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Tron (1982) - DVD Review

By Widge - posted 02.20.02 @ 6:36 pm
Tron DVD cover art

Film:
DVD:
Soundtrack:

Written by: Steven Lisberger, based on a story by Lisberger & Bonnie MacBird
Directed by: Steven Lisberger
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan, Barnard Hughes

Features:

  • "The Making of Tron" 88-minute all-new documentary
  • Deleted scenes with all-new introductions by Bruce Boxleitner
  • Production photo gallery
  • Commentary by Lisberger, producer Donald Kushner and visual effects supervisors Harrison Ellenshaw and Richard Taylor
  • Storyboard-to-film comparisons
  • Sweet 3-D animated menus
  • Still frame galleries
  • Pre-production animation tests
  • Deleted original soundtrack music
  • Inspirational designs by futuristic artists Syd Mead, Peter Lloyd and Jean "Moebius" Giraud
  • Computer animation design and demo reels
  • Original publicity materials
  • Original theatrical trailer

Released by: Walt Disney
Region: 1
Rating: PG
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Buy it.

Flynn (Bridges) has had it rough. He basically got tossed out of Encom after another employee, Dillinger (Warner), rogued Flynn's idea for a bunch of video games. So while Dillinger and Encom reap the benefits of extremely popular game titles, Flynn's stuck running an arcade comprised of said games. When his attempts to break into the system cause a security shutdown, it starts adversely affecting the work of Alan (Boxleitner), a programmer still at Encom. When Alan and his friend/love interest Lora (Morgan) come looking for Flynn, they decide to throw in together to locate the evidence of Dillinger's wrongdoing. But the Master Control Program, which is secretly running the show, has other ideas...

A lot of people talk about films being unique in one way or another, but Tron is that rarity: it just flat is one-of-a-kind, and what's more, you couldn't do it again even if you tried. Because let's face it--no matter how much you knew about the making of the flick, you probably were not aware of just how whacked out the process was to bring the thing to the big screen. That's probably the greatest and most effective gift of this 20th Anniversary edition DVD set: a documentary just about as big as the film itself. Talking to everybody involved (except for Warner, which is a bit disappointing), one of the biggest impressions is how little the cast knew about just what in the hell they were trying to accomplish. Running around on a black set in white costumes with black lines on them--they were without clue. But hey, they did have video games on the set! Biggest complaint about the documentary--no chapter stops, so you're looking at 88 straight minutes. You need to stop and come back the next day, you're becoming intimate with the fast forward button.

Another cool bit about the DVD is the menus. You know me--I usually can't give a damn about menus. I just want to get to the content, and leave me alone, thanks. However--on the second disc you go slap into the world of Tron as recognizers, light cycles and whatnot zip about the screen waiting for you to choose your own adventure. It's actually pretty nifty.

Tron

The commentary with the above participants is not bad, and is a nice companion piece to the documentary. It's amusing to listen to their stories as they relate just how insane it was to try to create this thing. Also of interest are the deleted bits, including an incredibly awkward "love scene" between the characters of Tron (Boxleitner) and Yori (Morgan). Again, there is joy in what was left on the cutting room floor. Same thing with the original complete closing credits, which appears on the disc (as well as the soundtrack CD--more on that in a moment) and features the Tron theme beaten to death on a pipe organ. Scary stuff.

Last thing I'd like to mention about the DVD is the decent array of concept art from the two guys who would comprise the futurist's wet dream--Moebius and Syd Mead. For me, this is especially interesting, because as I watched the film for the first time in years--now that I have an appreciation for who the two are--my brain exploded as to how unbelievably cool the melding of their collective efforts was.

The cast of Tron

Also of note--the release of the soundtrack (finally) to CD. After being out of print for many, many a moon, the soundtrack--though about as synth-heavy as you can get without collapsing into a Casio singularity--works today simply because it was the perfect score for the film. And what child of the 80s could resist the fact that the themes were all incorporated into the video game version of Tron upon which we wasted many quarters and brain cells to boot. About the only things that offend the ear on this are the songs by Journey (which were verboten even back then) and the aforementioned original ending titles. Everything else is worthy and fans of the film should pick it up.

Bottom line: the film is just as cool today as it was twenty years ago, and this edition is finally a much-deserved DVD treament. Kudos to Disney for releasing this and the soundtrack for the 20th Anniversary. Let's just pray that when they finally get around to Tron 2.0 it's a worthy revisitation and not just another case of past-ploitation.

Buy Stuff

Read More About:

Widgett Walls is Need Coffee's Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. He is the author of the novel Mystics on the Road to Vanishing Point, and two collections of short stories, Magnificent Desolation and Something Else: The Complete First Season. He is also co-author of the children's book There's a Zombie in My Treehouse! All of those books are available in paperback or for the Kindle from Amazon. He is also the narrator and publisher of the first unabridged recording of Seneca's letters, available here. He is active on both Twitter and Facebook. (If you befriend him on Facebook, do say you came via Need Coffee.) He lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. He hardly ever sleeps.

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