Comic-Con 2009: Day One

Comic-Con International 2009 is in full force!  This year the annual convention celebrates its 40th anniversary.  No one who has visited Comic-Con over a decade ago could have ever imagined it to grow to be so large.  In fact, Comic-Con has become one of the largest trade shows in the world.  Originally featuring mostly comics, Comic-Con now covers everything from movies to fantasy drawings to little figurines.   I was of course here for the movies though.

I am interested in many other aspects of the convention, but it’s impossible to cover everything.  You will need quite a few people covering the many panels and events throughout each day.  Wednesday is now preview night and just as congested as the rest.  Therefore, below are some of the highlights from Thursday.

Hall H: –
Quite a crazy scene Thursday morning as all the crazy fans waited to see their favorite moviemakers and actors in Hall H.  This hall has a capacity of around 6,500 patrons and it can remain full all day.  We were unfortunately stuck with a Twilight panel later in the day.  This caused many tweens to be in line all day and taking up many spots during the earlier panels as they waited to get the best seats for Twilight.  Luckily, the Twilight fans seem to be mostly hidden.  It appears most Twilighter’s know that they are hated by most Comic-Con fans and the others are strictly there just for the one panel.  Not much are a bother since many are with their parents and keep to themselves as the other dressed-up fans take their presence at the convention.

A Christmas Carol –
I’ve already seen most of the footage of this Robert Zemeckis tale of the Christmas classic, but I would like to add that they decided to include roughly 5 more minutes to the scene screened last month.  The movie is still looking fantastic and utterly creepy!  I’m still not too sure how well this will sit with children though.  The audience seemed to really enjoy it, but I didn’t hear much of the buzz afterward.

One major note was Roger Zemeckis’s non-answer to an audience members question concerning the possibility of a Who Framed Roger Rabbit sequel.  He claimed he could neither confirm nor deny whether or not there was a sequel in works.  In regards to a follow up question about a possibility of 3D CGI use in the sequel, Zemeckis states that they will stick to 2D animation IF this film ever gets off the storyboard.

Alice in Wonderland –
Talk about an energetic applause!  The crowd erupted in applause when Alice in Wonderland was mentioned.  Of course without any less of applause, Tim Burton was called to the stage.  I guarantee you that every member of the audience was excited to be in the room at that time.  There was no new footage shown besides a trailer release.  This was however a different trailer then the official trailer released online.  Most of the footage is the same besides a couple different shots.  It’s cut a little differently and does not feature a narration by the Mad Hatter.  Nonetheless, everyone seemed thrilled.

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Patton Oswalt, the panel’s moderator, loved it so much he showed three times and seemed generally excited.  Might I add Tim Burton had a little surprise for us.  Take a wild guess?  Well it surprised me.  Johhny Depp appeared on stage to a standing cheer of constant camera flashes with me included.  He only came out to say hi, which was enough for me.  He wasn’t listed on the program, but some people were quite upset he didn’t sit in on the Q & A session.

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Some previously released concept art was displayed and character design was shortly discussed before moving on to…

TRON LEGACY –
Yes, that is the new official name of the sequel.  I am very happy that this isn’t a reboot but rather a sequel taking place many years in the future.  Due to the fact that I always thought the original was ridiculous even though being a classic, I didn’t have my hopes up on this.  Somehow director Joseph Kosinski has appeared to steer this franchise in the right direction.  I’m sure others behind the project including Sean Bailey and original writer and director Steve Bailey have helped out as well.

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Jeff Bridges returns to his role as Kevin Flynn, but I was more concerned about the new art direction.  Great new concept art was shown including a new two-seater cycle that I believe was said can be used on and off the grid.  Also shown is a new take on the “light-cycle” as well as a 2.0 version that is supposed to be from the 80’s.  The test footage from last year was re-shown but now in 3D and another scene where the old arcade is found.   There wasn’t too much shown, but I hope that Tron Legacy appeals to more than just the past Tron fans.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meat Balls –
This movie has a very clever plot as Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures takes us on a goofy 3D adventure when a small town starts to rain food.  Odd… yes, fun… absolutely!  However, this corky film does not have much interest to me.  Although this should be a great film for families with younger children, I don’t expect this to do great in the box office.  The animation is basic and reminds me of new CG animated children television shows.  Hopefully this take on the classic children’s book will compensate for the lack of quality.

The Hole –
Joe Dante (Gremlins 1 & 2) is back with his new innocent horror film that he claims is not going to give children nightmares.  What is he talking about?  This film is about a hole found in a basement that is unlocked allowing crazy dolls to climb up and terrorize the children.  Sweet dreams kids!

The Hole is your classic, cheesy, scary movie that would have worked perfectly in 1990.  From the clips shown, there are no new tricks or story here.  The kids appear to have to just stop the evil characters coming after them while trying to stay away from random set-up shots in order to make you jump out of your seat.  For example, the kid quietly steps backward toward the camera as a hand reaches out to the kids’ shoulder strangely enough causing a really loud strike of noise.  So original, but in Joe Dante’s defense, he does claim this is his take back to 80’s horror genre.  Nothing to see here kids.  Keep the line moving.

