There is something special about a movie when you’ve had the opportunity to watch 20 or so minutes of footage twice within one week and you already want to see it again. For this writer, the last time anything close to that feeling occurred was with “Star Trek” – an agonizing five months before release – and “Iron Man.” Will “Tron Legacy” follow in the blockbuster shoes of those two films? Well, after this sneak, something will have gone very, very wrong if it doesn’t.
The footage was previewed at two events: a long lead press day over the weekend at Digital Domain’s headquarters in Santa Monica, CA. and on the Disney lot Wednesday evening for a broader range of press and industry types. The latter audience was also treated with a screening of the studios new animated fairy tale “Tangled,” but more on that later. The “Legacy” scenes previewed were basically an extension on what was shown at San Diego Comic-Con in July with one new scene added for good measure. And yet, could there actually be awards potential in this genre epic? Of course there is.
While Films like “Social Network,” “Iron Man 2” and “Inception” will be players for best visual effects, the work in “Legacy” is so stunning and beautiful it would be shocking if it didn’t take home the top prize. Yes, as crazy as it sounds this pundit is making that call on the last day of Sept. Additionally, the fact “Avatar” was able to snag nods such as art direction and cinematography mean “Legacy” with it’s use of practical sets mixed with digital backgrounds could get recognized as well. And if Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are going to be serious contenders in the best original score race, Daft Punk can’t be far behind in what could be future shock for AMPAS’ music committee. And sure, some old school fans aren’t thrilled that the lights on this generation of programs are real, but Michael Wilkinson needs some serious acknowledgment for his work on all the film’s detailed costumes (the up and comer also did superior work on “300,” “Watchmen” and “Babel”). And as always, sound editing and sound effects editing can’t be ignored either. It’s seems like a stretch to think that “Legacy” could be a player anywhere else, especially with the reshoots, Pixar consultation and concerns over Hedlund’s performance (the open secret no one is talking about). But, a year ago everyone thought “Avatar” was dead and we all saw what happened there.
As for “Tangled,” it’s a little unfair to judge the film in its current unfinished state, but at the least, little girls will certainly enjoy it. The film’s mix of humor and emotion doesn’t entirely work, but it features some impressive imagery (hint: thousands of floating lanterns) that will no doubt look beautiful in 3-D (only a 2-D version was screened). What Disney is hiding in both its teaser and full theatrical trailer is that “Tangled” is a musical and features new songs from the legendary Alan Menken and Glenn Slater. In fact, while there seems to be a lot of action on screen this is one of the more “stagey” animated films I’ve seen in sometime. Numbers such as “Mother Knows Best” and “I See The Light” are nice, but the way they are incorporated is in a much more subdued style than you’d expect and in hindsight, that was probably a mistake. The studio obviously feels they turned off possible moviegoers by overhyping the music in “The Princess and the Frog” which accounts for the lack of buzz about the numbers this time around, but we’re not sure that hand drawn film could ever have outgrossed its $267 million worldwide in this day and age. And by putting all the “adventure” up front, the studio is no doubt praying a slew of young boys will join their sisters for a “Tangled” matinee over the Thanksgiving holiday. We’ll see.
“Tangled” opens nationwide and in 3-D on Nov. 24. “Tron Legacy” opens nationwide and in IMAX on Dec. 10.