"TRON: Legacy" Blu-ray Review
April 01, 2011 by Zach Demeter
Fans of the original TRON eagerly awaited a sequel. For years, decades really, it never came. Disney finally saw fit to produce a new film, but since so much time had passed, would it even be possible to do something with Jeff Bridges given his current age? Thankfully they found a way and while only two of the films cast reunited for this one (Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner), it felt remarkably similar to the 1982 classic that tantalized the minds of so many people. Unfortunately the films hefty budget proved too formidable for domestic interest in the film as it went on to gross a mere million over its $170 budget; thankfully it dominated overseas, raking in another $225 million, which fans hope will be more than enough to convince Disney to continue the series with another film. Anyone who saw TRON: Legacy knows there were more than a few seeds planted in it to build a third film (or franchise) off of…
Disney presents a high-tech motion picture unlike anything you've ever seen in an astonishing 3D Combo Pack. Immerse yourself in the digital world of TRON, as celebrated actor Jeff Bridges stars in a revolutionary visual effects adventure beyond imagination. When Flynn, the world's greatest video game creator, sends out a secret signal from an amazing digital realm, his son discovers the clue and embarks on a personal journey to save his long-lost father. With the help of the fearless female warrior Quorra, father and son venture through an incredible cyber universe and wage the ultimate battle of good versus evil. Bring home an unrivaled entertainment experience with TRON: Legacy in jaw-dropping Disney Blu-ray 3D - complete with never-before-seen bonus features that take you even deeper into the phenomenal world of TRON. It's Magic In A New Dimension.
This is definitely a packed set and one that comes in a variety of editions (which I’ll expound on later in the Blu-ray portion), but I was quite thankful that they produced (and that I was sent to review) the two-movie combo pack. I’d actually never seen the original TRON; I was sure I had, but when I sat down to watch the disc as a “refresher” before watching Legacy I realized I’d never actually seen it. I’d seen it in stills and maybe my brother watch it once or twice, but I’d never actually watched the film myself. I can see why—as a kid I would’ve been bored by it and severely put off by its strange visuals. Now that I’m older and ridiculously invested in technology, however, I was much more compelled by the series as a whole…even if the entire concept of this kind of crazy digital world existing on a hard drive somewhere bewildered me. In the original film I accepted it as crazy 1980’s logic about computers, but Legacy didn’t really attempt to fix any of the ridiculousness of it…which never sat right with me. Understanding how computers and programs work may be a major hindrance in enjoying this film if you didn’t grow up with the original, though I’m learning to get over it and appreciate these films for what they are.
To the series credit I did immediately want to watch the sequel after watching the original, but that may have more to do with the updated visuals (and Olivia Wilde) than anything; but once I saw the two hour run time of the sequel I balked and held off on that for another day. I did immediately appreciate the fact that I watched the two films so close together; the amount of references, both visually and in dialogue and characters, were astounding and I would’ve never picked up on half (or three fourths) of them had it not been for seeing the two films so close together. In any case, having knowledge of the first is a must to adequately enjoy the second, even if they do kind of re-explain everything again (which is good since the original did it so haphazardly anyway).
As I watched Legacy and took in the new characters and immediately striking visuals (even before the digitized world happened, the directing and lighting of city streets looked really awesome to me for some reason), I was reminded by how much the film reminded me of a Matrix film. Not the first one, but one of the sequels; now I know you’re probably thinking “holy crap what a terrible comparison!”, but I enjoyed the sequels to an extent. Though they were a great deal more convoluted than the original, they offered up new ideas that transcended the digital world they were in. In fact I’m not entirely sure TRON: Legacy could exist had the The Matrix films not come before it. Not only the slow-down and bullet time kind of action sequences, but also just the overall ideas behind the film; hell, The Matrix is kind of just a more adult version of TRON anyway, only it was immediately able to be taken more seriously because it was such a visually revolutionary film. TRON, while jaw-dropping for a 1982 film, still was just kind of strange and it very much felt like a film that was cult status only.
