Image Credit: Douglas Curran; Disney EnterprisesWhen I say the words “a Disney movie,” I think we can agree that we all have a pretty clear vision of what I’m talking about: Family friendly, bright, adventurous, bold themes, big characters, obvious marketing tie-ins, etc. Well, last night I attended a special event showcasing two big Disney movies slated for the holiday season: Tangled (Nov. 24) and Tron: Legacy (Dec. 17). And while both films live up to all those aforementioned Disney movie traits, I am hard pressed to think of a more jarring double-feature I’ve experienced outside of a major film festival. The whiplash of going from a dark-and-glossy futuristic action adventure epic scored by Daft Punk to a storybook musical about a teenage girl with a lustrously magical mane of blonde hair is something I will not soon forget.

The evening started with footage from Tron: Legacy — first its 3-D trailer, and then about 20-or-so minutes of completed scenes in 2-D, all from what appear to be the film’s first and second acts. Many of these scenes fill in the missing bits already glimpsed in the movie’s gonzo trailers: Bruce Boxleitner’s character telling Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) that he got a page from the old arcade owned by his long-missing father Kevin (Jeff Bridges); Sam going to said arcade and getting sucked into the grid; Sam getting his black light suit and memory disc by a quartet of sleek, white-suited “sirens”; and Sam battling in a to-the-death disc game that he wins, but just barely. Just about all of this footage was also featured at the movie’s Comic-Con panel in July, but last night we were privy to two more tantalizing scenes: Sam escaping the games with the mysteriously chirpy Quorra (Olivia Wilde), and Sam’s emotional reunion with his now-monkish, vacant father.

Every time I get an extended look at this movie, I can feel myself pulled that much deeper into its dense cyber landscapes. First-time feature director Joseph Kosinski’s sleek, unhurried visual style doesn’t clutter the movie with showy camerawork and jumbled MTV editing, and for that I am endlessly grateful. That said, we got virtually (get it?) no new peeks at the film’s central villain, Kevin Flynn’s avatar Clu, so I can’t report how well Bridges’ digitally de-aged performance in the role holds up in a post-Avatar cinema landscape.

Five minutes or so after Tron: Legacy‘s footage concluded, I found myself witnessing a cute primer on the computer animation process set to what I believe was the score from Titanic, a preamble to a work-in-progress final cut of Disney’s Tangled designed to excuse its rougher edges. I’ll obviously leave a full analysis of the retelling of the fairy tale about Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) to our film critics closer to release — for one thing, they won’t see storyboards of the film’s climactic moment like I did. I will say that: (1) There were several visually elegant sequences that for once caused me to regret not being able to see a film in 3-D; (2) Zachary Levi, as the dashing thief/love interest Flynn Rider, has a remarkably strong singing voice; and (3) Several people afterwards told me the film made them cry, but I was not one of them.

What was your biggest double-feature whiplash, Popwatchers? Are you more keen to see Tron: Legacy, Tangled, or both?

TRON: Legacy

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