“Tron: Legacy” doesn’t hit theaters until Dec. 17, but for the truly devoted fans of the original 1982 “Tron,” the excitement is already at a fever pitch. One of those fans is Jay West, who has been writing as a guest correspondent for Hero Complex on all things “Tron.”
“Games? You want games? I’ll give you games.”
— Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn, in the original “Tron“
Games are exactly what “Tron” fans are now engaged in. Last week, as part of an ongoing ARG (alternate reality game) viral campaign on the Flynn Lives website, fans vied for tickets to a mysterious cinematic event staged at IMAX theaters in five cities: London, Sydney, Toronto, New York and Los Angeles. Tickets for L.A. were snapped up within minutes.
And what was that mysterious event? On Feb. 27, those ticket holders were lucky enough to see the new trailer for “Tron: Legacy” in IMAX 3-D, which means they were also the first civilians to see actual footage from the upcoming film. (The footage previously shown to fans at Comic-Con International, Disney’s D23 Expo and other events was from a visual-effects concept test that played a key part in the green-lighting of the new film.)
In Los Angeles, the “Tron: Legacy” event was at the Bridge, and I was lucky enough to be among the ticket holders. I showed up an hour before the screening. The line was already stretching down a long hallway. Some fans wore “Flynn Lives” T-shirts or retro “Tron” attire, and I noted that audience was quite diverse in age — this wasn’t just a exercise in 1980s nostalgia. Inside, as the lights went down, everyone donned their 3D glasses and waited…
Here’s a report on the trailer we then watched:
The familiar Disney castle logo appears — and then with the sounds of a low electronic hum and rumble, the castle digitizes to a shot high atop the ENCOM building (the company plays a pivotal role in the first film and this new film). Inside, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner), who is now CEO of ENCOM Corp., is speaking to Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) about his father, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who went missing 20 years ago.
Alan Bradley: “I promised you that if I ever got any information about your dad, I’d tell you first, right? I was paged last night, it came from your dad’s office in the arcade.”
There are some scenes then of Sam speeding away on a Ducati motorcycle through traffic and then revving and jumping off a freeway near an off-ramp. Sam then rides down an empty street and approaches his father’s now-abandoned arcade, Flynn’s. (Upon the reveal of this iconic landmark, cheers erupted from the audience, no surprise.) Sam enters the arcade with a flashlight, turns on a breaker box and walks by classic arcade games now covered and silent.
Sam (voice-over): “So?”
Alan (voice-over): “So: The number’s been disconnected for 20 years. Two nights before he disappeared, he came to my house. He said he was about to change everything — science, medicine, religion.”
Sam reaches the back of the arcade — where the classic 1982 Tron arcade game resides under a neon “Home of Tron” sign (like the one featured at the Comic-Con 2009 re-creation of Flynn’s arcade). Sam then pulls back a tarp and drops a quarter into its slot — but the coin is kicked back out and lands on the floor. Sam crouches down to retrieve his money but notices scratches on the floor. He realizes the arcade game is attached to a facade wall that opens up and swings like a door (here again, just like the Flynn’s arcade re-creation at Comic-Con 2009).
Alan (voice-over): “He wouldn’t have left that, Sam. He wouldn’t have left you.”
Sam: “Alan, you’re acting like I’m gonna find him sitting there working: ‘Hey kiddo lost track of time!’ “
Alan throws Sam a set of keys to Flynn’s arcade and smiles.
Alan: “Wouldn’t that be something?”
Sam enters a secret room behind the Tron arcade game — and finds an office area filled with computer gear. He wipes away dust and reveals a table-top monitor that has many windows open running code, along with a virtual keypad. Sam sits down at the setup but fails to see a laser apparatus behind him, a device that goes active and resonates with a hum — a scenario that echoes his father’s abduction from the “real world” in the first film …
Then cut to black. We’ve now been “transported” into the computer world — and experience a montage of fantastic imagery in 3-D. Here’s what we see:
— A next-generation Recognizer vehicle that completely dwarfs the three people in the frame.
— Sam in a game-warrior suit, looking out the portal of a vehicle as it ascends.
— Olivia Wilde, who plays Flynn’s loyal confidant Quorra, reclining on a couch and sporting a black bob.
— A close-up shot of a disc being activated by a warrior, and through the disc’s center, you see Sam’s apprehensive reaction.
— A stunning shot of Bridges as Clu 2.0 (the first incarnation of Clu was in the original film) surrounded by a group of confidants, rising through the floor. This is the much-talked-about “younger” version of Bridges that we’ll see in the film — which has been accomplished by Digital Domain (who also “aged” and “de-aged” Brad Pitt in the “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”). Here, Bridges appears to be 25 years younger — this effect looks remarkable.
— A shot of warriors engaged in a furious disc battle.
— Model Beau Garrett, clad in a white outfit and hair bundled, walking toward the camera.
— Michael Sheen who plays Kaster, a downtown nightclub owner, decked out like a psychedelic rock star doing air guitar on a neon cane.
— Flynn’s new light runner vehicle racing against light cycles. A glowing red warrior leaps into the air toward the camera with discs in both hands. Cut to black.
Sam (voice-over): “Dad!”
Flynn (voice-over): “Sam?”
Sam (voice-over): “Long time…”
There’s then a close-up shot of Bridges as the present-day Flynn as he opens his eyes while in the computer world.
Flynn (voice-over): “You have no idea.”
The “Tron: Legacy” logo enters the screen — and then we smash cut back to the light cycles, with one revving up into the air and another crashing into its jet wall. Sam narrowly escapes it all as he maneuvers through the debris, saying “Whoa!” and drives straight toward the camera — a similar image to one seen in a recently released theatrical poster. Then, the trailer then ends.
The audience at the Bridge was thrilled and cheered wildly. There were calls of “Again! Again!” Then “Tron: Legacy” director Joseph Kosinski came out and spoke to the excited crowd. To find out what he said, check back here at the Hero Complex on Friday.
— Jay West
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