TRON: Legacy / TRON: The Original Classic (Five-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy)
by Director (TRON): Steven Lisberger, Director (TRON Legacy): Joseph Kosinski
Review by Charles Mohapel
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Blu-ray ISBN/ITEM#: B004K4N64E
Date: 15 April 2011 List Price $79.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In 1982's TRON, Kevin Flynn (played by Jeff Bridges) was a genius videogame inventor whose biggest games were stolen by his partner Ed Dillinger (David Warner), who then stole control of Encom from him. With the help of his colleagues Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) and Lora (Cindy Morgan), he got into Encom, and begins accessing the computer system. Unfortunately for him, the Master Control Program (MCP), Dillinger's powerful AI was self-aware, and instantly realized what Flynn was doing and used a powerful experimental laser to "digitize" Flynn, turning him into a computer file inside the Grid. Once inside Flynn was at the mercy of MCP, who did his best to have his evil minions kill the User.
TRON Legacy began with a flashback to 1989 as Kevin Flynn, now the CEO of ENCOM, telling his young son Sam about his various adventures in the Grid and about how he, Tron, and Clu discovered something amazing and absolutely miraculous. When young Sam asked about it, he was told to wait until next time as Kevin left for work. Next came several news reports about Kevin's disappearance, which not only jeopardized ENCOM's future, but left Sam as an orphan. Cut to present day and a rebellious Sam has broken into the ENCOM Tower, stealing Encom's new operating system, and releasing it online for free. After being arrested, Sam made bail and returned to his apartment where he was met by Alan Bradley, who told him about a mysterious page he received from his Kevin Flynn's office in Flynn's arcade. Reluctantly following this tip, Sam located a concealed doorway hidden behind the arcade's Tron game which led him to a secret workshop. Sitting down Sam began searching through his father's computer and unwittingly activated a digitizing ray which transported him into Kevin Smith's private digital world. As confused Sam stepped out onto the Grid, he was spotted by a Recognizer and assigned to the gladiatorial Games.
"TRON" Directed by:
Steven Lisberger (screenplay)
Steven Lisberger (story) and
Bonnie MacBird (story)
Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeff Bridges ... Kevin Flynn / Clu
Bruce Boxleitner... Alan Bradley / Tron
David Warner... Ed Dillinger / Sark / Master Control Program
Cindy Morgan... Lora / Yori
Barnard Hughes ... Dr. Walter Gibbs / Dumont
Dan Shor ... Ram / Popcorn Co-Worker
Peter Jurasik ... Crom
"TRON Legacy" Directed by:
Writing credits (WGA):
Edward Kitsis (screenplay) &
Adam Horowitz (screenplay)
Edward Kitsis (story) &
Adam Horowitz (story) and
Brian Klugman (story) &
Lee Sternthal (story)
Steven Lisberger (characters) and
Bonnie MacBird (characters)
Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeff Bridges ... Kevin Flynn / Clu
Garrett Hedlund ... Sam Flynn
Olivia Wilde ... Quorra
Bruce Boxleitner ... Alan Bradley / Tron
James Frain ... Jarvis
Beau Garrett ... Gem
Michael Sheen ... Castor / Zuse
Anis Cheurfa ... Rinzler
I remember being in awe of the the bleeding edge special effects of the original TRON in 1982 and reading how a Cray supercomputer (at that time the world's most powerful supercomputer) was used in creating some of those special effects. Watching it again on Blu-ray in 2011, some of the animation looks relatively simple by today's standards, but other parts still look contemporary, a tribute to just how advanced the animation was and how much of a visionary Steven Lisberger was. For the sake of comparison, a PC running Windows XP Home was already more powerful than that 1982 era Cray, and nowadays pretty much any smartphones is also more powerful than that Cray.
Before viewing TRON Legacy, I wondered if it could possibly live up to the hype, as well as live up to the lofty standards set by the original TRON, but I confess that Disney captured lightning in a bottle twice and the WOW Factor was back.
