The 20-Minute Tron: Legacy Preview Narrated
As a way to promote the upcoming sequel to 1982’s Tron, we were invited by Walt Disney to a twenty-minute showing featuring scenes from the “first half” of the tech-driven film. Here’s what we saw. This is a pretty long read at 1500+ words, so feel free to prepare a snack and drink before you dive in.
We’re giving away a ticket to the advanced IMAX screening at Mall of Asia!
Scene 20: “Sam’s Apartment”
This is a fleshed-out version of the trailer’s first half. Sam Flynn motors up to his apartment. He looks in the fridge for a midnight snack, then realizes that his dad’s old friend, Alan Bradley, is present.
It’s revealed that ENCOM (the tech company of Sam’s long-missing father, Kevin) is a Fortune 500 business, Sam is not interested in running it, and that he has long given up on Kevin reappearing. Sam also establishes his athletic daredevil lifestyle by lifting up his shirt to show some bruises.
Alan still thinks that Kevin wouldn’t just walk away from everything for a good reason, and tells Sam about a page he received—from a disconnected number based in Kevin’s old office.
Despite some doubts, Sam ends up in Flynn’s Arcade, his dad’s old establishment. He enters using the keys given to him by Alan, flips the mains on, and looks around for any clues. Eurythmic’s Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) blares in the background, over the noisy arcade machines.
Finding nothing, Sam walks up to a Tron Arcade machine and puts in a quarter. The coin simply passes through the cabinet, falling to the floor and causing Sam to notice that the machine swivels open. He passes through the secret door hidden behind.
Sam finds another office below the arcade, with a working touch-screen terminal. He looks around the room, seeing diagrams outlining “The Grid”. The 27-year-old then starts typing out commands on the terminal—establishing his technical expertise—but all his actions lead to dead-ends.
On a hunch, Sam consults the workstation’s usage history, executing the most recent command. This causes the beam behind him to activate…
Scene 27: “Recognizer Capture”
A bright beam blinds Sam, as an electroluminescent ship shaped like a wide upside-down U lands in front of him. Two red-and-black enforcer-type characters with robotic voices disembark and make their way to Sam. They forcefully pull onboard and line him up with the rest of the standing passengers on the ship (“Where are you taking me?!”). Lighted clamps secure his feet and torso.
The ship takes off and we see wide shots of the virtual world, with the Daft Punk soundtrack blaring. Sam looks around in amazement (“he actually pulled it off!”) as he sees buildings, streets, and vehicles, rendered in wireframe. He takes a look at his companions, realizing that everyone around him are humanoid representations of programs. Some also speak in the same robotic manner, while the head of one is damaged, revealing an incomplete wireframe under the “skin”.
The ship lands in an area just outside a central structure in the middle of the virtual city. Another enforcer approaches and looks over each captive, declaring “rectify” or “games” for each of them. Upon his categorization for the latter, one program breaks free from the enforcers and throws himself down a ledge to his death. He disintegrates as he “dies”.
Sam, still unsure of what’s happening, offers token resistance as he is marked for the games and brought to a platform. Clamps lock around his feet and he is brought down multiple stories into an empty room. Each corner opens to reveal four white-clad female “sirens” that step out towards Sam in beat with the soundtrack.
They slice Sam’s clothes off by tracing over the seams with their fingers. The young Flynn complains in his underpants that he could have taken off his clothes. A vacuum cleaner on the floor sucks away the destroyed clothing, while the sirens walk to the sides of the room that open to reveal armor parts. A black material is literally projected piece by piece onto Sam’s body, covering everything except his head.
The sirens return with the armor parts and put them on Sam. The parts extend themselves, covering the arms, legs, and torso. The lead siren, a platinum-blonde named Jem attaches an “identity” disc to Sam’s back. A disembodied voice says that losing the disc or not following its instructions may lead to “deresolution”.
Their work done, the sirens step back in unison towards their corners. Three of them back into their receptacles, letting feminine-shaped covers close over. A door opens in front of Sam, letting in the noises of a cheering crowd. Still puzzled, Sams asks Jem what to do. She simply answers “survive”, before she enters her holder.
