TRON / TRON: Legacy 3D Blu-ray Review: 2-Movie Collection

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Greetings, Program.

It’s been more than a few cycles since “TRON” was part of the social lexicon, but much to the delight of sci-fi fans, gamers, and children of the 80′s, TRON is back in a big way. After generating nearly $400M in worldwide box office receipts, TRON: Legacy, last year’s much-hyped TRON sequel, is now making its way to Blu-ray. Available in myriad retail configurations, serious TRON fans will be most interested in Disney’s 5-disc, 2-movie collection, which features 2D and 3D Blu-ray versions of TRON: Legacy, DVD and Digital Copy versions of TRON: Legacy, plus the original TRON (2D) on Blu-ray.

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With TRON: Legacy, a Zen-like Jeff Bridges resumes his role as Kevin Flynn, an ace programmer who unwittingly gets himself trapped inside a digital frontier he helped create. Left behind in the real world is Flynn’s son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund) and Flynn’s company, ENCOM, now led in part by Alan Bradley, a.k.a. “Tron.” Alan is played by Bruce Boxleitner, making a welcome return to the series and the spotlight, looking great at age 60. Children of the 80′s (and my mother) may remember Boxleitner from his work as Lee Stetson on TV’s “Scarecrow and Mrs. King.”

It’s been nearly 30 years since the 1982 “original classic” TRON first hit theaters, but the impact of that landmark, computer-generated spectacle is still visible in modern day Hollywood. A human being transported into a living, breathing, digital world inside the computer? And this place is called The Grid? Why does that sound familiar? No one can be told what the Matr–err, Master Control Program is. You really have to see it for yourself.

Matrix jokes aside, TRON: Legacy is an eye-popping feast for the senses. Although die hard fans will likely find a few things to gripe about, casual TRON fans such as yours truly will have an absolute blast. With eye candy such as revamped light cycles and the stunning Olivia Wilde, a killer techno soundtrack from Daft Punk, and an unexpected dose of comic relief from the brilliant Michael Sheen, TRON: Legacy makes for a fun-filled night at the (home) theater.

On Blu-ray, the movie looks absolutely spectacular. From the fully-realized world of The Grid, awash in blue-green neon and filled with fantastic, computer-generated effects, to the real world of Flynn’s Arcade, the ENCOM building, and Sam’s riverside home (for lack of a better word), TRON: Legacy boasts benchmark quality 1080p video from start to finish. With inky blacks, natural skin tones (in the real world at least) and a convincing sense of visual depth, TRON: Legacy is instant demo material for home theater aficionados. And that’s just the 2D version! (Unfortunately, I’m currently between 3D displays and haven’t yet been able to evaluate Legacy’s 3D experience on Disc One of this 5-disc set.)

And let’s not forget that soundtrack. Featuring 7.1 lossless channels of techno synthpop goodness from the French duo known as Daft Punk, the original score and music of the feature might just be the film’s biggest asset. Perfectly suited to the film’s stunning visuals, Daft Punk’s dynamic and energetic work is the perfect mood setter as we traverse this light-filled world of sound and fury. If your sound system goes to 11, that’s where you’ll want to keep it until the end credits roll on this superb DTS-HD mix.

The original TRON also looks and sounds great on Blu-ray, a vast improvement over the now out-of-print DVD release of years past. Although its special effects look quite dated in comparison to Legacy, the film’s real world sequences have been cleaned up substantially for this Blu-ray debut, with facial close-ups benefiting the most from the high def overhaul. Surprising is just how good the original TRON sounds on Blu-ray too, with its new DTS-HD soundtrack exhibiting clear dialogue, a solid amount of low-end oomph, and occasionally aggressive use of the surround channels.

Disney has done a fine job with this 2-movie collection and the special features they’ve assembled go a long way towards weaving the two films together. TRON: Legacy understandably enjoys the lion’s share of the extras, with featurettes such as “Launching the Legacy” giving us a look at the genesis of the project, and “Disc Roars” which takes us to Comic-Con, where that stunning test reel of early FX footage got fans jazzed about the upcoming sequel. Finally, TRON: Legacy is the second title to feature Disney’s innovative new “Second Screen” feature, which allows for synchronized playback on an iPad or PC, with bonus material presented on that second screen while the film continues in the first. Cool stuff.

As hinted at earlier, TRON: Legacy and the original are available separately, together, on DVD and Blu-ray, in no fewer than seven retail configurations. Whichever option you take, Disney’s TRON: Legacy Blu-ray is one impressive program – and picking it up sooner rather than later makes you one smart user.

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PRODUCT DETAILS
Tron: Legacy / Tron: The Original Classic 2-Movie Collection
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Street Date: April 5, 2011 | List Price: $79.99
125 minutes (TRON: Legacy), 96 minutes (TRON)
Rated PG (both films)
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