We got to the Waterloo IMAX at about 18:50. Apart from one solitary fan (sporting a Tron Legacy T-Shirt) who had taken a chair and sat at the very start of a non-existent queue (award given for Number One nerd of the night) a few people were dotted about munching on sweets from the over priced cinema vendor. I sported a "Flynn Lives" T-shirt that I received at a trailer screening earlier in the year. Strangely, I appeared to be the only one. (award given to the Number Two nerd of the night). I saw one guy wearing an ENCOM laminate and a couple of Tron Legacy ARG (Alternate Reality Gaming; the lynch pin of the Flynn Lives viral marketing for TL) badges; one of an ENCOM associated logo, the other Space Paranoids. Presumably bought on ebay. Maybe the lucky sod got to go to the San Diego Comic Con.
Eventually We went in and got some good seats. Sadly, our karma was rudely interrupted by three dickheads behind us; an English guy and his girlfriend ("I'm only the publicist" repeated x3 for effect) and an American with a lisp who aspired to be the next Perez Hilton. They sat there right behind us, full of themselves, talking in a way that they want everyone to hear what they're saying. It was painful. After a day's work it was so painful, John and I resorted to sticking our headphones in and listening to loud music for a bit. This drew the interest of the "Recognisers" sweeping the crowd with binoculars.
At 19:45, the footage was introduced. I sat wondering if the celeb wannabes behind would manage to shut the fuck up for the full 23 minutes. Clearly they were ADHD ID (ID standing for Intellectual deficit). Thankfully, they just managed it as Joseph Kosinki's typed message came to "End of Line" and the TRON Legacy footage began...
We first saw the scene where Sam Flynn rides his motorbike back to his apartment. Nerds amoung you, like me, would have noticed that his place was called DUMONT's, Barnard Hughes's character from the original TRON. It appears that Sam lives in a disused industrial unit, but as Alan Bradley remarks he has a great view. The dialogue between Bradley and Flynn Jnr seemed a little stilted but I guess this was to convey the distance that the characters had between them over the years. We learn that 27 year old Flynn Jnr is a chip off the old block and just as much a Maverick as his Dad. As seen in the trailers, Alan tells Sam that he has received a ghostly page from his Dad, via Flynn's Arcade; an arcade that has been shut for 20 years. Garrett Hedlund looks and acts the part. IMAX is unforgiving if an actor is sub par because the performance is in your face - there's no escape. I always like to see Bruce Boxleitner. He's a dependable and warm actor that I never get tired of seeing.
What is particularly cool about this scene is that Alan Bradley references part of the viral marketing campaign! Looking at the ENCOM tower from Sam's pad, he says;
"...Heard you did a triple Axle off of her a few hours ago"
We see bruises on Sam's back that have come from a violent parachute jump. We've been told, as fans, that there are many "Easter Eggs" in the movie and in one scene that has been proven - twice. I like attention to detail. That's evident from this review!
Sam Flynn rides over to Flynn's arcade. Although the Real World is in 2-D it still looks great. The huge IMAX screen makes you feel that you're riding the camera mount as it descends from the top of the arcade building to the street below as Sam arrives. What struck me is the Autumnal night look of the area: Leaves gathered in front of the arcade, the place looking far more run down than as spotted in the trailers. Sam enters and switches the power on. Familiar sounds (to us old gits!) from old arcade machines spark to life, as does the jukebox. A great opportunity to hear a couple of tracks from 1982! We first hear a track by Journey; the Rock band that supplied two tracks to the original TRON soundtrack.
Sam looks around, goes upstairs to the old apartment. It was recreated so faithfully that I could almost hear Flynn Snr saying
"Because man, somewhere in one of these memories is the evidence..."
Pure nostalgia. Sam turns to leave but spots the old TRON arcade fully active underneath a polythene shroud. Sweeping it off the machine he watches the vintage light cycle game demo. Was that a solitary tear in my eye? No, just a bit of grit. As seen in the trailer, he shoves a quarter in the machine and it feeds through and out on to the floor, where he spies tread marks gouged into the concrete floor. This kid ain't stupid.
He moves the TRON machine aside to find a hidden entrance. As he descends some stairs we hear a muffled "Sweet Dreams..." by Eurythmics from the now distant jukebox still playing in the arcade's main floor. Flynn Jnr dusts off a display that has a retro but modern touch screen keyboard. Tron Legacy ARG players will recognise the design having used it to access pre-production drawings earlier in the year. Also, there are pictures on a noticeboard that we have also seen during the viral marketing, and a process map of the Grid. Sam accesses his Dad's computer files and appears to inadvertently trigger off the digitisation laser that had loomed ominously in the background aimed at the computer chair - empty or not. Why do the Flynn boys never notice a huge industrial Laser powering up behind them?
