on 29 December 2011
I've always enjoyed this film, mainly because of its unique visual style using backlit animation and some of the earliest uses of computer graphics in films. The plot is actually fairly well structured despite what some may say, unlike the sequal where everything just seemed to be one long chase. Whilst it may have its slight flaws its still a good film.
My main problem with this item is the DVD itself - the transfer is exactly the same as the 2002 20th anniversary version, right down to the menu's! There are no additional special features unlike the bluray version which got additional special features as well as brand new restored transfer and sound mix supervised by the director Steven Lisberger! Why couldn't they have used the same transfer for the DVD instead of simply re-releasing the previous DVD?? I recently went to see this in its original 70mm format at the BFI Southbank and despite the slight print fading it was still fantastic, if only they could have bothered to give the DVD the same care as the bluray, not all of us have bluray yet Disney!
Bottom line - if you already own the 20th Anniversary edition, don't bother buying this.
Watching Tron now you can't help but feel that the visual effects are looking less impressive than they did back in the '80s, then you realise that this film is thirty years old next year, and suddenly they seem pretty decent again!
The story tells of a computer genius trying to hack into his former boss' computer system to get back his intellectual property, after breaking into the premises and being digitised into bits of data by the prototype laser transporter there - he finds himself literally inside the system. Inside the mainframe he finds himself involved in a battle against the Master Control Program, an artificial intelligence which has mutated beyond its initial coding and has visions of world domination by hacking into other networks.
The various bits of software he encounters are visually represented using blends of computer animation techniques and live action manipulated in post-production. The film has a stylistic look which was unlike anything seen at the time. It still remains a unique experience as computer generated imaging quickly evolved since, leaving Tron as a pioneering title which has inspired the CGI work on countless films over the years and has been parodied many times. Admittedly the computer graphics do look very basic now and the large flying "recognisers" are laughably crude and not even slightly menacing. You do start to get used to the computer graphics though and the impact of their basic look softens. Despite this, I don't consider at the special effects to be particularly dated, this is best viewed as a film of its own time, you can then truly marvel at the immersive world which has been created, not that dated visuals matter too much as the strength of this film exists in the central story of a man trying to break free from a corrupt system - in both the virtual and the real world. Abuses of influence by those in high positions and by those who surprisingly find themselves with power are themes which will always be relevant, and therefore the film still remains contemporary and probably always will.
Jeff Bridges brings a cheeky flamboyance to his dual roles as Flynn the maverick genius, and Clu - his virtual alter-ego. He is a convincing programming maestro without being a stereotypical code bore, he is aware of his own esteemed regard by his peers and enjoys it. In an age where video-arcades represented the pinnacle of publicly available technology, he is the king of that domain and a character you want to see succeed in his mission against the large corporation which seems to represent so much of what is wrong with the world. For a more tech savvy generation Tron stretches plausibility, the spurious elements of what happens inside a mainframe computer will be hard to swallow but the look of the film is one of pure science-fiction fantasy and the innards of the machine could easily be a completely different world. This is escapist cinema and so it doesn't need to be too believable, it just needs to be fun - and Tron definitely delivers there.
This Blu-Ray transfer is an ambitious one, instead of polishing the film by employing heavy film grain removal and boosting of the contrast during dark scenes, the overall look of the film is one that feels faithful to the original. By 'enhancing' the film too heavyhandedly Disney would have ran the risk of making it look 'pseudo-modern' which would have made the visual effects look positively prehistoric, but by being made aware that this is actually an early 'eighties classic the special effects still contain their initial magic. This hasn't been left alone, any changes made (or not) have been done with artistic intent and blemishes have been removed with colours and sharpness improved to ensure that this is probably the best version of Tron you've ever seen.
In a nutshell: The granddaddy of modern cyber-punk and CGI, the importance of this film on the cultural landscape is hard to overstate. Its influence lives on. This isn't just a cyber-adventure though, it suggests that as computer "users", we are the God's of our own creation. But this will always be remembered more for the heavy computer influenced graphics and instead of looking increasingly dated, Tron continues to impress by showing what was possible before CGI was a tool film makers could lazily rely on, and the light cycles still look pretty cool.
