By Gordon Meyer
Way back in 1982, Disney released TRON, a ground breaking science fiction film that pioneered the use of computer generated graphics in movies and created an alternative world set in cyberspace. The sequel, TRON: LEGACY was released with much hoopla and fanboy excitement last December. And now comes the 3D Blu-ray release as part of a five disc set that includes a digital copy of the film, a 2D Blu-ray and DVD and a Blu-ray of the original 1982 TRON. The combo pack streets on Tuesday, April 5.
The Movies: The basic premise of TRON: LEGACY is intriguing. Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who was sucked into the cyber world in the original film, has mysteriously disappeared, leaving his young son Sam to be raised by grandparents. Twenty years later, an unexplained page brings Sam to his father’s abandoned videogame arcade where he discovers dad’s secret computer lab and gets sucked into that same cyber world on a quest to find and bring back his father while fighting a power hungry enemy.
Part of the problem I had with TRON: LEGACY is that it just took way too long to get Sam into that cyber world and that once there, many of the action sequences seemed designed more to show off kick ass visuals than to move the story forward. The filmmakers used a “Wizard of Oz” like visual technique, presenting the “real world” segments in 2D and the cyber world in 3D. Unfortunately, as a producer friend of mine pointed out as we watched the 3D Blu-ray, the color palette was so dark that it ended up flattening out the image, often minimizing the stereoscopic effects.
On the other hand, the digitally restored original film never looked better. Even though the vector graphics are relatively simple by 2011 standards, there’s an other-worldly look and feel to them that’s both striking and timeless. First time writer/director Steven Lisberger successfully transports us into that other world in a way that surprisingly enough holds up well even after almost 30 years. Sure, some of the dialog is pretty hokey, but I like the story and the way it’s told.
Of course one of the reasons that taking a look back at TRON is so relevant for P3 Update readers is because of the impact it’s had and continues to have on filmic storytellers. For the first time, it demonstrated the link between videogames and movies and it really worked! Lisberger, whose background is in traditional animation, demonstrated a mastery of visuals and pacing that his successor, Joseph Kosinski (the sequel’s director) could have learned from.
3D Show Off Factor: Truthfully, if you want to show off your 3D TV, you’re probably best off using the “Pirates of the Caribbean 4” trailer that precedes the feature. While the 3D is competently executed in the film, the only segments that stand out are the transitions between the cyber and real worlds. Rating: ** (out of 5)
Bonus Content: Most of the content here is fanboy, rather than serious film student oriented. There is a pretty decent “making of” documentary featuring the filmmakers along with footage of director Joseph Kosinski at an early Comic-Con presentation. Again though, from a film student’s perspective, I found the bonus content with the original TRON to be much more informative, including all the standard def bonus content from the original TRON DVD release a few years ago.
Overall Rating: *** ½ out of 5
Disc reviewed on a 64 bit Windows 7 system powered by an AMD Phenom II X4 CPU, NVIDIA GeForce 480, NVIDIA 3D Vision and LG W2363D monitor.