Out of print for eons, the 1982 geek dream TRON rises once more in a spiffy five-disc package that includes last year?s megabudget sequel, TRON: Legacy
When there’s money to be made on a back-catalog title, Disney doesn’t usually drop the ball. But man, did the studio blow a big fat opportunity when TRON: Legacy hit theaters in December. Since the primary audience for that film wasn’t even born when the 1982 original came out, you’d think the Mouse House would have rushed the first film, which had long been out of print, back onto DVD. No dice. Maybe that’s why the $170 million-budgeted reboot stiffed at the box office — no one under 40 had a clue about the franchise’s mythology. Oh, well, better late than never. Packaged along with DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3-D versions of Legacy in a baroque five-disc set, the original TRON (1982, PG, 1 hr., 36 mins.) is finally available on disc again. Amazingly, it feels both dated and wildly ahead of its time. Twenty-nine years ago, in the golden age of Space Invaders and Asteroids, the cyberthriller’s neon-lit F/X and trapped-in-a-videogame story line were undeniably of the moment, if not ahead of it. Sure, the film itself was kind of silly, but its eye-candy visuals were a gee-whiz harbinger of binary blockbusters to come. Jeff Bridges seems to be the only one having fun, playing a videogame designer who gets sucked into a Day-Glo world of his own creation. It’s like Alice in Wonderland acted out on a kids’ Lite-Brite toy. For most people, TRON’s importance is as a historical footnote. It’s the Model T of our CGI age. But the film’s fans are passionate ones. Over the past couple of decades, TRON has become a geek touchstone: Mention the name of Bridges’ alter ego Clu in Comic-Con’s fabled Hall H and you’ll make friends for life. The movie also remains a celluloid smorgasbord for stoners. The Dude would undoubtedly dig it. The set’s EXTRAS are pretty sweet: a featurette on the original film’s place in history, with Bridges waxing nostalgic on the pre-Internet days, and a commentary from director Steven Lisberger and his nerd herd of F/X brainiacs. You even get one of the film’s glowing Frisbee gizmos, which actually lights up. Groovy! B?