TRON: Legacy (Blu-ray) (2010)

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Released 19-Apr-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Featurette-The Next Day: Flynn Lives Revealed
Featurette-First Look At TRON: Uprising
Featurette-Launching The Legacy
Featurette-Visualizing TRON
Featurette-Installing The Cast
Featurette-Disc Roars
Music Video-Daft Punk: Derezzed
Featurette-Info
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 125:08
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Joseph Kosinski
Studio
Distributor
Disney
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Jeff Bridges
Garrett Hedlund
Olivia Wilde
Bruce Boxleitner
James Frain
Beau Garrett
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $39.95 Music Daft Punk


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
French Dolby Digital 2.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement Unknown
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Spanish
French Titling
Spanish Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Where it is relevant to my experience of a film, I will often share details about myself or my life in order to clarify why I think a film is awesomeness in pictorial form or sucks dead bunnies through a straw. My reviews of RoboCop are good examples of this. Reviewing TRON and TRON: Legacy entails this to a great degree. For that reason, I have provided this link to allow one to skip forward to the technical side of the review. This is for a few reasons, primary among which is to cut down on people whinging at me that I have not regurgitated their mind back to them. So if you keep in mind it is there for a reason, we can both thank each other later.

     I make no secret of the fact that I am a child of the 1980s. Actually, I was born in the late 1970s, but growing up in the decade of arcade games and a massive surge in income inequality has left such an indelible mark on me that to deny that mark is to deny nearly every part of what I am. And the 1980s is known for one other great advancement in consumer entertainment: the VCR. The McIntosh family was one of the first, if not the first to acquire one or more of these then-symbolic of opulence machines on the street where we resided. And one of the first things I saw by way of this machine was a little concept test called TRON. TRON as a film was so far ahead of its time that it ended up a commercial failure, although the videogame and home video rights ended up securing Disney a tidy little profit. For years, it was mostly forgotten about by studio and viewer alike and if you had told me in 2005 that I would be watching a preview for a sequel in late 2009, I just flat-out would not have believed you.

     Which brings me to my first point about what makes TRON: Legacy so incredibly awesome. The writers, producers, and to a lesser extent the director, all realised that the primary audience for TRON: Legacy was not children who had only just mastered the art of walking. In fact, as of this writing, I am uncle to twins who are about three and a half months old (my sister, their mother, was two years old when TRON hit theatres). So to see Joseph Kosinski and company drag Disney kicking and screaming into an adult world using an estimated hundred and seventy million dollars of their money gave me a boost in my serotonin levels unlike any drug, legal or otherwise. Which made it all the more ironic that my local JB Hi-Fi put the dump-bin for it right next to one for Harry Potty And The Infantile Babyfiers. Were my sister to tell me in 2015 or thereabouts that one (or both) of my nieces were starting to remind her of me, one of the things I would recommend doing is getting them to sit with me and watch both TRON films.

     The plot of TRON: Legacy mirrors the original in a lot of fun and ironic ways, but it is the differences that truly ice the cake here. The story begins a little while after Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges proving he earned his Oscar way back in 1984) has assumed control of the corporation known as Encom. One night in 1989, he tells his son Sam (Owen Best) a truncated version of the story of how he met a program called TRON, and helped him to liberate the system on which he resided. Promising Sam they will play some videogames together soon, Kevin departs for work… and is never heard from in the real world again. Fast forward twenty years in one of the best transitions of this kind I have seen in years, and Sam is now only slightly younger than I am, and played by Garrett Hedlund. After pulling a mother of a prank upon the board at Encom, Sam has a bit of a chat with Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner), the programmer who originally created TRON. This ends with Alan informing Sam that he received a page from Kevin Flynn's arcade. Only fishy thing is that this number has not been connected for years. Sam acts upon Alan's tip, going to Kevin's old arcade and finding his way into the secret basement workstation, where an all-too-familiar laser device sits across from a terminal that looks way too sophisticated (and functional) for having been last used in 1989. A few commands are typed, and Sam suddenly finds himself in a very linear-looking, neon-glow world. As Sam tries to make sense of this world, a number of questions present themselves. Why has Kevin secluded himself in this world for twenty years to the exclusion of his real-world responsibilities? Who is running the show here? And what has happened to TRON?