TRON: Legacy was pretty heavily loaded down with thematic material that many who fall into the PG-rating category would find dull. The visual effects are enough to stimulate even the most fickle kid, but even that will eventually wear on; Jeff Bridges very Jeff Bridges-like Flynn (and by that I mean he channels a bit of his natural zen-Dude nature into Flynn, although he also is able to look intimidating and bad-ass when he needs to as well) is definitely an entertaining character to connect with again after so many years and Olivia Wilde’s Quorra is an interesting anomaly to lock onto, as she comes off as far more childlike than I thought she would (which is later explained—though I can’t say it was an element in the story that I found surprising, it was kind of crammed down our throats after we first meet her. When they “revealed” who she was, I questioned if I wasn’t already supposed to have known that) and I suppose she’s the real character that the younger audience will identify most with. It definitely wouldn’t be Bridge’s son, played by Garrett Hedlund, because he was probably the least interesting thing about the film. Nothing against the actor who played him, but he had too much of the “oh man I’m a cool guy” vibe going for him than I would’ve liked; I think it had more to do with is appearance and potato chip swoop hair style in the film than anything. The film was supposed to be about a father and son reuniting after twenty some years, but I really didn’t feel like there was much of a connection between the two characters. The young Sam Flynn connected better with the freaky CGI faced Jeff Bridges than the older versions of both did…which was a real shame. I hope they can construct a tighter bond should this series be revisited again in the future.
I wanted nothing more than to absolutely love this film to death, but I just couldn’t. Never mind the whole concept I had to wrap my head around and attempt to force feed into my existing knowledge of computers and how they operate, but the film was just remarkably dry at times. The two hour run time made for some positively thrilling action sequences (that final aerial dog fight was spectacular and I actually emitted a “oh wow” out loud when the plane started to drag the blue beams behind it) and I wouldn’t walk at watching it again sometime down the line…but like The Matrix sequels, the material is just to weighted to be something to jump into and watch as a general action flick. It has too much history behind it and while fans probably lapped it up, for me it’s just not the simple action flick I really wanted it to be.
After I watched the film I was actually more excited by the idea of the sequels that could occur. They dropped the notion of Wi-Fi into Kevin Flynn’s mind and I would hope we might see other TRON-like worlds pop up between computers and all the havoc that would ensue because of that…but who knows. It’s definitely an interesting series and I will heartily Recommend this film to any slightly intrigued by it, simply because the visuals are so astounding. It’s such an eye candy overload with all the CGI and the spectacular outfits (Kevin Flynn’s glowy cloak is just flat out awesome) and for that reason alone it’s something you should definitely witness.
Overall it’s a film (and series, really) that my chosen career path has probably hindered my enjoyment of, but that’s something I’ll probably eventually be able to let go of. After all this is sci-fi in its purest and most beautiful form and it’s definitely something to be checked out as soon as you can.
Disney is no stranger to big, unnecessary releases filled with more discs than you know what to do with and I think they may have outdone themselves for a two-movie box set. There is, of course, a solo TRON: The Original Classic two-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo release, a TRON: Legacy Blu-ray/DVD combo release, a TRON: Legacy Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo release, a TRON/TRON Legacy Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo release, and a TRON/TRON Legacy Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo release in collectible packaging. Yes, those all really exist and you might have to spend more than a few minutes deciding which one you want; for the purposes of this review I’ll be tackling the five disc set sans “collectible Identity Disc packaging,” but whichever option you choose you’ll end up with the films (or film, if only want one or the other) on Blu-ray with impeccable clarity regardless.
This five-disc collection arrives in a double-wide Elite Blu-ray case that is covered by a reflective foil/lenticular image slipcase. Inside are the five discs as well as the usual array of Disney inserts. Loading up either disc gives you a nice menu system, but the Legacy disc has a “Second Screen” option which allows your iPad to double as a second screen for bonus features and junk while you watch the film. It sounds pretty cool, but I couldn’t find the app to download on the App Store so I wasn’t able to test it (likely won’t release until the film actually hits shelves, which makes sense).
