Last night I had the pleasure to attend Tron Night and see 23 minutes of Disney's Tron Legacy which, for the most part, was presented in Imax 3D. I was awestruck. I can tell you this… Tron Legacy is a game changer. Like the original Tron was before it, Legacy has raised the bar for visual effects again and will mark a whole new era for film. The future of cinema has arrived. It's a brave new world.
A few days ago I posted that Disney had curiously postponed releasing the original Tron on bluray out of fear that its now-dated visual effects, costumes and abstract narrative might not be very well received by modern audiences. That's a tough pill to swallow for a lifelong Tron fan such as myself who holds the original very near and dear to my heart but after watching the mind-blowing preview I am forced to admit that in their wisdom they were right. It's a whole new Tron and, sadly, I will never again be able to look at the original Tron the same way. Unlike last year's Avatar, this may very well be the first science fiction film that truly lends itself into creating a fully immersive world with visually mind-blowing CGI effects unlike anything anyone has ever seen before. Frankly, Legacy makes Avatar look like Ferngully: The Last Rainforest.
I have been no advocate of 3D… at all… in fact, I have been against it but even I have to admit that after watching the preview I was far more impressed by the stunning immersive visuals in Legacy than anything I saw in James Cameron's overrated cartoonish blockbuster. This may very well be the film that makes me a true believer that 3D is here to stay and the future of film. I still hate wearing the clunky polarized glasses which make the image look somewhat dim and blurry and I don't think that all movies are deserving of the 3D treatment, especially conversions, but I would welcome any shot in full 3D that have the exhilarating imagination that Legacy has in creating a visually stunning world unlike anything we've ever visited before and I will gladly pay the price of an expensive premium ticket to see it. Legacy has already won me over.
*******Below are spoilers with a breakdown of what was shown*********
The first scene which was presented in 2D only was Sam returning to his warehouse flat to find Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) waiting for him. Alan was the computer programmer working for the Encom corporation who wrote the security program called Tron. The scene was a bit long on exposition but we learn that Sam, son of the missing Encom CEO Kevin Flynn, is a typical rebellious youth who would rather embark in reckless motorcycle riding than accepting the responsibilities of running his father's empire. The rest of what follows was seen in the trailers where Alan tells him he was paged (yes, PAGED) by Flynn from his office at the arcade where Sam goes to look for his dad.
Sam arrives at Flynn's Arcade (this scene again was shown in 2D) full of old familiar 80's arcade stand-ups with dust covers. Sam flicks a switch, the lights come up, and the jukebox plays Journey "Separate Ways" and the Eurthymics' "Sweet Dreams" and for those of us old enough to have remembered what it was like are immediately taken back to this nostalgic period in our lives. Joseph Kosinski brilliantly and wisely captures the retro-chic of the original Tron and the 80's making it appeal to fans who grew up with the original film. Everything is exactly as it was and no small detail has been overlooked including Flynn's back room overlooking the arcade floor. He even added Flynn's electronic hand-held LCD football game sitting on the couch in his secret office behind a Bally Tron coin-op that Flynn was playing in the original film. It's like 28 years have passed and everything is still exactly as it was. Sam finds the old glass touchscreen tabletop Encom computer, wipes off the dust, and activates the molecular digitizing laser that was designed for teleporting physical objects.
Once Sam is digitized into the laser we are transported back to the grid in full 3D and just like Dorothy arriving in Oz we've gone from black and white to full color. Recognizers, those big monolithic hovering red sentinels from the first film appear only far more evolved now immediately spot and capture Sam where he is taken by intimidating guards with freakish voice modulators to be sent to the games. We also see other programs, some of which bare the wounds of fierce gladiatorial battle. One program in particular looks like half his face has been derezzed. Another program when sentenced to the games runs and leaps from the edge of a platform where he suicidally falls and derezzes into thousands of glass-like particles of bits. Sam is taken away to another room and is then approached by several beautiful and very retro chic looking Sirens who cut away his clothing with illuminated fingernails to be fitted in full gaming attire and given his identity disk, or what could be considered the "Lightsaber" of the Tron universe. Next we briefly see Michael Sheen's character Castor as a sort of master of ceremonies and briefly see Daft Punk in a sort of DJ booth. Sam is then sent to the arena to fight for survival in a game of Disc Wars very reminiscent of the old Bally game Discs of Tron. Sam survives his first battle, the crowd cheers and he shouts "I won now get me out of here!"
The next scene shows Sam escaping the grid on a lightcycle where he is picked up by Quorra on a Light Runner four-wheeler who takes him to the Safe House far outside of the grid where other programs cannot follow them and where his father resides isolated in a white Kubrickian estate with antique furniture that invokes images resembling 2001: A Space Odyssey. Flynn is shown on his knees in a meditative yoga-like trance with dripping electronic droplets of water flowing upwards around him. He tells Quorra he had a vision about Tron (interesting because we never really see the title character Tron and we know that Jeff Bridges is playing his alter-ego Clu and that the technology has de-aged him 30 years and seeing as how Bruce Boxleitner has returned as Alan Bradley why not use the same technology to show him in character as Tron? Hopefully that question will be addressed in the film). Quorra tells Flynn that they have a visitor. Flynn tells Q there are no visitors here but turns to see Sam and a tearful father/son moment ensues as we learn that much time has passed since they last saw each other and Sam is now fully grown and Flynn is now old. Flynn tells Sam he will reveal all to him once they have had dinner and goes to a balcony overlooking the grid while Quorra shows Sam his father's white lightcycle which she describes as being "vintage."
What follows is a montage of images seen mostly in the trailers concluding with the film's logo and the Real3D and Imax 3D logos. The presentation went by very quickly but it was well worth the long wait in line. I was already anticipating seeing Legacy on December 17th but now I am even more exciting and enthusiastic to see it than ever before. I need to get back to the grid.
End of Line.