My son (8) quite enjoyed watching this movie, but probably I wanted to see it more having enjoyed it at the movies back in 1982. On DVD the actual film doesn't seem any better than I remember it in terms of picture quality, although apparently Wendy (Walter) Carlos's film score has been recovered as the original analogue master tapes had badly degraded. This Special Edition two disk set seems the same as the '20th anniversary edition' which also has the second DVD of deleted scenes, storyboards, the 88 minute documentary `The making of TRON', etc.. all of which is far more interesting to adults who saw the film as kids back in 1982, rather than todays kids. The extra's are all you could want really and worth a view (you even get Tron's cut 'love scene'). Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner (TRON) are very good considering they were the first to act against a blue screen for mostly the whole movie. David Warner is excellent as MCP and Sark, reprising his equally superb role as The Evil Genius in The Time Bandits (1981). Peter O'Toole had turned down his role (as he didn't fancy acting against a blue screen). TRON is actually a Hewlett Packard BASIC simple debugging command of the period, and stands aptly for "Trace On". So as we all know, "That's TRON. He fights for the users". Let's hope he's still out there. Interestingly, first use of the term `Users' has been credited to this influential movie.
Back in 2000, a sequel called TRON 2.0 was in the works, but only the visually outstanding computer game version was released in 2003 (and as in the original film the 'Light Cycles' were a highlight). Despite it's innovation, on release TRON did relatively badly in the cinema (where it looked at its best), and ironically the well received TRON arcade game spin-offs made the most profit. Rumour has it that traditional Disney animators refused to work on this movie because they feared that computers would put them out of business. In fact, 22 years later Disney closed its hand-drawn animation studio in favour of CGI animation, following the rise of Pixar. TRON wasn't considered for an academy award for `animation' at the time, as it was felt that computer aided design cheated (it was nominated for both Best Costume and ironically Sound). In the "solar sail-ship" sequence, look out and see, for a brief moment, the cross-hatched silhouette of Mickey Mouse on the ground made to look like part of the terrain. This DVD's TRON has a 5.1 sound upmix that doesn't really add anything except perhaps a better sounding bass.
So the films worth owning both as an historical cinema milestone and as an essential prequal to the latest 2010 Tron Legacy movie. In 1982, the orinal movies plot was a bit ahead of its time as many preteen boys, the target audience, naturally weren't quite so into computers and game consoles back then, and arcade games tended to be in 18+ locations. However it's well worth another watch. The storyline can still hold most young boys attention for one or two viewings, and the now dated groundbreaking special effects still seem just right for the movie (perfectly setting it within it's 1980s timeframe). The film was created in a period when one person could write the whole software, hence the storyline - Tron was the first, and best ever, global computer virus. This film is clearly the grand daddy of the quality movies 'Spy Kids III' and 'Scooby and the Cyber Chase', and is probably even better than both.
on 11 March 2011
Tron, the original film introducing all of us unsuspecting types to the world of The Grid in 1982, still holds up well today. Jeff Bridges stars as Kevin Flynn/Clu, a genius programmer run out of Encom, a company he used to work for, by a jealous coworker who stole Flynn's work and passed it off as his own so successfully he is now Encom CEO. Clu is Flynn's Avatar in The Grid, a very early form of true electronic landscape pre-Internet as we know it today, the means by which he intends to track down the proof hidden in Encom's systems that his work was stolen. It doesn't quite work out, though...
Enter Alan Bradley, played by Bruce Boxleitner, an old friend of Flynn's who has created a security program called Tron, the films true hero, which/who may be able to get the job done where Clu could not, aided by Laura Baines, played by Cindy Morgan. However, the Master Control Programme, created by Ed Dillinger, played by David Warner, is an AI in control of the Encom computers. It's response to Flynn interfering withs its functions to help Bradley get Tron on-line is to bring Flynn into The Grid via a laser device, then to force him to participate in a series of increasingly lethal challenges even as it plans much bigger things. In The Grid, however, Flynn is shocked to encounter Bradley-actually Tron-and Baines, both of whom are Avatars of their Users. This encourages the three of them to work together to put an end to the tyranny of the Master Control Program once and for all. As Tron says, "I fight for the Users".
