First impressions of Tron Legacy

Our report from eight minutes of Tron Legacy footage.

Last Friday, I was invited by Disney to a preview event for the upcoming videogame Tron Evolution. As a part of their presentation, they were also screening, in 3D, eight minutes of the upcoming sequel Tron Legacy.

Our clip opened with Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) being harangued by police programs inside the virtual world, which has evolved and grown since the 1982 film. Selected for the games, he is dressed by the Sirens before being presented to the arena.

Tron Legacy does look superb. It’s sleek, well made, and polished in a way that I haven’t quite seen in a science fiction film since JJ Abrams’s Star Trek. The real footage blends well with the CG backgrounds and foregrounds, and some of the visual effects are quite stunning, such as Sam’s suit climbing and forming itself over his body.

The 3D, however, isn’t as impressive as it could be. Like in Avatar, it’s at its most effective when the shot includes natural depth to it, such as looking over a precipice or hovering with a birds eye view over a scene. Tron doesn’t seem to be engineered towards exploiting the technology, like Resident Evil, but rather using it to accentuate various parts of its visual narrative. Still, there’s an abiding sense that it could, and probably should, have been utilised to better extent in the clip that I saw. Obviously, I can’t speak for the rest of the film.

The soundtrack, of course, is quite excellent. Crafted by Daft Punk specifically for the film (with the duo making a cameo appearance as well), it pops and zings with an alien brilliance. There was an odd choice to marry the soundtrack up to the events on screen, however, something emphasised by the publicist before the screening, but one that has a jarring effect when it happens. After clothing Sam in his armour, for instance, the sirens march backwards into pods, their steps matched by drum beats in the soundtrack. Rather than enhancing what should be the interactivity of the moment, it compresses the layers together, flattening them into an experience that seems to be rather more one dimensional that was probably intended.

Overall, I can’t say that I was incredibly impressed with Tron. The visuals are excellent and it looks like it could be a fun science fiction adventure film, but if anyone is looking for a game changer, then from what I saw, I can’t say that this is it. We’ll all find out come December.