HTF UMD REVIEW: Tron

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by David Galindo, Jun 18, 2005.

  1. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    [c]Tron (UMD)
    Region 1 • PG • Subtitles: English • Available June 21st

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    “A Milestone in the History of Computer Animation.”
    -from the cover art of the Tron UMD box.
    [/c]

    Thoughts on the Movie

    There is really only one type of consumer for this UMD. I don’t find it likely that someone would walk in a store, see Tron, and think, “Hmmm, Tron. Sounds like an interesting movie…maybe I shall give it a try.” No, I’m willing to bet 99% of people who buy Tron are the ones who see it and think, “Hey! It’s Tron on UMD! Oh man, I gotta get that one! Awesome!”

    I had never seen Tron before this UMD, and always kinda wondered what it was about. I have to say it’s an interesting movie, and I completely understand the cult following of this film….but it felt more like a history lesson on early computer animation for me than a real movie.

    The plot…well, basically this guy doesn’t get the credit for all these great games he made, so he hacks into the main system of a software company to find evidence against them. The computer actually zaps him into the mainframe, where he fights his way out while freeing software programs in the process. Think of it as Matrix Lite…or perhaps I should say some of the main ideas that the Matrix borrowed.

    I have to say that I was pretty impressed with the visuals, considering the era it came from. While the action scenes such as the Light Cycles were really banal, the way the suits of the users and programs glowed was kind of beautiful. The sound design was really fantastic, and I loved all the footstep sounds and throwbacks to early arcade games. The soundtrack, when it’s not heavy on the Casio keyboard, is really really great and, in a way, hypnotic.

    I realize there is really one main purpose for this movie, and that’s a good ol’ dose of nostalgia. If you were to ask me what movies made me nostalgic, I’d answer Short Circuit, The Wizard, Ghostbusters…is it any coincidence that two of those movies are coming to UMD? Heck, it’s very possible to enjoy this movie if you’ve never seen it before. I thought it was pretty interesting, mildly amusing, and sometimes really neat to look at.

    What I hated was the ending…it ends as soon as the good news is announced. I get the feeling the movie wasn’t interested at all with the plot outside the computer universe, and simply ended it when all the scenes in the mainframe were over. I guess that’s a good thing, since the “real world” scenes were not all that great to begin with.

    I would not go as far to say that this movie was a huge turkey, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it already. Maybe because I really found the graphics interesting, because of all those computer animation courses I took. I certainly wasn’t involved in the plot. It’s a film that’s nice to look at, interesting to view from a history standpoint, and one I will likely revisit sometime later.

    Oh, and I loved that helicopter in the “real world” that glowed neon red, as well as the helicopter landing pad. Although it was likely special effects, I really loved the way it looked. That (and a few more instances) had me thinking, “Neato!”


    Video Quality

    This is a pretty old movie, but this UMD still looks great. It’s presented in its original 2.20 aspect ratio. About 80% of the movie takes place inside the computer world, and that’s where this UMD really shines.

    When I was watching the movie in a room that has lots of overhead lighting, the visuals looked good, but I knew that this movie was meant to be viewed in dim/no lighting. And sure enough, with the AC adapter plugged in (to get the highest brightness setting possible) and in the dark, this film looks really amazing. The CGI itself looks ok, but when the neon on the characters and around them start to glow, the PSP really shines. It’s absolutely amazing to see the neon glow so pretty on the screen…and the graphics are very sharp.

    I absolutely recommend you watch this in the dark, because the colors are so much more vivid and eye-popping that way. A spectacular transfer that’s a bit grainy during the “real world” sequences, but due to the age of the film I can let that slide. Fantastic transfer overall!

    5/5
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    Audio Quality

    No complaints here…the audio sounds sharp and clear, with some good panning and directional sound. The sound design here is a real treat to listen to, and the music comes in very crisp. It’s a bit light on the bass, but other than that it sounds great.

    3.5/5
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    Extras

    There was a Tron Collectors Edition DVD released a while back, and we get a couple of nifty extras carried over from it.

    First off, the menus look really great and fit the film perfectly, like how the contents are listed (Run Program, Sector Access, etc.). The scrolling of the menu choices run at a choppy rate to give that old school computer feel, and the chapter selection is really cool. Basically, there is a grid on the screen that plays over the movie chapter selection, giving it a neat fake-pixel feel. This is something that could never be done on a DVD using real time movie footage, and its great seeing stuff like this on a UMD.

    We get a Deleted Scenes selection, starting with an Introduction (2:19) on why the scenes were cut. Next up are the actual scenes, Tron and Yori’s Love Scene (1:56) and Tron and Yori’s Love Scene #2 (:46). We get an Alternate Opening (1:21) and the Light Cycle Scene w/Alternate Carlos Music Tracks (2:47). All of these, aside from the Love Scene #2, are great to watch and pretty interesting.

    What bugs me is the back cover of the UMD. It lists the Deleted Scenes and subtitles as extras, but also says it has “Storyboards showcasing early work on Light Cycles.” Folks, I looked and looked and found no storyboards whatsoever. Perhaps it’s an Easter Egg like the National Treasure extra, but I tried all kinds of combination presses with no luck. They are nowhere to be found. Maybe someone else will have better luck, or (more likely) it was a feature taken out after the UMD cases were made.

    We also get forced trailers (damnit!) and a nice insert inside the case. Overall, a nice variety brought over from the DVD, as the only other major extra on the DVD was a 90 minute behind the scenes piece, which would never fit on a UMD anyways.

    Oh, and also, you cannot select subtitles from the menu. You must play the movie and access the PSP control panel to switch to them. Just a heads up.

    3.5/5
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    Overall…

    Well, for all you Tron fans out there- go buy this UMD. It has a great picture, nice extras and a fantastic sound design that comes through well on the PSP. For the rest who haven’t seen Tron, well…all I can say is I found it pretty amusing. Hey, at least I’ll catch all those Tron references I hear about all the time in TV shows and movies, and for that alone I am thankful I saw this movie.

    4/5
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  2. PerryD

    PerryD Supporting Actor

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    David, thanks for the review! It's great that Tron is being put out in its original aspect ratio, it's one of my favorites from my childhood. I'm hoping that these PG movies are selling well for Disney, perhaps they will start releasing some of their animated movies on UMD (the Pixar movies would be great).
     
  3. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    I heard that Disney is seriously considering The Incredibles for a December release. Thats one of my favorite movies...lets hope we get it!
     
  4. Jay Mitchosky

    Jay Mitchosky Producer

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    Certainly a shift in the technological landscape between when Tron was released and now, where you can now watch it on a tiny handheld.
     

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