The CGI is primitive by the standards of today, but they make it work well in the film. The performances are solid and the AI created by Dillinger manipulating and then blackmailing him to achieve its own goals in the real world is an early example of peoples fear of technology getting away from us. The light cycles remain iconic, as do the unusual costumes worn by the cast on The Grid, updated in the recent Tron: Legacy. This film is a rare gem from the 80's and a must-see for any fans of the world of Tron. Also, its just a good film if you want to see something worth watching that might just make you think for a couple of hours. Enjoy.
In anticipation of the seeing the new movie, I decided to give Tron a repeat viewing. Having been impressed by the trailer for the new one I settled in to watch a thirty yr old movie and was ready for a nostaligic trip to hokey town, complete with shonky effects and a childish script. Far from having my memories dashed I was really surprised by it, the light cycles in particular stand up really well after all these years. Don't get me wrong, I realise this movie requires a whopping great dose of suspension of disbelief, but they managed to weave plenty of human elements into the Sci-Fi tale; more than I remembered. The cast are uniformly great, David Warner is an excellent bad guy, and although Tron is a hero, he isn't the hero, something I remember being irked by the first time around; this didn't bother me now. Jeff Bridges makes a great leading man as the wronged computer programmer whose molecules are sucked into the digital world when he tries to hack into his former employers mainframe. Imprisoned in cyberspace, he's forced into arena combat where he begins a fight to overthrow the master control program and escape to the real world. This is cracking stuff indeed.
Watching "Tron" again filled me with a warm nostalgia for the three-and-a-half minute squawk of my brother's ZX Spectrum loading up on a Saturday afternoon. The impressive thing is discovering how good it still looks.
Of course it's dated somewhat. But the film has such a unique style that many of the computer animation effects still work. The lightcycle race, for instance, is still exciting. Part of this is due to the effective art design, which plays to the strengths of CGI animation of the time. Machines built from geometric shapes have glowing outlines, and look cold and electronic - just as they should.
The live-action element of the cyberworld sequences were shot in black and white and coloured later. This, together with the wonderful costumes gives the film a unique feel - half futuristic, half silent-movie - that prevents the film from dating as badly as other 1980s films. "Tron" does not look anywhere near as bad as most brat-pack films do now - and they were set in the "real world"!
This DVD package is great. The extras are extensive, the animated menus are a delight, and (most important of all) the film itself looks stunning. Best of all is the line, "Without Tron there would be no Toy Story" - said by the director of "Toy Story" himself!
"Tron" is fun and imaginative. Sure there's the odd clunky line thrown in to remind you how "new" computer language was in 1982 ("They couldn't build a circuit that could hold you"). But "Tron" works best as an update of the old black and white serials like Buck Rogers - it's just good, groundbreaking fun.
on 5 November 2011
I was 12 years old when I first watched "Tron" in the cinema. Of all the amazing films that came out in 1982, this is the one that I remember the fondest. So when the original DVD first became available, I did not hesitate to buy it, and neither did I hesitate to buy the Blu-Ray version.
What makes "Tron" a minor classic is that its parts come together well. Story, music, visuals, actor performances and direction produced a solid genre film (science fiction/fantasy). However, this is not the kind of film that gets better with age. The story is very simple and, the older you become, it hardly shows new aspects you were completely unaware some 30 or 20 years ago.
What made "Tron" stand out in its time, and still does, are the visuals. The technology available at the time limited what could be done with computer graphics, but the art direction embraced these limitations. What looked futuristic then still does look futuristic now.
The Blu-Ray version does improve upon the original DVD release, which was already quite good at presenting the film. The much sharper image shows surprising details in what is, curiously, actually an animated film which combines hand-drawn and computer-rendered scenes with live action footage, shot using high resolution footage and cameras.
on 12 January 2008
Don't give this film a hard time. Why would you? YES its dated and YES its no longer cutting edge but back in 1982 this was the Jurassic Park and the Lord of the Rings - people literally didn't know how it was made. This was made before the Chernobyl disaster, before any major CGI development and it STILL used more blue screening than people generally realise. Watch out for the glitchy edits between the CGI and traditional camera filmed scenes, the fantastic Wendy Carlos soundtrack (more Clockwork Orange than you think!) and the fantastic closing scene of the city sped up to resemble a computer world, which I suppose was the message of the film, man resembling the computer and the computer resembling man...AND all those luminescent japanese programmer's names in the credits. Enjoy an historical masterpiece, one of those rare films which documents human achievement without realising it.
