Preview: 23 Minutes of TRON LEGACY and Kitsis/Horowitz interview

FilmEdge is back from a tour of the TRON:LEGACY game grid and interview with the film’s two screenwriters, Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis.  Previewing 23 minutes of footage from the film — the same which will be screened later today around the world as TRON Night kicks off with the exclusive 3D IMAX preview event — the world of TRON:LEGACY rezzed into digital wonderment before the eyes of a small press group within Walt Disney Studios’ own theater on the Burbank lot.

TRON:LEGACY screenwriters Adam Horowitz (left) and Edward Kitsis

TRON:LEGACY screenwriters Adam Horowitz (left) and Edward Kitsis

A quick scene breakdown of the footage (spoiler alert in effect for those who want to keep it all a surprise):

After an electronic text greeting from director Joseph Kosinski, a 2D scene ensues as Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) returns to his garage-styled “apartment” at bayside under the shadows of a twinkling bridge span [note the faded Dumont company signage on the exterior — Easter Egg #1 for devotees]. Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) awaits inside, relating more of his pager message received from Flynn’s Arcade, former office of Sam’s father, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges).  Sam and Alan’s past relationship plays out: while Alan served as a surrogate father once Kevin disappeared in 1989, Sam continues to be his loner, rebellious self, neither prepared or interested in assuming his duties running ENCOM.  Alan insists that Kevin would not have left Sam behind without a good reason, as he was on the verge of discovering entire new technologies only hinted about before he disappeared. Alan urges Sam to go back to the arcade.

As you’ve seen in the first TRON:LEGACY theatrical trailer, Sam finds his father’s hidden computer station at Flynn’s Arcade and gets laserbeam digitized into the virtual world of Tron still running on Flynn’s private server. The 3D kicks in here to ultra-cool effect as a towering next-gen Recognizer abducts Sam off the grid to be ‘reconfigured’ for game combat.  What follows is what hasn’t been shown in trailers or at the ElecTRONica 10-minute preview currently screening on weekends at Disney’s California Adventure theme park: Sam engages in his first disc battle against a skilled and deadly adversary. A good dialogue laugh ensues when Sam recognizes his foe, admitting words to the effect “I used to have an action figure of you in my room.” In fact Sam’s disc duel is just one of several ongoing battles in a gladiator-style tournament, presumably a sudden death playoff to crown the champion where very sudden death by deresolution is the penalty for losing.  We won’t spoil the outcome, but suffice it to say TRON:LEGACY’s disc battles are visually and dramatically advanced well beyond those seen in the 1982 film.

Jumping ahead in the story, Quorra (Olivia Wilde) rescues Sam from his first battle on the LightCycle grid as the two speed away from Tron City and off the grid in her four-wheeled LightRunner, a vehicle similar in glowing design to the familiar cycles but customizable as need arises into a sleek, speedy roadster or a knobby-tired off-road dirt churner.  While Sam, still agog at the baffling complexity and vastness of the virtual world, attempts to catch up with events, Quorra eyes him over several times, partly amazed as his abilities and a bit in awe that Sam Flynn sits next to her in this world.

Quorra takes Sam to meet his father, Kevin Flynn, who sits in meditative repose in the stark, dimly lit safehouse glimpsed in the trailers.  Even in the virtual world he created, Kevin still lives off the grid (literally in this case), observing the world he wrought from a detached distance. This amps up the drama as Kevin sees Sam for the first time in years (seemingly eons from Kevin’s perspective ‘on the other side’). Kevin’s fleeting disbelief upon seeing his lost son again fades as tears well in his eyes, while all of Sam’s brash stoicism melts away when wrapped in his father’s arms.  Atypically and thankfully, this reunion is not a confrontation of pain and trauma, but a father-son reunion of lost love found again.  Again, we note that this relationship was and is the heart of TRON:LEGACY from its conception through to its 3D digital dazzlement as a futurist fantasy of epic proportions.

