough patience, creativity, and money. The two Tron films produced almost three decades apart represent the birth of computer graphics as a creative medium and a mature CGI world where anything is possible. No matter their lapses as narratives, the two films are fascinating examples of what the movies are capable of when thoughts can be processed by artists and rendered in images heretofore unseen and unimagined.

     

     

    Tron Legacy – 3/5

     

    In 1989, software developer and CEO of Encom Corporation Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) went missing leaving behind a seven year old son. Twenty years later, his business partner Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) receives a page from Kevin to come to his old arcade office, but Alan sends Kevin’s rebellious son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) who, once there, finds himself sucked into the Grid vortex in much the same way his father had been decades before. Inside the Grid, he learns that his father’s program Clu (a computer generated younger version of  Jeff Bridges) has taken over control of this universal domain and is mounting an army to reenter the real world and take it over. With Sam reunited with his imprisoned father and his father’s sidekick, an isomorphic algorithm named Quorra (Olivia Wilde), working together, their combined computer knowledge and expertise with computer gaming are all mankind has to prevent the programs of the Grid from escaping and consequently taking over the world.

     

    Though the special effects are far more massive and the world of the Grid is eons more advanced than what was offered in the 1982 original film, Tron Legacy really has very little new to offer from a story point of view (despite four writers credited with story and screenplay including Lost's Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz). We still have humans fighting against game programs for control of the Grid universe. We still have the impressively generated disc contest (akin to racquetball with lit and lethal Frisbees) and the light cycle competition (on multiple planes and with much more impressive CGI), and they’ve added a dogfight in computer generated fighter planes, not very original but a kick to see nevertheless. But the film is a half hour too long especially since there is little time given over to the father-son dynamic that had it been developed beyond a rudimentary scene or two could have given the movie some real heart to go with its massive technology, and the story of Tron himself is sketchily drawn and tremendously unsatisfying especially since Tron was such an important hero figure in the first film.

     

    Jeff Bridges does double duty in the movie playing his present-day character of Flynn and also the computer program Clu (Bridges circa 1989). The digital technology that allows Bridges to play his younger self is pretty smoothly pulled off (only a couple of shots betray the technology behind the miraculous transformation), and the actor has a field day playing both noble and ignoble personas (he’s especially impressive addressing his thousands of minions as an almost Hitler-like martinet). Garrett Hedlund plays the somewhat embittered son without an audience-distancing cockiness that retains our rooting interests for him. It’s great to see Bruce Boxleitner in a couple of nice scenes playing present-day incarnations of his characters from the original movie. Olivia Wilde has a little more to do in this movie than her predecessor Cindy Morgan had in the first Tron, and she does well enough with a generally underwritten character. Michael Sheen is channeling the spirit of Tim Curry in his campiest over-the-top fashion as Zuse, the program who holds some answers for the heroes. James Frain is almost unrecognizable as Clu’s right hand-program Jarvis but also gets the job done with ease.

     

     

     Tron – 3/5

     

    Game programmer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) found himself fired from his job at computer firm Encom when his ideas were stolen and claimed to be his by Ed Dillinger (David Warner). Dillinger has created a Master Control Program which has been systematically absorbing the other company programs and has now become powerful enough to dominate even its creator who must carry out its bidding. In an effort to overthrow the MCP, company programmer Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) and his girl friend Lora (Cindy Morgan) have created programs that are trying to overpower the Master, but they need help. Flynn convinces them to let him hack the MCP and retrieve proof that he invented those game programs and not Dillinger (and thus get his job back), but in order to get those files, he’ll have to assist in bringing down the MCP completely. As he’s working, the MCP digitizes Flynn and sucks him into the system where he meets the digital program counterparts to his friends: Alan is called Tron and Lora is called Yori. They’re battling to the death against Dillinger’s master program called Sark in a fight to the finish for ultimate survival.

     

    The script by director Steven Lisberger may be rudimentary, but the concept is pretty fascinating. If only he could have come up with more involving combat sequences pitting the good programs against Sark’s squadron of evil henchmen and had more engrossing characters for his actors to play. They really are one dimensional embodiments of good and evil both inside and outside the computer, and while the visuals are impressive for their time (it’s easy to understand why fan boys latched on to this film; it looks like nothing else of its period and the visuals are still pretty dazzling more than a quarter century later), even they get tiresome after an hour when there isn’t anything more complex at its core than the flashing colors and impressively differing shapes of this first attempt at pictorializing computer circuitry.