     Be warned: If you have not seen the film prior to reading this review, I recommend skipping ahead to the technical sections now. Major aspects of the plot and serious opinions will be discussed here.

     What Sam finds is more horrifying than one can possibly imagine. The first thing that bothers to really speak to him in the digital world his father created is none other than CLU (body by John Reardon, head by Jeff Bridges), who immediately puts him through a lightcycle competition. Soon, he is rescued by a mysterious program called Quorra (Olivia Wilde) and brought to a small hideaway where Kevin Flynn has been contemplating the situation and how to fix it.

     This is where the assessment that this is Disney being dragged by the scruff of the neck into an adult world comes from. Kevin explains to Sam that during his experimental sojourns into The Grid, a mysterious race of programs that have not been created by people in the "real" world appeared. "Profoundly naïve" but "wise" beyond all our imaginings is sort of how Kevin puts it. This prompted me to wonder how deliberate the writers were in reflecting such a hidden aspect of the real world. You see, the potential of what he calls the ISOs fascinates Kevin Flynn but there soon emerges a little problem. CLU, having been told to create "the perfect system", sees them as a rogue element, and Flynn's embracement of them causes him to feel betrayed. One of CLU's functions is to destroy or "repurpose" programs, which essentially entails stripping them of everything they are and making them subservient to him. Jeff Bridges has played many things to perfection, but his impersonation of Suzanne Wright is right up there.

     To cut a very long story short, for the entirety of 2010, I was trying to tell myself not to expect too much of TRON: Legacy. When I walked out of the theatre on December 16, I told those who asked me that Kosinski had pulled a rabbit out of his hat. Literally. As first-sequel to original levels of improvement or build-up or whatever you want to call it go, this is in the same league as X2 or Iron Man 2.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Another technical note here: when I acquired this title around midday of April 18, I was horrified but unsurprised to learn that while a separate DVD was readily available, no BD was available without either the 3D BD or DVD (and "digital copy") bundled in. I considered the former to be the lesser of two evils, but I do not own a 3D TV and I do not intend to ever own one. This article in Roger Ebert's online journal clarifies better than I can why.

     TRON: Legacy is presented in varying aspect ratios. A video message before the feature states that IMAX sequences will be presented in 1.78:1 while the rest of the film will be presented in 2.35:1. Not to be a wet blanket, but this does not recreate the theatrical experience, is jarring when the aspect ratio changes, and adds nothing.

     All complaints aside, however, this is a sweet, sweet transfer. With the 3D in theatres it was impossible to watch the film without getting a headache (in spite of trying no less than four times). Without the 3D, all the murk and blur (and difficulty in rendering motion) is gone. This is the way to watch TRON: Legacy, no doubt about it. The only way to make it sharper would be to create a whole new video standard that exactly replicates the resolution of the original negative. Shadow detail is exactly what the director and special effects team intended, and low-level noise does not belong in the same sentence or universe as this transfer.

    As is the case with the original TRON, colour is an important visual element used to distinguish different factions from one another on The Grid. It is not a coincidence that the heroes are in a near-white shade of blue, whilst villains are in different intensities of red, orange, and yellow. Some sequences are also very starkly colour-manipulated in order to achieve various effects. The transfer renders all of these colour manipulations without missing a beat. No bleeding or misregistration is evident.

     The codec used in the transfer is AVCHD. Compression artefacts were not noted in this transfer. As one would expect in a TRON film, there are digital-looking glitches, but these are all deliberate and part of the depicted universe. This is a progressive transfer. That means no aliasing. That is why I will not buy the bundle with the DVD. I never get tired of explaining that. In fact, if I were to compile every DVD review on this site, I would be unsurprised to learn that among the most serious reviewers aliasing is the most-complained-about artefact of the lot. So its absolute absence from this transfer is much appreciated. Mild (and mildly annoying) vertical wobble is visible during the lightcycle sequence, but this was also in the theatrical exhibition. Film artefacts were also non-existent except in one dream sequence during the middle of the film showing what is meant to be a young Sam Flynn on a beach with Kevin. The artefacts in this footage were also present in the theatrical exhibition, so this look of rotting old film is very likely on purpose.