Anyway, moving onto the actual meat and potatoes of this set: the Blu-ray portions. I unfortunately don’t have a 3D setup so I had to skip by the first disc in its entirety, but I do have a fairly nice setup to appreciate the films ridiculously awesome visuals and audio presentation so I was more than blown away by the video transfers here. I do have to say that the original TRON’s transfer is quite remarkable in of itself; while the new one is obviously about twelve billion times flashier, the original has a certain appeal about it with the bland color pallet that really just pops off the screen. Whether it was the live-action sequences with Master Control (and the way the people interface with computers in the movie is really quite awesome—it really looks modern, even by todays standers) or the digital world—it all looked fantastic. I will say the original TRON’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix was a bit overzealous with the subwoofer work though—the room shook a little too much for even the most mundane things. I thought my windows were never going to stop vibrating.
Thankfully TRON: Legacy was really quite as perfect as you can get with Blu-ray. The AVC encoded 1.78:1/2.35:1 transfer was spectacular from start to finish and, yes, it acted like The Dark Knight did in terms of the aspect ratio changes. The first time it happened I thought to myself “oh wow, this digital world is amazing…I didn’t even realize it was 1.78:1 before!”, but then it switched back and I realized what was going on. Slightly jarring at first, but it preserves the IMAX aspect ratio stuff, so it’s all good in the end—I got used to it with The Dark Knight so it was no big deal here. Aside from that slight jarring element, the rest of the transfer is impeccable—I loved every digital moment of this film…it was truly astonishing to look at. Even the creepy CGI Jeff Bridges looked great in the world and it fit CLU, somehow, to look slightly cartoonish. It’s just an overall astonishing transfer and if nothing else it will make you appreciate all the money you funneled into your home theater setup.
The audio, a DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix, is…well, it’s sonic. There are so many cool sound effects in this film I don’t know where to start. Some are incredibly dated while others sound just spectacular with their depth and surround ability. I loved every aural minute of this film and I really appreciated that Disney put a 7.1 mix on here—it seems fewer and fewer films (that aren’t Lionsgate) have a 7.1 mix. Granted it’s kind of useless since most only have 5.1, but I invested in those extra two speakers and I like using them as they were meant to be, dammit! Plus the music in this film (by Daft Punk) was pretty awesome from start to finish, so that’s another perk of the sound mix.
The extras are sadly not quite as meaty as the rest of the set. Included:
• The Next Day: Flynn Lives Revealed
• Disney Second Screen – TRON: Legacy
• Launching The Legacy
• Disc Roars
• Music Video “Derezzed” written, produced and performed by Daft Punk
• All bonus features from TRON: The Original Classic Special Edition
• Visualizing TRON
• Installing the Cast
• First Look at TRON: Uprising – the Disney XD animated series
“The Next Day” excluded, there’s less than an hours’ worth of goodies in that list above. Including “Next Day” you get a load of clips to look at news stories and the like after the film ends; it’s pretty interesting, though I’ll be kinda bummed if they don’t make a sequel to the film after all of that. They put in so many little things to build upon after Legacy ended—TRON’s suit turning blue, Quorra in the “real world,” plus the fact that no one ever seems to stay dead in the digital world (probably because unless you do a DoD wipe on a hard drive, your data is never really truly gone…hey I guess the film does have some kind of real world situations built into it…) should make for a good sequel or series of sequels should they desire it. Hopefully they can do it all again with a lowered budget considering the worlds are already imagined and the expensive suits already made. Here’s hoping—even though I didn’t absolutely love these movies, they were definitely fun to watch regardless.
Overall this is a Highly Recommended set—the A/V presentation alone is enough to blow your mind.
Tron: Legacy / Tron: The Original Classic arrives on Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy on April 5th.