“I fight for the users!” – Bruce Boxleitner aka "Tron"
Any movie/video game fanatic who doesn't claim to love all things "Tron" is lying their cyber rear off. We at Starpulse.com are fully secure within our "Tron" geek-dom and that’s why for the awesome DVD/Blu-ray release of both "Tron: Legacy" and "Tron: The Original Classic" on April 5, we’re giving the fans something special. We’re not only gonna review BOTH films on Special Edition Blu-ray (the format they were MEANT to be seen on!), but we’ve got THREE new exclusive one-on-one interviews with "Tron: Legacy" Director Joseph Kosinski, Visual Effects Supervisor Eric Barba and Producer and original "Tron" Director Steven Lisberger on everything from their thoughts on the new film to what to expect from the various home video releases. So hold on to your identity discs and grab your light cycle cause we’re examining the phenomenon of "Tron" in full cyber detail – Flynn Lives!
Title: "Tron: Legacy" (2-Disc BD Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Runtime: 125 minutes
Release Company: Walt Disney Studios
Video Transfer: Stunning – nothing short of. This transfer makes the theatrical experience blush, as the colors, contrasts and visual landscape are purely breathtaking.
Audio Transfer: If you got the speakers, this Blu-ray has got the goods. From the roar of the light cycle to the pulsating music by Daft Punk, this dreamy score doesn’t snore - it soars.
Best Feature: The new process designed for the "Tron: Legacy" Blu-ray called Disney Second Screen that enables the viewer to watch the film on one visual outlet while simultaneously getting interactive content like behind the scenes or concept artwork on another – multitasking at it’s best!
Best Hidden Gem: Hands down – the short follow up to the film entitled 'The Next Day: Flynn Lives Revealed.' Not only does it continue the story, but has a few surprises for true "Tron" fans. (Think Billy the Kid from "Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure!")
Worth the Moola: Hell, yeah! (And those with 3D capability and extra dough should get the combo 2D/3D/Orginal Tron/Digital Download version – Christmas does come early!)
And now some "Tron: Legacy" chat with…
Director JOSEPH KOSINSKI!
Do you remember the first time you saw the original "Tron" – what were your thoughts?
Joseph Kosinski: I was probably eight years old, saw it on VHS tape on a rented VCR from the local video store. I remember it was just totally unique looking, unique sounding and was not like "Star Wars," which is I think what I was expecting. It’s that unique vision that stuck with me in my head until it was finally brought up in 2007.
Can you talk a bit about the daunting task of following up a classic cult favorite - specifically how you managed to put your own stamp on it and all the while stay true to the original film?
JK: Part of my standpoint was the idea to just embrace the first film in the first place. That wasn’t necessarily the decision at the beginning – they were thinking more reboot. And I said I love the style and look of that original film, so lets not reinvent, lets embrace and lets evolve it forward. And then it was my opportunity and desire to make it feel more physical and more real by taking cameras into this world and shoot it from the inside – that was my goal. After a year of design, we were able to create this world that was in my head.
With so many visual gags and tricks, how difficult was it to work with the actors in terms of character and performance - specifically collaborating with Jeff Bridges as both Clu and Kevin Flynn.
JK: You need an actor who’s open to the challenge and Jeff was up for it. He wanted to know that we were going to push the envelope with this movie like they did the first time. So it wasn’t hard for me to convince him of the challenge – he wanted that. And it’s something he’s never done before, something no actor has ever done before, playing against themselves at two different ages. I also tried to build as many sets as possible – it’s not a blue screen movie like people expect. I mean there certainly are some blue screen sequences, but we built a lot of sets, we built real suits that were illuminated and I tired to make it as physical a film as possible so that the actors had a lot to play off of. It’s a hard world to build.
Michael Sheen is an inspired casting choice – what made you think of him for the flamboyant Castor/Zuse?
