Adventures in Tron

This past Thursday, I was lucky enough to grab two tickets to an early screening of 20 minutes of the upcoming Tron Legacy film. Despite being billed as "Tron Night", it really was just 20 minutes of the film. They showed 5 scenes from the first half of the movie, and finished off with an extended trailer.

I'll describe each of the scenes, but first I'll refresh everyone's memory on what happened in the first movie. I just finished watching it a minute ago, so it's all fresh in my mind. Then I'll get into the new movie.

Tron

(Spoilers from Tron 1)

First off, there's Kevin Flynn, as played by Jeff Bridges. He's the most notable and iconographic character in the Tron universe. In Tron, Kevin Flynn is a genious video game designer working for ENCOM. All of his work was stolen by Edward Dillinger, played by David Warner. Dillinger took all the credit of Flynn's genious, and quickly rose the ranks to a top executive position.

Meanwhile, Flynn hides out in his arcade. Many of the games produced by ENCOM line his walls. After hours, he relentlessly hacks ENCOM's server to find definite evidence of Dilliger's misdeeds.

The fantasy world inside the computer represents programs as their human users. Flynn's program is named CLU. In the first couple scenes of Tron, CLU is captured by security drones and erased by Master Control, locking Flynn out of the ENCOM mainframe.

Master Control Program is that spinny red cylinder face guy. MCP is an artificial intelligence set to control most of the company's assets. When Dillinger tries to take control back from MCP, MCP backmails him into complying.

Anyways, destroying CLU also locks out Alan Bradley, whose program is named Tron. Tron is a security protocol set to monitor and regulate Master Control. There's also a girl named Lora Baines, who works on a laser that dematerializing objects into the mainframe. Why? I dunno.

So, Alan and Lora run off to Flynn's Arcade to warm him that ENCOM has found out about his hacks, and they all hatch a plan to break into the ENCOM building and hack the servers from inside. Alan goes back to his cubical and waits for communication from Tron, while Lora escorts Flynn to her laser lab to use her computer. Lora runs off somewhere, and Flynn starts hacking away at the mainframe to find the evidence. Meanwhile, MCP notices that Flynn is sitting at a terminal in clear sight of the dematerializing laser, so he zaps Flynn into the Matrix.

Inside the mainframe, we're introduced to Sark, who is Dillinger's program. If MCP were The Emperor, Sark who be Darth Vader. His loyal foot soldier who does all the evil deeds without reserve. Sark gathers up spare and discarded programs and forces them to fight each other in Games.

There's a little bit of religion stuffed into the plot, as MCP's method of subjugating other programs is dispelling all knowledge of Users. Some programs believe them to exist, but it's only a legend.

Flynn is himself when he's inside the mainframe, and meets up with programs that resemble his pals in real life. Tron resembles Alan. Lora's program, Yori, resembles her. They all journey to defeat MCP and restore peace from his tyranny. Also, throughout the adventure, Flynn figures out he has "god-like" powers over the mainframe because he's a User.

Spoiler Alert, they defeat Sark and MCP at the end of the movie. Flynn gets zapped back to real life, and he recovers the evidence he needs to take down Dillinger. The last scene of the movie shows Flynn flying in on a helicopter and assuming his role as CEO of ENCOM. HAPPY ENDING!

Tron Legacy Setup

Fast forward, 28 years later to today, and we have Tron Legacy. Tron Night showed us 5 scenes from the finished film. And the first one reiterated what we already know about the initial plot of the film.

Scene 1

The Scene starts with Samuel Flynn returning to his garage home somewhere in the city. Sam Flynn is son of Kevin Flynn, and he's 27 years old. Alan Bradley enters the scene and says something like, "That was some stunt you pulled today," referring to some hijinks Sam pulled at ENCOM. It's been 20 years since Kevin Flynn has mysteriously disappeared, and Sam is agressivly reluctant to take over ENCOM in his father's place.

Sam tells Alan to fuck off, and Alan is all like "some day you'll understand." Before leaving, Alan mentions he received a page last night. The last thing that Flynn said to Alan was to keep the pager at all times, and when the time comes, you'll get further instructions. The instructions were to go to Flynn's Arcade. Alan suggests that Sam revisit that abandoned arcade and investigate.

Next we see Sam riding to the Arcade. He goes inside and looks around. He finds a secret passageway behind the Tron arcade game, which leads to a secret room with computers and a dematerializing laser. Sam starts typing away at the computer, and runs the last instruction, which zaps him into the computer.

Scene 2

The preview skips ahead a little bit to the point where Sam is caught by security drones and brought to central processing with a couple other stray programs. JUST LIKE THE FIRST MOVIE, Sam is sent to the pit and readied to be in The Games. He's given his disc-thingy, and then pushed off somewhere.

Scene 3

Sam finds himself in a multi-staged arena. There's about 8 fights going on. All are 2 player matches between programs using their discs as weapons. Sam learns pretty quick that this is a fight to the death, when he sees a victory in another ring. His "Oh my god what's going on" defense quickly turns into an inexperienced but calculated win as he blows away the ground underneath his opponent.

Scene 4

Oh, I guess Sam has escaped with the help of a masked program. They're driving away in an all terrain vehicle, while security drones give chase in their light cycles. They kill a couple drones, but more continue pursuit. They reach a cliff and go off the end of it into rough unkept terrain which light cycles cannot follow. They've escaped!

The masked hero reveals herself to be Quorra, but doesn't mention her importance in the story. The reach an outpost in the barren wasteland, and go inside.

Scene 5

Quorra brings Sam into a room to reunite him with Flynn. After they exchange a bunch of heartfelt words, Flynn says something about what's going on, but I don't remember what it was because I had no frame of reference at the time. I don't think it was much to go on anyways.

Also, he calls Quorra his apprentice. And Flynn has a custom version 1.0 Light Cycle in his room that Quorra says is still the fastest vehicle on the grid.

Trailer

Right when I thought they were going to unveil more of the overall plot, it was over. At the end of Scene 5, it goes into the Daft Punk trailer posted to youtube earlier last week. Youtube!

The footage in the first half of the trailer we had already seen that night from the actual scenes, but they added some extended cuts of fight scenes and light cycle chases.

Thoughts

Going into the preview, I hadn't seen Tron in forever, and only knew that Flynn had disappeared in the Matrix and his son goes after him. Plot-wise, I was hoping to find out more about why Flynn went back into the computer, and what was going on. There was none of that. I exited the theater having gained no knowledge of Tron Legacy at all, which was incredibly disappointing. I really can't form a decent opinion about the movie if I have no idea where it's going.

But it's definitely pretty. Really damn pretty. The preview was in 3D, and I really liked how it wasn't 3D at all in real life, but was completely 3D inside the computer. It made for a fun transition.

If you've seen any trailer, or even watch the youtube I posted above, the look of Tron Legacy is gorgeous. I love the art direction. All the environments have this luminescent tint outlining their structure against a black surface. Everything is crisp and clean, like everything is made of glass. And the 3D effects ephasize the glassy translucent look of everything. It's marvelous.

That's really why I'm into this movie. The first moment I saw how everything looked, I was hooked. And that's really what Tron has been about since the beginning. The highest praise Tron ever got was that it was really damn pretty. "A Technological Achievement."

As a movie, it was Okay, but it didn't suck. That's really the kicker. Tron Legacy just needs an Okay story underneath to keep itself from ruining the marvelous visuals.

It might need something else though...

Tron's Legacy

Tron is not an easy movie to find. Netflix does not have it on Instant Streaming, AND it no longer offers the discs. If you turn to Half.com and Ebay, you'll only find copies of the DVD going for much more than you'd spend on a DVD these days. They haven't released it on Bluray, but I expect the probably will when Tron Legacy does.

I watched it by downloading a torrent, but it ended up having an Italian dub over the dialogue. Thank God the story isn't that complicated. I knew what was going on thanks to Wikipedia's synposis.

I think having detailed knowledge of what was going on in the first movie is pretty important to understanding everything in Tron Legacy. Otherwise, the visuals won't be enough to dazzle you, and the movie will fall flat.

If you haven't seen Tron since you were a kid, name 3 or 5 things you remember from the film. These things would probably include Jeff Bridges, Light Cycles, Disc Throwing, the Big Red Spinning Head Thing, and the whole landscape inside of the computer.

You probably don't remember the part about CLU dying at the beginning. Or why or how Flynn even got into the computer. Or that Flynn never uses his Disc once, in fact I think he drops it halfway through the film. Or that Tron is a security program. Or who Alan Bradley is.

Anyways, Good Luck finding a copy of Tron to watch. You can't even go to Blockbuster now. Maybe Family Video might have a copy?




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