TRON Night Review. 23 Minutes of TRON: Legacy Analysed in Detail
For those of you who didn’t get to see the 23 minutes of TRON: Legacy last night, here’s the rundown.
What we saw was an Imax 3-D presentation of the film, with a brief (but cool) text introduction from director Joe Kosinski, and then 23 minutes of of scenes from the first half of the film, with an unfinished sound track, that gave you a decent understanding of the beginning of the film.
First sequence has the hero of the story, Sam Flynn, living in a waterside conversion - two converted shipping containers on top of each other, in what has to be one of the coolest trash bach pads in history. He’s met by Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) Bradley, who has the keys to Sam’s dad Kevin's old video game arcade. It seems that Sam is living off the wealth created by his father's company, and dad disappeared twenty years ago. Whether Kevin Flynn is alive in Costa Rica, or dead, it has left a scar. His partner Alan though, has never stopped believing in him - that’s why he’s kept the 80's tech pager upon which he received a mysterious signal from a disconnected number that hasn’t been working for twenty years.
Who sent it? Why?
You really DO want to see this movie.
The next sequence has Sam entering the dilapidated Flynn’s Arcade. Flipping the switches, the world of 80’s videogames comes to life in what is going to be the ultimate nerdgasm for people who can spot the different sounds of Donkey Kong and Pac Man. Classic 80’s tunes (Foreigner and The Eurythmics at this stage) belting out of the jukebox complete the picture with rows of plastic-covered arcade classics, and, for fans of the original film, Kevin’s office, just as he left it. One question we have - will they keep the awesome ‘Sweet Dreams’ from The Eurythmics in the film, even though it was released in 1983, a year after Tron came out in 1982.
Sam finds the secret entrance to his dad’s old lair and comes across the original print out of ‘The Grid’… little does he know. He sits down in ‘the’ chair, with his back to ‘the’ laser, just after we see a digital clock that has been running for twenty years - obviously how long since Kevin has been ‘away’. For fans of the original, we know what’s happening next when Sam starts fiddling around with the dos prompts about ‘laser’.
We cut away from this scene before we see anything spectacular.
The next scene, it’s Sam being captured and placed on a Recognizer. The ship is complex, translucent and transparent. It seems that all the engines of control inside the computer are red/gold, so it’s easy to spot a baddie. You can see through the ‘machines’ - in particular, we can see through the floor of the Recognizer through Sam’s feet as he’s being flown over the city, and down to a classic Tron tank below. That said, the ‘old school’ feel is long gone - whilst there are familiar shapes and geography, the detail is as far different as Doom from Fallout 3. It’s a sensible progression. Physically, the film is very dark, the blackness of the tumultuous sky is reflected in a transparent world, the only colour highlights are bluish white and red gold.
We get to meet ‘programs’ close up. They have emotions and free will, but they’re not overly human. One unfortunate chap has half his face missing, with a hollowed out collection of digital debris the only thing left behind - the result is shocking, and cool.
The forces of evil are less human than these programs with voices and movement more robotic and digitised.
The design of the city, in big screen 3D, with the sound and echo of constant lightning, is astounding. You may have seen clips on the web, but the clarity of the design and beauty is something that you only really appreciate on the big screen. The throb of the Rocognizer engines is palpable.
The next sequence has the Recognizer land. The cross-bar on the top drops down, to allow ‘passengers’ to get off. Flynn stands next to a group of seeming runaway programs who, on arrival, are designated new tasks - ‘games’ is unpopular. One program commits suicide to avoid this fate.
Not a good sign for Sam, who is assigned to games.
The next sequence has him being taken out of his human clothes and kitted out in Tron gear. The disc on his back is not just the classic weapon, but his memory disc. Everything he does and learns in recorded on it. It’s literally his life in his hands.
The four fembotty programs (called ‘Sirens’) that disrobe and dress him are mindboggling beautiful. They have a combination of icy inhumanity and an unworldly innocence. They are also shaped like Seven of Nine. This is something we see later in Oliva Wilde’s ‘Quorra’. They know that something is 'up' straight away - Sam is not like them.
The next sequence has Sam being thrown into the games arena. He has to learn on the fly to fight with his disc - and learn the rules of the game as he goes. The action is fast and furious; stunts and fighting are well choreographed. The laws of physics, a suggestion. Again, the special effects are a stand out. When a program dies, the ‘shattering’ into glass cubes is impressive.
The next sequence has Sam mid-rescue from the Light Cycle arena. One of the first things that pop out on the big screen is the ‘liquid’ transparent glowing trails that emerge from the light-cycles and the all new light-car. It’s an added moment of coolness that really does help.
We escape off ‘the Grid’ and meet up with Kevin Flynn, (Jeff Bridges) who has aged inside the computer world, but he seems to hint that 20 years in the human world is far less time than the eternity that he has spent in the digital realm.
He seems to be half way between an outcast and a prisoner. His ‘house’ lights up when he thinks of it, and ‘glass’ can be walked through. His hideout is set in a rock-strewn reality away from the digital perfection of ‘glass’ and ‘metal’ of The Grid.
We do get to see Olivia Wilde’s Quorra up close, and there’s an interesting point that arises. A certain inhumanity is there in the charecterization, as you’s expect in an embodiment of a computer program, but there’s also an innocence, a non-complexity of emotion, almost child-like in nature. Whether this becomes grating or successful is up in the air, but we think that the logic is solid.
On the purely physical side, fans of House who found ‘Thirteen’ rather hot will have a meltdown. Nice outfit.
Kevin FLynn has also built a personalised light cycle, more akin to the original 80's design, in his ‘house’ which is mentioned as being the fastest ever, obviously foreshadowing a cool old-school/new-school showdown.
The 23 minutes finished off with a montage of shots showing that light cycle combat has become more complex, and that Clu 2.0, played by a digitally de-aged Jeff Bridges, has an ongoing vendetta with Kevin (old Jeff) Flynn.
There’s also more footage of ‘light jet’ fights, which will be taking the combat to a next level.
Beyond the story of Sam being sucked into his father’s digital creation, the story remains open. Who and what or who Clu 2.0 is exactly, what his agenda is, how long Kevin has been inside and outside The Grid, why Alan Bradley was contacted (and by whom) in the first place are all questions that we in Australia won’t discover until Dec 16.
What we’ve heard so far of the Daft Punk soundtrack sounds like it’s going to go down in Sci Fi history as a the natural successor to Vangelis’ Blade Runner. What we’ve seen is a great marriage between design and 3-D, and so far the action sequences have been brilliant. No doubt there are some more showstoppers up Joe Kosinski’s sleeve, but they’ll have to wait. We’ve been given enough information to be quietly confident that it’s going to be an amazing ride - no major alarm bells are ringing. Far from it. We’re super excited, but don’t want to jinx it.
The phrase ‘End of Line’ and the verb ‘Derez’ will soon become common internet parlance.
Here's the Daft Punk video trailer for "Derezzed' which is impressive on the small screen.