JK: Castor/Zuse is a man of many faces, many personalities, so we knew we needed an actor who had the chops to pull off that kind of performance. Michael Sheen is one of those guys. I’ll never forget that week he worked on the project – he provides a really unique personality at that point in the movie when you feel like you need it.
With so many versions for the consumer to choose from – DVD, Blu-ray, 3D, 2D, Digital Download, what is the director approved format or edition?
JK: My personal favorite is 2D Blu-ray because you’re getting the most brightness, the most contrast, which is I think what this film really demands. You don't have to wear glasses to enjoy it – it looks better on Blu-ray on a nice plasma then it looked in any theater that I saw it in.
Can you talk about the preview of the animated "Tron: Uprising" on all the formats and your involvement with it?
JK: My involvement is indirect on that – that is being run by the writers of "Tron: Legacy" Adam Horowitz and Eddie Kitsis and the Co-Producer Justin Springer. They are telling the story before our movie and it’s gonna be out next year – it’s gonna introduce "Tron" to a new generation of fans.
And what about the Blu-ray feature 'The Next Day: Flynn Lives Revealed?'
JK: That’s cool because it will explore some of the parallel stories that we were only able to hint at in our film. The events after the film with Sam taking over the company - it’s exciting to flesh out the "Tron" universe a little more.
You have been rumored to be behind remakes of films like "Logan’s Run" and "The Black Hole" – what do you think is your fascination with these kinds of effects and character driven films – especially remaking classic ones?
JK: Well the remake phenomenon that’s more of a studio industry thing – I’m more interested in creating worlds. My background is in design and the way that science fiction can take traditional genre films and spin them on their head is always fascinating to me. That being said I’m always up for a good story regardless of what genre, so we’ll see what happens.
And finally, what is officially your next project – what’s coming up?
JK: Right now I’m developing two things. "The Black Hole" with Disney, which is a total reboot. It’s conceptionally the idea of going into a black hole and the phenomenon that surrounds that is interesting to me. And a movie called "Oblivion," which is based on a story I wrote about five years ago – we’re developing that as well.
Need to know more? Check out our chat with Oscar winning "Tron: Legacy"...
Visual Effects Supervisor ERIC BARBA!
First off, you’ve gotten the pleasure of working with the amazing David Fincher on not one but two films. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" – where you won the Oscar - and "Zodiac", plus commercials. Is he as much of a perfectionist as is reported and what is it like working with him?
Eric Barba: Yes, he is an absolute perfectionist. When I first got the call, the first job I did with him, they were like, ‘We’re gonna put you on a conference call with David Fincher – he wants to talk you about a project.” And I was like YES – absolutely! As a teenager watching his music videos and being a huge fan of his movies and commercials that was a dream come true for me. And then it became I’m working with someone who is my hero and a great mentor for many, many years. So, of course we hit it off and as projects came up he’d send me stuff and eventually he sent me the script for Benjamin Button. I read it and I had to do that project. But through that process I met Joe (Kosinski) and he and I hit it off and I got to do "Tron: Legacy."
What were some films in terms of great effects that inspired you growing up?
EB: Like most kids when I saw "Star Wars" in 1977 it blew my mind. I have to say that "Tron" also left a pretty big mark on me as well, but I didn't know I wanted to be in visual effects until much later. I was always inspired by those kinds of things as a kid – they do leave a mark and they do inspire you. I let my son watch "Star Wars" and he had that same experience.
"Tron" is a hard film to update – specifically because the cool computer generated goodies are now so iconic. I’ll list a few and I want to get your impression of them, as well as the challenges in updating and putting a new stamp on them…
EB: The first time I saw that thing I didn't know what it was. You know, when it comes down and tries to crush the light cycle in the first film? So I knew it was an immediate icon and how do you make that thing look like it can really fly and it’s real and it has to have DNA back to the original? That one was a huge challenge – I think I went through 178 versions in development before Joe and I were both happy with it.
The Disc Wars?
