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Tron & Tron: Legacy Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray 2D + DVD + Digital Copy 5-Disc 2-Movie Collection Review

Tron (1982) movie poster Tron

Theatrical Release: July 9, 1982 / Running Time: 96 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Steven Lisberger / Writers: Steven Lisberger (story & screenplay), Bonnie MacBird (story)

Original Songs: Journey - "Only Solutions", Journey - "1990's Theme"

Cast: Jeff Bridges (Kevin Flynn/Clu), Bruce Boxleitner (Alan Bradley/Tron), David Warner (Ed Dillinger/Sark/voice of MCP), Cindy Morgan (Lora/Yori), Barnard Hughes (Dr. Walter Gibbs/Dumont), Dan Shor (Ram), Peter Jurasik (Crom), Tony Stephano (Peter/Sark's Lieutenant), Craig Chudy (Warrior #1), Vince Deadrick (Warrior #2), Sam Schatz (Expert Disc Warrior), Jackson Bostwick (Head Guard), Dave Cass (Factory Guard)
Tron: Legacy (2010) movie poster Tron: Legacy

Theatrical Release: December 17, 2010 / Running Time: 125 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Joseph Kosinski / Writers: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz (story & screenplay); Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal (story); Steven Lisberger, Bonnie MacBird (characters)

Featured Songs: Journey - "Separate Ways", Eurythmics - "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)"

Cast: 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), Daft Punk (Masked DJs), Cillian Murphy (Edward Dillinger - uncredited)

Buy Tron & Tron Legacy from Amazon.com: 5-Disc 2-Movie Collection / Limited Edition Collection with Identity Disc
Buy just Tron: Legacy: DVD / Blu-ray + DVD / Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray 2D + DVD + Digital Copy
Buy just the original Tron: New 2-Disc SE DVD / Blu-ray + DVD / 2-Disc 20th Anniversary CE DVD

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A '90s girl's outmoded family computer gets hit by a virus (or Easter egg, if you prefer) in the mockumentary "The Next Day: Flynn Lives Revealed." Freshly-appointed ENCOM chairman Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) gives an interview on a financial news network in one of nine untitled "Flynn Lives" follow-up shorts.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

The first disc of the set, Tron: Legacy's Blu-ray 3D, is of no use to me. My Blu-ray player, purchased this year, supports the format, but my 18-month-old television does not. All it would do is display a message stating that my setup does not support 3D playback. For what it's worth, though I got the same message via my computer's BD-ROM, the disc's files were able to be viewed, without perceivable 3D enhancement or incompatibility (like the blur analog 3D provides with glasses off).
From checking out the files, it seems that the only extras on that disc are trailers for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Cars 2.

Disc 2, Tron: Legacy's standard Blu-ray, includes a number of bonus features, beginning with "The Next Day: Flynn Lives Revealed" (10:26). This mockumentary feels more like viral marketing than a genuine plan for where a third Tron movie will take us. It documents an underground Internet hacker movement pledged to keeping Kevin Flynn's memory alive through his disappearance and includes a part for Dan Shor, as Roy Kleinberg, the human creator of the first film's Ram program.

Following this moderately entertaining featurette, we are taken to a Tron high scores list, where entering initials listed on the screen takes us to nine additional short videos. Enter "ALL" to see all nine back-to-back (running 10:30). They include video of Sam storming an ENCOM press conference, man on street interviews theorizing Kevin Flynn's disappearance, a financial news report, an online chat apparently between Mr. Dillinger and his son (played briefly in the film by an uncredited Cillian Murphy), and an '80s-style ad for Space Paranoids and Kevin Flynn's book. It's fun and creative stuff.

The book jacket for Kevin Flynn's "Digital Gaming" book is just one of hundreds of images designed to enhance playback in Disney Second Screen. By the power of Disney Second Screen, the film's closing shot is seen in storyboard form. An auto-playing and menu-accessible sneak peek gives us our first glimpse of upcoming Disney XD animated series "Tron: Uprising."

Tron: Legacy's Blu-ray is enhanced with "Disney Second Screen." As explained in the tutorial short "What is Disney Second Screen?" (0:40), this feature enables you to go further with an Internet-connected computer and downloaded application synching via BD-Live to movie playback. This worked just as smoothly as intended, with the app downloading and synching painlessly through my wireless network; it gives your computer the power to pause the movie and even when skipping around with your remote, it quickly catches up (should you want to). There's also the option to sync by audio and numbers on both screens make it easy to sync them manually.

