By now, you’ve probably heard that there’s a sequel to Tron
coming out. I’d be very surprised if you hadn’t, considering that Disney
is using every ounce of its considerable marketing muscle to raise
awareness of this film. Tron: Legacy set a San Diego Comic-Con
record, appearing for three years straight. TV spots are already making
the rounds. The
Disneyland monorail got a makeover.
Even Marvel — freshly moved in
to the Disney stable — has
been tapped.

Disney is doing every possible thing it can to ensure that Tron:
spawns a profitable new franchise and gets box office grosses
on an Avatar scale. And to help ensure that, Disney borrowed one
of the tricks Avatar used.

Last August, Fox launched a nationwide Avatar
. IMAX screens nationwide were given a sizable chunk of James
Cameron’s opus to screen in 3D for the fans who were lucky enough to get
in. Tonight, it was Disney’s turn: IMAX screens across America (and a
few abroad, I understand) screened 20 minutes of Tron: Legacy in

Tickets went online October 12th. I got mine the instant they were

My screening took place at the Regal Bridgeport Stadium 18 & IMAX
in Tigard. A decent crowd showed up, though not as many as I’d
expected. Also, I was disappointed that no one came in costume, though I
did see some neat Tron shirts and hoodies, as well as some clearly
marked Flynn Lives players. The
management gave out a decent amount of swag, including a couple of promo
postcards and this
awesome poster

Best of all — though they were sure to confiscate any electronics
and check all bags — they never forced anyone to sign a non-disclosure
agreement. In fact, we were actively encouraged to go online and talk
about the event. So, what can I tell you?

The presentation started with a scene from the real world. We meet
our hero, Sam Flynn, who’s made a neat little one-room apartment for
himself out of what appears to be an abandoned storage unit by the
docks. We also meet Alan Bradley, played once again by Bruce Boxleitner.
Apparently, Alan has been a surrogate father to Sam since the latter
was twelve years old. We also learn that Sam — thanks to his missing
dad — is perfectly capable of taking over the Encom corporation
whenever he feels like it, but he’d rather stay out of that life and pester
them with stunts
instead. This exposition is slightly awkward, but
the relationship between Sam and Alan feels convincing and the dialogue
is just natural enough that I can let it slide.

Garrett Hedlund, however, is a slight problem. Though Sam does seem
like he’d be a fun guy to go out drinking with, Hedlund just isn’t
showing the swagger or the “don’t give a shit” attitude that Sam needs. I
simply couldn’t buy him as a daredevil. It would’ve been perfect if
Hedlund had pushed his performance a teeny bit more, but as it is, Sam
is in that aggravating position of “so close!”

Now, it’s worth noting that the real-world segments of this movie
were shot in 2D. So, Sam goes to Flynn’s hidden office in the arcade,
the laser warms up (didn’t see it fire, though), we cut to the next

The 3D in this movie is staggering and first-time director Joseph
Kosinski finds some very clever ways of utilizing it. For example, there
was a shot in which we’re looking up at the Recognizer pilot from under
a clear glass floor. It sounds mundane, but the 3D made it look really

In the following scene, Sam is getting dressed by four programs that
IMDB calls “Sirens.” This scene addressed one of my main concerns with
the movie so far: The wardrobe. In the original Tron, the
costumes looked like they were part of the characters and like the
glowing lights may as well have been their blood vessels. The costumes
in Legacy, on the other hand, have always looked to me like…
well, costumes. Like the characters could just go home and change out of

That turns out to be true, though it’s really just skimming the

Watching the Sirens take these armor plates and put them on Sam, it
felt like they were equipping him. It wasn’t just like they were giving
him a uniform, but they were giving him a toolbox as well. I got the
impression that all the strength and training to fight in the games was
hardwired in the costume itself, like swapping out the parts and
replacing them with new ones would make for a different program

In fact, it seemed like the costume was like a semi-sentient partner
at times. When Sam is given his identity disk, the light ring fills up
one segment at a time, almost like it’s loading. When Sam’s eyes flash
while all of this is going on, it’s easy to see that the disk is binding
with him on some intrinsic level, which I found really cool. There’s
also a point where Sam takes his disk and a helmet pops into place. It
didn’t feel quite like an automatic thing and it certainly wasn’t
anything Sam did. It almost felt like the suit itself was moving the
helmet into place.

