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Tron: Legacy (3D/2D) (2010) Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 April 2011
ImageNote: This review is based on the disc contained in the 5-disc “Tron: Legacy”/“Tron” Blu-ray package.

I don’t know about you but I was fairly nervous when the studio announced that a sequel to “Tron” would be released in 2010.  I pretty much knew what to expect when it came to the visuals.  The studio would pull out all the stops and create a digital grid worthy of a 2010 sequel.  However, what would the story be like?  Would the characters be complete?  How would the first and second movie tie together?  Would there be a tie?  Would this be yet another crash and burn sequel?  The questions are endless.  However, when I sat down and viewed “Tron: Legacy” in 3D most of those worries disappeared.

Disney has managed to pull off a sequel 30 years after the original that nicely ties in with the first film and pushes visual effects to the limit, all while maintaining a story that is human.  Watch the film intently enough, or a second time and the flaws will start to rear their ugly heads.  Also, you will start to tell yourself, “Man, I wish they did this,” quite a bit.

“Tron: Legacy” opens in the year 1989, about seven years after the first film.  Flynn has a son, to whom he tells stories of his time on the grid (throwing us back to the first film).  Flynn has been successful since then as the CEO of Encom.  One night, Flynn just disappears.  As viewers of the first film we already know where he has gone so we just have to wait 20 minutes for the film to catch up.  Meanwhile we are introduced to Sam Flynn, now 27 years old.  Sam is a rebel, refusing to take control of Encom and his father’s legacy.  Alan, who is thankfully still played by Bruce Boxleitner, leads Sam to Flynn’s Arcade where a mysterious page originated.  It is there that Sam finds the entrance to his father’s secret lab.

Before long, Sam finds himself on the grid in the world created by his father.  I am not going to spoil the un-foldings of the rest of the film as that is one of the fun parts of watching this movie.  While you are in for some dazzling 3D effects and wild rides, there is a human element that bridges the gap between the real world and the digital world.
“Tron: Legacy” moves at a nice pace that keeps us from being overloaded with visual effects.  While the story is fairly strong there are still numerous issues that hinder it, but no more than the original.  I think we would all have like to have seen more of Tron.  We knew he wasn’t dead but his role in the film is extremely limited and underwhelming.  Also, the way in which the movie ends is becoming the cliché that it is trying to avoid.  I am not going to give away the ending and so this makes it hard to explain, but basically Hollywood stays away from that perfect happy ending to avoid cliché.  But after decades of doing that, the opposite has become the cliché.  This is one film in which you want the ultimate, perfect happy ending, plus that could have paved the way for yet another sequel.  There are many other issues along the way that will raise questions.  None of them are really substantial, but you will find yourself want a side-story movie to cover many of the relationships that are introduced throughout the film.  So of this is covered in a special feature, which was a nice surprise.

Before discussing the video quality of this Blu-ray release it is important to note the aspect ratio issue.  Since the film was shot in partial for IMAX, some of the film has an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.  Other portions of the film were shot at 2.35:1.  Throughout the film the image switches between one and the other.  I know what you are thinking, because I thought the same thing.  This is going to be really annoying, right?  Well, thankfully not.  In fact, if you are into the film you likely won’t even notice the transitions they are so seamless.  So, just be warned there will be a shift, but you likely won’t notice the transition.  Most of them actually occur between dissolves to black.

The other issue here is more important and more frustrating.  While this is a 3D film, there is about 30 minutes of the film that is not in 3D.  Basically real world sequences are in 2D.  However, you are meant to leave on your 3D glasses during these sequences.  Take them off and the image will appear washed out.  So, note that if the image doesn’t really appear 3D-like then it is a 2D filmed sequence.  Wish it wasn’t the case, but it is.

Now, for the quality, the 3D presentation is not as standout as you might think.  The film is not filled with 3D gimmicks that cause pop outs from the screen.  There are a couple, but they are tastefully done.  What the 3D effect in this film provides is a dimensionality to the computer-generated world.  Objects are given a lifelike weight and dimension.  Whether is be the lightcycles of the mountainous off-gird terrain, the 3D texture is detail oriented.  For those that are looking for amazing 3D effects, this isn’t going to be the film that convinces you 3D is worth it.  However, if you have moved past the 3D gimmicks, then this film showcases the subtleties of 3D technology.  The 2D and 3D sequences are well integrated and are not cause for alarm.

