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Alive 5



One of the most famous movies is back on DVD !! Not only was TRON the first 
movie that used computer generated images it also  influenced a lot our world : 
there were tons of games based on the movie, most of them being overhead racing 
games with the wellknown "Light Cycle"scene in  which digital bikes created a 
wall behind  them. Rushing into  the  arena your goal was  quite  simple : stay 
alive as long  as  possible and get  your  ennemies crash  into the  wall  your 
vehicle spawned. 

   Some time ago I was  offered this DVD as a birthday present and hell ! that
was a real good idea (thx bros !). Before I forget, this  is an _imported_ DVD
meaning that you have to own a DVD player that can read Zone 1 (USA) movies or
you'll just spend money on something you cannot enjoy !

    Published by Disney DVD (beurk), original movie released in 1981
    Directed by Steven Lisberger
    Starring Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan and
    Barnard Hughes

    Both DVDs enjoy awesome background animations such as the wellknown 'disc'
    fighters and the various ennemies vehicles seen in the movie. Such a feast
    for fans !

DVD 1 ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    * Movie : approx running time 96 minutes
    * Sector access (chapter selection)
    * Alternate programs (trailers)
    * Audio bonus (director's comments by Steven Lisberger)
    * System setup (THX soundtests)

DVD 2 (running time approx 5 hours ) ---------------------------------------

    * Development : origin of the movie, concept...
    * Digital imagery : used technique and more
    * Making of Tron
    * publicity : trailers, posters and goodies
    * Deleted Scenes
    * Design
    * Storyboarding

    PLOT : Flynn (Jeff Bridges) was a game programer until he was gently fired
by his boss. As a true harcore gamer he is, he is now the owner of the biggest
arcade palace in the city where he  keeps amazing  young players. Sometimes at
night he tries to hack the mainframe of his ex-employer's system to prove that
HE was the author of the games the company took from him.

    His only weapon is a hacking program called  TRON and that's when things
turn wild as we enter the digital system where every bit is as concrete as a
table is in our world. Unfortunately Flynn's tries are stopped every time by
the faithful slaves of Master  Control Program (MCP), some AI smart guardian
that decided to take over the whole system.

    Flynn manages to  meet his former  fellow coders and  they get him into the
company building. There he  starts hacking until... MCP wakes up and decides to
'scan' him into digital bits ! Now  on the wrong side of his world, Flynn has a
chance to defeat MCP and his big  arms so that  the system becomes  free again.
On his quest Flynn will be helped by Yori and Ram, both counterparts of Flynn's
former colleagues in the 'real world'.

    I won't tell you the rest of the story : if you've never seen it, here's a
chance and if you already know it, then it will inject waves of nostalgia into
your veins !


    For our greatest  pleasure this (re)release was  digitally remastered using
the famous "THX" technique. Every detail looks  sharp and shiny except  for the
characters faces that look a bit  bleak compared  to their  "glowing" costumes.
Sound was also greatly improved offering 5.1 output, meaning sound is sent in 5
different directions (of course a good amplifier and five speakers are needed).
Btw sound is English only but  you will still be able to enjoy English, Spanish
or French subtitles, enough to satisfy most of us.

    The first DVD does not offer much but the movie  itself but as said before
it's enough since  there were clearly a lot of enhancements brought to this SF
classic. I was happy to rediscover the movie as there were tons of scenes that
had clearly skipped off my mind. Do I need to say more ? I don't think so, the
movie's just awesome and was lightyears ahead of its time !

    You should easily spot the common point between TRON's imaginary world and
today's situation in the world of computing : a single  minded and inefficient
program trying to take over independent  systems... Do I need to  stick a name
on it ? Don't think so. Reality starts where the movie ends.


    The second DVD features lots of goodies but in English only and this time
there are no subtitles at all :( Still it shouldn't stop you as  many bonuses
are explicit enough and we're not so bad at English either, are we ?

* Development : in this section you will enjoy the first steps of Director
Steven Lisberger thru a small amateur  movie as well  as an  early sequence of
TRON that was done  to convince  the mogguls  of Disney. You will get a lot of
explanations about the idea behind TRON, some preview snapshots and squetches.
There's enough to show that it could make a great movie and that it was a very
ambitious project. I wonder if they really thought they could make it.

* Digital Imagery : a series of interviews, demos and explanations will get
you into the technique used to  create that glowing effect that accompanies the
movie characters along they  digital journey. Surely  today's SFX are a hundred
times as impressive but if  you look back it  was only 1981 - and the ST wasn't
born yet (hey these guys were the first demomakers ?? :). Btw among the various
raytraced objects shown as examples you will recognize the famous "teapot", one
of the most common 3D objects !

* Music : not much  to see  here only two  sequences, namely the lightcycle
and ending ones, with their original music. Indeed the music was removed at the
last minute in the former and replaced by  some 80s soft rock'n roll  melody in
the  latter. Music  was composed  by Wendy  Carlos and shows  some  interesting
electronic beats.

* Making of Tron : this 90  minutes long  documentary gathers all aspects of
TRON in a same place. Steven Lisberger tells us how it started, with additional
comments from the * many * people  involved  in digital  animations or computer
generated backgrounds. They  show how  challenging that  was (as if we actually
doubted it :) with  squetches, schemes, rendered  pictures, empty stages (quite
logical since backgrounds were  not real) and so on. This  goes with the actors
who accepted to join the  adventure. A captivating documentary especially to go
straight from A to Z instead  of witnessing parts  separately as offered in the
other sections.

* Publicity : this section offers a lot of pictures from early TRON posters
to playing cards, caps, tshirts, models and  so forth. I didn't know there was
so many goodies produced after the movie. The picture gallery is impressive.

* Deleted Scenes : basically this consists of two cut love scenes that were
thought to make the movie too "sentimental" tho technically speaking they used
a lot of SFX ! Also an alternative opening screen that tells us about the real
and digital worlds was removed from European  versions. Actually I think these
sequences would have  spoiled some of the movie's  qualities. Nice to see that
great work anyway.

* Design : this is another pictures gallery that shows tons of squetches of
the many vehicles seen in TRON : the lightcycle bikes, the flying ships or the
tanks. Most of this work was done by Moebius, a famous French  artist who also
collaborated on the ALIEN series among many others. If you like nice paintings
you'll surely like this section a lot.

* Storyboarding : this last  part shows us how the movie was conceived and
imagined on paper before scenes  became reality. Some famous  scenes are also
dissected, frame by frame and then reconstructed in a multiple angle sequence
that switches from squetches to final version.


    Here ends this too long review ! I could have  described every _tiny_ bonus
but that wasn't my point. I just wanted you to know that one of our pionners is
back in town and looking much better than it did +20 years ago ! To put it in a
nutshell I you own a  DVD  player than  can read  US movies  and if you are not
afraid of subtitles, then rush to your favourite  store and  get TRON ! We will
meet on the other side my friends !

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Alive 5