1) It's Tron, Dammit!
For those people too young to remember, anyone looking at the original film now sees a representation of being inside a video game that seems so quaint and old fashioned that it may as well have been in black and white (ironically all of the live action was actually filmed in black and white and coloured in afterwards, in order to get the high contrast effect of the suits). It's difficult to show this now, but, in 1982, when we were playing video games no more complex than, say, snake was on your first mobile phone, in our minds we saw lightcycles and spaceships and heroes and villains, smashing into each other and exploding into a million shards. When Tron arrived at the cinema it dared to show on screen what we were imagining and wowed twelve year old boys like me all over the world. Now it's twenty eight years later and although I'm supposedly an adult (I have a mortgage and car and cats and taxes), there's still a really big part of me that squeals at the thought of 3D lightcycles and solar sailers and eye popping visuals wrapped in a cool story on an imax screen with dolby digital surround sound. Sort of like taking magic mushrooms without having to throw up half an hour into the trip. Pure nerve candy, basically.
2) It's a direct sequel.
Bravely, the creators have decided not to remake or re-imagine it, but to continue the story. Many things about the original were iconic and to mess with those would be a disaster. Instead, director Joseph Kosinski has brought the original film's creator, Steve lisberger, on board in an Obi-Wan capacity to ensure that all the best bits aren't tampered with, but enhanced in a 2010 fashion for a modern audience. Although the world around us has changed so significantly where computers are concerned, the world of Tron too has been evolving, but in a single computer running silently and unconnected for the last twenty eight years. So the film now becomes a son's quest to find his missing father, still trapped in the machine and still played by the legendary Jeff Bridges.
In 1982, when we were playing video games no more complex than, say, snake was on your first mobile phone
3) It's Tron, but turned up to 11.
Look at the original Tron now and the effects look clunky, the action is sometimes stilted and the structure and pacing make for quite monotonous viewing. That said, the design work by Blade Runner supremo Syd Mead and Heavy Metal Magazine alumnus Moebius are outstanding and the conceit, of programs inhabiting a digital parallel world to our own is strong and worthy of an HD polish. Ironically, whereas the original fim used analogue techniques to make things look digital, the new film uses digital techniques to make computer generated things look more natural. The look of the new film reflects the original, but with a grittier feel. Tron legacy shows a tonally darker world to the original and reflects director Joseph Kosinki's vision. "The aesthetic of the film is largely a reflection of my aesthetic and what I'm interested in", he said. "When you make a movie, you can only make the movie that you would want to see. For me, it was taking what I loved about the first film, which was the design elements that Syd Mead and Moebius did, which I feel is timeless."
4) Jeff Bridges
When the teaser trailer of test footage was premiered completely unnanounced at the Disney presentation of the 2008 comic con, 6000 geeks squealed uncontrollably at the thought of this project (Youtube it). That collective geekgasm there was what got the project greenlit and the pinnacle is when Jeff Bridges appears on screen. Jeff Bridges is an actor who has got way better with age. All his recent projects have been gold. He doesn't do crap any more and he's as excited about Tron legacy as he was about Tron. "I used to love to pretend when I was a kid," Bridges told Syfy, "Here's a movie that they say, 'You get to play a guy who gets sucked inside a computer.' Ooh, yeah. Use all the modern technology that's available today. The same goes with the sequel, except all the technology that we're using in that makes the old one look like an old black-and-white TV show or something. Gosh, it's amazing what they've got going on this. I can't wait to see it all pasted together." As in the original, he plays the dual roles of Kevin Flynn and his computer counterpart, Clu. This computer program is now in charge of Tron's world and played by Jeff Bridges younger self, filmed using the same technology made to age Brad Pitt in Benjamin Button. Add to that a strong cast of relative unknowns mixed with recognisable stars like John Hurt, Michael Sheen and Bruce Boxleitner, who returns as Flynn's friend, Alan Bradley.
5) Daft Punk have created the soundtrack
Director Joseph Kosinski told MTV, "This is a film where there was a lot of interest from different electronic bands that I follow to work on the film. I felt it was important, just as the first film was so forward-thinking visually and Wendy Carlos' music was so innovative, I felt we had to do the same thing here. So rather than going with a traditional film composer, I wanted to try something fresh and different. I set up a meeting with Daft Punk. We met for pancakes at the 101 Coffee Shop in L.A. one morning. These guys take "Tron" very seriously. Obviously, "Tron" was a huge influence on them. It was almost like they were interviewing me to make sure that I was going to hold up to the "Tron" legacy. But the more we talked, we realized that creatively, we were totally synced up. I've been working on it with them for over a year and a half. I don't know of a movie where you're working on the soundtrack months before you start filming. The level of integration between the music and the film is incredibly strong." Daft Punk moved to America eighteen months ago to work on this and have been integral to all of the sound design in the film. The snippets heard so far are their most atmospheric and absorbing compositions to date. Look at their concerts or 2008 Grammy performance and tell me that's not Tron through and through. A real match made in heaven.
6) It's in proper 3D
Unlike most quick blockbuster 3D adaptations, this won't suffer from Clash of the Titans syndrome with people's hair jumping two feet away or carpets crawling up the wall as it was shot with 3D cameras, rather than altered in post production, so the 3D will be eyebleeding kaleidoscopes of colour once we enter the Tron world. Joseph Kosinki explains, "Our approach is not like "Avatar," which I think is 3-D from the first shot to the last. Ours is sort of a "Wizard of Oz" approach. Ninety-eight percent of the 3-D is in the world of "Tron." The 3-D really starts once we get into the Tron world. [The camera technology is] a combination of technologies that [Robert] Zemeckis has been using in terms of the completely digital motion-capture of a character and for the live-action camera system. We used a camera developed by James Cameron's company. We used a newer generation of camera than the one used on "Avatar." They built it specifically for us."
Disney have invested heavily in this with a marketing bulldozer that includes the film, soundtrack, videogames, comics, toys, forthcoming animated TV series and even cool neon furniture inspired by the film. Their money is where their mouth is. Unheard of for a first time feature director. Every word on the film so far has been positive and I have high hopes that it will deliver. Psychtropic lightcycles whizzing past you in High Definition digital Imax 3D with a Daft Punk soundtrack. December 17. Easily the best Christmas present possible for the giddy twelve year old inside all of us.
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