If the first 20 minutes of Disney's sequel to Tron is as slick, entertaining and sexy as the rest of the thing, Tron Legacy might be worth the 28-year wait. At the very least, it'll be a feast for the eyes.
Last night, Disney previewed 20-plus minutes of Tron Legacy at a series of events dubbed Tron Night. The stereoscopic 3D preview plays out like an extended version of one of the film's trailers, touching lightly on the plot, but giving more screen time to Tron Legacy's action sequences and its gorgeous neon visuals.
The preview started off with a scene set in the real world, a meeting between Sam Flynn, son of Kevin Flynn from the original Tron, and Alan Bradley. Bradley, a friend and co-worker of Sam's father, dispenses fatherly advice to the young Flynn. Sam appears to be living quite comfortably on the fortunes of his father, but he's also living dangerously - he drives a motorcycle! He drinks beer! He just got out of jail!
If you've seen the Tron Legacy trailer, you know that Bradley gives Sam news about his missing father and the keys to Flynn's Arcade. Sam investigates, ultimately finding his father's workshop, then finding himself trapped in the video game world of the Grid.
The opening scene in the preview was presented in 2D, unlike the scenes set in the Grid.
From the "Sam's Apartment" scene, the preview cuts sharply to "Recognizer Capture", seemingly set moments after Sam enters the video game world. He's quickly captured by a fleet of bipedal Recognizer ships, suspected of being a stray program by the police force of the Tron world. Sam is held prisoner with a group of captive programs. They either ramble incessantly about games and stand stoically in the confines of the Recognizer awaiting their fate.
The 3D effects in "Recognizer Capture" were... interesting. Everything in the Grid appears to be made glossy plastic, glass and bright force fields and the film's effects take advantage of that. The camera pulls a few 3D tricks here, showing Sam restrained from beneath the glass floor of the Recognizer cage, light and translucent materials popping into their own 3D planes.
Fortunately, the 3D effects don't feel overblown or distracting. The high contrast world is a good fit for wearing the darkening effects of 3D shades.
The Recognizer scene surprised me with its brief violence. At one point, a program who would rather face death than compete in the gladiatorial games on the Grid commits suicide, leaping off a ledge and into the fan blades of an exhaust vent. He "derezzes" into a thousand shattered cubes.
Fortunately, things quickly take a turn for the sexy.
Sam's transported to a bright white chamber. Four gorgeous women in skin-tight ivory latex outfits emerge from plastic cocoons, emit light from their fingertips and strip Sam of his real world clothing. He's digitally redressed by the high-heeled sirens and given his identity disc. But not before the camera gives the viewer an extended look at siren Jem, played by Beau Garrett, and the other virtual ladies who fill out their PVC outfits spectacularly.
I'm fairly confident in saying that lifelong fetishes will be borne of this scene.
Sam is then sent to The Games. His only instruction: "Survive".
What follows is an initially clumsy identity disc battle between game contestants. Sam sees his opponent and says something to the effect of "I used to have a five inch version of you on my shelf." His disc rival does not seem amused and attacks. Sam sees in the distance a similar battle between disc throwers, watching in horror as a contestant is derezzed, shattering him.
The "Disc Wars" scene is great, so I won't spoil it any further. But this scene and the approach to the arena showcases some of the gorgeous design of the Grid. Many of the scenes are presented with symmetrical shots, highlighting the rigid computerised world of Tron Legacy.
Sam, naturally, survives his fight and shouts amusingly, hopelessly, to his captors "I won! Now let me out!" He's still not wrapping his head around this digital prison camp.
Apparently someone does let Sam out, because he's rescued by Quorra (Olivia Wilde's character) and the two escape by way of the all-terrain Lightrunner vehicle. Yes, there's terrain in the Tron world. Off the grid, things look pretty rough, all angular black rock, thunderstorms and gloom.
Quorra and Sam eventually make their way to the refuge of Kevin Flynn, the aged version played by Jeff Bridges. I won't go into this too much, but it's a great, emotionally charged scene when the father and son Flynns reunite. It's also a nice contrast visually and tonally from the dark, action-heavy games and chase scenes. I'm hopeful that the mysterious of Flynn's existence in the video game world, his relationship to Clu and Tron and Quorra live up to their promise.
The preview ends with a brief montage. Flashes of Daft Punk, previously unseen vehicles and another minutes worth of exquisitely rendered eye-candy - not to mention more shots of the stunning Olivia Wilde as Quorra my god - only makes me want to watch Tron Legacy in full.
Tron Legacy is scheduled to hit cinemas in Australia on December 16.