As previously reported, the Regal theater was prepping a technological movie milestone for theCity of Hazelwoodand North St. Louis County, with the addition of an IMAX 3D screen. The milestone was celebrated with midnight screening of "Tron: Legacy," the sequel to the much-beloved 1982 film "Tron," both of which star Jeff Bridges as technology pioneer Kevin Flynn.
When I arrived at the theater around 11:15p.m., on Dec. 16, the parking lot outside of the entrance seemed a bit barren, but when I got inside, the fans were there and had already started to congregate.
"This is like reliving my childhood out here," said David Shaefer, who attended the screening with some friends. "Hopefully it'll stack up to the original."
Shaefer had planned to go all-out with a fiber-optic suit for the premiere, but his plans were crushed when his shipment of fiber-optics didn't show up. Luckily one of his friends lent him a disc that lights up, just like the ones the characters have in the movies.
Sean McCarthy, another attendee and fan, was also very prepared for the film.
"I bet I'm the only one who has the original movie with me," he said as he held up a USB flash drive that has a copy of "Tron."
After talking to those guys, it was time to find a seat in the freshly-remodeled theater. When I walked in, I was surprised to see that nearly all of the good seats (in the center, and above the steps and railing) were more-or-less taken.
After sitting down, I also took notice of a distinct smell that I only can describe as "new theater," but I know I'm not the only one, as I overheard other people discussing it while waiting for the film to start. The new IMAX 3D screen is huge! It nearly takes up the whole front of the theater, with the exception of the emergency exit off to the left.
Before the film began, theater manager Rob Henderson addressed the crowd, which came close to filling up the entire theater.
"Thanks everyone for coming to our first show," he said, which was met with applause and pleading for the film to start.
Unfortunately, the start was delayed a bit for them to calibrate the projector, but it was interesting to see the different color patterns projected in the dark that make the movie display correctly. After a few minutes, it was showtime.
"Thanks for your patience," Henderson said. "Enjoy the show!"
The film itself was technically quite great - especially when magnified by the new IMAX 3D screen and the new sound system that assisted in making you feel like you were right there in the movie. Daft Punk's score kept the ominous and fast pace of the film going by building tension. In my opinion, the film was lacking a little plot-wise and performance-wise (with the exception of Bridges), but I might be in the minority on that.
"It was everything I hoped it would be," said Shaefer. "It lived up to the hype. I have to see it again."
"[It was] better than the first, which is a rarity," added McCarthy.
"It was brilliant - end of line," said Stephen Leitch, another "Tron" fan, referencing a phrase used in both movies serves as a final goodbye or sendoff, and with that...I bid you adieu.