The finale of the 23-minute preview expands upon the scene montage currently on view at DCA’s ElecTRONica event: End of Line club owner Castor (Michael Sheen in white, David Bowie-like hair) urges the French music duo Daft Punk to “lighten the mood” and spin part of their music for the film’s original score.  More flashes of action on the LightCycle grid ensue as Clu 2.0 (also Jeff Bridges, digitally de-aged back to a 1989 visage) and his virtual warriors take on Sam and Quorra in the games.  New shots of the LightJets, barely glimpsed in the second theatrical trailer, inspire some jaw-dropping visions as an aerial battle roars across the screen.

The final rapid-fire montage catches the eye and ear effectively without divulging the hidden secrets of the plot, such as how does Bruce Boxleitner’s Tron character fit into this world, and who really lurks beneath the helmet of Rinzler, one of Clu’s grid accomplices?  Neither this preview nor the writers will yield those answers just yet, so you’ll have to wait until TRON:LEGACY opens December 17th!

After the screening, the Kitsis and Horowitz  led us up to see their studio offices: home to the mind-bending plot twists and mystery of LOST and, for the past three years, serving as the storytelling base of TRON: LEGACY.  Favorite and collectible posters adorned the walls, including some nifty Tron concept art and Lost’s fictional memorabilia, and toys ranging from new Tron items to vintage STAR WARS collectibles occupied many niches. Boba Fett has no doubt seen and heard TRON:LEGACY’s development from the first pixels of plot, but as usual the bounty hunter was very tight lipped.

A short walk and the group sat around a large square conference plateau for our roundtable discussion with Kitsis and Horowitz to hear their unique and most entertaining side of the TRON:LEGACY story.  Transcription of the 40-minute chat is being processed now and will appear on the FilmEdge website and blog soon, but we’re sharing these teasers for now:

Kitsis and Horowitz approached the project both as fans of Steven Lisberger‘s original TRON film from 1982 and as writers eager to tell the virtual tale of how that virtual world and mythology have evolved in the years since. Pitching their story idea to Disney, assuming they’d never get hired for the job, the team proposed the concept of a father and son story but with the Tron idea of the son meeting two versions of his father on the grid: the dad he knew and the one he lost and found once again.

The duo pitched the idea of showing two versions of Kevin Flynn without having any idea if it was technically possible or even a commitment from Bridges to reprise his role as Flynn again.  They actually went to Bridges’ home to pitch the story to he and Lisberger, faced with the challenge of presenting their concept of the Tron world to the actor and filmmaker who created it. “If you’re pitching the guy who created the world and you’re saying ‘This is it,’ and he turns to you and says, ‘No, it isn’t’ — you can’t say, ‘Well, yes it is!'”

TRON creator Steven Lisberger took the story to heart as a parallel to his own life with his son, while Kitsis and Horowitz approached the tale as if they were the sons trying to please Lisberger, the previous generation “creator” of this world.  The depth of this emotional base for the story is likely what will make TRON:LEGACY a huge hit this December as the 3D wow-factor of the brilliantly glowing visual effects and design is appreciated.  TRON will truly become a generational experience, for the characters in it and audiences watching it simultaneously.

FilmEdge will follow-up with the complete roundtable interview of TRON:LEGACY screenwriters Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis soon once we transcribe it all, so subscribe to our blog or watch the FilmEdge website/Facebook/Twitter for update announcements.  Thanks to Adam and Eddy as well as Disney for sharing their film and their time in a fun and entertaining preview.

TRON Night is tonight at theaters around the world - previewing TRON LEGACY in 3D IMAX

TRON Night note: while online ticket reservations quickly were snapped up by fans previously, Disney encourages remaining fans to check with their local theaters showing tonight’s 3D IMAX preview screening and get in the stand-by lines. Anyone who reserved a ticket but does not check in one hour before screening time will lose their seats, and Disney reps will be handing out passes to attend the event while supplies of unused admissions last.

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