Disney's Tron five disc combo pack offers a buffet of ocular and cerebral morsels that will sate Tronnies and videophiles alike.
The dilemma is where do you start nibbling - the 3D Blu-ray of Tron Legacy or the Blu-ray of the newly restored, original Tron?
I began with what many might consider dessert, the 3D Tron Legacy. Then, for reasons that I will discuss later, I watched most of the film again, non-3D.
(The pack includes a separate Legacy 2D Blu-ray, which also contains the Legacy Bonus materials. And for those mobile movie mavens, there's a digital copy that you can download to your tablet or phone.)
A couple of days later, I finished my filmic feast with a viewing of the original Tron - as far as I can remember, it was the first time that I have seen it since it opened in 1982.
I decided on this last-first order because I was anxious to see the 3D version of Legacy since I opted for the 2D screening when it was released last Christmas.
But if I was planning a Tron weekend, I would start on Friday night with the digitally remastered Tron. Watching it first gives context not only to the Legacy story but also to the evolution of visual effects. It's like unearthing the Super 8 films of when you were growing up.
Beyond that, Tron is a fun, inventive movie to which Jeff Bridges adds a playful energy.
The film also raises serious issues with which we are still wrestling. Screenwriter and Director, Steve Lisberger was a visionary.
For a full Tron experience, take an extra hour or so to watch the Bonus materials.
After recuperating, on Saturday I would continue my Tron-a-thon by popping in the 2D Blu-ray version of Tron Legacy.
Why not go straight to the 3D? After viewing both 2D and 3D discs, I prefer the 2D. 3D display technologies simply cut down the color and brightness of the image too much for my tastes.
Legacy is a visually rich film and I wanted to savor it in its full glory. See it in 2D first. Again, set some time aside to enjoy the Bonus features.
On Sunday, you can top off your Tron fest with Legacy in 3D.
To his credit, Legacy Director, Joseph Kosinski, was quite constrained in exploiting the typical poke-in-your-eye 3D effects.
In fact, the movie's 3Dness doesn't even start until Sam Flynn is sucked into the Grid - like the monochrome Dorothy landing in the Technicolor Oz.
Even then, the 3D experience is rarely overwhelming and in many shots barely noticeable, which, in my view, is not a bad guideline.
But if you are expecting a constant barrage of identity discs and light runners flying off the screen and over your head, you will be disappointed.
Kosinski envisioned 3D as an immersive experience that pulls you into the movie. He especially liked how positioning the camera from above and shooting down vertically seemed to heighten the 3D effect.
In addition, the format for most of the Blu-ray is 2.35:1. But when Disney remastered the film for projecting in IMAX theaters, they changed the format to 1.78:1 (which happens to also be the 16:9 HDTV proportions).
In the 3D Legacy Blu-ray, Disney has mixed these 3D IMAX scenes into the film. Therefore, at certain times when watching the Blu-ray, the format will shift from the letterboxed 2.35:1 to the full screen 1.78.
Speaking of immersive, the Legacy soundtrack composed by French duo Daft Punk permeates your psyche by the film's end. If there was ever a good reason for a dedicated 5.1 or 7.1 surround system, Daft Punk is it - with a booming emphasis on the subwoofer.
Before I end, I must mention Quorra. I was mesmerized by those piercing eyes of Olivia Wilde's when she played Jenny Reilly in the short-lived TV series, The Black Donnellys. (And I'm waiting for her to return next week to House.)
As Quorra in Legacy, Wilde injects a deep intelligence into an otherwise spirited, wide-eyed, naïve character.
She's a great counterpoint to Bridges' Flynn, who in Legacy is the embodiment of gravitas - except when he is scatting lines like, "You are messing with my Zen thing, man!" as he is admonishing son Sam.
And I need to give a nod to Michael Sheen who stirs in equal measures of Chaplin and Ziggy Stardust to conceive a zany Zuse.
For the Blu-ray of Tron, Disney produced two new features. In "Tron Phenomenon," present-day actors and crews reflect back on the almost 30 year old original.
Lisberger's script was so forward looking that often Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner did not understand the computer terms that they were saying.
For me, the real revelation was how seminal and basic the visual effects were. The film was shot in black and white on an all black stage.
Boxleitner described the outfits, "I walked around in a white leotard with the circuitry drawn on us with a black Sharpee. We had a hockey helmet with motocross pads."
The coloring of the suits was done frame by frame with backlighting and hand tinting. And the computer animation was so cutting edge that it was a leap of faith that it could be accomplished at all.
But what you will discover in the expansive "Making of Tron" feature, Lisberger had gathered an amazing array of talent, including conceptual artists, Syd Mead and Jean "Moebius" Giraud. And importantly to the success of the project, Lisberger convinced Disney Studios to support the production.
If you are interested in the beginnings of modern visual effects and the simple power of passion and creativity, then you must see these features.
Once you have been baptized with the techniques of the original Tron, then you can appreciate how far we have come with visual effects. One of my favorite Bonuses on the Legacy Blu-ray is "Visualizing Tron."
Production Designer, Darren Gilford lays the foundation when he says, "The most important element in the world of Tron is light. I think that transcends our film and the first film."
In this feature, you see how Kosinski, Gilford, and Visual Effects Supervisor, Eric Barba create the atmospheric look of the cyberspace environment. One of Kosinski's solutions was to build as many real sets as possible and not to rely totally on computer graphics.
Perhaps those suits are the most concrete example of the greater complexity of the Legacy production.
Instead of Sharpee stenciled leotards, the Legacy actors wear intricately molded assemblages with flexible lighting stitched in.
Each suit has its own battery power hidden underneath the identity disc bump on the back.
And for a bridge between the two movies, the "Flynn Lives" mock documentary fills in the events that transpired in the twenty eight year gap between when Kevin Flynn disappears and Sam Flynn emerges from the Grid.
All fascinating stuff worth watching.
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, Michael Sheen, James Frain
Length: 125 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 and 1.78:1
Dolby Digital Stereo, DTS-HD MA 7.1
Dolby Digital 5.1
Dolby Digital 5.1
English SDH, Spanish, French
Director: Steven Lisberger
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan, Barnard Hughes, Dan Shor, Peter Jurasik
Length: 96 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.20:1
Dolby Digital Stereo, DTS-HD MA 5.1
Dolby Digital 5.1
Dolby Digital 5.1