Tron Legacy/Tron: 2-Movie Collection (3D Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Joseph Kosinski, Steven Lisberger
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/1.78:1; 2.20:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 125/96 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1/5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish, others
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, French, others
MSRP: $ 79.99
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Review Date: March 25, 2011
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.