TRON: Legacy Blu-ray Review
TRON: Legacy comes storming to Region Free US Blu-ray with what is, essentially, a picture-perfect 1080p High Definition video presentation. The aspect ratio is variable, Dark Knight-style, in that it is predominantly widescreen 2.35:1, but alternates to 1.78:1 for the integral IMAX-shot action set-pieces. Detail is exceptional throughout, it simply never even comes close to faltering, with no signs of edge enhancement, DNR or digital tinkering, and clarity from start to finish. Filmic grain? Not really, this movie was obviously intended to by stylishly clinical in its representation, and it succeeds 100% in that respect (arguably, a bit more grain may have made it marginally harder to discern those CG Jeff Bridges moments, but that’s not a fault of the transfer). The colour scheme is pure darkness, jet blacks, illuminated by a wide variety of vivid, bright neon elements. Those onyx monoliths come to life, having genuine tangible 3D quality to them – hell, I am desperate to see this movie in its native 3D but there’s no denying that it has a fair amount of 3D pop even in 2D. It looks amazing. I just can’t think how else to get that message across. Totally and utterly demo quality all the way.
On the aural front, although it’s difficult for me to admit it, things get even better. The movie’s DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 is absolutely stunning. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, with only Bridges’ early ramblings forcing you to sit up and pay a bit more attention, the rest of the vocals never coming into question as they emanate from the frontal array. Effects are staggeringly powerful, the thundering transport ships roaring above like some malevolent giant crusher which is going to slam straight down on your head. Bass is off the scales. The lightcycle tournament will blow you away – the speed and ferocity is tremendous – but things get even better with the aerial battle as the thundering cannons ignite the soundscape, pushing the surrounds and dynamics of your system to the absolute limits.
Of course the most impressive, and arguably the most important, element is the pulse-pounding score from French duo Daft Punk, who have created one of the best movie scores that I have ever come across. I’m not talking about “ever” and meaning “this year”, I mean “ever” as in FOREVER. It will pull you in and get right under your skin from the outset, building and building through all of the most exciting sequences and adding to the potency of the overall experience like you would not believe. I cannot imagine what this movie would have been like without this magnificent score, suffice to say that it’s half the reason the movie itself scores so highly; and this excellent DTS-HD Master Audio presentation brings the powerhouse cinematic experience right into your home environment. Considering 10/10 is a rare score for me to award a Blu-ray in any category, this is one of those few titles with a sound presentation that not only deserves such an accolade, but actually makes me wish I could go to 11. Now let me see where I can purchase that soundtrack...
First glance at the extras list will make you feel that there are quite a few; a closer look will reveal that a lot of arguably fundamental extras are missing (there’s no Commentary, video or audio; there’s no Picture-in-Picture IME track, no Deleted Scenes, and no mammoth Making-of Documentary); but if you actually check out the extras on this release you’ll realise that, whilst there’s no doubt it’s screaming double-dip, there are quite a few quality morsels on offer here.
The Next Day: Flynn Lives Revealed is a surprisingly good extra. Don’t get overly excited about the name, however, the “Flynn Lives” moniker is somewhat misleading. This little extra is basically a retrospective companion-feature to the main movie, charting the rebellious strikes made during the underground “Flynn Lives” campaign, and looking at those involved in the sabotage work along the way. Some of the main cast members pop up for brief moments, as we get to look further behind the curtain at the events that took place after Kevin Flynn first disappeared, and this extended epilogue culminates with a glimpse of what took place after the end of the movie. It’s not massively revealing, but it is a brilliant companion-piece which definitely enhances your enjoyment of the TRON: Legacy world, and which fans will absolutely love.
First Look at Tron: Uprising, the Disney XD Animated Series gives you a further look at the upcoming animated effort, although it’s difficult to understand whether it’s set between the movies (I think it is...) or after Legacy. Either way, it looks amazing, with plenty of lightcycle mayhem taking place in the Grid; and it certainly makes the most of the limitless possibilities of animated works.
