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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 2/28/00



TRON
1982 (1998) - Disney (Buena Vista)

review by Brad Pilcher of The Digital Bits

Tron Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B-/C-

Specs and Features

96 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (2.20:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, film-themed menu screens, theatrical trailer, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English & French (DD 4.1), Spanish (DD 2.0), subtitles: None


"If you've seen one Computer Electronics Show, you've seen them all."

The nostalgia factor is cranked up high with this disc. Any kid who lived through the 80s can remember TRON (even if they have no recollection of what it's about). Why? It's the look, stupid. Before CGI dominated just about every movie around, Disney tried their hand with a decidedly unique film. Granted, they didn't succeed in delivering a fleshed-out story, but they blew everybody away in 1982 with incredible special effects. It's something like how The Phantom Menace wasn't an incredibly good story, but it looks so damned good.

The story is your typical Disney science-fiction fare (read incredibly far-fetched). David Warner's character stole some video games from Jeff Bridge's "Flynn", and used them to propel his own career while kicking Flynn to the curb. A few years later, Flynn, while attempting to break into the system and get evidence of these nefarious doings, ends up being digitized and downloaded into the computer system by the even more nefarious "Master Control Program." Now he has to work with rebel programs to defeat the system and get back to the real world. Silly enough for you? Good. Let's move on.

This film is surprisingly endearing in a sort of Wizard of Oz meets Alice in Wonderland way. Of course, it's like being on a serious sugar high and playing video games at the same time, but it works because of that (and as a piece of 80s kid nostalgia). The plot loses steam early, and witty Jeff Bridges is left to carry the day. He does an OK job, but he's hardly a savior. In the end, this film will appeal most to those of us who grew up with it in the 80s. The younger film-goers among us may look at it with a modern, ILM-induced disdain.

Technically, this disc is a disappointment. But before I pan the thing, let's look at it objectively. ILM wasn't exactly a major force in movies yet. Almost all of the movie was done in black and white and then colored in later. The source was sixteen years old when this disc hit the market, so there is an enormous amount of grain. Is it distracting? Yes. Is it expected? Unfortunately. Despite this flaw, TRON is looking better than it ever has on home video. The colors are vibrant, despite some compression artifacting and shimmer. One major, and inexcusable flaw, is the lack of anamorphic enhancement. This video could easily be improved three times over with anamorphic. The sound is good, considering the source, providing about as encompassing an experience as you can get. It could be better, but as far as this film goes, it has been worse.

The extras are slim as you get. All it has is a theatrical trailer for the film which, for the record, sucks. Not only is the quality abysmal, but the damned thing is cropped. It was a huge disappointment to see the title cut off on both sides. What was that? I know trailers often get slighted when it comes to video calibre, but there's also such a thing as minimum level of quality. With DVD's mainstream acceptance, it's time to start paying attention to the quality of our extras (especially on the anamorphic front).

In the end, this film hasn't quite held up over the years. It was hyped like crazy, and while it didn't flop, it didn't live up to the expectations. Still, it's a nostalgic film that you have to appreciate, if for nothing but the visuals. If you find it below what Disney would have you pay for it, pick this DVD up and taste a piece of film history.

Brad Pilcher
bradpilcher@thedigitalbits.com




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