003797Reviews & Counting
Tron (SE)
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Tron (SE) order
Steve Lisberger

Jeff Bridges
Bruce Boxleitner
David Warner


star Printer-Friendly version
Having had his video game creations stolen by the corporation he once worked for, a hacker in search of evidence gets assimilated into a virtual computer world where he must defend his life in gladiator-like battles against other computer programs. A revolutionary hero program named Tron joins him in the rebellion against the MCP, the Master Control Program that is growing through the data of all other computer programs in the world.
Wow! Talk about a movie that was ages ahead of its time! I remember seeing this as a kid in the early 80ís and thinking it was pretty boring, but taking another look at it now, this movie predicted what was to come in the computing world with quasi-religious foresight. With special effects that would have been considered dazzling at the time and a storyline that makes perfect sense by todayís standards, this should become required viewing for anyone who didnít know what the world was like before the video game revolution of the late 80ís.

This great piece of innovative filmmaking was the precursor to all computer-animated features that would follow. Accompanied by a great plot and some more than decent acting by both Bridges and the since-disappeared Boxleitner, this is truly a must-see for all. Itís interesting to see the evolution and much like the video games itís based on, this filmís look, although paling in comparison to todayís CGI fiestas, manages to feel more ďrealĒ and palpable. We, who grew up on Atari, still remember every detail of every game, but can you find a kid around nowadays who was as attached to his original Nintendo? No, they unemotionally discarded it when a newer version came out. Just like attention spans, memories are growing shorter and shorter as the computers that dominated Tron slowly assimilate us all into their silicon bellies. In that sense, Tron is an almost prophetic reverse time capsule, which showed us then, what is reality now.
ManÖIím not really sure where to begin. Let me start by saying that you might want to put a fair share of time aside for these because this DVD contains about 5 hours worth of extras. Since I have to begin somewhere, I might as well tell you about the commentary track, featuring director Steven Lisberger, producer Donald Kushner, associate producer & visual effects supervisor Harrison Ellenshaw and visual effects supervisor Richard Taylor. I usually like commentary tracks for older movies because it usually gives the people talking some background on which to analyse the impact the film has had. In this case, the track is fairly ordinary and as most others touches on all aspects of the development of the film. Pretty neat though, since most of the stuff they talk about was new at the time.

On Disc #2, youíll find 8 different categories of extras which themselves are divided into smaller categories. The first such subset is called Development and contains about 10 minutes worth of footage split into five different little clips: These clips discuss among other things the earlier stages of the movieís planning from the basis for the idea to some early concepts of both the movie and the advanced (at the time) computer animation techniques which would make it into reality. Included in this is some footage as well from a 1982 documentary discussing the current state of computer animation. It also includes some pretty neat video tests that were used to sell the idea to Disney.

The second grouping of featurette totals about 15 minutes of footage and discusses the different techniques of Digital Imagery that were used in the making of the film. From some specific techniques such as Backlight Animation to the broader concepts of the art, this also delves into the details of the specific companies that were involved in the production and about their evolution within a medium that was unproven at best at the time. It also includes demos from these companies, on which producers based their own capabilities. Tertio, a smaller grouping of two features related to the music of the film. Composed by eclectic composer Wendy (Walter) Carlos, the score is a great addition to the film and this allows us to see two specific scenes in the movie in which the final decision was made to bypass the score in favour of either silence, or another piece of music. Pretty cool, I found was scene was better with the music and one was better without, so you can take a listen and make your own choice.

The big kahuna of the extras section is your next stop: The Making of Tron is a one 1 hour and a half Tron extravaganza and is as deep an overview of the film as you can get. With interviews past and present, the documentary covers about every single aspect of the film you can think of. From ideas and concepts, to hard facts and techniques, any fan of the film or its look will be interested. Definitely one of the most complete documentaries Iíve seen on any previous DVD. On to the next stop, which is a collection of publicity material. Along with some production photos and various publicity shots and posters, youíll have access to 6 different theatrical trailers, including some that were still in process and not completed. Very cool, even the regular trailers are very well made. Four deleted scenes are also yours to enjoy, in various states of completion. Some have sound, some donít, but all are still fascinating, if only to watch people in glowing hockey equipment move around on screen. Itís pretty neat to watch.

Design is the topic on your next destination. Introduced by director Lisberger, this is mostly a montage of different concepts for the characters, vehicles and settings of the movies. Sketches abound and you can see the evolution form earth like objects to wayward designs evolve as the imagination of the designers starts getting stimulated. Your last little bone is a full set of storyboards and presentations. Not only can you follow the storyboards, but also one of my favourites, a storyboard-to-film comparison is also included. I love that stuff, especially when the pick cool, fast paced scenes light the light cycle race in this puppy. One of the neatest things about the extras on this flick is that most have a little paragraph introducing them before they start playing. You only know how useful this if after youíve sat in front of two many hastily assemble DVD who throw any clip in there without even knowing what it is. This is not the case on Tron, as pretty much all the extras have some value and itís made clear to the viewer what it is theyíre watching.
Thereís not much more to say that I havenít said above. This revolutionary movie is definitely a must see for any generation and comes in an impeccably packaged 20th anniversary DVD. The sheer amount in both time and value of the extra features make it a worthy purchase and the fact that this film is unforgettable and can be watched over and over again is another testament to itís value in any serious collection.
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