Monday, April 04, 2011

Bringing Home the Grid: Tron and Tron: Legacy

The original Tron and Tron: Legacy become user-friendly this week as Disney rolls out a multitude of home entertainment options as the two films arrive in both Blu-Ray and standard DVD formats.  My package of choice was the 5-Disc 2-Movie Blu-Ray Combo Pack, despite not really having a need for the Blu-Ray 3D edition of Tron: Legacy.  MSRP is a bit steep at $79.99 but finding it for less is a given; Amazon is advertising it at $49.95 and other retailers and online merchants will likely be offering up similar discounts.

Let me just say from the start that I am an unabashed Tron fan.  Unlike my children who were born into a world filled with video games, computers and gadgets, I was fortunate to witness an era of techno-history unfold, from which the original 1982 movie of Tron has emerged as a pseudo-pop culture benchmark for many of my generation.  It is by no means a perfect movie, but its flaws are dramatically overshadowed by its groundbreaking special effects techniques and its still visually dazzling presentation.  It is a legend hard-earned and well deserved and a legacy that extends beyond just its more high profile sequel that debuted in theaters last year.  Pixar-chief John Lasseter once noted that without Tron there would have been no Toy Story, and many other contemporary Hollywood craftsmen have made similar testimonials.

Tron: Legacy, arriving close to three decades after Tron, has inspired passionate debate among both critics and fans.  I personally enjoyed the film, noting in my earlier review that I found it intriguing and thought-provoking, and most certainly dazzling and technically amazing.

Garrett Hedlund, Steve Lisberger, Jeff Bridges and Joseph Kosinski

Tron: Legacy is an equally dazzling and entertaining home theater experience.  It is a film tailor-made for high definition and it does not disappoint in that regard.  Also well served is the perfectly matched score by Daft Punk that wonderfully resonates through five channels of digital surround sound.  The film cleverly and seamlessly alternates between aspect ratios, allowing it to match its original IMAX presentation.

On-disc bonus features are neither impressive nor overly disappointing.  The Next Day: Flynn Lives Revealed is perhaps the most significant.  It is a short film that purportedly bridges the gap between Tron: Legacy and a possible third Tron film.  It also provides some interesting exposition and background heretofore unrevealed about the Tron universe.  Other special features include a series of making-of vignettes, the Daft Punk "Derezzed" music video and a brief teaser for the upcoming Tron: Uprising television show.

The lion's share of bonus features for Tron: Legacy has shifted to Disney's new Second Screen feature that debuted with the Bambi Diamond Edition DVD last month.  Second Screen is exactly that, an additional interactive platform that provides supplemental content that is synchronized to the actual presentation of the film.  Two such platforms are currently available, either an Apple iPad or a laptop computer.  Second Screen comes to the iPad by way of a free application downloaded via the App Store.  For the Mac or PC, it is a Flash-based interface streamed through Disney's web site.  Unfortunately, as we went to press, the Tron: Legacy Second Screen app was not yet available in the Apple App Store.  I was especially impressed with the Bambi edition and hold high hopes for the Tron version.

Returning to Tron: The Original Classic, as Disney is now packaging it, the film has been remastered with a digital restoration and enhanced sound.  It is spectacular in high definition, likely better than it looked in theaters in 1982.  The very extensive array of special features from the 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition DVD have been included in this set; new materials include The Tron Phenomenon documentary and Photo Tronology, where director Steve Lisberger and his son dig into Tron resources that have long been stored in the Disney Archives.

For clarification, here is a breakdown of Tron and Tron: Legacy buying options:

5-Disc 2-Movie Blu-Ray Combo Pack
Includes Blu-Ray 3D, Blu-Ray, Standard DVD and Digital Copy of Tron: Legacy and Blu-Ray of Tron: The Original Classic Special Edition

4-Disc Blu-Ray Combo Pack of Tron: Legacy
Includes Blu-Ray 3D, Blu-Ray, Standard DVD and Digital Copy of Tron: Legacy

2-Disc Blu-Ray Combo Pack of Tron Legacy
Includes Blu-Ray and Standard DVD

1-Disc Standard DVD of Tron: Legacy

2-Disc Blu-Ray Combo Pack of Tron: The Original Classic Special Edition
Includes Blu-Ray and Standard DVD

2-Disc Standard DVD of Tron: The Original Classic Special Edition

Unfortunately, Walt Disney Home Entertainment has once again made the digital copy only available with the more expensive Blu-Ray 3D packages.  As a result, they are doing a disservice to those consumers who desire a digital copy but have no need for the 3D edition.  Disney did not make available a digital copy of Tron: The Original Classic via DVD purchase.

Explore the 2719 Hyperion Archives:
The Legacy of Tron


G. Brian Moor said...

I'm very thankful there are others who enjoyed Tron: Legacy. I and my whole family loved the film. The story line was not complex, nor did it need to be. I found it to be a highly thought provoking and emotional film in addition to a refreshing take on digital special effects. I'm even in disagreement with the trusted Leonard Maltin on this one.

The original "Tron" of 1982 was not earth-shattering, but it was ground-breaking. It came at a time when I was spending more money on Asteroids and Space Invaders than I care to admit.

Anonymous said...

I am really excited to see this movie in HD! I work for Dish Network full time and I also go to school full time so it is hard for me to get out sometimes. I heard through work that this movie would be available to order on PPV early this month and I am really looking forward to it. Thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

The original was better and a lot less dark. Plus I loved how they did the whole religious thing with the Users. Probably too deep for today's audiences, plus the suits got worried about offending the Bible Belt.

Nini said...

Ah, I should know better but I cringe and shake my head disdainfully each time I read Tron's subtitle of "the original classic". It just reads badly, damn the marketing intern who suggested this tautology and doubly so for the person/team/assorted nameless so-and-sos who approved it.

Minor rant over.

WhereIsTRON said...

What utterly destroyed this movie for me:

1). No TRON in T:L. No, Rinzler was not TRON - TRON is TRON. A TRON movie without TRON is like a STAR WARS movie without The Force or a STAR TREK movie without The Federation... You could do it, but what would be the point? Ridiculous.

2). No ground-breaking paradigm. With TRON, computers were new and CGI was almost unheard of. With T:L...? What did it have? Motion-capture faces? De-aging? T:L had nothing revolutionary that other films haven't already had. TRON was bleeding edge while T:L was simply... ordinary.

3). No story. Seriously. I understand that every film has its fanbois but can anyone honestly write that the T:L storyline was anything other then pedestrian? TRON will never be mistaken for REMAINS OF THE DAY but TRON is Shakespearean compared to T:L. Talk about a mile wide and an inch deep...

I feel bad for the TRON franchise but this is what they get for using a first-time director and aiming squarely for the 14-year old boy market. Instead of brisk DVD sales, TRON fans better pray that POTC4 tanks and that Disney's Marvel investment never pans out.