BluRay/DVD Reviews

TRON: LEGACY

By • Apr 13th, 2011 •

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The best films of last year are starting to seep out from the studios and indie companies. TRON: LEGACY joins that illustrious procession. One of the most emotionally gratifying films of 2010 – a spectacular year for motion pictures – it’s here in a compact deluxe edition replete with five discs, one in 3D for those of you who are tooling up. (I recently had a demo of 3D TV at Quantel – the preeminent post-production systems company for Stereo 3D technology, and found it better than theatrical 3D. Less light loss, more intimate, more solid, and just generally mind-boggling. I’m not overly fond of theatrical 3D for a number of reasons, one of them being the ticket cost. Whereas I’m feeling quite sanguine about 3D TV, which really surprised me.)

TRON was an idea whose time came before its time had come. Kind of like the ‘talkies.’ The technology was not ready for that revolution, and so we had an immediate visual retro-step to the cinema stone age for three or so years until sound technology had caught up. I, like everyone, was amazed at what TRON tried to do, but it was too murky and too unrealized for its ambitions. Still, a cult rose up around it, and persisted, and now the time was not only right, but overdue, for the sequel.

I’m hearing dissenting voices about Jeff Bridges insinuating his ‘Dude’ characterization into the lead role he created decades ago without that coloring. I think it’s a matter of what film you’re doing something like that within. TRON: LEGACY was ushered into being by the rabid fan-base, and Bridges appeared in an early test-trailer which brought the fans to near hysteria. THE BIG LEBOWSKI fell in between the original TRON and its sequel, and Bridges has become very much a cult figure because of his portrayal in the Coen Bros film. So that’s Cult times 2 – the film and the leading actor. TRON: LEGACY is not a stand-alone piece, not an impersonal work, and not a literary adaptation. It begs for audience-interaction: it’s a cult of personality project. And I think it was a welcome synapse for the audience to receive those bits of connectivity. Personally I loved the ‘Dude’ resonance as a choice. It added one more delight to the brew.

And furthermore, in context it had an organic place. Bridges’ had to greatly differentiate his character of Flynn from that of his evil clone, Clu. Talk about an instant and inspired solution.

Are there technological logic gaps in TRON: LEGACY? I’m good at spotting inner logic problems, but I couldn’t trust my own instincts with a film whose plot is as techno-based as this – this world in which I have little bearing. I leave that to those more hip to such possibly discrepancies – such as could a race of genetically-digital beings – the Iso’s – that just ‘manifested’ according to Bridges, because the time was right. I have no idea.

But I have plenty of feelings about the film itself. Director Kosinski is fearless with his framing. He composes space with great emotional impact, and directs his actors appropriately. I was constantly moved by the two dimensional design (and by the three-dimensional design in the theatrical version), and by his placement of the actors within it. He either has a great sense of detail concerning the human form, or else he hired actors who do, and trusted them to display their wares, because the littlest gestures – from Bridges, from Olivia Wilde, from Garrett Hedlund – are like sudden flares within the greater illumination of the scenes as a whole. I just checked it out on BluRay, and it’s better than I remembered. Which means it can be savored over and over again.

The score by Daft Punk is also one of last year’s true delights – the best score of the year in my opinion. Breaking from tradition – John Williams, etc. – it goes its own lush, electronic way, and the BluRay heightens the aural experience. I found myself playing scenes over again just to revel in the music tracks. And the sound design is also stupendous to behold.

Waiting to hear what, if anything, I didn’t like? Michael Sheen as Castor/Zuse. He’s allowed to prance around and imbalance the sequence he’s in. He feels far more out of synch with the film he’s in than Jeff Bridges does. But nothing’s flawless – I’d re-edit CITY LIGHTS if I had the guts: the scene with the drunk millionaire and the tramp on the ledge overlooking the river goes on far too long. And that’s Chaplin. So I’m hardly undone by one askew cog in TRON: LEGACY.

The quintet of discs comes in a box with a hologram-ish, lenticular outer cover, based on the poster art. Normally I remove these second covers, which are often quite lovely with seductive matte finishes, and toss them into the waste paper basket, because even an iota of extra shelf space is a gift nowadays. But in this instance I would recommend you keep the outer jacket. It’s so in keeping with the joyous experience.

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