TRON (Blu-ray) (1982)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 20-Apr-2011

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Audio Commentary
Featurette-The TRON Phenomenon
Featurette-Photo TRONology
Featurette-Development
Featurette-Digital Imagery
Featurette-The Making Of TRON
Featurette-Music
Featurette-Publicity
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Design
Featurette-Storyboarding
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 95:47
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Steven Lisberger
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Jeff Bridges
Bruce Boxleitner
David Warner
Cindy Morgan
Barnard Hughes
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $19.95 Music Wendy Carlos


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French dts 5.1
Italian dts 5.1
German dts 5.1
Spanish dts 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.20:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.20:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English
French
Italian
German
Spanish
Dutch
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Finnish
Icelandic
Portuguese
Finnish Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Finnish Audio Commentary
Icelandic Audio Commentary
Portuguese Audio Commentary
French Titling
Italian Titling
German 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

     Our world, every world with sentient life forms on it, is a complex thing. Looking back upon my own life and all of the things that have affected it, I can happily say that I have learned that very well. And the day I began to learn that was the same day that my father became one of the first men (as I have said before, if not the first) on our little suburban street to have bought a VCR. One of the first things I saw by way of that VCR was a very crude representation of a Disney-financed film called TRON. I say "Disney-financed" because whilst all the money and expertise that made the film originated from Disney, the brilliance and imagination came from a gentleman named Steven Lisberger, and those in his employ. And let us get this out of the way: why Lisberger and co-writer Bonnie MacBird did not sue the proverbial out of a certain pair of pressure-marketeer brothers in 1999 is still a mystery to me (actually, it is not, but I am being sarcastic).

     The story of TRON is exceedingly simple. Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) was a promising young programmer working for a growing information technology company called Encom. In his spare time, he was programming videogames that he began to think about starting his own business with. Then, all of a sudden, he finds his videogames have been stolen by another programmer in the company, who presents them to the board as his own work before firing Flynn. Flynn, of course, has spent much of the time between now and then searching for evidence to prove all of this, but the programmer in question, Ed Dillinger (David Warner) is proving a difficult adversary. Or rather, the piece of software that he has helped design, the Master Control Program, is proving the difficult adversary. Complicating matters is that the MCP has ambitions on stealing every program in the system and making himself a theocratic ruler of the digital (and real, eventually) world.

     Fellow programmer Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) offers a solution. The program he was working on before the MCP started a crackdown in the name of security, TRON, was meant to fight against this sort of copyright theft. Liberate TRON from whatever holding cell the MCP is holding him in, Alan reasons, and the evidence can be found. But as Flynn tries to use a computer within the company's building to work on releasing TRON, he is suddenly sucked into the digital world, and the quest to free TRON suddenly becomes a lot less abstract.

     TRON did not do terribly well at the box office. It has not aged all that well, either. The special effects in particular scream out the age of the film. But in a world that seems to love rewarding blowhards for stealing older ideas, it stands out as a blueprint for many inferior facsimiles.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     The packaging states that TRON is presented in the aspect ratio of 2.20:1, which is the usual aspect ratio studios transfer 70mm films at. There is some controversy about this, not least because the true aspect ratio of 70mm film is apparently 2.17:1 or thereabouts. The actual transfer on the disc appears to be 2.20:1, but I have not attempted to manually measure the aspect ratio. The transfer is in a 1920 by 1080 progressive window.

     The transfer is extremely sharp, especially during sequences that take place in the real world. The sharpness diminishes somewhat in the digital world, but this more reflects the crudity of the special effects used. The shadow detail is good, and there is no low-level noise. The colours in most of the film are highly stylised. The actors were shot in monochrome, and colours were added using rotoscope techniques. Colours are used to differentiate the villains from the heroes, so everything has very stark and powerful colours. The transfer captures the colours well, right down to the glitches and errors in emulsions that ended up being worked into the film as part of the digital world.