Aside from the 3D effects, the 2D image itself is quite pleasing.  The film is very dark in nature and this swallows many of the finer details and textures.  However, this is true to the source.  There is some banding in the brighter spots of dark sequences.  Some blooming does occur.  Nevertheless, contrast is excellent, leaving the primary elements of the sequences easily distinguishable in the dark sequences.  Colors have a nice pop to them.  The blues and white and oranges/yellows all stand out nicely against the black backdrop without looking like they are floating in mid air.  The “Tron: Legacy” Blu-ray provides excellent 2D and 3D discs.  Either will be sure to impress, but for those with only 2D screens you will still get a great viewing experience.

The clear winner of this Blu-ray release is the audio track.  I have given it a perfect score because the minor little annoyance here is far outweighed by the excellent nature of the rest of the audio track.  To get it out of the way, some of the effects placed on the voices obscure the clarity of what is being said.  This occurs on a handful of occasions, but it is easy enough to look past.  Now, the good stuff.  The sound effects are monumental.  You are not going to want to put this movie on if anyone in the neighborhood is trying to sleep.  The immersive quality of this audio track is without equal.  This is the first film to fully put to use 7.1 surround sound.  The extra two surround channels are engaging from beginning to end.  The four surround channels are constantly filled with effects, music and ambience.  All are perfectly balanced.  Nothing has to fight with each other.  The Daft Punk music score is spot on for this film.  The beats pulse at just the right moments.  The music score was designed for the 7.1 channels.  The score fits into every channel and blends nicely with the LFE.  Speaking of the LFE channel, this film is going to stretch your subwoofer further than ever before.  The frequency response of the signal emanating from the sub is fluid and smooth.  The bass will envelope you throughout the film.  However, the lightcycle game and the final aerial battle will leave you with a terrific massage.  I can’t speak highly enough of the LFE channel.  For those with bass management, the sub still delivers a perfectly balanced signal compared to the main channels.  If you don’t have a 7.1 setup in your home theater, this film is the reason to get one now.

This review is based on the 5-disc Blu-ray set.  The Blu-ray review of the original “Tron” and its special features can be found here.  Note, that the disc is part of this set, but also available as a standalone.

In this 5-dsic set is: “Tron: Legacy” 3D Blu-ray, “Tron: Legacy” 2D Blu-ray & special features, “Tron” The Original Classic Blu-ray, “Tron: Legacy” DVD Copy and “Tron: Legacy” Digital Copy.

The special features for “Tron: Legacy” are all located on the 2D disc and is sole reflection of the special features rating provided at the top.  The score for the 5-disc set in its entirety would be four stars.  “The Next Day: Flynn Lives Revealed” is a nice feature that attempts to fill in some of the gaps as to what happens after “Tron” and after “Tron: Legacy.”  This featurette is lead by Flynn Lives a fictional movement.  Like “Bambi,” the Blu-ray is equipped with “Disney Second Screen” allowing access to interactive features during the film’s playback.  “Launching The Legacy” is a glimpse at the film’s preproduction.  “Visualizing Tron” takes a look at the visual design elements of the film.  “First Look at ‘Tron: Uprising’ Disney XD Animated Series” is a trailer of sorts of the animated cartoon.  “Installing The Cast” is self-explanatory.  “Disc Roars” is a brief sound effects recording session.  Lastly, there is a Daft Punk music video, “Derezzed.”

“Tron: Legacy” is not perfect, but it is the best sequel to arise from a 30 year-old original.  Newcomers will discover a new digital realm, while fans of the original will appreciate the tie-in of the two films and the ability to relive the feeling of being “On The Grid.”  The audio and video qualities are astounding and are worth the price of this package alone.  I highly recommend this 5-disc title, as it is the best way to complete your collection with 3D, 2D and the original classic.

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