As much as I'd love to describe the contents of the Blu-ray 3D disc (Disc 1), I can't since I don't have access to a 3D HDTV and Blu-ray 3D player.
Watching TRON Legacy, my favorite scene was between Kevin and Sam Flynn where Sam is telling his dad about present day life: Sam: "Cellphones, online dating, Wi-Fi." Kevin: "What's Wi-Fi?" Sam: "Wireless interlinking." Kevin: "Of digital devices?" Sam: "Yeah." Kevin: "Hmm, I thought of that in '85." Absolutely priceless. And the dogfight near the end of the film was off the hook!"
Among the featurettes on the Blu-ray disc (Disc 2), 'The Next Day: Flynn Lives Revealed' was a constant problem since it caused my machine to jam every time I started watching it and I had to eject the disc to start over.
Due to my comparatively old Blu-ray player, I was unable to take advantage of the Disney Second Screen feature, and based on what I saw in 'What is Disney Second Screen?', the 40 second segment on Disney Second Screen, I missed out on lots of fun.
Watching 'First Look at "TRON: Uprising"', the Disney XD animated series, it looks like an excellent reason to subscribe to the new Disney XD channel when it arrives in the US and Canada on June 1, 2011.
'Launching the Legacy' was a fun featurette with Steven Lisberger (Producer), Sean Bailey (Producer), Joseph Kosinski (Director), Edward Kitsis (Writer), Adam Horowitz (Writer), and Jeff Bridges ('Kevin Flynn' / 'Clu') where they talked of screening a surprise trailer at San Diego Comic-Con and how they consulted with Cal Tech scientists from various disciplines while preparing to make the film. It makes me wish I had attended the last three years of San Diego Comic-Con.
'Visualizing TRON' with Darren Gilford (Production Designer), Christine Bieselin Clark (Additional Costume Designer), Olivia Wilde ('Quorra'), Jeff Bridges ('Kevin Flynn' / 'Clu'), Joseph Kosinski (Director), Sean Bailey (Producer), Steven Lisberger (Producer), Ben Procter (VFX Art Director), Garrett Hedlund ('Sam Flynn'), Justin Raleigh (Quantum FX Costume Dept. Head), Beau Garrett ('Gem'), Steve Preec (Head of Animation), and Justin Springer (Co-Producer) was my favorite featurette on the Blu-ray disc. I was intrigued when I learned that Director Joseph Kosinski is an architect and that he brought the attention to detail common to that profession. Who would have imagined that all the suits were made of foam rubber with flexible electronics and lighting, all powered by a battery inside the discs each actor wore on their back, proof that not all special effects are computer generated.
'Installing the cast' with Michael Sheen ('Castor' / 'Zuse'), Olivia Wilde ('Quorra'), Garrett Hedlund ('Sam Flynn'), Bruce Boxleitner ('Alan Bradley' / 'Tron'), Jeff Bridges ('Kevin Flynn' / 'Clu'), Steven Lisberger (Producer), Joseph Kosinski (Director), and Sean Bailey (Producer) was another interesting featurette, albeit with a title that left me scratching my head in puzzlement. Regardless, I enjoyed watching the story of how they cast TRON Legacy.
'Disc Roars' with Director Joseph Kosinski shows how they recorded the crowd cheering loudly on cue at that same panel at San Diego Comic-Con.
The only bonus features on the DVD (Disc 3) are 'Visualizing TRON' and 'Installing the cast', the same featurettes on the Blu-ray disc - fortunately they are by far the best bonus features on Disc 3.
Disc 4 is the Disney File Digital Copy for Mac or PC.
Disc 5 is TRON The Original Classic (Special Edition) on Blu-ray and the featurettes include old grainy, dirty, scratched original footage where people like writer/director/producer Steven Lisberger and Bill Kroyer (Computer Image Choreographer) looked so young and filled with energy, but also include them in more recent interviews or clips.
