The Trailer Park, No.001 – TRON Legacy

Posted by Gabriel von Grünbaum on April 7, 2010

Okay, this TRON Legacy teaser trailer is some cool shit.  I’m totally stoked and nothing’s going to keep me from standing in line on opening day (unless one of you hooks me up with a private screening – in which case you’ll have earned yourself a love slave or a Dr. Pepper).

The first teaser (the VFX Concept Test) that came out July 29th, 2009, where a lightcycle rider is trying to escape another rider who amazingly turns out to be a young Jeff Bridges as (I could only assume it to be) Clu, bred some fears I’m happy to say the new teaser trailer has done away with:  While I was amazed and excited to see Jeff “The Dude” Bridges as a young man once again, both men’s faces seemed to be cut and pasted into their helmet visors.  With my history in animation and visual effects, I found the scene renderings to be falling a little shy of what they were shooting for.  It just seemed that whole thing could use some better compositing.  Yes, yes.  I know – this is why it was called “Test”.

The new teaser that came out March 9th, 2010 is beautifully composited and faces in helmets look just as faces in helmets should.  The level of detail to the reality of the world is truly impressive.  And I’ll be damned if they didn’t find a DeLorean juiced with 1.21 gigawatts, go back to ’82 and kidnap a young “Dude” to play across from himself as Clu 2.0 – who, it appears, is something of a big badass these days.  Wonder if that means Tron 2.0 will be showing up too?  It is sorta his movie after all – kinda.  And the original Tron, Bruce Boxleitner, is there being all paternal as Alan Bradley giving the low-down to Flynn’s son Sam.  By the way, Garrett Hedlund, I respect your attempt at “son-of-dudeness” nonchalance, but trust that you’ll be dazzling us with more range than what’s coming across in the teaser.

As I’ve stated, every frame of whole teaser looks beautiful, as does Olivia Wilde (House’s Thirteen, in a role that’s sure to do more for her at the cinema than D.O.A. Year One), and realistic…  Now, I know it sounds like I’m about to contradict myself but… maybe too realistic?

The reality of the TRON universe is that it’s unreal.  Light behaves strangely.  Surfaces are unrealistically clean and free of scuffs or dust – and each surface is either in light or shadow (with little, if any, transition between) unless it’s utterly black or just plain transparent.  Shapes, masses and characters are generally defined more by their glowing lines than by external light falling on their utterly gray muted forms.  My interpretation of this has always been that this would be how the human senses would try to process a computer universe of pure data.

However, it looks like the TRON Legacy world is full of clouds, dust and atmosphere.  Surfaces show smears, scuffs and texture.  Lightcycles can leave wavy walls rather than the ramrod straight ones of yore.  People’s faces are no longer utterly gray, they’re face colored.  It looks real, like the world we know.  Because of the leaps technology has taken in the almost 30 years since the original came out in ’82, this level of realism is possible.  But does this do a disservice to the perceived reality of the established TRON landscape – our perception of the unperceivable?  Just because they now can, should they have added these details?  I submit that although it may have been limited by the technology at the time, the world that was created in ’82 was already complete.  I see that now there is antique furniture in the TRON world (had to watch the teaser a couple times before I noticed that that’s what the lovely Olivia Wilde is spread out on).  Will there also be sand at the beach?  Flies in the ointment?  Will the new TRON have restrooms?  Bottom line, do the programs need these trappings of the users’ world?

Don’t get me wrong, it looks awesome!  But its existence serves to date something that, to me, felt sorta timeless in its depiction.  I’m sure (read: hope) there’ll be an explanation/reference to the changes in the TRON landscape – “Ever since Flynn moved here and started his upgrades, things sure have gotten textured and atmospheric!” – and that I’m going to enjoy my whole 3D journey, even from the time I park at the theater until I’m back home, curling up in my ol’ TRON sheet set (thanks again, mom!).

There you have it, the TRON Legacy teaser – looking to be so tremendous that the only possible bad angle could be that it’s too good!  And we should all cross our fingers about that Mr. Garrett Hedlund.  Good luck, buddy.  Our beloved TRON is in your hands.

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