Since early this year, the Disney marketing machine has been pushing hard and heavy for their next big tentpole film, Tron: Legacy. It’s hard to be in a major metropolitan area and NOT see a reference to the film - whether it be a poster, a billboard or if you are in one of the Disney parks, the monorail painted with a light cycle streaking across the sky.
Just like Fox Studios was able to garner worldwide interest last year for their hugely-successful movie, Avatar, Disney scheduled their own early viewing for Tron: Legacy hoping to mimic the result come Holiday Season. Just like Avatar, it too was shown in hundreds of theaters worldwide in IMAX 3D and I was fortunate enough to procure a seat to this viewing. Below is a recap of what I witnessed.
With almost no fanfare or warning, the theater went dark and the projectors began rolling as the audience was given an introduction (via an old mainframe text screen) to what we were about to watch. We were told that there are 5 separate scenes from Tron: Legacy to watch and apparently the first few minutes of the movie were in 2D but had been converted so that they were watchable while wearing 3D glasses – so 2D that has been converted to 3D but is still in 2D.
Some of the scene descriptions below could be considered MINOR SPOILERS but we were only shown extended scenes from existing trailers, clips and the Daft Punk music video, so you’ve most likely seen it all before in snippets.
Before we begin though, check out this partial clip of a scene screened at the event:
Scene 1 - Sam’s Apartment
In what appears to be the opening scene from the film, and the longest scene shown, we are introduced to Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) as he pulls his Ducati motorcycle into his garage. Sam is a hip twenty-something that is defined by his interest in adrenaline producing activities and his lack of respect for authority or responsibility – which is evident by the fact he jumps off bridges, sends inappropriate messages to the board of a Fortune 500 company and refuses to take over his father’s business.
We know he’s an edgy guy because even though he has a massive fortune, he lives in an “apartment” that consists of a stack of converted transport containers, parks his motorcycle in his living room and doesn’t mind getting bruised while seeking his next thrill.
Sam's father’s best friend, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner), visits Sam to talk about a page he received from his father’s office at the long closed Flynn’s Arcade – this part is important, so remember it. You may be concerned of being lost if you haven’t watched the first Tron beforehand, but you shouldn't be – a decent recap of the pertinent information from the first film is given in the opening five minutes, during the dialog between Sam and Alan.
Alan explains that Sam’s father, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), was on the verge of a major breakthrough when he disappeared almost 20 years ago and suggests Sam go check out the arcade for clues. Sam is dismissive of the entire scenario, giving the impression that he had given up on his dad long ago. “You act like I’m going to find him sitting there working saying ‘Hey kiddo. Just lost track of time,’” Sam says. Alan replies with a coy smile, “Wouldn’t that be something?”
Indeed Sam’s curiosity gets the better of him and we see him pull up to the closed Flynn’s Arcade. Walking inside, he turns on the power and those of us old enough to remember are quickly washed in nostalgia as the beeps and boops from familiar video games immediately go off in the background. While a jukebox fills the air with '80s hits like “Sweet Dreams”, Sam finds a hidden door behind an original Tron game and stumbles across his father’s old workshop.
In a scene reminiscent of the first film, Sam sits down at a console with a digitizing laser behind him and attempts to hack his way into his father’s work. The scene ends with Sam being zapped by the laser.
Scene 2 – Recognizer Capture
If you were one of the lucky 8000+ people in Hall H at Comic Con this past summer then you are already familiar with this scene. This was the exact same scene shown at Tron night with the minor exception of the ending. We start with Sam in the computer world for the very first time, looking puzzled and slightly afraid as a giant Recognizer approaches him then lands. Two guards with glowing oranges stripes and “shock” sticks usher him onboard and strap him in.
There are several other captured “programs” next to him; some are irrevocably damaged and are to be derezzed while others are headed for the games. Apparently no one wants to be part of the games, as one sentenced program chooses to kill himself by jumping off a cliff rather than participate in the games. Ignoring the inquires of an understandably confused Sami regarding where he is and where he is going, the guards send him down several levels where he arrives in what can best be described as a locker room.
Four very beautiful Sirens all dressed in tight white leather, who are led by Siren Jem (Beau Garrett), approach him in unison from the four corners of the room and remove his clothing. Before anything inappropriate can be shown (sorry ladies), a black digital skin covers his whole body except his head. One of the Siren programs fits him with an information disc that will store everything he does or learns as a new program. As the Sirens go back to their respective corners, Sam is instructed to enter the games to which he asks puzzled, “What am I supposed to do?” Jem simply replies, “Survive.”
Scene 3 – Disc Wars
In what is surely to be one of the most anticipated scenes in the movie, we are introduced to the modern version of the original game of disc wars. In the old Tron, contestants competed in a large open space by throwing their information discs in an attempt to derez each other. The rules are the same for the modern version, except it is set to the electronic tunes of Daft Punk, is staged in front of a large audience (a la the Roman Coliseum) and the contestants now compete on a much smaller playing field.
Sam is given no instructions but rather just tossed into the arena with another program whose sole purpose is to derez him. After narrowly dodging a few throws by his opponent and seeing what happens to someone when they are hit, Sam figures out a way to not only fight back but to use his ability in extreme sports to win. I won’t give away exactly how that is done but it was pretty darn cool.
Continue to the final Tron: Legacy scenes and a summary of the event...