Viewing 'The TRON Phenomenon' with Jeff Bridges ('Kevin Flynn'), Bruce Boxleitner ('Alan Bradley'), Joseph Kosinski (Director - TRON Legacy), Sean Bailey (Producer - TRON Legacy), Michael Sheen ('Castor' - TRON Legacy), Justin Springer (Co-Producer - TRON Legacy), Edward Kitsis (Writer- TRON Legacy), Olivia Wilde ('Quorra' - TRON Legacy), Garrett Hedlund ('Sam Flynn' - TRON Legacy), Steven Lisberger (Writer / Producer / Director), Adam Horowitz (Writer - TRON Legacy), and Syd Mead (Conceptual Artist) was an excellent featurette, most notably because I finally got to see and hear the legendary Syd Mead talk about the original TRON. I'd love to meet him and discuss his body of work with him.
Watching 'Photo Tronology' with Steven Lisberger (Writer / Producer / Director) and Carl Lisberger (his son) as they browse the Disney Archives looking at stills from TRON and discussing them in glorious detail was almost as good as being there with them.
My absolute favorite featurette was watching TRON The Original Classic (Special Edition) with Audio Commentary with Writer / Director Steven Lisberger, Producer Donald Kushner, Visual Effects Supervisor and Associate Producer Harrison Ellenshaw, and Special Effects Director Richard Taylor. (95:47) Here we learned that 'Alan'/'Tron' named after Alan Kay, one of the creators of the PowerBook. And who knew that the laser lab in the film was shot on location at the Lawrence Livermore Labs and that Disney is still the only film company ever allowed to shoot there.
While I love the fact that Disney used the bonus features from the original DVD, I really wish that they had done a better job in restoring the grainy, dirty, scratched original footage. For example, the 'Early Lisberger Studios Animation' was "Ancient" Cool. 'Computers Are People Too' with Steven Lisberger (Writer / Director) and Richard Taylor (Special Effects Director) was cool, but marred by the really grainy, dirty print used.
One pleasant exception was 'Early Video Tests' which had no audio track but a nice clean print used.
'Backlight Animation' with John Scheele (Effects Technical Supervisor) was a wonderful peek into how hand drawn animation was made to look like early CGI.
'Beyond TRON' with Dr. Phillip Mittelman (Founder of MAGI) and Steven Lisberger (Writer / Director) was surprisingly interesting. Begun in 1966 MAGI stands for the Mathematics Application Group Incorporated and specialized in nuclear radiation transport and by 1972 MAGI Synthavision was being used in advertising. Unfortunately the Synthavision footage is really grainy, dirty, and out of focus.
After watching the short 'Triple-I Demo', I can well understand why the people at Walt Disney Studios were sold on the project.
Looking at the Deleted Scenes, 'Introduction by Writer / Director Steven Lisberger' with Harrison Ellenshaw (Associate Producer / Visual Effects Supervisor) and Bruce Boxleitner ('Alan' / 'Tron') was visually breathtaking and I'm sorry that Lisberger overruled Ellenshaw. 'Tron and Yori's Love Scene' (#1) was cute and mildly risqué for the times, but 'Tron and Yori's Love Scene' #2 was no loss. Finally the 'Alternate Opening Prologue' was interesting.
I really enjoyed the Storyboard Art, particularly 'Lightcycles - Syd Mead (Designer) discusses Lightcycle Design' - I want more of Syd Mead. 'Lightcycles Early Animation Tests', 'Recognizer Space Androids Video Game Letterbox', and 'Recognizer Space Androids Video Game Full Screen' were all short but interesting.
Although I wish there was another Blu-ray disc packed with bonus features from TRON Legacy and that some of those on the TRON The Original Classic (Special Edition) on Blu-ray disc were cleaned up, the regular box with the lenticular cover of the TRON: Legacy / TRON: The Original Classic (Five-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy) is a Must Buy for more than collectors.