     

    Casting is interesting here as you have two nominal leading men not vying for the hand of a fair lady (she’s already made her choice) but working together for a common purpose. Jeff Bridges has been given the quirkier character while Bruce Boxleitner gets the standard firm-jawed hero part; both are excellent in their dramatically limited roles as good guys. David Warner, at the time the go-to guy for evil charlatans, plays another one here to good if not great effect. The welcome presence of Barnard Hughes is very much in evidence as an older programmer being put out to pasture while Dan Shor makes a nice impression as the third program inside the system assisting in the efforts to defeat the MCP. Not much is asked of Cindy Morgan except to look fetching inside and outside the computer, and she does this with no effort whatsoever.

     

     

    Video Quality

     

    Tron Legacy – 5/5

    3D quality – 3.5/5

     

    The film has been framed at 2.35:1 with select sequences inside the grid framed at 1.78:1. (The switching back and forth between aspect ratios is handled quite subtly and more smoothly than was accomplished in The Dark Knight.) For the most part, color has been desaturated throughout with only key colors on the uniforms of the programs or the colors generated by the light cycles pumped up to near-blooming proportions. Sharpness is superb both in real world moments and inside the Grid, and black levels are everything one would wish for in both areas. The film has been divided into 20 chapters.

     

    In terms of 3D effectiveness, the opening sequences before entry into the Grid are in 2D (a screen prompt advises viewers to keep their 3D glasses on throughout the film), but once inside the Grid, the 3D is quite noticeable and very effective in giving the viewer a sense of total immersion into this peculiar gaming universe. There are plenty of moments where objects and people exist on different planes separated sometimes by what seems to be vast areas of space, and ghosting seems to be nonexistent. Those wanting lots of external 3D projections from the screen are going to be disappointed since those few examples have been saved for the dogfight sequence where laser bullets occasionally fly out beyond the screen along with pieces of exploding airships, none of which is exploited for its maximum effectiveness.

     

    Tron – 4/5

     

    The film has been framed at 2.20:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. The live action scenes in the real world are stunning in their clarity with sharpness superb and no evidence of the age of the film. Color saturation is terrific and flesh tones are attractively realized. Black levels can vary from good to great at any given time but are almost always pleasingly inky. The animated sequences, however, cause some problems for the transfer. The matte lines sometimes flash a bit and there are some crawling pixels along those thin lines in the suits and backgrounds. The fluorescent colors that are prominent in the computer world sometimes bloom as if they’re out of control. And there is definite banding to be seen in darker colored backgrounds on occasion. The film has been divided into 19 chapters.

     

     

    Audio Quality

     

    Tron Legacy – 5/5

     

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix is reference quality in every respect, and it’s to the filmmakers’ credit that they didn’t just make the Grid world aurally immersive but the real world, too, has plenty of examples of pans across and through the soundstage. The depth of the bass in the LFE channel makes for window-shaking impressiveness, and Daft Punk’s unusually effective music score gets the full treatment throughout the soundfield. Dialogue comes through clearly in the center channel.

     

     

    Tron – 4.5/5

     

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is a very impressive effort taking sound stems from this period and fashioning such an imposing enhanced lossless soundtrack. While some of the real world scenes lack thorough surround enhancement, the computer world is alive with all manner of surround activity, and the depth of the LFE channel will likely impress all but the most hardcore audiophiles. While there are numerous examples of directionalized dialogue, most of the speaking comes from the center channel and is excellently presented.

     

     

    Special Features

     

    Tron Legacy – 3/5

     

    The only bonus features on the 3D Blu-ray disc are 3D trailers for Cars 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

     

    All of the bonus featurettes on the 2D Blu-ray disc are presented in 1080p.

     

    “The Next Day: Flynn Lives Revealed” is a 10 minute featurette offering both backstory on the Kevin Flynn saga but also covers the years from 1989-2009 offering a taste of the story after the final credits roll.

     

    Disney Second Screen allows a user to synch his iPad or computer up to the Blu-ray presentation where interactive models and other bonus material is introduced at various times during the movie.

     

    “Launching the Legacy” is a 10 ¼-minute background piece featuring interviews with original director Steven Lisberger and current director Joseph Kosinski discussing their interests in the project and the five minute speculation reel Kosinski made and presented at Comic Con to see if there was any interest in a Tron sequel.

