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In bringing TRON to the silver screen, the Walt Disney Studio created one of the most unique films in the history of the cinema. TRON is an intelligent, high concept film that was beautifully executed by Disney, and stands as one of the studio’s finest achievements in live action filmmaking. This 1982 film takes the viewer into the universe that exists inside the computer system of a large corporation, a realm where programs are alive and have personalities. These living programs believe in "the user" with a religious fervor that makes them outcast to the system’s Master Control Program.

The Master Control Program or MCP is an all-encompassing program that replaces the functions of all the smaller programs on the system with its own. Left unchecked, the MCP intends to take over every computer system in the world. TRON stars Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn, the computer programmer whose designs for a number of popular video games were stolen by a rival programmer, Ed Dillinger (David Warner), who has taken credit for the games. On the strength of the work he pilfered from Flynn, Dillinger has been elevated to senior executive of software company ENCOM. Looking for proof of the theft, Flynn hacks into the ENCOM mainframe, but ends up being digitized into the computer system where he is forced into combat on the game grid. Once on the game grid, Flynn joins forces with Tron (Bruce Boxleitner), the one program capable of stopping the Master Control Program. Standing between the film’s heroes and the Master Control Program is Sark (also David Warner), the MCP’s number one computer defense program and game warrior.

TRON is a visually impressive film that was produced in 70mm to allow the realm inside the computer system to be realized at the highest level of quality available in 1982. Early computer animation is blended with a simulated computer realm, in which the performers interact. To simulate the computer realm in 1982 required many traditional film techniques, such as rotoscoping and hand painted animation that added color to the black and white cinematography. The highly stylized look of TRON is truly unique and completely absorbing, and amongst the qualities that has made this film an enduring classic. The cast of TRON also features Cindy Morgan, Barnard Hughes, Dan Shor and Peter Jurasik.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made TRON available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.20:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. As a long time TRON fan, I have to say I marveled as the quality of the 1080p presentation. TRON has never looked as arrestingly beautiful in the home realm, as it does on this Blu-ray release. Considering the analog film techniques that were required to simulate a digital world in 1982, TRON had the potential to come off very poorly in high definition. Fortunately, the mastering was done with a sense of artistry that cleans up the problematic aspects, without compromising the things that made TRON a unique and wonderful motion picture experience. Relatively speaking, the image is crisp and very well defined. There is some softness along the way, but none of it ever becomes distracting. Color reproduction is excellent, the painted on colors are bold and bright, while the footage that represents the real world display respectable saturation and an early eighties vibe. Blacks are true and the whites appear crisp. The elements from which TRON has been transferred appear to have been digitally scrubbed of imperfections and signs of age. Modest grain is present, which helps maintain a film-like quality of the presentation.

TRON is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. As a nearly thirty-year-old film, TRON still manages to deliver the goods in the audio department. Still, the sound is somewhat dated, but remains quite impressive nonetheless. The recordings can sound thin and a little canned, especially the foley. Surround usage doesn’t rival newer soundtracks, but remains effective. The forward soundstage has more juice and carries everything quite well. Dialogue is crisp and fully understandable. The musical component benefits from the lossless encode and sounds better here than it has in the past. As for the bass channel, it is solid enough for the material. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.



Coming nearly thirty years after the original film, TRON: LEGACY almost seems like it’s a sequel that has been a long time in the making, or just a movie that is long overdue. Personally, I am glad the Disney has revisited the material; especially since computer imagery can finally deliver on the high concept of the original TRON. After the events of TRON, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) was made CEO of ENCOM, which he ran until his disappearance in 1989. Twenty years later, we discover that Flynn’s son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), is the controlling shareholder in ENCOM, but Sam has no interest in his father’s company, other than staging an annual practical joke on the board of directors. In Flynn’s absence, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) has been a surrogate father figure to Sam and tried to represent Flynn’s intentions for ENCOM as a company executive. After Sam’s latest practical joke on the ENCOM board, Alan approaches Sam and advises him that he received a page from the phone in his father’s office in Flynn’s Arcade- a telephone number that has been disconnected for twenty years.