     Subtitles are offered in English and English for the Hearing Impaired. I watched the film with the latter turned on. There are mild but annoying truncations, but far less of them than has been the case with other titles, and a lot of them help clarify what is being said in some sequences.

     The packaging offers no clue as to whether the disc is dual-layered. If it is, both of my players went over the layer change without skipping so much as a sixty-fourth of a beat, so I could not tell you where the layer change is.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     As I have hinted, I went to see this film no less than four times theatrically (there's a story tied in with this). Other than the severe visual problems of 3D presentation, one complaint that came up was that the sound was literally deafening. As in my ears rang every time I walked out of a theatrical exhibition where I did not stuff cotton in them.

     Fortunately, TRON: Legacy’s original English dialogue is presented on BD with a lossless 7.1 channel soundtrack in DTS HD Master Audio where the volume can be adjusted as one pleases, and the levels of dialogue, music, and effects are reasonably balanced. This is the first, and default, soundtrack. Other soundtracks offered are the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 2.0 (pardon me whilst my receiver laughs at the offer), an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio service for the visually impaired, and dubs in Dolby Digital 5.1, French and Spanish.

     The dialogue varies in its clarity. When the characters are saying something really important to the plot, the dialogue is very clear and easy to understand. At times, when there are utterances less critical to the plot, they have been manipulated in ways that appear to have been to augment the "digital" nature of the characters and plot, but they detract from the experience. It took me at least two theatrical viewings to realise that the program at the landing bay was saying "rectify" when sizing up the group Sam is brought in with. This, in conjunction with the scene where one learns what "rectify" actually means in this context, is one of TRON: Legacy’s biggest acknowledgements that its primary audience is all grown up now. It is unfortunate that the excess manipulation obscures this.

     When I heard that the score music in TRON: Legacy was being composed by Daft Punk, I reacted in two ways. First, I wondered who the hell Daft Punk were. When I did find out, I became very worried that this was going to be what I would not-so-jokingly call a retard noise score. Such concerns were so unfounded that I am now ashamed of having had them. Daft Punk’s score can be mentioned in the same breath as John Williams’ for Star Wars or Basil Poledouris’ for RoboCop. The score invokes images of the film when listened to on its own, and the film just would not be the same without it. TRON director Steven Lisberger is quoted in the liner notes for the soundtrack CD as saying that Daft Punk say they were inspired by TRON, and that inspiration was returned to him in full measure with this score. That is the most accurate assessment I have heard to date. A few contemporary numbers are thrown in early in the piece to enhance the mood of "real world" sequences, and they are well-chosen, but this is all about Daft Punk’s finest hour where music is concerned.

     The surround channels are aggressively utilised to provide directionality to such effects as discs being thrown or vehicles moving around. Some sequences, such as the conversations in Sam's "apartment" or Kevin's hideaway, are almost entirely in the front channels but this apparent collapse of the sound field is actually quite appropriate and enhances the moments when all channels burst into action. This is a stunning demonstration of why two channels were added to the Blu-ray specification. The subwoofer is frequently called into action to support things like the music (especially during the End Of Line club sequence) and bass-heavy effects such as flying Recognizers. It is not as frequently active as the surround channels, but it puts a much-appreciated oomph into the soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     All featurettes are presented in (ostensibly) 1080P with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. A couple of them displayed no timing information when played back. Why, I do not know. Welcome to the magic of "Disney Blu-ray".

Featurette - The Next Day: Flynn Lives Revealed

     It is hard to know what to make of this featurette. It tries to fill in what happened between Kevin Flynn's disappearance and the events of the film. The chief problem is that once it starts to get interesting it will cut to something else, often less interesting. It is, however, worth watching to see how much time has changed Dan Shor.

Featurette - First Look At TRON: Uprising: The Disney XD Animated Series

     Apparently Disney, a little hurt by having had to spend a hundred and seventy million to make TRON: Legacy (never mind get it on screens), has commissioned a prequel TV series that will go into detail about CLU's takeover of The Grid. This preview pretty much lost me the second it displayed that Elijah Wood was in the voice cast.