     

    “Visualizing Tron Legacy” features interviews with the film’s two costume designers and its production designer discussing the look of the new film as paying homage to the original but with its own unique look and feel. It runs 11 ¾ minutes.

     

    “Installing the Cast” discusses the return of the two stars of the original film and the casting process for this film’s new characters and features brief interviews with Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, and Michael Sheen. It runs 12 minutes.

     

    “Disc Roars” details how the seven thousand member audience at Comic Con was recruited to provide some soundtrack cheers and chants which were used in the film. This runs 3 minutes.

     

    “First Look at Tron: Uprising is a very brief (1 ¼-minute) peep at the graphics for the upcoming Disney animated series.

     

    The music video “Derezzed” is performed by Daft Punk in this 3-minute vignette.

     

    The disc contains promo trailers for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Prom, Tron: Uprising, Tron: Evolution, Cars 2, and African Cats.

     

     

    Tron – 5/5

     

    The audio commentary is contributed by director-writer Steven Lisberger, producer Donald Kushner, and special effects directors Harrison Ellenshaw and Richard Taylor. The quartet is proud of their accomplishments and find plenty to talk about in a rather laidback style during the film’s running time without any of them talking over the other one. Fans will enjoy listening to their discussions of the filmmaking process with this unusual-for-its-time film.

     

    “The Tron Phenomenon” features cast and crew of the sequel (along with the producer and director of the original) discussing their high opinions of the film in this 9 ¾-minute featurette presented in 1080p.

     

    “Photo Tronology” finds director Steven Lisberger and his son Carl taking a visit to the Disney archives and looking at and discussing production photographs of Tron. The younger Lisberger asks intelligent questions of his father and makes some astute assessments in this 16 ½-minute father and son featurette. It’s in 1080p.

     

    All of the DVD featurettes below are presented in 480i.

     

    Development features five vignettes about the film’s preproduction period:

     

    • “Early Development” features director Steven Lisberger and producer Donald Kushner speaking of the beginnings of the story conferences. (2 ½ minutes)
    • “Early Animation” is some test shots. (½  minute)
    • “Computers Are People, Too” explains his story as if one were inside a Pac-Man game. (4 ½ minutes)
    • “Early Video Tests” is a silent section of animation. (½ minute)
    • “Gallery” is an interactive section featuring hundreds of photos and drawings which the user can flip through and mark for later reference.

     

    Digital Imagery also features five sections on the computer animation to be used.

     

    • “Backlight Animation” shows the stages of matting. (1 ¾ minutes)
    • “Digital Imagery in Tron” has Richard Taylor explaining the four companies who combined efforts to render the images in the film. (3 ¾ minutes)
    • “Beyond Tron” discusses the special effects work the Magi company did on the film. (4 minutes)
    • “The Role of Triple I” features the other major effects house on the movie.; (¼ minute)
    • Triple I demo (2 ¼ minutes)

     

    “The Making of Tron is an 88 ¼-minute documentary going from pre-production through release and looking back on the film’s influences.

     

    Music features two sections with discarded music: the light cycle race (2 ¾ minutes) and the end credits (3 ¼ minutes).

     

    Publicity features the 5-minute reel presented at the NATO conference, a work-in-progress trailer (1 ½ minutes), four theatrical trailers (1-2 minutes each) and the same interactive art gallery named above.

     

    There are three deleted scenes introduced by the director and running 2, ¾, and 1 ¼ minutes respectively. They must be chosen individually.

     

    Design is also introduced by the director and features two vignettes on the light cycles and two vignettes on the recognizers. They must be chosen individually.

     

    Storyboarding features five vignettes introduced by Bill Kroyer. He discusses the storyboarding process, the layout of the main titles, the light cycles storyboard, and the light cycle sequence from the finished film.

     

    Galleries once again offers the interactive four-part gallery section offering hundreds of drawings and photographs from the archives on the movie.

     

    The disc offers promo trailers for Tron Legacy, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Prom, Cars 2, Tron Evolution, and African Cats.

     

    The next disc in the set is the DVD version of Tron Legacy.

     

    The final disc in the set is the DisneyFile digital copy of Tron Legacy. There are instructions for installation on Mac and PC devices.

     

     

    In Conclusion

    3.5/5 (not an average)

     

    Tron and its sequel are not great narrative adventures. Their good versus evil scenarios seem undernourished by today’s dramatic standards but just right if one is looking for undemanding special effects-laden joyrides. The high definition renderings are impressive captures of the theatrical experiences which fans will no doubt welcome.

