BLU-RAY REVIEW: Tron: Legacy / Tron: The Original Classic (Five-Disc Set)
Two amazing Disney sci-fi films in one great home video package...
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If you're a sci-fi fan, you've no doubt seen the classic 1982 Disney film Tron. Starring Jeff Bridges and a swarm of amazing special effects (for that day and age), Tron tells the incredible story of Kevin Flynn (Bridges), a young and gifted software engineer who hacks software company ENCOM's mainframe in order to prove they're using his program. However, he soon finds himself inside the mainframe and battling Sark and the MCP (Master Control Program) for his existence as as "User" both in the digital world and in the real world.
In 2010, nearly 30 years later, fans finally received the sequel to Tron they've been asking for with Tron: Legacy. Filled with the most cutting edge special effects and an amazing cast including Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde and Jeff Bridges, Tron: Legacy made for a fitting reintroduction to the grid for both old and new fans alike. Now, both Tron: Legacy as well as Tron: The Original Classic are available in an impressive Five-Disc set which includes both films as well as a variety of extras for every fan looking to add this to their home video library.
Let's start with Tron: The Original Classic. Written and directed by Steven Lisberger and featuring a very young Jeff Bridges in the lead, the film was a revelation for many fans at what was the very beginning of the internet age. Looking back, the film's story was so far ahead of its time - with its insight and ideas including things we today take for granted (such as virus protection and program integration), it's easy to understand why so many tech-heads at the time loved it. That said, the special effects - for 1982 - were impressive as well; the Grid - a digital world of lights, games, beauty and danger - left audiences amazed and awe-struck. And while the acting may have left something to be desired, the story included plenty of positive character development, action and adventure.
In this package, the original film is presented in 1080p that, while showing its age, looks beautiful. As previously stated, in 1982, this film was cutting-edge; it's bright, contrasting colors and flowing lines of light were beyond impressive. Now, while they may seem sad compared to what some high school kids can do on their home computer, they still deserve a place of prominence and prosperity in your video collection. Likewise, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English surround track provides a solid update to the original, with a front-heavy dialogue track and solid use of rear speakers for effects and music. While the soundtrack too may show signs of aging, it measures itself well against other films of the era to receive an update to hi-def.
As for special features, Tron: The Original Classic includes everything film fans would want (and have seen before) as well as two new featurettes exclusive to this new release. Writer and director Steven Lisberger, producer Donald Kushner, associate producer and visual effects supervisor Harrison Ellenshaw, and visual effects supervisor Richard Taylor deliver an impressive full length audio commentary of the film, providing fans with plenty of insight into the film's origins, creation, development, and production. A 10-minute "The Tron Phenomenon" provides cast members of the new Tron: Legacy film the opportunity to talk about the "legacy" of the original film while the 12-minute "Photo Tronology" provides Lisberger and his son a chance to show off Disney's archived concept art and more from the original.
Other, previously released special features include the 88-minute "The Making of Tron" and multiple other shorter featurettes focusing on the creation of this sci-fi classic. These includes everything from "The Early Development of Tron" and "Early Video Tests" to a "Development Gallery" and more. Other featurettes include info on "Backlight Animation," and "Digital Imagery" as well as "Music," "Publicity," "Design" and more. A 9-minute "Storyboarding" featurette explores the process as well as shows a comparison of the film-to-storyboards. Hundreds of images are also included in an immense "Galleries" section which includes images from early concept art and design work to publicity and promo photos and more. Lastly, three deleted scenes are also included.
Having Tron: The Original Classic included in this package is really icing on the super tasty cake in this case and it's great to see so much extra included here. For fans looking to fully explore the "legacy" of Tron, it all begins here.
Now we get to the main course - Tron: Legacy.
