Panel Report: Tron Legacy
Posted on Thursday July 22, 2010, 19:32 by Nick de Semlyen in Comic-Con 2010
One of the buzziest panels of this year’s Con – Tron Legacy – commences with guest moderator Patton Oswalt, the voice of Ratatouille’s rodent chef and showbiz geek, urging the crowd to get Tron trending on Twitter. He also promises a topless knife fight between Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner in San Diego later tonight.
Then, with the words “Roll the package!”, he cues up a video montage of Tron-inspired clips, from South Park, Simpsons and Family Guy parodies to footage of Tron On Ice (!), all scored to Daft Punk’s Around The World (the Gallic electroheads are, of course, scoring the new movie).
Time for the talent to hit the stage: director Joseph Kosinski, director of the original Steven Lisberger, producer Sean Bailey and stars Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen, Boxleitner and “the man who really ties the film together”, Jeff Bridges. Kosinski, who’s disappointingly wearing a smart suit instead of a glowy leotard, talks about the technical upgrades — “fully illuminated” suits and two Jeff Bridges facing against each other off in the digital world. “It’s pretty wild,” says Bridges. “You can now play yourself at any age, from an old man to an infant. To be there at the start of this technology, it’s amazing. Though the younger version of myself was badly behaved. He was always coming on to Olivia Wilde.”
Wilde herself hints that her character, Quorra, kicks a serious amount of phosphorescent ass in the movie. “She’s a fearless warrior. I’ve always wanted to play a warrior, so that was very cool. I had to learn martial arts and how to do crazy kicks.”
Michael Sheen, whom Oswalt claims has flown to San Diego in a giant teapot, marvels at the size of the crowd. “I thought everybody was supposed to dress up as someone here, so I came as Jeff Bridges,” he says, stroking his bushy beard. “But then he shaved and ruined everything.”
Tron himself, Bruce Boxleitner, promises we’re going to be thrilled by the footage coming up. Bridges concurs: “It makes the old one look like a black-and-white TV show. It’s spectacular.” “Remember what we were wearing in the original, Jeff?” says Boxleitner. “We had hockey helmets and were throwing frisbees at each other.” “Don’t forget our dance belts,” shoots back Bridges. “They were like thongs for men.”
Time for the footage – and there’s a whole eight minutes! The sequence kicks off with Hedlund’s character, Sam, descending into the neon-lit bowels of Tron World, feet shackled to some kind of platform that he’s been hustled onto by orange-striped guards. His fellow prisoners are a bizarre bunch, one muttering to himself insanely, another with a hole in his face. Their voyage through the alien universe is truly epic, the sky strobed by lighning, eerie buildings jutting out of gloomy clouds. Finally the craft lands and the prisoners are inspected, either approved (“Rectified”) or, in Sam’s case, pulled out of the line-up (“Games”). This is clearly not a desirable outcome, as the other prisoner who’s been pulled out screams, before leaping off a platform to his death.
Sam is transported to a slick, featureless room, where four sexy cyber-ladies emerge from the walls and strip him of his clothes, unzipping them with laser-fingers. Then, as a black body-suit digitally forms on his torso, they affix armour onto him and slink backwards. “What am I supposed to do?” asks a confused Sam. “Survive,” replies one of the hot but creepy women, disappearing back into the wall.
We then get a montage of money shots – Sheen as blond-wigged club promoter Castor (apparently based on Ziggy Stardust era Bowie); Sam using a lightdisc to shatter an enemy into pixels; a very sexy-looking Wilde stepping out of the shadows; and, finally, the promised appearance from a 35 year-old Bridges. The CG Clu, we’re happy to report, looks pixel-perfect, a major step forward from the glimpse we saw of him at last year’s Comic-Con. “I’m not your father, Sam, but I’m very, very happy to see you,” says the faux Bridges, with a sinister twinkle in his eye, before leaping off a platform and forming a mini neon plane (light aircraft?) around himself to make his getaway.
Before we can calm down from all that, Kosinski informs the crowd that there are Skywalker Sound technicians dotted around the hall. We’re to chant words that flash up on the screen, the results of which will feature in a sequence in the movie itself. So there’s a surreal interlude in which everybody shouts things like, “Disc wars!” and stomps their feet. Finally, a photo of legendary tubby funster Tron Guy flashes up on the screen, eliciting the highest quantity of whoops. “Anyone outside this hall is terrifed right now,” quips Oswalt. “They think there’s some kind of rally going on in here.”
Next, a double-whammy of hype bombs from Disney. First, a greeting — in 3D — from Johnny Depp, in character as Captain Jack. Sitting on a beach with a half-empty bottle of rum in his hand, Jack was here to hype up his new adventure, Pirates Of The Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides, featuring “mermaids, buccaneers and the vicious, vivacious Penelope Cruz”. He signs off by ordering a round of Bloody Maries for everyone in Hall H, “on the Mouse”.
Then, a surprise announcement. Oswalt declares that Disney’s The Haunted Mansion ride will be made into yet another movie. But forget the woeful Eddie Murphy effort from 2003 – the man behind this one will be none other than Guillermo Del Toro, who appears on stage to explain why this will be his next directorial outing.
"I went to Disneyland when I was three years old," says Del Toro. "It was the year the Haunted Mansion opened and I've been there at least once eyery year for the whole of my life since. That's how freaky I am, unfortunately. I go there to think or relax. While I was making Mimic and having a horrible time, I went on the ride again and again. In my house I have my own Haunted Mansion room, with gargoyles and creepy wallpaper!"
The movie, which will be live-action and 3D, will be largely based around the character of the Hatbox Ghost. "I've always loved him," says Del Toro. "He's one of the scariest creations ever, but also whimsical. This movie will be scary, by the way. If you take the children, they will scream. But it'll be good for them."
So a proper haunted-house chiller from the maker of Pan's Labyrinth? Count us in. "This version will not be a comedy," promises the Mexican auteur. "We are not returning Eddie Murphy's calls."