     

     

     

    Matt Hough

    Charlotte, NC

     
  2. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    I don't get the review marks for the "3D" in this film. 3.5 out of 5 and yet the review states the 3D was effective. What rates a 5 out of 5 in terms of 3D? A lot of cheesy "poke out" effects? The 3D should be rated strictly on its intended use within the context of the film and in this case the intent was to create an added differentiation between the external "real world" and the internal "computer world". As you stated in the review, the 3D was effective in doing what it was intended to do. Rating 3D should be dropped if it can't be rated based on anything more than whether it provides enough "jab" effects to suit those people who have a need to have things poked in their faces during a movie.
     
  3. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    Thanks cannot wait to see Tron & the Grid in BD
     
  4. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    If I think there were effects in the film which would have benefitted from a more demonstrative use of projectile objects, I will take marks off from the perfect score of 5. They don't have to be "cheesy" to be integral to the 3D and more effective than what is offered. A 3.5/5 is indicative of a B in another rating system, I think a fair estimation of the way I saw the 3D used in the film:good but not great.
     
  5. Paul Hillenbrand

    Paul Hillenbrand Screenwriter

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  6. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Paul,


    Everyone has their own individual tastes towards

    what they like or dislike when it comes to 3D.


    I believe in the repeated description provided

    for THE HTF 3D ADDICT, I talk about liking the

    novelty of the technology. In other words, I like

    my 3D to be exploited. Lots of things coming out

    of the screen (within reason).

    I do understand that there are many that don't like

    their 3D to be full of gimmicks. They just want a

    simple sense of definition in their picture.


    I found the 3D in Tron to be effective -- meaning

    there is a sense of separation. Many people will

    be happy with that.


    However, the best 3D I seen (even without the

    gimmicks) is where a picture window has been

    created where the separation is so well defined

    that there is a cardboard cutout feel of characters

    and objects being on two different levels. For me,

    that is the kind of 3D you look at and say, "WOW!"


    Tron doesn't have that look or feel. And you know

    what? There may be many that are happy that it

    doesn't. However, as someone who has watched

    and reviewed well over 30 3D titles over the course

    of a few short months, I think I have a good feel for

    what I consider to be exceptionally well done 3D.

    Frankly, I thought Tron could have looked better here.


    ....but again, it's all subjective and nobody is going

    to agree across the board about how good or bad

    it looks. I thought "effective" was a good term.
     
  7. Paul Hillenbrand

    Paul Hillenbrand Screenwriter

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    Ron,


    Essentially, I agree with what both you and MattH are trying to convey. My problem is that I'm having a hard time figuring out if both of you are talking about the Tron Legacy 3D film that was projected in the theater, which I viewed in RealD digital 3D, or if it was further flawed when reproduced as a Blu-ray 3D reproduction.


    IOW, the movie was a 3D disappointment to me in the theater, but I can't fault the Blu-ray 3D for that if it is a faithful reproduction of the source.


    Paul
     
  8. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Paul,


    It sounds like we are on common ground here.


    If you were disappointed in the theatrical 3D of tron then

    I would say that Matt and my opinion kind of comes in

    alongside yours.


    I am guessing if you thought the 3D was lackluster in

    the theater, it won't look any better in the home.


    I know someone on this forum who is claiming that

    theatrically, TRON was the best 3D he has ever seen.

    So, again, this is a subjective technology.


    However, I think its safe to assume by all our three

    opinions alone that there is much better 3D to be seen

    elsewhere.


    I would like to know when ghosting is introduced.

    I believe it has everything to do with disc authoring and

    the quality of the display to handle such problems. I am

    no expert on this,so take that as my best guess.
     
  9. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    Since you think 3D is most effective with a lot of "jab" effects, I'm not sure I can take your idea of what constitutes "good" 3D seriously. I mean Yogi Bear is "good" 3D because a lot of junk gets thrown at the camera, but the Tron:Legacy 3D is not so good because it mainly maintains most of the 3D effects behind the plane of the screen.
     
  10. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Edwin, you don't have to take it seriously and you

    don't have to agree with me.


    Read what I said again. It is a subjective opinion.


    However, I bet you can show a group of people both

    YOGI BEAR and TRON side-by-side and most would

    pick YOGI BEAR as having the superior 3D image.