Scene 32: “Disc Wars”
Now through the door, Sam finds himself in a floating cab attached to many others. This array flies above into a noisy arena, interlocking with a central structure that allows each passenger access to separate areas. As the crowd cheers, a helmeted program lit in yellow takes his place on a throne above the proceedings.
Stepping off his cab, Sam immediately recognizes the program across him (“I have an action figure of you in my room!”). The program detaches his disc, causing a helmet with a see-through visor to form over his head. He throws the disc as a projectile towards Sam, who barely dodges the attack. The disc bounces off the transparent walls and boomerangs back to its owner. Sam sees a program in an adjacent area get hit by a disc and “deresolute”.
After dodging a few more attacks, Sam finally catches on, detaches his disc, and throws it. The opponent easily avoids the throws, and starts throwing the disc to shatter the hexagonal floor tile below Sam. The human nearly drops through and manages to pulls himself up, then lunges forward to avoid the new holes created by his enemy. A desperate throw by the protagonist misses, allowing the enemy a jump forward. He is attempting to kill Sam with a downward disc slash.
Sam’s disc returns to him just in time, and he uses it to break the floor tile where his enemy planned to land. The program falls and is shredded by the spinning blades below. The elated victor screams “I won!” to the cheering crowd.
Scene 45: “Escape Route”
Sam is on a four-wheeled vehicle, with a mystery driver whose identity is hidden by a dark black helmet. They’re trying to flee from two lightcycles. The driver pushes a button, launching two mines in front of the pursuers. One lightcycle rider bites it, while the other manages to jump away from his exploding bike and summons a new one with his control stick.
Another button launches missiles against the arena wall, creating a hole to pass through. As the fleeing vehicle jumps away from the arena towards the desolate landscape outside, the driver pushes yet another button. The wheels change into off-road mode, suitable for rough “terrain”, before the four-wheeler slams down and continues its escape. The surviving lightcycle stops in front of the hole.
With the escape now a success, the driver retracts her helmet and introduces herself as Quorra. Sam comments that the vehicle keeps on trying to turn back. Quorra explains that its programmed to do so. The duo make their way through some tight spaces, go up a rocky ramp, and eventually end up in a well-lit garage.
Scene 52: “Safehouse”
Sam and Quorra enter a living room of sorts. Opposite them is a meditating old man in white, looking out through an expansive window towards the city. Quorra informs her master (who calls her “apprentice”) of a guest’s arrival. The old man disbelievingly stands and turns around, making all the floor tiles light up Billie Jean style, and reveals himself to be Kevin.
Kevin walks up to and hugs Sam. The father can’t believe how much his son has grown up, while the child is taken back by his dad’s age. With both thinking that they would never see each other again, it’s a happy reunion. But while Sam fights to hold back tears, Kevin’s reaction is somewhat numb; his many years in The Grid have robbed him of some humanity. He tells Sam to look around for a while, dinner will be ready.
Quorra shows Sam a “retro” lightcycle, built by Kevin “many cycles ago”. His newfound father steps through the window and peers even more intently at the city.
This part is a quick sequence of other scenes in the movie: Daft Punk wearing their trademark helmets, in all-white and working their turntables. Fireworks brighten up the virtual sky. Lightcycles duel, and lightplanes dogfight. Quorra lies on the couch, and shares some romantic tension with Sam. More scenes of Sam fighting with his disc, more fireworks. Everything ends with CLU-2 (the yellow dude from the arena) saying “Your move Flynn. C’mon!”.
Tron: Legacy should be a CGI enthusiast’s dream. The mix of live-action and artificial visuals is seamless. While everything in The Grid is delineated by light lines and minimalist aesthetics, there’s enough detail that things don’t look boring. The action scenes strike a good balance between comprehension and intensity.
Yet it remains unclear if the story of Tron: Legacy will prove compelling. We only saw parts of the whole, tidbits designed to get us excited about the upcoming December 17 showing. Whether or not the awesome visuals of Tron: Legacy are supported by a plot worth the price of a movie ticket will become clear as Christmas 2010 nears.
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