We begin in 1989, 7 years after the original, with Kevin Flynn (again played by Bridges) expanding ENCOM to gigantic proportions. He's been working on "the grid," developing new and amazing technologies the likes of which the world has never seen. Until he doesn't come home one day, thus abandoning his son, Sam, to an unknown future. Fast forward 21 years and Sam is majority share holder in ENCOM with no desire to run his father's empire. Thrill-seeking, reckless, and daring with a moral compass that points in the same direction as his missing father's, Sam seeks to provide for free the same thing ENCOM's leaders want users to pay for: creative, safe software. However, when Flynn's friend receives a page from his boss' old arcade and Sam finds himself - like his father - forced onto the Grid, fighting for his life against the programs he only heard about in bedtime stories from his father.
Tron: Legacy is a beautiful, unimaginably creative and visually stunning masterpiece of cinema and is presented here in three different formats, each of which will impress fans. While the film's story is a bit of a dud (when compared to the originality of it's predecessor), it is more of a coming of age story told through the lens of an action/adventure, special effects epic. Character-wise, the film reintroduces us to classic favorites like Flynn and Clu (both played by Bridges) as well as new favorites like Sam (Garrett Hedlund) and the unique Quorra (Olivia Wilde). Each develops over the film's 125 minutes as relationships are re-established, joined, and betrayed. However, the real star of Tron: Legacy is "the grid," a world which, in the original film was impressive, but is now simply beyond words. Created by light and designed to give life to the inner workings of the digital world which we as "users" tread daily, this place is like nothing one could ever imagine. It truly must be seen to be believed and understood and watching Tron: Legacy for the design work alone is worth the price.
Tron: Legacy comes to life in four different formats: Digitial, Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, and DVD. Each is impressive in its own right, especially the 3D Blu-ray version, which provides the full 3D experience in the comfort of one's own home. The film seamlessly switches between aspect ratios (2.35:1 and 1.78:1 IMAX) and 2D and 3D at times as well as keeps one enthralled with an impressive DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless soundtrack. Huge explosions and roaring engines as well as pixellating, defeated enemies fill all audio channels as does Daft Punk's impressive soundtrack, which is impressive in its own right.
The 2D blu-ray disc includes the special features, ranging in type as well as quality and length. The most in-depth and impressive is the multi-part "The Next Day: Flynn Lives Revealed," which explores what happens following the conclusion of Tron: Legacy. While a sequel is already in production, the info here helps fill in the gaps with Sam Flynn at the head of his father's company ENCOM and the results of his adventure on the grid. For those with a PC, Mac, or iPad looking to put to work a new app, "Disney's Second Screen" provides interactive features simultaneously while the film plays on your big screen at home.
Other, shorter special features include the 12-minute "Visualizing Tron" and the 10-minute "Launching the Legacy," which focus on the visuals of the film and the creation of the film as a whole. Everything from the film's real and special effects, the use of light in the film, the film's costuming, and creating the young Kevin Flynn/Clu using the old Jeff Bridges are given plenty of attention in the "Visualizing Tron" segment while the film's development of the film along with interviews and test footage are included in the "Launching the Legacy" featurette, which gives a brief but good look behind-the-scenes.
"Installing the Cast" examines the cast members while "Disc Roars" is a brief look at director Joseph Kosinski using crowds from Comic Con to record audio from the film for use in the film. Fun and funny. The music video "Derezzed" - an awesome techno piece by the soundtrack creators Daft Punk - is also included. Lastly, for fans looking forward to the upcoming Disney XD animated series Tron: Uprising, the trailer is included here.
Overall, if you're a fan of the visually spectacular or simply want to see a film that's visually jaw-dropping and unlike anything before, Tron: Legacy is it. While maybe not sci-fi at its best, Tron: Legacy has a decent story, interesting characters, impressive action and adventure, and special effects that are truly beyond imagination. Likewise, thanks to its PG rating, it's a film the whole family can enjoy together.
The Tron: Legacy / Tron: The Original Classic (Five-Disc Set) is available now wherever fine home video is sold.
Be sure to enter the Tron: Legacy / Tron: The Original Classic Giveaway for your chance to take this impressive Five-Disc Set home for FREE! Today is the LAST DAY to enter!
- Jess C. Horsley
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley