Five Things I Learned From TRON Night

Tron Legacy PosterLast night, I attended Disney’s highly publicized TRON Night to learn more about its eagerly anticipated holiday release TRON: Legacy. While the footage shown was visually stunning and chock full of some action packed scenes, including the inventive disc fight and some intense lightcycle/vehicle manuevers, I can’t say I know much more about the story as a whole than I did before I put on those uncomfortable 3D glasses. However, I did learn a couple of things that I’m happy to share with you today, without spoiling anything:

1. The Grid Is The New Pandora, Sort Of

One of the coolest things about science fiction is the worlds in which its fantastical stories are set. You are almost always exposed to a heightened reality with limitless possibilities, but within these environments there is usually some kind of visual anchor in the known physical world. James Cameron’s Avatar was set on Pandora, a unique alien planet home to many extraterrestrial life forms as well as plant life reminiscent of the rain forests of Earth, giving the audience something to relate to. With TRON: Legacy, director Joseph Kosinski ditches a natural approach toward production design and heads into the unknown: The Grid is truly original in its look and is sleek and cool. Despite the tyrannical program Clu ruling the land with an iron fist, I can see audiences wanting to retreat into the digital plane and never return. If 2009 moviegoers were hesitant, even resistant to leave Pandora, 2010 audiences will be equally immersed and infatuated with the sounds and sights of The Grid.

2. Emotion Exists In The Digital World

Though most programs will be reluctant to show it, many will express their feelings inside the world of TRON. Namely Sam Flynn, the son of creator Kevin Flynn, who accidentally enters The Grid when he discovers his fathers workshop back in the real world. As he makes his way through the digital universe, he meets programs who express fear, anger and other feelings that are distinctly human. No character will do so more than Sam, played by Garrett Hedlund, who is our tour guide and hero throughout the film. One of the best scenes that I saw was one in the middle of the movie, when he finally is reunited with his father (played by Jeff Bridges) and the emotional pay-off, provided by wonderful performances, is great.

3. The Score Scores

Daft Punk. Is there any better group to provide the bombastic music for a techno-action flick like TRON: Legacy? I think not. In both the quieter, character driven scenes and the epic action sequences, the Grammy winning duo proves that their sonic attack is a force to be reckoned with. Like the work of the brilliant Hans Zimmer, the compositions are heavy and beautiful where applicable. The soundtrack will not soon be forgotten. 

A scene from TRON Legacy4. By Next Year, People Will Be Dressing Up As “Programs” For Halloween

Most kids like being superheroes for Halloween. I suppose that by this time next year, you’ll see a lot of Captain America’s and Green Lantern’s coming to your door for Goobers and M&M’s, but don’t be surprised if you also see a bunch of neon-colored “Program” costumes as well. Costume designer Michael Wilkinson created some super sexy and super cool outfits for his actors to sport and I won’t deny that I’m a little jealous that I can’t get my hands on Hedlund’s sleek body suit for this Sunday.    

5. Jeff Bridges Makes Any Movie and Any Scene Better

We got a quick glimpse of the aged Kevin Flynn last night and even though his presence was brief during the TRON Night presentation, Jeff Bridges elevates the scene with a heart-tugging but reserved performance. One of the best actors we have in the business today, he’s like a chameleon as he jumps from film to film. This December, we get to see Bridges as a grizzled US Marshall in the Coen Bros. True Grit (in which I’m sure he’ll be brilliant), but I’m more excited to see what he’ll do in TRON: Legacy as he returns to a world that he helped create almost thirty years ago.