By Karen Posada
We received a 20 minute sneak peek of Disney’s Tron:Legacy practically two months before it hits theaters, the first half of the footage had been shown at Comic-Con this year but the rest was brand new; we also got an in-depth explanation on how the movie came about as well as how visual effects, gadgets, costumes, vehicles and concepts were created. This was such a big project for many reasons: not only does it follow the footsteps of a the much acclaimed film Tron from 1982 which became a cult classic that became part of our pop culture and it is is still mentioned up to this day and all the children from that time still hold it dearly for its ‘before its time’ visions”; this is the first film to use a Helmet Mounted Camera in live action which allows an actor to interact with other in a scene; it also is the first time in cinematic history in which a film features an actor playing opposite to his younger self (Jeff Bridges) thanks to the technology of Digital Domain and finally it’s 3D imaging was developed after Avatar came out meaning that it is the most advanced today.(Although the beginning when we are in the real world the film is in 2D but it switches to 3D when we enter the Grid-video game mode).
So for those that are not familiar with the first film Tron here’s a quick summary: Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is an enthusiastic software engineer who works for a company named ENCOM another programmer Ed Dillinger (David Warner) steals his work and presents it as his own and is able to get ahead this way; Kevin unsuccessfully tries to hack into the mainframe to prove Ed’s doings, but Ed has locked him out of with the Master Control Program (MCP). Ed wrongfully locks out another employee Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner – who continues with his role in Legacy) who mistakenly confesses to Ed about him working on a security program known as TRON that was created to monitor the MCP(a program that believes itself to be better than humans), the MCP manipulates Ed so that he can stop Alan’s program from monitoring it. Alan goes to Kevin(Without a promotion Kevin ends up opening a video game arcade) about the issue at the company, Kevin is able to break into ENCOM’s mainframe thanks to Lora Baines (Cindy Morgan) who developed a program that can digitalize real objects into the computer; once Kevin is digitalized he realizes that in this world the programs resemble their creators otherwise known as ‘users’ and his program is called ‘Clu’. His nemesis ‘program’ Sark (Ed) wants to eliminate Kevin and although it knows that he is a ‘user’ not a ‘program’ he forces him to play against another ‘program’ because of the battle between renouncing the belief of ‘users’ and joining the MCP instead, Kevin wins. Sark is disappointed and wants to kill him, Kevin finally meets Tron and when they are running away he realizes that being a ‘user’ gives him extra abilities the ‘programs’ don’t have. After an epic battle between Tron and the MCP and Sark he comes out victorious with Kevin’s help and Kevin comes back to the real world where he’s able to prove Ed’s lies thanks to his successful journey and he becomes the new CEO of ENCOM.
So, Tron: Legacy continues with the story that had a supposed happy ending for Kevin being married with a son and had a major gaming corporation along with his best friend Alan. In this continuation it is revealed that Kevin kept on secretly teleporting himself back into the computer to the Grid from his basement lab and he disappeared completely without a trace.
Back in Digital Domain in Venice,Los Angeles they began our journey by showing us the trailer for Tron:Legacy in 3D, the 2D version of this same trailer is the one that is out to the public and shows that: Alan who became a father figure for Sam(Garret Hedlund-Kevin’s son) pushes Sam to go to his father’s old video game arcade ‘Flynn’s’ because he got paged from his father’s old work number which has been disconnected for 20 years and he reveals that before his father disappeared he went to his house and told him “he had discovered something that would change everything: science, medicine, religion” and he goes on to reassure him that Kevin would have never walked away from that or from his son. Sam teases him telling him “Alan, you are acting like I’m going to find him sitting there working and just say ‘hey kiddo, lost track of time'”. Either way Alan gives him the keys to the arcade. At the dusty arcade behind a machine that reads ‘Encom TRON’ there’s a secret door behind it to a basement lab where Sam finds a computer that after stroking a few keys transports him into the Grid(the computer world). This is when the sci-fi action begins and we see a huge machine that looks like a polished version of a transformer and Sam seems to be in one of it’s compartments dressed in a light suit it, then quick flashes of different scenes begin to play. Such as one of someone of a lightcycle heading towards a city full of light, there’s another of Olivia Wilde’s character Quorra laying down on a couch with a light suit, followed by another one where a light disk is pointed at Sam; then an exciting scene of young Jeff Bridges as Clu, the light disk scene returns but this time is more of a synchronized battle, then there are glimpses of the siren-Gem (Beau Garrett) and Castor (Michael Sheen) followed by a futuristic car. Finally we get to a scene where Sam is walking in his light suit and in the background we hear him and his father greeting, then we get a close up of Jeff Bridges the way he looks today we go to a black screen and then a close up of the letters Tron Legacy in translucent blue in a background of lights that look like a city and moving clouds. We are left with a race scene between two light cycles a red one and a blue one, the red one crashes and disintegrates and Sam is on the blue one seeing what happens to the other one he says “whoa”.
