TRON: Legacy 3D Super Play Blu-ray Review
The disc, to preserve the IMAX theatrical presentation, presents both widescreen 2.39:1 and 1.85:1 aspects (much like The Dark Knight) in 1080p both 2D and 3D – that is the film is presented in both 2D and 3D, though you are requested to wear the glasses throughout the runtime of the film. Those scenes set in the Grid make up the majority of the 3D elements, whilst everything else, i.e. the real world, remains as 2D.
Effective 3D is all about depth, creating a realistic environment that provides an immersive experience and not about pointing things ‘in your face’. Legacy was a native 3D film, but exists in the digital realm, literally as the environment is meant to represent a computer world, thus ‘realistic’ is always going to be a challenge. Also, the design specifics for the world are centred around light, and so for light to predominate the rest of the world has to be dark, or in Legacy’s case, black. Now, here lies the problem, to effectively see 3D, your brain needs reference, i.e. fore, middle and background – this spatial differential tricks the brain into thinking there is distance between the layers and thus the illusion of depth into the frame is created – when you have a near black world there are no such reference points thus no matter how good the technology used, your brain will simply not see the 3D. Add to all this the fast cutting and camera movements used to give the illusion of speed and mayhem, the brain simply cannot keep up the action and consequently it shortens the frame. To get around this fundamental issue Legacy employs a number of tricks to better define the 3D elements of the film and not surprisingly they all revolve around light. Objects within the frame are represented extremely well, characters have a real sense of solidity, i.e. faces, for the most part, look ‘real’, the lightcycles have a real sense of front, middle and back that stretches into the frame – in fact the lightcycle battle contains some of the better 3D elements because of the different layers to the game grid – it’s all about the light that gives a sense of distance, both the bike ‘wall’ and the game floor. The flying craft too maintain a tangible sense of solidity with real depth to their shape. Two shots of characters talking maintain a good sense of distance as well as the characters themselves having a solid presence, however, they are not particularly well set in their environment. Similarly landscape shots don’t fair quite so well as there is precious little foreground to give you that sense of distance, but by putting some sort of craft up close helps to establish frame depth. Once in Flynn’s off-grid hideout there is a ‘wall’ of dots, these are added to help give a greater sense of depth to the environment, or to have the 3D ‘stick out’. Such tricks do help achieve a greater sense of depth, but on the whole the 3D landscape is very limited and thus is nowhere near as immersive as it should have been considering the technology used to created it (the next generation cameras invented for Avatar), and as such is somewhat disappointing.
The rest of the picture, though, is utterly stunning; detail is pin sharp throughout from skin and hair to the light lines of the clothing. In fact light is absolutely sharp no matter what, from the light cycles, to their environment to the portal; there is no softness anywhere to be seen.
Colours are so bold and strong as to shine from the screen, be it the blue of Flynn, the red of the CLU’s minions or his own orange hue, each is defiant against the screen.
Contrast and brightness are set to give absolute blackness (with the usual 3D caveat) which, as discussed above is a bit of a double edged sword, frame depth is enhanced by such inky black, but 3D does tend to flatten due to the lack of any reference. Such black does highlight how bold and striking the colours are though.
But, of course, this film is two halves, because the ‘real’ world is presented in 2D, and that is reference throughout. However, the disc is 3D, you are requested to wear your glasses for the runtime of the film, which highlights correct set up of your system, both for light and for colour timing as the glasses with alter both elements against a standard 2D setup; inevitably some compromises will have to be made, be it for colour or for brightness, however if you’re consistent the image is terrific.
Digitally there were no compression problems, no banding or posterization problems, nor was there any edge enhancement. Crosstalk was practically non-existent. In all this is a terrific picture, but as a 3D image it is slightly lacking, and as that is what this disc is promoting I will have to go with a high 8 out of 10.
I opted for the English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which is absolutely stunning for both immersion and vibrancy and highlights how much a fantastic soundscape can enhance the visuals to the nth degree. Effects are wonderfully realised, perfectly match what you can see on screen, and sometimes what you can’t (of particular note is the flying craft that resonates behind you before coming overhead and then onto screen – wow), always with pinpoint accuracy and never there just for the sake of it. Dialogue is clear and precise, sounds perfectly natural and is never drowned out by the mayhem on screen. Bass, wow, bass is astonishing, being both ferocious and controlled at the same time; the various ‘explosions’ in the lightcycle battle, or the hum of the discs, or better yet the floor shacking jets of the flying craft – never is this as more powerful than when Sam first enters the Grid.
Perhaps the most important element of the track is Daft Punk’s amazing score which comes across using all the speakers with tight controlled ferocity, utilising the sub to such a degree as to rock the foundations of the Earth. Those that like to run their sub ‘hot’ might find a muddying of the bass, but if you’re correctly set up this is one of those utterly absorbing tracks that penetrates the seat and has you vibrating in ecstasy. A thoroughly absorbing sound mix that enthrals, entertains and excites. Awesome.
- The Next Day: Flynn Lives (10.26, HD) – A brief companion piece to the film playing as an epilogue to expand upon the ‘Flynn lives’ movement mentioned in the film and nicely rounds off the film.
- First Look at Tron: Uprising (1.25, HD) – Ad for the new Disney cartoon set in the computer world before the events seen in Legacy.
- Launching the Legacy (10.20, HD) – Featurette concentrating on the efforts of all those involved in getting this film made, including the special trailer launched to gauge whether or not a film was viable (though showing it to the Comic Con audience is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel). Cast and crew alike express their admiration for the original film and what it achieved and how this new film updates the franchise.
- Visualising Tron (11.46, HD) – Featurette looking at the designs for the film, including costumes, sets and craft with particular emphasis on the directors architect background – there is even a little bit about the filming in 3D, though not nearly enough to gauge the complexities involved.
- Installing the Cast (12.04, HD) – Featurette looking at the cast of the film, including the de-aging of Jeff Bridges enabling him to play the two parts, and their excitement at being involved with the film.
- Music Video ‘ Derezzed’ (2.58, HD) – Daft Punk’s much loved score gets a specific video for this song, though some cynics suggest that the entire film is one Daft Punk video ....
- Disc Roars (3.00, HD) – footage of the crowd at Comic Con being recorded for use in the crowd scenes in the new film.
A rather light offering of extra material for what is a top release, no doubt there will be a ‘special edition’ somewhere down the line. But what we do have is a concise set of extras that look at the main point behind the making of the film with the ‘Flynn Lives’ epilogue being of particular delight.
Could it be the longer the time between sequels the greater the possibility of success? Cameron’s Aliens and Terminator 2 seem to suggest it, and, I think, we can add Tron: Legacy to that list. Taking the basic ideas from the original film, expanding upon them and then taking the film in a completely new direction with philosophical ideals about father/son relationships both natural and prodigal - lofty ideas in what is essentially a sci fi yarn and, as such, raises the game beyond that of entertainment fodder. However, it is also fantastic in its excesses of light and sound – the film is a visual and aural delight and whilst this is an excuse for style of substance the film has one more ace up its sleeve – it is thoroughly entertaining. I’ll grant it has taken me a couple of viewing to come to that opinion, but now I’m convinced this is a terrific watch.
As a 3D Blu-ray Disney has provided a reasonable package, the 3D image due to the inherent black landscape, fast cutting and camerawork, is not the best out there, though the rest of the picture itself is stunning, the sound is absolutely first rate though this is all let down by a slightly thin extras package – though it is a future proof buy containing as it does a 3D Blu-ray, 2D Blu-ray and digital copy.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £28.99
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