The content here is far from groundbreaking. We get filmmaker annotations from director Joseph Kosinski and others. In addition, there are production photos, artwork, storyboards, photo progressions, 360-degree turnarounds, and silent behind-the-scenes video. Individual items often expand to zoomable mini galleries. Much of this might have been more easily enjoyed as a picture-in-picture track, and I don't think the typical person would get enough enjoyment to want to rewatch the whole movie this way, but at least it's an innovative new kind of bonus feature and one which actually utilizes technology beyond DVD's reach (well, the synching interaction is; the DVD could have simply displayed the numbers on subtitle and have you start both at the same time). You can also enjoy the content at your own pace without the movie playing. Either way, you'll have to enter your Disney Movie Rewards code on Disney's secure site for access.

The title "First Look at 'Tron: Uprising', the Disney XD Animated Series" (1:15) gives you a pretty clear idea of what it is. Without saying much, this teaser for the upcoming program boasts an impressive look and a kind of star-studded voice cast list.

Prepped by years of directing video game commercials, Joseph Kosinski makes his feature debut and talks "Launching the Legacy" from inside Flynn's Arcade. Actress Beau Garrett describes the four layers that make up Gem's skin-tight bodysuit in "Visualizing Tron."

The featurette "Launching the Legacy" (10:20) deals with the sequel's origins, sharing the test footage director Joseph Kosinski shot to get the Comic-Con crowd excited in 2008 and discussing the follow-up's approach to filling in the story and journeying to a kindred new world.

"Visualizing Tron" (11:46), of course, turns our attentions to the film's distinctive look. Crew members go into detail about everything from design and costumes to shooting in 3D and Jeff Bridges' motion capture, sharing the logic that went into each, with plenty of production footage complementing their remarks.

Rocking a perm more expected of 1982, Michael Sheen outs himself as a major Tron fan in "Installing the Cast." Director Joseph Kosinski channels 2010 Comic-Con panel enthusiasm into crowd scene audio to the amusement of Jeff Bridges and Steven Lisberger in "Disc Roars". The Grid's electronic equivalent of jousting is seen in Daft Punk's "Derezzed" music video.

"Installing the Cast" (12:04) discusses each of the new and returning lead actors,
Tron
with them sounding off on their experiences joining or reconnecting with the franchise.

The nifty "Disc Roars" (3:00) shows us how those in attendance at Tron: Legacy's 2010 Comic-Con panel lent their voices to the crowd sequences.

The music video (2:58) for Daft Punk's "Derezzed" (the composition from the nightclub scene in which they make a cameo) coolly opens in Flynn's arcade and takes the French duo into a low-tech '80s-type video game realm reminiscent of the original film. Olivia Wilde makes a brief appearance.

Legacy's extras conclude with now-ubiquitous promos for Disney Blu-ray 3D (a 4-minute Timon and Pumbaa short) and Disneyfile digital copies.

This exhibit of merchandise and props makes "The 'Tron' Phenomenon" seem bigger than it ever really was. Writer/director Steven Lisberger shares "Photo Tronology" with his son Carl in this all-new featurette.

Extras for the original Tron begin with "The Tron Phenomenon" (9:45, HD), a brand new featurette gathering loving remarks on the film from the makers of Tron: Legacy, with returning personnel (and conceptual artist Syd Mead) sharing their memories. Aside from the film's impact being grossly overstated, it's a cool little piece.

The other new addition is "Photo Tronology" (16:37, HD), in which writer/director Steven Lisberger and his son Carl visit Disney's archives for the film. Donning white gloves, they look through photos (which we also get to see), with father elaborating on the experience and son asking questions. Instead of a standard featurette, this takes a tone in between a reality TV show and an artsy independent documentary.

Ported over from the 2002 20th Anniversary Edition DVD, Tron's audio commentary features Steven Lisberger, producer Donald Kushner, and visual effects supervisors Harrison Ellenshaw and Richard Taylor. Technique makes up the bulk of discussion, which is appropriate considering the design of the movie but underwhelming if you want a captivating discussion. There are a fair amount of anecdotes, but most pertain to animation and visuals. As if the movie's original soundtrack wasn't boring enough...

The remaining recycled bonus features are divided into nine listings, all of which are presented in standard definition.

Prior to a supporting role in a film bearing his name, Tron was introduced in a piece of Lisberger Studios animation used to promote radio stations on TV. Appearing before toys like Transformers and an AT-AT, Richard Taylor talks visual effects in a 1982 piece. Almost ten years before reprising his roles, Jeff Bridges tries on a familiar old helmet in the documentary "The Making of 'Tron.'"

