There are a few different ways to measure this, but the 28 years that separates Tron from its sequel Tron: Legacy is the longest gap between sequels with returning cast members in film history. Even last year when I saw the first of the films trailers, I still couldn't believe it was getting made - Not that it didn't deserve it mind you, but because of the necessary movement of the sheer amount of obstacles in the path of a sequel getting made. I was excited, but didn't want to get my hopes up too much - the mental scarring of the Star Wars prequels still fresh on the mind.
Soon after the events of the previous film, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) returns to the world of the grid, but after his digital alter ego turns against him, he's stuck inside and separated from his young son, Sam (played as an adult by Garrett Hedlund) whom grows up in the real world as an orphan. Following a tip off from Flynn's friend and colleague Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner), Sam seeks his father out, but he too is drawn into the digital world where not everything is what it appears to be.
Thankfully, not only is Tron: Legacy worthy enough to carry the Tron name, it is in many ways superior to the original film (and not just in terms of the obvious improvements in visual effects). It's one of the most awe inspiring, fun and immersive cinema experiences I have ever experienced - so much so that I returned another five times. It also features one of the best movie soundtracks of all time, courtesy of the French duo Daft Punk (but more on that later).
Basically, I can't recommend the movie more - some people don't like it and accuse it of being more gloss than content, but remember, this isn't high art. It's Tron. It's a movie, a love letter made by nerds, for the consumption by other nerds. I'm so very glad it got a chance to be made.
Tron: Legacy is presented in the varying widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and 2.35:1 encoded with the MPEG-4 AVC codec. A bit of explanation there; in standard theatres it was presented in 2.35:1 and in IMAX theatres at approximately 1.43:1. The Blu-ray version utilizes the IMAX version as a basis, opening up the frame for the scenes enhanced for IMAX (approximately 40 minutes worth), hard mating those scenes to 1.78:1. The remaining scenes are presented as filmed in 2.35:1. This presentation has been director approved, and I must say it's pretty fantastic.
Tron: Legacy was filmed using the James Cameron/ Vincent Pace Sony 35mm digital camera system, similar to Avatar. Just like that film, the footage captured has been heavily modified in the computer realm, creating a vast and complex virtual world. Basically, the transfer here is in the running for the most visually stunning transfer of a live action film on the format. Everything is glossy and beautiful and draws you into the world of the gaming grid. There really is nothing to complain about. Nothing at all. This is a first rate, demo worthy transfer.
If all films were presented like this, there'd be no reason for reviewers - Period.
The main audio track is encoded in lossless DTS HD Master Audio 7.1, at 24 bits (a massive bitrate of some 6 Mb/ps)
Wow. I'm speechless. I thought I was impressed with the audio track at the IMAX showing, but Director Joe Kosinski went back to the mix after the film had begun its theatrical showings and further massaged the elements, creating an even more involving surround experience for this Blu-ray version.
Again, just like the video, this is an entirely reference quality mix. I guarantee it will wring every last bit of juice out of your system, be it high end or low end.
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I saw no evidence of lip sync issues, or really anything to complain about at all. The mid and back rear channels are always active with sound effects shooting back and forth, and aggressive mixing of the Daft Punk score.
There is so much bass. It underscores everything. You will feel it. It will move your house. It's amazing.
I don't even really know what to say about the score by Daft Punk. I haven't been the biggest fan of theirs over the years, but their work in Tron: Legacy is nothing short of amazing. Basically, it's been the soundtrack to my life over the last six months, accompanying me where ever I go - regardless of whether it's playing in my head, MP3 player, lounge room or car. It's the heart and soul of the movie and without it, it'd be a much lesser movie.
I was shocked when it wasn't nominated for an Academy Award. (In fact, I was shocked that the Academy unanimously snubbed the movie entirely, but then again, they did to the original as well when they decided that using a computer in a movie production was 'cheating'.) It's an absolute joy to hear in 7.1, mixed perfectly and aggressively and I wouldn't have it any other way.
This mix is perfect. Amazing. 7.1 channels of pure sonic bliss.
Perhaps I was hoping for too much, but I can't help but want a little bit more. Ironically, the only film in recent memory that I've actually desperately wanted to hear a director's commentary for, doesn't have it. Perhaps for the re-release, Disney?
Featurettes make up the bulk of the extras section. First up we have The Next Day: Flynn Lives Revealed which takes a look at the viral advertising the studio generated to create interest in the whereabouts of Kevin Flynn, Launching the Legacy briefly discusses how the film came about, with particular emphasis on the test trailer produced for Comic Con 2008, which convinced the studio to move ahead with plans for the film.
Installing the Cast takes a look at the actors and what convinced them to jump aboard the film, Visualising Tron despite its short length, is a surprisingly meaty look at the insane amount of work that went into the visual effects, especially revolving around de-aging Jeff Bridges to play the younger CLU. Finally we have the brief Disc Roars which returns the cast and crew to Comic Con 2009 to record sound effects to feature in the disc war sequence of the film.
The First Look at Tron: Uprising is a brief teaser (presented in HD) for the forthcoming animated show which will premiere on the Disney network in 2012. Count me in for that.
Finally, we have the Derezzed music video featuring the helmeted lads of Daft Punk.