     Compression artefacts were not noted in the transfer. The transfer is encoded in AVCHD. Numerous artefacts that have the same appearance as aliasing were noticed in the transfer, however. I am willing to bet that these are actually flaws in the animation techniques that were used. Remember that these visual effects were extremely experimental at the time, and the reliance upon manual-coordinate computers would have thrown some problems of its own in for good measure. That said, with the use of visual glitches as parts of the environment, the aliasing effect is a lot less objectionable than it would otherwise be. Film artefacts are few and far between. I may have noticed one or two during the entire feature.

     Subtitles are offered in English and English for the Hearing Impaired. As is the case with TRON: Legacy, there are occasional truncations and variations. I find these annoying. Your mileage may vary.

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

Audio

     A total of six soundtracks are available on this disc. The first, and default, is the original English dialogue in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, bitrate unknown. Dubs are offered in French, Italian, German, and Spanish DTS 5.1, and an audio commentary is offered in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. I listened to the first and last of these soundtracks.

     The dialogue is very clear and easy to understand most of the time, although the limitations of early 1980s recording techniques become evident during sequences like Flynn's arcade or when Flynn lands among the inoperative data pushers. No problems with audio sync were evident.

     The music in TRON consists of a song by Journey called Only Solutions, and a score by Wendy Carlos. The latter is a timeless classic without which the film would be diminished. The former, well… Anyway, the score is an enhancement to the onscreen action, especially so at moments like Sark's head getting split or after the MCP is destroyed. It is a real pity that no isolated score is offered.

     The surround channels separate the dialogue, sound effects, and score music. They do so effectively, but there is no hiding the fact that this film was shown theatrically during the early 1980s. Split surround effects are non-existent, and directional effects are rare. The sense of space between the dialogue, effects, and music makes up for this to some extent. The subwoofer is used regularly to supplement such things as the Recognizers, the logic probe, and the tanks' shells. Again, the limits of the time the film was made in are obvious, but the channel is integrated well into the soundtrack.

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

Extras

     The extras on this disc can be broken down into two groups. One is the recycled extras from previous DVD editions, the other is new featurettes created specifically for this Blu-ray Disc. The recycled extras have been reviewed with those previous DVD editions before, so I will save us some time and focus on the ones that those of us with High Definition televisions are likely to be interested in.

Audio Commentary

     A holdover from the DVD, this commentary is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, and well worth a listen. It is not the most insightful or revealing commentary, but Steven Lisberger, Donald Kushner, Harrison Ellenshaw, and Richard Taylor manage to reveal some interesting things about how the film was made.

Featurette - The TRON Phenomenon

     This sort of comes across as an electronic press kit, although it is worth the once-over. Comments by cast members from TRON: Legacy make it obvious which film this featurette was intended to promote.

Featurette - Photo Tronology

     This featurette is basically director/writer Steven Lisberger going through some photographic archives with his son, Carl. And yes, I am assuming it is spelled that way because almost no information about the younger Lisberger is forthcoming either in this featurette or online. I would have liked to see the photos in a little more detail, but the featurette itself is entertaining enough during a first look.

Featurette - Info

     Text about how the opinions given in these features do not necessarily blah, blah, blah. Why it is in the menus is a bit mysterious.

R4 vs R1

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

    The local version is available without the interlaced, "hey look at me, I wanna come along", version shoved in. Need I say more?

Summary

     TRON is a very curious and experimental film. Roger Ebert charges, both fairly and unfairly, that it seems like a story constructed around special effects test sequences. But its influence upon filmmakers of all subsequent eras is very obvious. As is said in the commentary and some featurettes, the script put off a lot of potential performers who did not get the concept of the virtual world, but Jeff Bridges was all about it. His performance in particular reflects that. Although this disc has problems that reflect the challenges faced in production, it is by a long road the best way to experience TRON offered to date.

     The video transfer is excellent within the limitations of the source material. The audio transfer is very good, but the limitations of the source material are more pronounced here. The extras are comprehensive, but are almost entirely in standard definition.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Thursday, April 28, 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)
R4 v R1 - Anonymous
RE: R4 vs R1 - Trevor REPLY POSTED
Young Guns Blu-ray - Trevor REPLY POSTED
RE: Young Guns Blu-ray - Gus