The 3D effects are flawless, it feels like we are in the Grid along side Sam. Everything is so crisp and clear, the colors really amplify the 3D effects. Even watching the trailer in 2D you will feel like the wind was knocked out of you and you want to understand more.
With that said before we begin our SPOILER section let me explain that inside the Grid(the program world) ‘users’ have a light disc which stores all the data about their program selves and their essence and they can be used as a lethal weapons that when thrown will always return to them, also it can create vehicles around the ‘user’. If you don’t want to know more about the film just skip until the last two paragraphs…
So here’s a lengthy description of the six scenes we were shown which were explained by Joseph Kosinski (director), these scenes were in 2D and the surround sound hadn’t been implemented in yet.
1st scene-Sam’s apartment
We are in a beaten down apartment where we only see a living room space with a fridge and a sofa, Alan(Bruce Boxleitner) is there with Sam(Garret Hedlund) and he begins to question him like a father would, asking him about his solitary life and if he’s taking care of himself, Sam retaliates telling him he can take care of himself that he’s grown up, while he takes off his shirt giving us his back to reveal bruises on his back, Sam explains he had a rough landing doing a triple axel(which we assume it was on a bike since he has a Ducati in his living room). Alan kind of rolls his eyes at Sam’s explanation and goes on to tell him how happy ENCOM is that he’s not involved in his father’s old business( which he obviously thinks Sam should be), he goes on to tell him that he received a page from his father’s old work number that has been disconnected for 20 years. Then Alan reveals that before his father disappeared he went to his house and told him “he had discovered something that would change everything: science, medicine, religion” and he goes on to reassure him that Kevin would have never walked away from that or from his son. Sam teases him telling him “Alan, you are acting like I’m going to find him sitting there working and just say ‘hey kiddo, lost track of time'”. Sam tells Alan he’s tired and smells as a hint that is time to leave, either way Alan gives him the keys to the arcade and leaves. Sam’s adorable boston terrier puppy gives him a worried look.
2nd scene –
The scenes cuts off to Sam on his bike arriving at ‘Flynn’s,’ Sam goes in reluctant and he finds everything covered in plastic with dust, he turns on the breakers for the machines and Journey’s “Separate Ways” begins to play while he makes his way around the place, he checks out the empty dusty office then goes to put a quarter in the ‘Tron’ machine, his quarter falls on the floor and he sees there’s tracks on the floor from the machine being moved, he goes on to move it and finds a staircase going to the basement. There he sees childhood drawings of his and pictures of him and his dad, he sits at his dad’s dusty touch screen computer and presses buttons which make a laser machine behind him turn on without him noticing and a flash of light occurs.
3rd scene –
Here he’s in a see-thru machine where some men are inspecting him and the other men that look like prisoners, some have odd appearances such as one that is missing half a face, the men conclude that Sam is not a robot because he doesn’t have a light disk. The men categorize the prisoners and decide who goes on or not, we don’t really know their criteria but it could be on whether they have a disk or no. Anyway the prisoner next to Sam is being led forcefully forward and he escapes and runs off into empty space and dies, Sam knows he’s next and he tries to struggle but then he gets sent into a chute. The chute places him in what seems to be in a room full of light where out of the walls pop out 4 women dressed in sexy skin in white skin tight uniforms, even their hair is white, they begin to undress him and he’s confused but doesn’t struggle he just makes a joke when they cut off his clothes, he says that his clothes have zippers. They leave him in his boxers and then begin to dress him in a black skin tight uniform that has lights. They give him an identity disk and explained that everything he does gets recorded on it, he asks what he’s supposed to do as the women begin to retreat back into the walls, one stays behind to answer his question and she just says “you are supposed to survive”.
4th scene –
Dressed in his armor Sam gets lifted into a scene that looks like a futuristic version of the gladiator fights at the Coliseum in Rome, theres an entire audience(programs) watching different fights happening simultaneously in the same arena but in ‘glass’ rooms. Sam gets placed with a guy that looks like a samurai warrior, he’s astounded by him and says he thinks he has a figurine of him at home, the warrior ignores his chit-chat and removes his light disk from his back and throws it at Sam. Sam doesn’t understand what’s happening until his opponents second attempt breaks the floor underneath him and he almost falls through, Sam learns quickly and takes his own disk to execute the same technique and he successfully makes his opponent fall though a hole on the floor.
5th scene –
Sam is in a car called the Light Runner, its’ driver takes off a helmet to reveal that it is a woman named Quorra (Olivia Wilde). She explains that this powerful racing car which turns into a tough off-roader in the Outlands was created by his father and this is why is the only one that can perform outside of the Grid, but the farther it goes from it the more power it looses. They are being chased by lightcycles and Quorra is driving through sharp curves and small spaces in a rocky mountain at rapid speeds, she doesn’t seem worried at all while Sam does and he explores her with his sight. He begins to ask her questions and she just replies saying “Your questions will be answered Sam Flynn”.