EB: The hard part there was "Tron" was one of my favorite games – put a lot of quarters into that sucker. So I told Joe, when we did the original teaser and he puts the disc down and this yellow light came on, to me it needed to look lethal. When they turn those things on it has to be something that sounds and looks menacing. And I equate that to the light saber – we hear the sound and we all know what that is. I felt like kids needed to have that same thing and Joe was like, ‘Yeah absolutely, we’ll do this killer sound.’ And I said what if it puts out some kind of heat signature and has some kind of distortional look? And he was like, ‘Let’s try that!’
The Light Cycles?
EB: Those are one of the hardest things because I went to school to be a car designer and as a car design nut and big fan of Syd Mead and everything the movie had before, I was like what are we going to do with that? Seeing what the guys did, they came up with this great amazing design. But then how do you make that work and make it have physics? And we all remember the first cycle’s kind of ninety degrees and the reason it turned at ninety degrees is they couldn’t compute actual turns back then because they were punching in everything by hand. But it gave them that iconic look and it was the coolest thing ever when they turned ninety degrees. There were also supposed to be open cockpits originally, but again they didn't have the geometry or memory back then so they had to enclose it. But here we could make them turn more - we could put an open rider.
Can you talk about the difficulties in making the now older Jeff Bridges appear younger and how involved was he in that process?
EB: We got Jeff in 2008 and so we showed Jeff what we were doing on Benjamin Button. It hadn't come out, but we were able with David’s blessing to show him what we were doing and he got excited about this process and we were able to develop a technique for him. Because Brad Pitt was brought in after David had cut some sequences to do the performance that would eventually be the Benjamin performance, but Jeff wanted to be on set with the other actors. So we had to create a new technique to be able to grab his performance on set. Thankfully that helped him because he could be in character and he did Clu as a weird and creepy guy; he kind of has a chip on his shoulder because he’s the unloved second child of Flynn. But it was great because you could see Jeff do that character and then flip into Flynn the next day - it was cool to watch.
How much detail does the DVD/Blu-ray release go into in terms of examining the stunning visual effects - will we get to see some stuff behind the black CGI curtain?
EB: There is some really cool stuff. In fact, I was just playing with the iPad app that they have that syncs with the film and for me it was like my two and a half years on the movie – like memory lane. There’s some really great artwork, great development and great set photos. When you went and saw "Star Wars" you couldn’t buy and re-engulf yourself back then, whereas now with the iPad app and Blu-ray and box set you’re like a kid in a candy store.
Now that you’ve won an Oscar, are there any dream directors you would love to work with?
EB: Yes! I’ve always been a big fan of Ridley Scott. I got to work with Steven Spielberg when I first started in this business on a TV show and I’ve always been a huge fan of his. Michael Mann, Neill Blomkamp, Zach Snyder - I could go on and on!
What’s next for you?
EB: I’m actually busy doing a couple of spots for Joe, so we’re working together right now!
Title: "Tron: The Original Classic" (2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner
Director: Steven Lisberger
Runtime: 96 minutes
Release Company: Walt Disney Studios
Video Transfer: You gotta remember – I wore out an old VHS tape and I thought it was still golden viewing! That said the transfer is the best I’ve ever seen the film and the colors and old school computer graphics bring back the nostalgia in full force.
Audio Transfer: I never realized just how many cool hidden computer world sounds there were in the film until I listened with Blu-ray technology. Maybe new tricks are good for some old dogs!
Best Feature: 'The TRON Phenomenon', which is a tasty look back at the original film that even has some surprising revelations. (Boxleitner originally passed on the "Tron" role!)
Best Hidden Gem: Love the Original DVD Features that has everything from an original Making-of from back then (wow, everyone is young!) with enough info to choke a horse no less to Development and Music – it’s all here!
Worth the Moola: This is like asking a Trek fan if it’s worth getting a Shatner signature on an original one-sheet from the first film – duh!!!!