    ....and it's not based on what gets thrown at the

    screen. YOGI BEAR has that reach-in, picture window,

    cardboard cutout 3D look in just about every scene.

    TRON looks much more flat throughout.
     
  11. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    Okay, I guess I can see what you are getting at. You are talking more about the, for lack of better words, deep field effect similar to those IMAX films. I have to admit that I like the flatter look of films like Tron:L because they are not so hard on the eyes. I watched a bit of one of the IMAX films on a 3D set and the depth of field was huge, but after a few minutes I felt like my head was going to explode. It felt like I was seeing double and my eyes felt like they couldn't find a focal point. They were all over the place. However, I can also see the appeal of that effect to a lot of people because the depth of field is impressive. At least, I think I now have a better idea of what you might consider "reference" 3D to be.
     
  12. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Edwin,


    You got my point perfectly.


    My idea of WOW factor my not be your idea of WOW factor.


    However, when I review 3D films and rate them high to low,

    I take into consideration what I think audiences are going

    to be most impressed with.

    I think those films with the "deep field effect" have more of

    a WOW factor than those that do not.

    I don't feel TRON needed any 3D gimmickry, but I was

    disappointed that with all its beautiful computer visuals, there

    wasn't more depth of field present. You look at the final 20

    minutes of the film and you wonder why the 100 minutes that

    preceded it didn't look quite as good.
     
  13. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    I've been pondering all evening a possible change in nomenclature from "3D quality" to something else. a "3D proficiency" score or a "3D versatility" score. I'll keep thinking aout it.
     
  14. Towergrove

    Towergrove Screenwriter

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    With Tron, Yogi Bear and Tangled coming over the next 3 weeks Im in 3D heaven! Thanks guys for the reviews!
     
  15. Paul Hillenbrand

    Paul Hillenbrand Screenwriter

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    Same here!

    If the stereo picture source is pristine and there is no ghosting on either the left or right picture elements then only the 3D-eyewear, disc-authoring, or display-limits can remain as possibilities for producing ghosting artifacts. If the particular 3D disc is not the problem, then artifacts have to come from either the eyewear, display performance or both.

    After my display setup choices have been optionally implemented for decreasing 3D ghosting artifacts on my two fast-phosphor plasma displays, it has become a minor concern for me at this point in time and IMO, I find viewing 3D Blu-ray's very close to what I experience at the theater.

    Paul
     
  16. Jeffrey Nelson

    Jeffrey Nelson Screenwriter

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    I would think that "impressive depth of field" is the point of 3D. If you don't have that, then it might as well be flat 2D. I saw TRON: LEGACY in an Imax 3D screening, and it was the most useless, lackluster 3D I've ever seen in the theater; it would have been much better as a 2D screening, because then I wouldn't have had to wear glasses throughout the whole damned thing and I would have saved money too.
     
  17. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Jeffrey,


    I am sort of relieved to hear that.


    I knew writing a negative review about Tron's 3D

    quality would garner backlash.


    I didn't see the film theatrically. I almost could

    not trust what I was seeing on Blu-ray. When I

    hear comments like yours, at least I feel better

    about my review, knowing I am not alone in my opinion.
     
  18. Bob Cashill

    Bob Cashill Cinematographer

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    I saw TRON: LEGACY in 3D in a regular multiplex, and there was nothing going on, neither effects nor depth of field. Like ALICE IN WONDERLAND and CLASH OF THE TITANS it may as well have been in 2D.
     
  19. SilverWook

    SilverWook Cinematographer

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    It's not a "throw stuff at the camera every five minutes" kind of movie, but what effects there were worked for me at the IMAX screen I saw, and when I saw it later at another screen in the same multiplex.


    I have to wonder how many digital 3D venues haven't been calibrated/maintained properly, and are now undermining the whole experience. Just like bad projection once ruined many a 50's 3D film.
     
  20. AlexS2

    AlexS2 Stunt Coordinator

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    I will agree with this. I found Legacy's stereo to be beyond lackluster.

    So much of the movie was FLAT. I found it so hugely disappointing. The world of Tron presents so many creative opportunities to make use of the 3D format, far more than just pop out, and yet director Joseph Kosinksi is barely able to even maintain a consistent perception of depth throughout the film.


    Ultimately I found Legacy to be a disappointing film on all fronts, lackluster 3D, an incoherent and badly paced story, and uninspiring action.
     

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