TRON: Legacy preview
Last night I was sitting in the cinema watching the twenty-three minute footage for TRON: Legacy 3D, and there were a number of things that surprised me about it, not good surprises either, but at the same time the in-world footage looked and sounded fantastic.
While I can say that the action sequences looked amazing and I loved the stylistic choices to bring the world to life, sort of a cross between Matrix and...well...TRON, there's some amazing scale and reality brought to the vehicles and the fight sequences, and Joseph Kosinski certainly looks like he's proving his worth.
Firstly the cinema was only two-thirds full. That was something I could hardly believe. Considering the free tickets were being offered online I was surprised that there were so many empty seats, but then again the idea of the short preview isn't a common thing is it? In the UK we've only seen it once before with Avatar, and that was designed to blow our socks off with the first viewing of the vastness of the 3D world.
With TRON: Legacy the 3D did not do that. I tried to explain in a few tweets online but it didn't quite work. Sometimes for me the 3D looks as though they've taken a photo and cut out around the main characters in it and pulled them forward a few centimetres from the background image. The result is that we see the main objects looking as though they are further away from everything else and everything else just looks flat.
The 3D didn't really do the film any justice and with some of the scenes in 2D it seemed a bit strange anyway. Yes, we were warned by a computer prompt at the beginning of the film that the opening scene had been shot in 2D but that we should continue wearing our 3D glasses through it. I can only presume that's because they set-up the picture so that it looked dark and moody through the thick glasses, and take them off and it would look a bit too bright.
It was a bit of a surprise when I started thinking that I was watching a 3D film. A few moments when I started concentrating on the dialogue I caught myself thinking that it was 3D and suddenly the effect went away. Maybe that's a great cost saving idea for the film-makers, just give us the glasses and we'll assume it's in 3D!
The opening scenes did look really good. Sam arriving at his “flat”, Alan chatting to him, Sam arriving at the arcade. There were some great shots in there and it really did make you think that this was a step above the average film.
In the arcade there are some nice moments such as the reveal of the old TRON light cycle game, and when the old jukebox kicked into life. First we hear an American rock track that none of us recognised, and that was followed by the Eurythmics and “Sweet Dreams”. Nice.
Out of the twenty-three minutes of footage most of them were dialogue between some of the main characters and exposition. The action and in-world footage of speeding vehicles and disc battles made the minority of the film, and that surprises me, although I think in a good way.
I wonder if the preview was telling us that this isn't going to be an action film and what we are going to see is something more thoughtful with more depth to the characters? I certainly hope so, although with the preview I would have liked to have seen more of the world.
As it was we spent quite a bit of time with Sam being caught by one of the big ships, taken back and sent to the games, suited up by the ladies, and trying to figure out how to play with the discs.
Mind you, when the disc fight begins it's pretty good. The part that really caught my attention was the “de-rezzing” of the characters, i.e. the program's death. Depending on their “death” they break like china or like some crystal ornament shattering into millions of pieces. These moments looked really good.
I was also inspired by the fact that the action sequences were pulled back. No shaky camera, no zooming to close into the action, and the fast cuts were slowed down so you could see what was going on. All in all a good experience.
We saw light cycles battling, and while it was good I didn't feel I got the punch I should have had from that scene. I remember seeing the footage with the first trailer and here I didn't feel that same effect. It looks great, and there's so much more detail and fluidity to the effects and the movement than we saw with TRON, but I wasn't going “wow”, and that's probably because the new vehicles and surprises were kept to glimpses. Anything flying was shown quickly and with fast cuts, just a teaser.
We did see a four wheeled vehicle racing out of the Grid, and that looked rather nice, but the best bit was the integration of the CG and the real world models, seamless. When the vehicle parks in a building and the characters get out, you couldn't tell what was CG and what were the stylisticly lit practical effects in the film. Perfect.
One other flat point for me was the arrival on screen of the two Flynn characters. We've seen a couple of shots already that revealed this, and although it was nice and the young CG version of Jeff Bridges looks fantastic, almost real, we saw that big surprise already and that's where we needed something more.
The preview had to not just immerse us in the world, but it should have given us some startling surprises. I don't think it did. We got the immersion, although the 3D isn't great, and we got how wonderful the world looks and moves, and we understood that the film isn't all action, there's emotional depth to it as well. No great surprises though.
We saw more of the light cycles and a four wheeled vehicle, but we missed out on three or four new vehicles that were mere glimpses at the end, and while I understand some things should be kept back, some things should have been kept for the preview. The reveal of the CG Bridges could have been one of those moments.
There is a grand and epic feel given to the story, particularly at the end of the preview, but there was a bit of a flat feeling as the lights came on. Not quite as flat as the 3D. However that was down to not getting the reveals in the preview that I think it deserved. I still believe the film is going to be pretty amazing. I'll be watching in 2D though.