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"Tron Legacy" Preview Thoughts

Tonight, Disney held a 23-minute preview for Tron Legacy in order to whip up some interest for the December release. As was done last year for Avatar, it was held at the LieMax pseudo-IMAX theater, but unlike the teaser for James Cameron's Biggest Movie Evar, I came out of this decidedly meh about it.

For starters, the Disney Gestapo wanded the audience and forced us to check our cell phones because they were afraid we'd use them to videotape the 3D IMAX picture and post it online. Morons. But what was more problematic was that after they announced we were the first people ever to see 23 minutes of 3D footage, the actual presentation opened with 8-9 minutes of 2D footage. A title card said the first scene was in 2D, but as it went on and on and on, I realized too much of this "3D" experience wasn't going to be that way.

Quick impressions:
  • The kid playing Sam Flynn (I'm running out the door to a thing and don't have time to look him up; Garrett something) is stiff and not very compelling. The build-up to him being zapped into the Grid was slack and more a nostalgia kick for 40-somethings; I think today's kids are going to be restless waiting for something to happen. Using Journey's "Separate Ways" is a little on the nose.
  • Once in the Grid, the Recognizers and tanks have been updated, but again, it relies on seeing the first one to be appreciated.
  • The scene where four Galtier-looking models/programs slice off his clothes and replace them with GridWear is airless and the choreography distracting.
  • Once outfitted, he's forced to play Killer Frisbees (or whatever) and of course wins because the movie would be over otherwise.
  • The next scene has him escaping the Lightcycle game grid in a Lightcar driven by Olivia Wilde and she's pretty hella hot with a mischievous air. She was the most interesting anything in the whole preview.
  • She takes him to meet his father, Jeff Bridges, and they have a tearful reunion which didn't move the care needle an iota with me. Perhaps there's stuff from the intervening scenes that makes this resonate, but it just plays too slowly and we know from the moment they get there who the man sitting facing away from the camera is, so teasing it out is annoying.
  • Then they had a quick montage of bits that we've seen before in trailers and the recent Daft Punk soundtrack video.
As we left, a girl with a Flip camera asked the crowd if they'd like to tape testimonials. As I passed by I said, "You don't want my testimonial about this." After reclaiming our cell phones - why am I getting texts back from Chris Hansen? - another rep with a notebook asked if we had our comments. This time I shared that "It was underwhelming. For all the talk about 23 minutes of 3D we got a third of that in boring backstory. The kid can't act and the 3D wasn't that impressive. Last year when we saw the Avatar sneak peek, I couldn't wait to see what the rest looked like. This time, I'm thinking I don't need to see it in 3D and I'm not as excited as I was when I went in. Tell your masters that this didn't do them any favors." I'm sure Disney is crapping themselves over my feedback. Psyche! No, they're building another Scrooge McDuck-class vault for all the Gen Xer and their kids chedda they're going to stack when this comes out.

In the haze of nostalgia, people forget that for all the then-groundbreaking visual effects, Tron wasn't a very good movie. It was OK, but cheesy. The new darker look world reminded me of what I pictured the Metaverse in Snow Crash would look like when I read it back in 2000, but now it just seems...there. Why are their clouds over the dark cities in a COMPUTER? The 3D was alright, but after Avatar and even Step Up 3D, it didn't impress me much. They've been working on this for about 3 years and I think the tech has blazed past where they are here. After you've seen photo-realistic Thundersmurfs in a jungle, what's impressive about hard surfaces and neon?

While it remains to be seen how the full Tron Legacy plays out like, the "Tron Night" non-event didn't stoke that much interest in me. I can't declare it DOA (yet), but I'm not setting up a countdown clock here either. And whoever decided to have only one shot of the youthful CGI Bridges as the now-evil Clu - again snipped from the trailers and far less than the trailers show. There were grumbles on teh Intarwebz that it looked fake and this would've been a good means to knock them down. Instead, we're still wondering.


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