Development's offerings begin with "Early Development of Tron" (2:37), a 1982 short in which Lisberger and Kushner discuss bringing the project to Disney. Tron's introduction in Lisberger Studios' logo animation (0:30) is presented. Rounding out the section are a segment on Tron from the 1982 TV special "Computers Are People, Too" (4:28), previewing the movie with clips and Lisberger remarks, and a silent 30-second screen test.

Digital Imagery holds more vintage shorts. "Backlight Animation" (1:39) briefly tackles one of the film's techniques. "Digital Imagery in Tron" (3:44) describes fusing different studios' animated contributions to the film. TV excerpt "Beyond Tron" (4:00) explains MAGI's work on the movie.
"Role of Triple I" (0:34) adds a few more thoughts into the mix, while the more interesting "Triple I Demo" (2:15) showcases some bizarre magician animation tests.

"The Making of Tron" (1:28:21) gives us another feature-length consideration of the film. More interesting than the commentary, this one begins with the project's development (with looks at Lisberger's ad and Animalympics cartoons) and proceeds to go into great detail. Interview subjects include Pixar head John Lasseter, former Disney chairman Dick Cook, and actors Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, Cindy Morgan, Dan Shor, and the late Barnard Hughes. The lattermost group discusses working with nothing and admits they didn't always know what they were talking about. Inevitably, this documentary goes into more detail on technology and visual stylings than most will want, but on the whole it's a solid retrospective.

Under Music, we get a couple of unused compositions by Wendy Carlos: scoring for the light cycle scene (2:46) and the full end credits score (5:15), cut short in the film to accommodate the second of two original Journey songs.

This original trailer claims "Tron" is coming this summer, meaning 29 summers ago this coming summer. Yuri (Cindy Morgan) lights up a room with a flowing robe in this sexy deleted "Tron" scene. Bill Kroyer shows off light cycle storyboards back in '82 and returns to introduce them in a segment taped for the 2002 DVD.

Publicity bonuses begin with a 5-minute preview assembled for NATO (National Association of Theatre Owners). There is also a work-in-progress trailer (1:25), with unfinished shots. Four standard additional trailers, varying slightly and ranging from 1 minute to 2, are provided.

For deleted scenes, there are two Tron/Yuri love scenes, one (the abruptly-ending build-up) with practically all effects done (1:56) and one ("the morning after") with its sound missing (0:44). The filmmakers sound off on the deletion in an introduction (2:18). The section's final item is an alternate prologue, three text screens that explain the film's two worlds (1:21) and were used on international releases.

The lightweight Design starts with a Lisberger intro (1:10) on inspirations. In a vintage piece, Syd Mead discusses creating the light cycle sequence (1:51). There is a short MAGI light cycle animation test (0:16). The section concludes with a 16-second clip of Recognizer footage from the film's Space Paranoids video game in 1.33:1 and letterboxed widescreen

A Storyboarding section begins with the dry vintage piece "The Storyboarding Process" (3:52) showcasing drawings and their corresponding clips. A short collection of "Moebius Storyboards" (0:15) detail the creation of the film's title logo. Finally, a newer storyboard-to-film comparison consists of a Bill Kroyer introduction (0:52) and the light cycle chase scene in a storyboard/final film mix and just final film (1:56 each), with no split-screen offered and no toggling (it's disappeared along with the angle button).

Save some time for Tron's huge, customizable Blu-ray art galleries, seen here in some kind of thumbnail view. Sketches of Barnard Hughes' grid persona Dumont are among the hundreds that populate the Design gallery.

Last but not least come four interactive art galleries, which are also linked to from four of the aforementioned sections. This is easily the most complex gallery I've encountered in my two months of Blu-ray viewing. These collections, navigable both by you and by themselves, are joined by score selections you can turn off. You can mark your favorites, give them star ratings out of 5 (including half-stars), and choose between a flow view, a thumbnail view, and a smart index that displays images by keyword.
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The contents are as follows (and note stills can contain between 1 and 4 subjects): Design (130 stills, a mix of drawings and photos), Early Concept Art (9 stills), Publicity and Production (33 stills, a mix of black & white set photos plus posters and merchandise), and Storyboard Art (44 stills).