While investigating the shuttered video arcade, Sam discovers that his father kept a secret computer lab at the location. Attempting to access the computer system in his father’s lab, Sam finds himself digitized into the system and turned into a combatant of the game grid, as his father was years earlier. While competing, Sam is revealed to be a user and taken before Clu (also Jeff Bridges)- the program created by Flynn to perfect the computer system. We quickly learn that Clu betrayed Flynn and is responsible for his creator becoming trapped inside the digital world. Clu takes on and nearly kills Sam in a Light Cycle match, but Sam is rescued by Quorra (Olivia Wilde), who reunites the younger Flynn with his father, who has spent twenty years hiding off the grid in the outlands of the computer realm. Determined to rescue his father and make back to the outside world, Sam heads back to the portal where he will have to face Clu once again. The cast of TRON: LEGACY also includes James Frain, Beau Garrett and Michael Sheen.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made TRON: LEGACY available on Blu-ray Disc in a presentation that shifts between the 1.78: and 2.40:1 aspect ratios to accommodate a number of action sequences within the body of the film that were shot with IMAX cameras. Additionally, TRON: LEGACY has been encoded onto Blu-ray with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is demonstration quality and maintains consistency across the shifting motion picture formats. The image is utterly gorgeous and one can become easily hypnotized by the lavish visual splendor of the production. This is indeed the realization of the promise of the original TRON, a perfect marriage of live action and computer imagery. Sharpness, clarity, image depth and fine detail are all exemplary, plus things like individual hairs and inconsistencies in the actor’s skin are readily apparent. Colors are fully saturated and reproduced without flaws. Additionally, the flesh tones come across in an exceedingly pleasing manner. Blacks are pure, as are the whites, plus the contrast is very smooth. Shadow detail is also pretty terrific. The elements from which TRON: LEGACY has been mastered are free from imperfections. Grain/noise are barely perceptible.

TRON: LEGACY is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Like the visuals, this demonstration quality soundtrack delivers the goods- TRON: LEGACY has an enveloping, highly directional sound design that places the viewer in the middle of a sonic whirlwind. Action sequences are everything surround sound junkies could possibly hope for- sonic information erupts from all sides, both front and back, plus the sound effortlessly pans across the soundstage. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is astonishingly good, both the music and sound effects are tremendously well reproduced. Sound effects roar with a convincing sense of presence, while the electronic music of Daft Punk throbs throughout, as though it were the very heartbeat of TRON: LEGACY. The bass channel is deep, percussive and ground shaking, enhancing both sound effects and music alike. Dialogue is clean, clear and never buried under the sonic onslaught. French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are an English 2.0 track and an English Descriptive track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus for both films. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements for each movie. TRON includes a mix of new material and items ported from previous DVD releases. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Steven Lisberger, producer Donald Kushner, associate producer and visual effects supervisor Harrison Ellenshaw. Featurettes and other programs include: The Making Of Tron (eighty eight minutes), The Tron Phenomenon (ten minutes), Photo Tronology (twelve minutes), Development (eight minutes), Digital Imagery (twelve minutes), Music (eight minutes), Publicity (thirteen minutes), Design (four minutes) and Storyboarding (nine minutes). Deleted Scenes are provided with an introduction by director Steven Lisberger, while three art and photo Galleries close out the supplements.

For TRON: LEGACY, Featurettes and other programs include: The Next Day: Flynn Lives Revealed (ten minutes), First Look At Tron: Uprising (two minutes), Launching The Legacy (ten minutes), Visualizing Tron (twelve minutes), Installing The Cast (twelve minutes) and Disc Roars (three minutes). A Music Video for Derezzed by Daft Punk is also provided. The Disney Second Screen feature that integrates laptops or iPads for additional supplemental content is also included on this release. The five disc, 2 Movie Collection of TRON: LEGACY / TRON: THE ORIGINAL CLASSIC ($80) also features the 3D Blu-ray version of the TRON: LEGACY, as well as a DVD and Digital Copy editions of TRON: LEGACY.

As a long time TRON fan, I am delighted by the release of this classic film and its action packed, eye-candy sequel TRON: LEGACY. I was blown away by the Blu-ray presentation of TRON, which now looks better than I have ever seen it look, while still maintaining the integrity of the original production. As for TRON: LEGACY, the Blu-ray presentation is demonstration quality all the way. If you are a fan, this collection comes very highly recommended.


Tron: Legacy / Tron: The Original Classic (Five-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy) (2010)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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