Disney/Buena Vista | 1982 | 96 mins.| PG
Released in 1982, Tron was really a movie ahead of its time. In 2011, the idea of artificial intelligence and computer programs interacting with humans in a digital environment seems like a possibility — just look at the modern advances in computer technology — but for moviegoers in the early 80s (myself, included), Tron felt really out there. No matter, the movie featured a fast-paced story that audiences could enjoy, and showcased some of the most groundbreaking special effects ever seen on film.
Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), is a young man who was once the brightest computer programmer at ENCOM Corp. During his time there, Flynn had his two best video game programs stolen by rival engineer Ed Dillinger (David Warner). Dillinger rode his success to a senior executive office. Fed up, Flynn decides to take action. When he breaks into ENCOM with the help of his friends, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) and Lora Baines (Cindy Morgan), he angers the company’s Master Control Program (voiced by Warner), a vindictive artificial intelligence system that uses a quantum teleportation laser to transport the daring young programmer inside of the ENCOM mainframe. Inside this virtual world, there are living, breathing Programs who resemble human beings; entities designed to service the MCP and keep the whole system running at peak proficiency. But much like our world, not every Program is created equal. The MCP and its commander, Sark (Warner) begins hunting down Flynn; one of Bradley’s security programs, Tron (Boxleitner), helps Flynn escape Sark’s control; and Tron’s would-be lover, Yori (Morgan), who also devotes herself to serving the Users. Hurrying to defeat the MCP and find a way home, Flynn encounters heavy opposition, competes in a series of gladiator games, and comes face to face with Sark and the MCP.
While a few of the ideas may still seem far out, Tron is a film about big ideas, Almost thirty years after its release, this is one of those movies that feels more relevant today than it did in 1982. Writer/director Steven Lisberger displays seemingly limitless imagination here. Programs are dutiful soldiers, circuits as freeways, religious zealotry is punishable by death, videogames as gladiator battles, Pong reimagined as a bitter fight to the bloodthirsty end, security measures as deadly war machines.
Bridges, Warner and Boxleitner all do a great job here; keeping the story going at a good clip. While Cindy Morgan isn’t terrible, her rather blank stare and somewhat stilted delivery doesn’t make her particularly memorable. Warner exemplifies sleaze as Dillinger, booms convincingly as Sark, and makes the MCP a real threat. Along with Lisberger’s one-of-a-kind visuals, the performances of Bridges, Warner and Boxleitner have made Tron the cult classic it is.
Disney presents Tron with a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer that will please fans of the 1980’s classic. The real world sequences have never looked better. Colors are bright, skin tones and textures are realistically preserved, and blacks are deep. There is a fair amount of grain and noise in the source, and blacks are overblown at times but these are to be looked at as preservation decisions for the transfer, this is how Tron was originally seen and Disney has stayed faithful to that look. Keeping with the visual style, blues and other bright reds and oranges mix well with the deep blacks. Detail in the characters has also been preserved with no over the top digital clean ups.
Disney has provided an excellent DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track for Tron. Dialogue is clear and centered throughout. When used, bass and surround effects are very effective, especially in the lightcycle race sequence. Likely due to its age, this mix is very front-heavy, and the music tends to overpower the dialogue and sound effects at times.
We get the following special features:
- Audio Commentary: Director Steven Lisberger, producer Donald Kushner, associate producer and visual effects supervisor Harrison Ellenshaw, and visual effects supervisor Richard Taylor share a look-back during this engaging audio commentary. They touch on the genesis of Tron, the development of its mythology and visuals, the challenges the filmmakers faced during production, the film’s characters and performances, and its reception over the years.
- The Tron Phenomenon (HD, 10 minutes): The cast and crew of Tron Legacy the legacy of the original Tron in this recently produced exclusive.
- Photo Tronology (HD, 12 minutes): Tron director and Legacy producer Steven Lisberger and his son, Carl, visit the Disney archives in this second Blu-ray exclusive to dig through the concept art and materials the studio saved from the original Tron.
- The Making of Tron (SD, 88 minutes): Repurposed from Tron‘s DVD release, this feature-length documentary covers all bases, from the film’s effects and visuals to its story and characters, from its production to its final cut, from its failures to its successes, and from its place in Disney history to its influence on cinema as a whole.
- Development (SD, 8 minutes): The disc’s first collection of previously released DVD featurettes includes a look at “The Early Development of Tron,” an “Early Lisberger Studios Animation” logo, a “Computers are People Too” television short from 1982 (with a sneak peek at Tron), “Early Video Tests” commissioned by the studio, and a “Development Gallery” of original concept art, sketches and storyboards.
- Digital Imagery (SD, 12 minutes): Witness the creation of Tron‘s “Backlight Animation,” learn about the use of “Digital Imagery in Tron,” watch an excerpt from a television special called “Beyond Tron,” unravel the “Role of Triple I” and watch a antiquated Triple I computer animation demo.
- Music (SD, 8 minutes): The lightcycle scene and end credits are presented with the full, original music Wendy Carlos composed for each.
- Publicity (SD, 13 minutes): This collection includes a National Association of Theater Owners sample reel of the film, a work-in-progress trailer, four finalized trailers, and an image gallery of marketing materials.
- Deleted Scenes (SD, 6 minutes): Three deleted scenes are available — “Tron and Yori’s Love Scene,” “Tron and Yori’s Love Scene #2” and an “Alternate Opening Prologue” — with an introduction by Lisberger.
- Design (SD, 3:34 minutes): Lisberger introduces this four-part look at the design of Syd Mead’s lightcycles, Magi’s animation tests for the bikes, and brief letterbox and full-screen presentations of Space Paranoids footage.
- Storyboarding (SD, 9 minutes): “The Storyboarding Process,” the “Creation of Tron‘s Main Title” (with Moebius storyboards), a gallery of additional storyboards, and a storyboard-to-film comparison of the “Lightcycle Chase” with storyboard artist/animator Bill Kroyer.
- Galleries (HD): View hundreds of images spread across four categories: “Design,” “Early Concept Art,” “Publicity and Production Photos,” and “Storyboard Art.”
- Digital Copy