Just a few short months from now, Disney will finally unleash TRON: Legacy on the world. We’ve come a long way since it was first teased as TR2N at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con, and all that people saw then was a proof-of-concept video; there was no discussion of the story, possible casting, setting… there wasn’t even any actual confirmation of a film sequel, merely the suggestion of one. Now, with the movie out in theaters on December 17, we’ve seen trailers and posters, heard snatches of the Daft Punk-penned soundtrack, and watched interviews with key cast and crew members.
TRON: Legacy is for real, and it’s coming very, very soon.
Last night, Disney gathered a select group of journalists into a New York City theater to offer a look at 22 minutes of footage from the near-finished film, and Spinoff Online was there to see it all. A few caveats before we proceed: first, and most obviously, spoiler alert. There are no major plot revelations here, but if you want to go in completely fresh then you probably don’t want to read any further.
Second: the footage shown was in 2D and with a two-channel stereo sound mix. Disney studio chief Sean Bailey told the gathered crowd that Legacy director Joseph Kosinski is currently busy at Skywalker Sound putting the finishing touches on the film’s audio mix and 3D effects. So what follows is basically a rundown of the footage and nothing more.
The screening opened with Scene 20 – Sam’s apartment, Sam being Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), son of the original film’s Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges). Sam lives in a nicely decked out warehouse situated just across the water from a big city. He’s got a motorcycle, a cute little dog and all the peace and quiet he could ask for, until Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner), Kevin’s old business associate, shows up one evening to pass a message along to Sam: ENCOM, the company once headed up by Kevin, who has long been missing, is perfectly happy with Sam’s decision to not take his father’s place. We get the sense that Sam is a little bit of a rebel and a daredevil.
Alan also has the news that a pager that he’s been carrying for years, one that Kevin always told him to keep handy, has buzzed with a new message. The source is Flynn’s Arcade, specifically Kevin’s old office there. Alan hands the keys off to Sam, explaining that if it really is his father, he should be the one to investigate.
The scene immediately cuts to an extreme long shot of Sam rolling up to the shuttered and decrepit arcade on his bike. Inside, he finds row upon row of plastic-covered, dust-coated, coin-operated game cabinets including, all alone at the end of one aisle, “TRON.” He uncovers the machine and drops a quarter in, which promptly falls out and to the floor. Bending to pick it up, Sam notices curved grooves carved into the concrete. He discovers a secret door behind the arcade machine and, on the other side of it, the same computer setup that – unbeknownst to Sam – zapped his father into the computer world so many years ago. Sam sits down and starts fiddling with the machine. We hear him mutter “laser control” and then…
Scene 27 – Recognizer Capture. Sam, still wearing his real world clothes, has clearly just arrived in the digital world. He’s standing in the middle of an open, windswept space, watching as a Recognizer – one of the franchise’s iconic vehicles, an arch-shaped flying machine – descends. Sam is corralled onto it – “This program has no disc,” one of his neon orange-streaked, masked captors observes in a non-human voice – and strapped in among a group of people who clearly don’t want to be there: some are scared, some silent, one is muttering crazily to himself. Another seems to have half of his head missing, only instead of blood and gore it just appears that part of his skull has de-rezzed.
The Recognizer flies off, one of several, toward a shining city, a shot seen in one of the previous trailers. The machine lands and more armored, masked programs with neon orange highlights surround the captives. One moves down the row, sizing each person up and deciding his fate. He stops in front of Sam, who makes a wisecrack, and declares “Games!” Guards remove Sam from his harness and escort him to a pad which carries him down into a room occupied by four female programs.
“He’s different,” one of them remarks as they surround the confused human. Using their index fingers as cutting torches, the programs remove Sam’s clothes and replace them with the blue-highlighted bodysuit he’ll undoubtedly be wearing for most of the rest of the film, complete with back-mounted disc, which contains “everything he learns.” Then we cut to…
Scene 32 – Disc Wars. We see a giant arena, the one shown in the most recent trailer. Sam is deposited in an enclosed space with one other combatant, though the human doesn’t realize he’s in any danger until his opponent hurls a disc at him. Sam manages to dodge, barely, as the disc ricochets off the back wall and returns to its sender.
A fight scene follows, heavy on the acrobatics, as the two players trade disc throws. Sam almost loses when his opponent’s ricocheted disc destroys the floor beneath him. He regains his footing just as more of the floor is destroyed. Finally, a lucky deflection opens up the floor beneath his opponent, sending the nameless combatant plunging to his de-resolution. Another cut, another new scene.
Scene 52 – Bike escape. Sam seems to be in the midst of a prison break. He’s in a white-highlighted four-wheeled vehicle (seen in trailers) being driven by a masked rider, who we soon learn is Cora (Olivia Wilde). An action sequence unfolds first, as the four-wheeler dodges enemy pursuers on two-wheeled, orange-highlighted Lightcycles. Cora’s deft driving allows the two to escape “off the grid,” a dark, rocky region with no apparent signs of life. She’s being cagey about their destination, deflecting Sam’s questions. They drive through an illusory piece of rock and into a hidden tunnel as the scene ends, cutting directly to…
Scene 56 – Safehouse. Here we are, the long-awaited Flynn reunion. Cora escorts Sam into a wide, open room with only one occupant: a gray-haired man facing away from the duo and out a floor-to-ceiling window at the shining city where Sam was held captive. Cora says there’s a guest, and the still-unidentified man replies that no one is expected. There’s a wordless exchange between them, after which the man rises and turns, revealing himself to be… Kevin! (duh) A tearful father-son reunion follows.
“Been a long time,” Sam says to his dad. “You have no idea,” is Kevin’s reply.
They talk for a minute or so, with Sam describing the page Alan received and how he came to be here. It’s clear to the audience from Kevin’s response to news of the page that he’s not the one who sent it, but he plays it off for Sam in such a way that he never outright admits it. The scene ends as Kevin steps outside onto a balcony, staring off at the city where his nemesis resides.
A flash of images from the finished film follow. Michael Sheen looking insane with his white hair and ostentatious outfit. More Lightcycle action. A series of shots featuring orange-suited programs flying with the help of segmented digital wings, which almost resemble those of a butterfly. A quick snatch of aerial combat, featuring the fighter vehicles hinted at in the most recent trailer. And…
And, that’s it. It was a compelling 22 minutes of footage, giving a feel for the look and the tone of the finished film. Now we continue the long wait until December 17, when the new chapter in the TRON series finally arrives in theaters.