Nothing major from the 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition DVD gets dropped here. While I couldn't find my second disc from that, all that wasn't carried over from Disc 1 are a cheesy ad for "Tron Killer App" (which became Tron 2.0: Killer App), THX Optimizer tests (certification was neither included nor needed this time around), and irrelevant sneak peeks for the animated films Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Return to Never Land. If you have that set and didn't sell it last December (when you could got have gotten a good amount of dough for it in the second-hand market), you probably won't have financial reason to get rid of it, but unless you're really fond of its inserts, menus, and Killer App promo, you may want to find a friend to lull it with. Tron's new 2-Disc Special Edition DVD places the audio commentary and "The Tron Phenomenon" on Disc 1, which means that those features are included on both Blu-ray and DVD in that movie's separately sold 2-disc combo pack.

The same as the one sold on its own, Tron: Legacy's standard DVD hangs onto just four of the Blu-ray's extras: the "Tron: Uprising" commercial (1:15), the featurettes "Visualizing Tron" (11:46), and "Installing the Cast" (12:04), and Timon & Pumbaa's "Discover Blu-ray 3D" short (4:24). The tactic of leaving extras off the DVD to make the Blu-ray seem better is not new, but it still annoys.

Like the Blu-ray, the Tron: Legacy DVD's main menu plays clips while exploring the sequel's immense light cycle race track.

Before its menu loads, Tron: Legacy's Blu-ray plays promos for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Prom, and "Tron: Uprising" (the same ad as the bonus feature-designated one). Its sneak peeks loop repeats them before playing ads for Disney Movie Rewards, The Incredibles Blu-ray, the video game Tron: Evolution, Cars 2, and Disneynature's African Cats. Legacy's DVD provides the exact same sequence and breakdown of sneak peeks.

Tron's disc opens with trailers for POTC: On Stranger Tides, Prom, and Tron: Legacy. After repeating these, the Sneak Peeks listing plays promos for Disney Movie Rewards, The Incredibles Blu-ray, Tron: Evolution, Cars 2, and African Cats.

Customary for Disneyfile, the digital copy disc is a DVD-ROM supplying two Windows Media and one iTunes version of the film, for transfer to computers and portable devices.

Tron: Legacy's Blu-ray and main DVD menu swirl around the light cycle racetrack, lifting and dropping screens on which to display montages. Save for a cast image shuffling Bonus Features page, the DVD's additional screens deal static images and further score excerpts. Tron's menu coolly takes us within a computer system using some of film's more impressive imagery, using windows to describe extras. The original Tron's menus are equipped with a programmable screensaver function, which simply dulls the picture while leaving it running and audible. Both movies have a resume feature, which you still have to skip through logos and previews to use from the menu.

This 2-movie collection demands a wide Blu-ray case, utilizing both sides of two trays and the back to hold its five discs in place. In-case inserts promote Blu-ray 3D and combo packs and Disney XD's upcoming "Tron: Uprising". The combination Disney Movie Rewards/digital copy code (also needed for Second Screen) comes in a booklet promoting both things as well as a Tron sweepstakes. Finally there is a nice photo postcard featuring Tron's costume with back light compositing. The thick, heavy case is topped by a cardboard slipcover with an embossed border and a glued-on front giving the 3D lenticular treatment to the cover artwork below (no special equipment necessary to enjoy). Jeff Bridges adorns the second spine.

Flying in style and in the 1.78:1 ratio of IMAX exhibition, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), and Quorra (Olivia Wilde) scope out and avoid the opposition in "Tron: Legacy."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Though dull and incredibly dated, Tron is significant for its early attempt to bring computers into cinema. Its sequel, Tron: Legacy, takes its ideas and molds them into a decent piece of entertainment, with exceptionally strong visuals and a winning design compensating for mild story and character woes.
The original movie has its heart in the right place, the sequel has its head in the clouds. Neither is a great film, but both deserve to be seen as important reflections of their distant eras and of Disney's contrasting mentalities within.

Offering sensory feast and a wealth of bonus features (including everything of note from the original movie's out-of-print DVD), these discs should please fans of the films. With seven new releases to choose from, Disney definitely didn't make owning these movies an easy task. As someone with little interest in digital copy and even less in 3D, I'd say the bigger combo packs are wasteful and probably not a good value for anyone not big on those formats. If that describes you, it then comes down to picking the Blu-ray + DVD or the DVDs alone. While I'm still not enamored with the Blu-ray format, these movies are so driven by image and sound that I can't see anyone liking them enough to buy them yet wanting to save $3-$4 by going only for the DVD. That said, if you currently lack a Blu-ray player, these combo packs won't offer you much in the way of bonus features now.

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Reviewed April 9, 2011.