Launching the Legacy runs at 12 minutes in length and has the director of the original movie (and producer of this one), Simon Lisberger, along with many of the other cast and crew, discussing how hard it was to get this project off the ground, the challenge of writing and producing the movie – complete with the full original promo trailer which was first shown at Comic Con in order to gauge whether or not there could be any future to this project. It’s interesting because I remember seeing the trailer and just assuming that the movie was a done deal – but actually the audience reaction to that trailer pretty-much determined the fate of the project.
Visualizing Tron also takes 12 minutes to look at the concept art and effects done to bring the movie to life, as well as the many actual sets designed to make the movie more tangibly real, and the unusual costume designs. It’s interesting to hear about the director’s background in architecture, and how that influenced much of the design work (which is impeccable), as well as what the crew thought was integral to the Tron universe. With contributions from all the main players – including Bridges himself – it’s another great Featurette.
Installing the Cast spends another 12 minutes looking at the casting. They talk about bringing Jeff Bridges back for dual roles, complete with Bridges acting out the Clu segments complete with all the CG sensors strapped to his head, with many of the cast and crew members popping up to explain what a consummate professional he was; then doing the same for Boxleiter, Olivia Wilde, and the rest of the new cast, with comments from all (including Bridges), as well as soundbites from Simon Lisberger and some of the others involved in both projects. It’s great having so much behind the scenes footage going on in the background, adding a significant amount of value to this extra.
Disc Roars gives us 3 minutes of Comic Con footage, from the promo where the director (together with the key cast members) included the actual Comic Con audience reaction in the final film, during the Disc Wars segment. It’s really quite nice that the crew involved the public – i.e. the Tron fans – in the production itself, and this is a great reflection of that.
Music Video – Derezzed written, produced and performed by Daft Punk is a music video for one of the big tracks in the movie, provided by composer/DJs Daft Punk. It’s a great track – you’ll remember it from the nightclub – and it gets given a Tron-esque video accompaniment, as two light-cycle-styled opponents ride mechanical Tron-horses towards one another in a dual. There’s even a brief shot of Olivia Wilde if you listen through to the end – and who wouldn’t.
Disney Second Screen is the final extra and I was a bit disappointed by this, not least because I couldn’t get it to work. It’s designed to allow you to watch the movie whilst interacting with it on your iPad or iPhone or iTouch or whatever. You’re supposed to be able to access further tech details on the futuristic machines, the environment etc., but I honestly don’t know why they didn’t just incorporate this wealth of information into a magnificent In-Movie-Experience track. That said, if this kind of content would have meant reducing the quality of the video or audio that accompanies the main movie then I’m glad they didn’t go down that route after all.
TRON: Legacy has received a fair amount of flak from ardent fans of the original movie and I suspect even some newcomers went into it expecting a lot more than it delivered. Sure, it's not the next Matrix, and it was never going to live up to the rose-tinted nostalgic memories of Tron fanboys, but as far as I'm concerned it is one of the best movie experiences that I have come across recently. The narrative may just skim the surface of something more deep and philosophical; and the performances may fluctuate between average and grating, thankfully bolstered by the undisputed talent of Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges; but Legacy remains a tremendous audiovisual trip, boasting outstanding, imaginative visuals and one of the best scores that I have ever come across, provided by none other than French duo Daft Punk. I really wish I'd seen this baby at the cinema, with the volume turned up to 11, it would have been an absolute blast.
On Region Free US Blu-ray things get even better, with perfect video and a thunderous audio track which helps recreate the cinematic experience within the comfort of your living room. And with a nice selection of extras to round things off this is a must-have for fans, and, in my opinion, a blind-buy for anybody even remotely interested. At the very least, it will give you something outstanding to show off your equipment with, and you'll more than likely find this a hell of an experience, and one which you'd like to return to. Recommended.
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