Finally, we get what we came for; 3D scenes that take place within The Grid! Sam Flynn has been transported to this place; an annexed city world that his Father has created. Echoing Flynn Snr in the first film he says "It's not happening". Sam sees familiar designs and says "He did it". So he must have already known about Dad's projects. A recogniser hovers over head, descends and picks up Sam and some programs. The scale of the craft is well transmitted to us through the direction and 3D rendering. What this film appears to have is proper long shots without superfast editing that allows the viewer to immerse themselves in the world, similar to the way Avatar immersed us into the world of Pandora.
Sam tries to converse with the "stray" programs but is met by disinterest. One program has been damaged and part of his face is pixellated away, another is mubling "Not the games" on repeat.
The look of the Grid which has impressed me from what I have already seen, takes on a new, ethereal quality in 3D; sort of a futuristic Blade Runner vibe with lightning cracking the sky, and a city that reminded me slightly of the machine's city in Matrix Revolutions.
Sam is chosen for the "Games" as in gladatorial combat, in an arena. He's treated like a Gladiator in that a number of "Sirens" appear and remove his 21st century clothing and replace it with a cross between the Spider-Man venom suit and and extreme sports cycling wear. He is given an identity disc and a siren echoes the speech given to the conscripts, by Sark, in the original movie. Sam asks what he is supposed to do and the reply is "Survive".
We are then treated to a scene depicting an update on the "Ring Game". Flynn Jnr appears to have had no training - heck not even an orientation lesson. So, his opponent gets to practise with his disc for a while before being derezzed by another. Sam recognises one of the warriors from a toy on his shelf at home. The derezzing effects are spectacular. Programs take on a crystal effect in this film. Things, including people, shatter. That's what the derezzing looks like - shattered glass.
Fanboys at the Comic Con can get excited in the fact that their chants of "Disk Wars" made it into the finished movie. Well done guys!
The next scene shows us an unknown (but not difficult to figure out) character rescuing Sam from the arena in a four wheeled vehicle called a Light-Runner, being chased down by enemy lightcycles denoted by orange neon. Like all good sci-fi vehicles, this one comes equipped with counter-measures that take out the enemies and breach the arena wall. Thankfully, an off-road ability allows Sam and,in a reveal Quorra, to escape into the "outside". I've had an Olivia Wilde/Quorra wallpaper up on my monitor for some time now. She really is attractive in this film; the right side of flirty and cute. Another tick in the box for this movie; an attractive but strong female lead.
The final, normal, scene shows us Flynn for the first time. Ok, there's a little of the "Dude" in Bridges look but when he opens his mouth and speaks, it's clearly not the dude. He has been meditating and says to Quorra that he's been dreaming of Tron. She replies that it's only natural; suggesting that all is not well in Flynn's created world. Flynn refers to Quorra as his "apprentice". Please, no Jedi shit in this movie. Quorra shows Sam a vintage lightcycle, saying that it's still the "fastest thing on the Grid".
When Flynn Snr finally turns to see his son, we glimpse the human aspect of this story; a father being reunited with his son. It's a good scene and counterpoints the technology on display. It's reassuring. Watching wave after wave of 3D CG work is all very well but if there is no heart to the story, what's the point?
What follows is the Daft Punk video for "Derezzed". So what about the score? I noticed it during the collection of scenes to be a standard, not sub-standard orchestral score. I will miss the surreal Wendy Carlos music from the original but hope they've managed to work in some Tron themes. As it stands, what I've heard of the score sounds good. "Derezzed" is more of what we're used to with Daft Punk, perhaps better than their normal output as I find some of it far too repetitive. It is introduced by Castor, played by Michael Sheen. Sheen is enjoyably camp from what we see. During the sequence we get to see some more clips from the movie edited quickly for the purposes of a "pop video".
During this montage of clips we see;
A lightcycle battle.
Quorra lounging on a couch in the Flynn safehouse.
Clu 2.0 appears. I think some comments about the CG work on the younger Flynn are unfounded. He's a program and I don't see the need for pitch perfect CG in the style of avatar to portray this character. After all, Clu is a Flynn avatar. he is described as "Your liberator. Your luminary. The one who vanquished the tyranny of the user those many cycles before..."
We see Rinzler using acrobatic techniques to confront Sam on an upside down disc wars platform.
The the TRON LEGACY logo appears and it was all over, after a quick clip of Sam and Quorra in the Light Runner observing a number of Clu 2.0's wasp like warriors.
Upon the conclusion, I met the Disney rep in the IMAX foyer, gave my requested "one-word" reaction and thanked Disney for their hugely entertaining marketing campaign. He told me that Disney had been intentionally keeping the fans of the original on board. I still don't think they needed to do this as the movie stands on it's own as a remarkable piece of work. Well, I get this from the myriad of material I've been privy to. The rep was friendly and quietly confident about it all and told me that the marketing campaign was ramping up. What more has the company got in store for us? Good times.