As for the programs themselves, it’s worth noting that they seem much
more robotic. The freaky “stray programs” that Sam is rounded up with
seem to have individuality, as do love interest Quorra and an enigmatic
deejay called Castor. The Sirens, on the other hand, are completely
rigid in their precision, synchronized in their movements, apathetic in
their work and they sleep in these strange pods when they’re done. Ditto
for the guards running the Recognizer. They all seem very much like
machines, which I suppose is a fitting way to depict computer programs.

What followed was a lengthy scene of Sam in a disk fight with another
program and it was awesome. The choreography was amazing, the
pacing and editing were phenomenal and watching the programs shatter
like glass made for a really cool effect. The preview also included a
bit of light-cycle action, in which I saw a rider crash his light-cycle,
launch into the air and then call another light-cycle into being before
he hit the ground. Again, this was all in 3D. Kick-ass! Also,
these light-cycle matches have a new twist in that the floor has two
sides: There are panels in which the light-cycle can switch from driving
on top of the floor to driving along the underside of the floor and
vice-versa. It’s not an easy thing to describe, but it looked really
cool and I can’t wait to see what the choreography does with that little

Last but not least, I saw Sam reunited with his father Kevin, played
by returning Tron veteran Jeff Bridges. Given that all of these
clips are supposed to take place in the movie’s first half, I found it
refreshing to know that Kosinski isn’t going to hold this scene until
the third act. As for Kevin Flynn himself, he seemed kinda out of it.
Maybe it’s just the fact that he’s meeting his son for the first time
after so long, but Kevin seemed very muddled — almost senile. When Sam
mentions the page that Kevin sent Alan (yes, Sam does joke about how
Alan is still using a pager in this day and age), Kevin barely seems to
remember that he ever sent Alan a page.

Then again, I suppose that all of this can be explained by the fact
that time is hyper-accelerated in the electronic world. The twenty years
that Kevin’s been spending in there must have felt like centuries. Even
the few hours between Alan’s pager and Sam’s arrival could have been
years apart for Kevin.

After this scene, we got a brief montage of clips, most of which have
been seen in the various trailers released so far. However, this
montage did address another one of my major concerns: Clu. Jeff Bridges
plays one of his old programs as a younger version of himself and CGI
was used to make him appear more youthful in the role. This effect
looked rubbery and cartoonish in the trailer, but I was willing to let
that slide on the assumption that it would look more polished in the
final film. Sure enough, the one shot I saw of Clu tonight looked
incomparably better than its corresponding clip in the trailer. I find
this very encouraging.

Oh, and I also must mention the legendary Daft Punk. They’ve outdone
themselves with this score and that’s saying a lot. The music I heard
was absolutely perfect, with just the right amount of orchestral and
techno. The emotion of every scene was perfectly captured in the score.
The source music was amazing as well, with the jukebox in Flynn’s Arcade
loudly playing “Separate Ways” by Journey and “Sweet Dreams” by
Eurythmics. It was so deliciously ’80s that the crowd I was with lapped
it up. In fact, the Portland crowd really seemed to have a great time at
this event.

There’s still one thing that bugs me though: Story details are very
scarce. All the relevant real-world details have been covered, but
information has been very scarce in regards to what’s happening
computer-side. This is a problem, considering that most of the movie
will probably take place in e-world, and I don’t know any more about it
now than I did going in. All I do know is that Kevin Flynn and Clu are
at the center of the plot, probably as opposing forces. Tron himself got
a namedrop in the footage I saw, with Kevin vaguely speaking of Tron in
a dream he had, but the eponymous hero’s whereabouts and role in the
story remain completely unknown. However, I do think it’s telling that
Disney is focusing on the games so much. I don’t know if it’s because of
story relevance, trailer-friendly visuals or both, but there’s no
denying that arena disc fights and light-cycle competitions are going to
play a huge part in this story.

I was greatly impressed by the footage I saw. It’s still too early to
tell if Tron: Legacy will be worth the hype, but there’s no
doubt in my mind that it will be worth seeing.