Ready for the final interview? We’ve saved the best for last, so here is original "Tron" director and "Tron: Legacy" Producer...
Back when you made the original "Tron" you must have felt you were breaking ground it terms of visual effects – but did you know it would become such a beloved cult classic? Even Pixar’s John Lasseter said, “Without Tron there would be no Toy Story!”
Steven Lisberger: You know, I thought we were gonna change the world; I didn’t realize it would take this long! It’s made me realize that real change is not embraced very quickly - young people who are open-minded embrace it and they grow up with it and it becomes part of their lives. And I think that is what’s happened with "Tron." When the first film came out, so many people thought computers were just evil and were never gonna be part of their lives. And it’s pretty funny because I know a bunch of those people and now they ignore everyone when they’re on their cell phone – and don't even acknowledge that there is more computing power in that cell phone then we had on the whole first movie. So from the perspective of 1982, they’re users AND they’re geeks!
The "Tron" look stuck with me as a kid, but not as much as all of David Warner’s creepy work – what made you feel like he would be the best actor for the job?
SL: Well, I never met him and a lot of the casting on Tron was picking people out of the book and saying, ‘I wonder if we can get him?’ Frankly at the time Disney was not exactly a powerhouse in the film business and it was pretty difficult to get name actors to work on Disney movies. And if you called them up and told them it was a Disney flick and it’s about video games usually the next thing you heard was a click when they hung up the phone! But David I think didn't have any problem with it because he was coming at it from England and so it was like Hollywood’s calling, I’ll go. When I finally saw Warner I realized this guy’s a lot thinner then I thought he was gonna be and we sort of padded him up for the role of Sark. But he’s a phenomenal actor and his voice is also the voice of the MCP (Master Control Program) – I mean you just can’t get enough of that voice.
Back in 2002 when they released the video game 'Tron 2.0' you suggested that any film sequel would have to meet the challenge of existing as a sequel to the video game – did "Tron Legacy" meet that challenge?
SL: I think that in a way "Tron: Legacy" was truer to my "Tron" then the video game was. And the funny part was when it was all just me thinking about a sequel to "Tron" it was actually not nearly as much of an homage to my film as what "Tron: Legacy" turned out to be. I wouldn’t have made a film that was that true to my film – I would have thought I’d look like an egomaniac. So I feel humble and proud that so many things meant so much to them that they felt they had to revisit them.
Was there ever anything during the shooting of the new film that you wish you had had technically back when you first made "Tron?"
SL: Certainly to see how interactive the tools are now – we didn't have that. Whether it was the imagery off the computers or coming out of the film cameras, it was days before we saw anything. And we didn’t have any compositing tools. That meant we were literally working in the dark until weeks later, sometimes months later the imagery would show up – not so on Legacy at all. Joe worked in real time with multiple screens and if he wanted it changed they were changed at the time he asked.
What is your creative involvement in terms of the new "Tron: The Original Classic" Blu-ray release – what can fans expect?
SL: I felt like I died and went to movie heaven working on this Blu-ray! I never thought I’d get the chance to go back and make the film look so much more like it was supposed to look. In terms of saturation, color, values, working with the glow, the resolution. A lot of the imagery that existed for "Tron" had to endure the problems that come with analog or VHS and it was pretty nasty looking compared to what it was supposed to look like. And to be able to go back and bring it up to this level and know that this is forever, it was a luxury.
All speculation and rumors aside – for "Tron" fans will there be a third film and will you still be involved?
SL: The thing is – nobody really knows that. I think that is up to the users now. Are we going to be able to generate a story that is so compelling that it comes to life? If we do that, it will happen – and if we don't, it won’t.
That’s all folks! (Whew!) But don’t forget to go out and get your copy of "Tron: The Original Classic" and "Tron: Legacy" on your format of choice (with the above Second Screen feature shown above!) when it hits shelves on April 5 from the great Walt Disney Studios!