At some point in my life, I know I've seen Tron. It must not have made much of an impression on me because I couldn't really remember much about it. With the sequel coming out in a couple weeks, I decided it was time to revisit the original so I'd have some clue what the sequel is all about. The film is definitely a product of the 80's, but it is enjoyable.
Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) has a problem. Space Paranoids and several other popular video games were stolen from him by Ed Dillinger (David Warner). Flynn was then fired. He operates a video arcade and spends his free time trying to hack back into his old company to find that proof to back up his claim.
However, that's not as easy as it sounds. There is a Master Control Program who is taking over the entire company's database. Originally created by Dillinger, it is now power hungry and out of control. In fact, Dillinger is afraid to cross it himself.
With the help of his friends Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) and Lora (Cindy Morgan), Flynn breaks back into his old company. But the Master Control Program knows he is there and digitizes him and traps him in the giant database. At first forced to play gladiator style games, Flynn breaks out and starts an expedition to take down the Master Control Program. Aided by security program Tron (also Bruce Boxleitner), can Flynn do it?
80's movies have a distinct feel to them, especially at the beginning. The first few scenes often seemed random and only once the story gets going do you truly understand what they were all about. That's certainly the case here as I struggled to figure out what any of those early scenes had to do with anything. But soon I got caught up in the story.
To be honest, the story is fairly straight forward once it gets going. And there aren't many twists. There are some plot complications that help keep your interest the entire way through.
The main actors get to play two characters, their human character and an equivalent in the cyber world. I wouldn't say the two are distinct characters, but I had fun watching the actors taking on the two different roles. Frankly, I think bringing in different actors for the cyber parts would have made things more confusing then they needed to be. Besides, it was just plain fun.
Of course, the biggest reason this movie is so famous today is because it was the first to use computer graphic extensively. Now, 30 years later, that is something of a mixed bag. To say effects have come a long way in that time would be a vast understatement. Things are definitely dated now. I mean, it just screams out "80's movie" with every frame. And yet, that kind of adds to the charm for me. I felt like I was back in the 80's looking at the graphics on my old Atari or some other such thing. Whether they could have done better or not, they perfectly captured the look and feel of video games of the era. And while the glowing suits and backgrounds are fun, they do get a little old by the time the movie winds down.
Tron is a bit of a cult hit, and I don't see that changing too much. You have to appreciate the graphics for what they are. If you sit down with expectations for a movie with today's standards, you will be disappointed. However, with the right frame of mind, you can find yourself trapped in Tron's world.
End of line.
on 2 July 2011
What can I say about this movie that hasn't been said before? Probably nothing, but I will try.
I could review the movie, and talk about how it hasn't aged, but the truth is, although the movie hasn't aged, we have. Tron is still a product of the 80s and it shows, but not in a bad way. Let me explain.
The transfer to HD is mostly clean. Everything looks fresh and vibrant, but this does allow you to see where the effects are not up to today's standards, but to have fixed that would have been to betray the very heritage of the movie and I am very glad they have left it intact as it was. A couple of places seem to have a slightly dodgy transfer, but it could be a dirty head on my PS3, will have to watch it again on another player before I can verify it.
It also allows you to see just how beautiful and so far ahead of anything else the very same effects were. The sequences with the vehicles, looking at them now, are stunning. At the time I first saw the film I was more interested in the story and the explosions, but now some 20+ years later I can appreciate just how much effort went into those sequences. Without Disney pushing these boundaries and completely blurring the line between live-action, animation and CGI, science fiction and video gaming would be a much duller place.
The sound too is full of vibrancy, with the soundtrack, like the effects, so caught up in the 80s and yet modern. Something that Wendy Carlos can be rightfully proud of. Every note emotes the 80s and memories of playing on an 8-bit computer.
Do I love this product? Yes.
Is it flawed? Yes, but isn't everything?
Would I recommend it? Yes. Yes. YES!