Featurette - Launching The Legacy

     Presented in a mixture of 1.78:1 and 2.35:1 aspect ratios, this featurette represents the first time that original TRON director Steven Lisberger has said anything about why this sequel was so long in the coming (not that this is a bad thing). The trailer I saw late in 2009 involving a lightcycle chase where CLU emerges the eventual victor is included. As far as I am concerned, the concerns expressed about whether it would be received well were totally unfounded.

Featurette - Visualizing TRON

     This eleven minute, forty-six second featurette is one of the few where my main player displays timing information. As the title implies, this featurette is essentially about the goals and techniques of the visual effects crew. To give you some idea of how important this element was, principal photography on TRON: Legacy lasted 64 days whilst the post-production phase took 68 weeks.

     Sadly, they cannot go without spruiking 3D. Sorry guys, but compared to a certain process that runs at 48 frames a second (and thus would have made such things as the disc-throwing much more visually arresting), 3D is a complete who-cares non-event. Like DVD, its death knell rang in the 1980s. The topic of how they made Jeff Bridges look young again, on the other hand...

Featurette - Installing The Cast

     At twelve minutes and four seconds, this featurette really only just scratches the surface but it is interesting to hear actors reflect on things like how they were cast. Hearing the processes by which Olivia Wilde was cast makes the featurette more than worth the viewing time.

Featurette - Disc Roars

     Ever wonder how they got the chants that are heard in the finished version of the disc battles?

Music Video - Daft Punk: Derezzed

     Okay, the visuals that go with this song are great. But presenting it only in Dolby 2.0? Sigh… I have this song as a lossless copy on an iPod, so I think I shall stick with that in future, guys.

Featurette - Info

     Essentially, this is the text that accompanies various featurettes or special features on the disc. It is completely silent.

Sneak Peeks

     Trailers for the TRON: Evolution and Epic Mickey videogames. Call this an extra (as opposed to filler)? I don't...

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This is where it gets a little sticky. When the release of TRON: Legacy was first announced, we were basically told of three releases. One was a bundle of TRON: Legacy on Blu-ray Disc and Blu-ray Disc 3D. One was a bundle of Blu-ray Disc and DVD. One was a "deluxe" boxed set with Blu-ray Disc, Blu-ray Disc 3D, DVD, "digital copy" and the original TRON. Then, I suspect, Disney realised how bad it looked to only offer the original TRON in a boxed set costing nearly seventy USD. So the options were expanded slightly.

     So far, the only set to acknowledge that the Japanese were experimenting with something that would make DVD obsolete as early as the 1980s is available here. But it comes bundled with a novelty that severely diminished the theatrical experience.

     The optimal release of TRON: Legacy therefore still does not exist.

Summary

     Approximately eighteen months prior to the release of TRON: Legacy, I was telling lecturers about how when I came near a school building, the ghost of ten year old me would run along beside me, screaming and crying not to approach this place. The first time I viewed TRON: Legacy, on December 16, 2010, the ghost of ten year old me came in during the moment when Quorra awakens on the train, and sat in the seat beside me. He gently put his little, unblemished, painless hand on my wide, scarred, near-permanently clenched hand, and he said one thing to me: it is okay, I now understand why we are what we are. I can think of no stronger endorsement for any kind of visual entertainment. The only time I will ever feel more liberated whilst watching a film is when someone makes a film in which Suzanne Wright is rectified.

    The video transfer is awesome.

    The audio transfer is awesome.

    The extras are numerous, but the lack of any audio commentary or lossless audio in the music video is disappointing.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DMP-BD45, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-P50U20A. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR606
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Wharfedale Xarus 1000 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, Wharfedale Diamond SW150 Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Aspect ratio - Greg REPLY POSTED
RE: Aspect Ratio - Tom Tuttle REPLY POSTED
Harry Potty And The Infantile Babyfiers - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Dean.....why badmouth other films in your review anyway! - Trevor REPLY POSTED
Home video vs Cinema - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Dean - have you read this...? - Malcolm Tent REPLY POSTED