20th Anniversary Collector's Edition
Review by Michael Jacobson
Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan, Barnard
Director: Steven Lisberger
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.2:1
Studio: Walt Disney
Features: See Review
Length: 96 Minutes
Release Date: January 15, 2002
box boldly proclaims Tron as “a milestone in the history of computer
animation”. It certainly is.
unlike other media milestones, I don’t think Tron has held up as well.
It’s still a cool picture to look at, with impressive and memorable
visuals, but…well, just think of how great Snow White still is after 60
years. In just 20, Tron seems
more of a historical curiosity piece than a relevant film.
still like Tron, and always enjoy coming back to it every few years.
This newly remastered and THX certified DVD was certainly a good way to
do it after the disappointing and lackluster initial release of the movie…more
on that further down.
like it for its bold sense of style, and for the fact that it put images on the
screen that audiences had never seen before.
It was a major risk for Disney, which at the time was trying to prove
itself once again as a leader and not a follower in the film industry.
As far as that aspect goes, the film was a success.
Despite the advancement of computer animation technologies, I think many
of the picture’s images still hold up quite well (the light cycle sequence
remains a favorite of mine).
aspects ceased to impress as I grew older.
As a kid, I thought the glowing circuitry styled costumes were the
epitome of cool. Now, I only see
silly looking jumpsuits with rotoscope animations stuck on. And what was with those awful helmets, anyway?
story was an intriguing one, essentially placing a gladiator movie into the
realm of a video game. The movie
suggested, maybe even in a semi-religious way, that when people create programs,
part of themselves go into it. Tron
takes us to the other side of the video screen, where these programs look
surprisingly human, and even take on the traits of the people who created
them…indeed, in their own image.
villain of the piece is the Master Control Program, a computer who became
artificially intelligent before such a phrase was really being thrown around.
Powerful and diabolical, it plans to absorb all kinds of information from
other computers, including the defense grids of the United States and Russia!
only possible hindrance could be a security program called Tron.
Created by programmer Alan Bradley (Boxleitner), it would police even the
MCP, and keep it from attempting any illegal downloads.
He tries to implement the program with the help of master hacker Flynn
(Bridges), who himself wants to break in to prove that the company’s five
biggest moneymaking video games were his inventions, stolen from his private
MCP has other plans, however, and thanks to a new digitizing device, it zaps
Flynn directly into the digital world…a world of programs, but no users!
There, he is trained to fight in the video games, where it is expected he
will eventually die with only a “game over” as a memorial.
that world, however, he meets up with the living Tron program (also Boxleitner),
and realizes his only hope of returning to the real world is to help Tron
implement Alan’s program and thus ending the autonomy of the MCP!
the tale in so many words…of course, the story is merely an excuse for
animator/writer/director Steven Lisberger to create a vapid new world for the
silver screen. Every frame is
filled with visual wonder and imagination…it’s no wonder the film enthralled
us the way it did.
plays the kind of laid back computer genius that would come to define our times
in later years…had he been real, who knows what kind of impact he would have
had on the world? Can anyone say
Flynndows ME? As for the rest of
the cast, their performances are mostly noteworthy for their technical
merit…they had to act against blank walls and screens for most of the
filming…never an ideal way to work, but they all manage to pull it off quite
as mentioned, it can’t really be called a great movie, by any stretch.
Just because it looks great doesn’t mean that the plot and characters
all gel into something cohesive and worthwhile.
Some of it seems a little silly, but the overall concept and design are
the real stars here, and they’re what makes the picture a classic in its own
new anamorphic transfer is terrific, and will definitely please the movie’s
devotees! Forget the shoddy
original release and opt for this THX certified and newly remastered one
instead. It’s much cleaner,
sharper, and crisper than I’ve ever seen the picture before, with better
coloring and tones from start to finish. There
are only minor problems here and there, such as a bit of murkiness in the darker
scenes, but even these aren’t marred by grain or noticeable compression. Overall, this is a job well done from the folks at Disney.
The new 5.1 audio mix fares even better.
You wanna believe you’re inside a computer?
This soundtrack definitely makes you feel like it.
All channels are fairly busy from start to finish, kicking into high gear
for action sequences like the light cycle race, but maintaining an ambient
environment with electronic bleeps and buzzes coming from this direction and
that. The .1 channel gets a good
share of work too, with plenty of booming scenes and Wendy Carlos’ original
score. An outstanding effort!
is a loaded double disc from Disney, starting off with two extras that should
tell you everything you could possibly want to know about Tron.
This first is a rather informative commentary track by
writer/director Steven Lisberger, producer Donald Kushner, designer Harrison
Ellenshaw, and computer director Richard Taylor.
Even better is the hour and a half documentary that starts the second
disc, which features interviews with both cast and crew, and shows in detail the
evolution of the project, including dome of Lisberger’s studios early animated
television commercials…brought back memories!
Two also contains 4 trailers and 2 promos, including one designed specifically
for the National Association of Theater Owners to show what the film was going
to be like and featuring some of the production’s earliest tests at animation.
There are three deleted scenes (with introduction by Lisberger, NOT Bruce
Boxleitner as advertised on the box), including a famous love scene for Tron and
Yori. There are numerous short
featurettes on the design (including the vehicles, characters, world, and so
on), a couple of pieces of deleted music, storyboards and storyboard-to-film
comparisons, early development clips including the original test video for
Disney and Lisberger’s early animation for his own studio logo, looks at how
the digital imagery was created, and more, including a couple of mild Easter
menus for Disc Two are also quite cool, taking you inside the 3D computer world