6th scene- Safe House
Quorra guides Sam into a white room, where light seems to be reflected off the walls. It has a very zen look to it, Kevin(Jeff Bridges) is sitting in the far side of the room in a meditating position on a cushion. He doesn’t turn around when the two enter the room he just tells Quorra that he “dreamt of Tron last night” which seems like is not something common for him. She replies by letting him know there’s someone else there. Kevin gets up and sees his son, Kevin looks like a hippie dressed in white robes and bracelets made of lace with long grey hair and beard. Kevin is clearly surprised to see his son there, Sam’s tears begin to roll as they hug and greet each other. Sam begins to explain on how he got there, Kevin is crying and seems surprised to hear about the page Alan received. Kevin says something about them meeting later and walks away leaving Sam in Quorra’s company, he walks to a kind of balcony that has a panoramic view of the city from his rocky hide away place. Sam comments on the all white lightcycle that is in the living room and Quorra jokes saying it is vintage.
Later on a scene that they showed us repeatedly while they were going over how the E-motion Capture Technology works, was one where Castor (Michael Sheen) who owns the happening spot in the Grid called ‘Line Club'(which is in a tower that is 700 stories above ground) one of the sirens Gem (Beau Garrett) is with him, Clu(Jeff Bridges-younger self) comes to ask him for a light disk he’s accompanied by his main henchman Jarvis (James Frain). Castor is trying o bargain with him while trying to pretend to be fearless but once Clu sees his act Castor backs down and gives him what he wants, Clu hands him a drink he’s been stirring and walks away with the line “enjoy your drink”. Which obviously tells us this character, Clu, is the bad guy. The reason why this scene was shown repeatedly to us is because here we get to see the recreation of Jeff Bridges younger self, which was put together by a mold of his face which had 52 holes in it and it was used as a template for the facial marker dots tracked by four lipstick cameras attached a a helmet, a 3D version of Bridges was created by Digital Domain using pictures from when he was 30 and they put this together with the facial markers which fed Bridges facial expressions onto a computer and it came together as if he was doing his character Clu on screen. They showed us the end material then Bridges with the facial markers, then his body double, then his computerized self; pretty much the break down from the finished product.
Die hard fans might not be disappointed because this film from what we are told and got to see they really fought hard to keep to the original, such as having the Master Control Program desk and having the original writer/director of Tron Steven Lisberger be the producer of the sequel made it be true to previous film; Sean Bailey says in both films Tron is a way of life, for Kevin it is a marriage between analog(his son) and digital(his creation). In all this clips we can see how much work it was put into this sequel, Joseph Kosinski(director) who has a degree in architecture really worked every single detail to make this film about a digital world look real, from the atmosphere to the light and actors. He used people from different fields such as car designers such as Daniel Simon to create the real life vehicles not computer generations because he wanted to have CGI be reality. This is the first movie to make extensive use of self-illuminated costumes which were successfully created after long research and trial and error as we were told by Christine Bieselin Clark, the biggest challenge was making bulbs that could bend and wouldn’t break. She also created the helmets worn by the characters in the Grid, they were each designed to coordinate with the look each character had,there were no prop helmets.
From this clips it is easy to see that Hedlund’s character seems to grow as the film progresses, he goes from being a careless boy to a man that has to fight for his life and has to bring his father back into his reality; Hedlund seems to really adapt to the script even in parts where it must have been challenging to act in front of a blue screen. There wasn’t much of Bridges on the clips but just knowing that he played two different characters and is the only actor in history to play opposite his younger self, we can say that with that challenge and continuing on from a character her played 28 years ago he contributed a lot to this project which seems to fulfill the rumors of greatness. Sheen’s character is a flamboyant bar owner with an eccentric wardrobe, he wore heels the whole time he was in character, he seems to be fun and one of the few humorous things about the film. Wilde shows off the kick-ass moves she learned and apparently was such a natural that she was advised to continue with the training, there’s not much that we got to see from this ‘program’ that has apparently a humanity it’s trying to adjust to. The Director and producers made it clear that the most important thing of this film is to keep in mind that this is a father-son story, they wanted to make it so that it is easy to identify with the characters in this digital journey. This bond between this two characters is shaky because Kevin is made to choose between his son or his technology/his work; as Sean Bailey said “it is about finding humanity in this technology.” The first film was said to be ahead of its time and they wanted to make this one with the same purpose which seems that they easily accomplished. I parted Digital Domain with the thought of what the producers said “there might be a third one depending on the public’s response; maybe 20 years from now.”