The Final Destination –
Was there anything I need to say about this 4th film of the franchise?  It claims to be THE Final Destination, but producer Craig Perry practically states that this is not necessarily the last of the franchise.  Say it ain’t so!  Perry started off by saying that he found a new way to tell the story by including 3D.  What he really is saying is that New Line Cinema figured that they could make the same movie with different outrageous ways to kill people as long as they just add the 3D tag to it.  The newly improved 3D technology is good, except it is never good just as a gimmick.  If I’m not mistaken, 3D is supposed to enhance the story.

3D is not an excuse to redo a film.  The Final Destination series needs to end.  The clipped showed plenty of 3D gore, but failed to show any type of new plot.  I guess if you want to see stakes going through people’s heads or body’s being sliced by chain-linked fences, then you have found the right movie.

Astro Boy –
At this point, me and half of the audience is forced to sit through Summit Entertainment panel to get to James Cameron Avatar.  Okay, it wasn’t Summit the audience was concerned about, but rather Twilight coming up.  That’s for later.

Astro Boy is a classic superhero CG animated story set in a futuristic world.  Our hero is a robotic kid with special powers that takes on many adventures but essentially is set to find his own destiny.  The new trailer revealed is cute, but hasn’t sold me.  The producers wanted to make a movie that would appeal to children and adults as well.  Astro Boy stars Freddie Highmore, Nicholas Cage, Nathan Lane, Donald Sutherland, and Kristen Bell along with exclusively announced at Comic-Con; Samuel L. Jackson and Charlize Theron.

Sorority Row –
It’s an Audrina Patridge movie.  You can probably judge whether or not you want to watch Sorority Row just from that.  This film has been in the works for a long time and already been test screened with little to no praise.  Sorority Row is about 5 sorority girls playing a prank on a guy by pretending he killed one of their sisters while having sex with her.  As the girl pretends to be dead, the prankee ends up killing her for real by accident.  It’s pretty ludicrous.

Everyone involved tries to cover up what happened only to be stalked by a serial killer that knows what they did.  Judging by the footage shown, this will be great for those teenagers who haven’t seen any I Know What You Did Last Summer films.  It looks like a fine horror film, but again, nothing new.  Besides, it’s Audrina Patridge from “The Hills” who got little to no cheers.  I guess there aren’t too many “The Hills” fans at Comic-Con.  Sadly enough, Carrie Fischer is in this movie. Strange choice for her, but would have made this panel much more interesting if she would have stopped by.

Sorority Row comes out September 11, 2009.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon –
After becoming deaf from the loud screeches from teenage girls sitting around me, two clips from the movie were shown.  Since I have no desire to see Robert Pattison and Taylor Lautna with their shirts off, I am going to have to say New Moon looks just as bad as the first film.  I have no doubt that all the hardcore fans will enjoy this second film.

The first clip features Bella, Kristen Stewart, being taught how to ride a motorcycle from Jacob.  Bella ends up falling of the bike because she keeps seeing Edward, Taylor Lautna, and is distracted.  Jacob quickly comes to the rescue by taking off his shirt and using it to wipe off the blood on her face.  It is blatantly obvious that these characters are just taking off their shirts to make their audience happy.   Everyone was laughing around me during these segments except for the few teenage girls behind me screaming and about to melt because their favorite actors were on stage.

The second scene features Bella running in an Egyptian looking town to get to Edward.  Excuse me for not really knowing as I have not seen the first film nor have I read the books.  Apparently Bella is stopping Edward from going into the sun, at least that’s what it seemed to me.  The clip cuts as Edward was just about to step outside, of course not before he took off his robe to reveal his man cleavage.  I guess it was nice to see Kristen Stewart running in slow-motion.

Speaking of Kristen, she definitely is the most eccentric out of the cast.  During the entire panel she would have her head down, running her hand through her hair, and staring off to space as if she was on something.  Everyone in the audience seemed to be making a big deal about this, but I’ve seen interviews of her before and this is how she acts.  No big deal.  All the main actors on the panel did seem to be a little out of it though; yet again the questions asked weren’t exactly compelling questions.

Avatar –

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James Cameron’s return to feature film is looking good… looking real good!  James Cameron seems generally thrilled about this film and really built it up for everyone in attendance.  Cameron stated that this is a film that explores the curiosity he had during childhood.  It is for the 14-year-old boy with a great imagination in his head interested in elaborate new worlds and space exploration.

This film is absolutely beautiful.  In fact, it’s mesmerizing!  About 25 minutes of the film was shown featuring several different clips.  The bulk of the clips took place on a planet called Pandora with many different types of creatures in a completely new type of environment.  The world created by Cameron is even more amazing.  There is endless amounts of detail everywhere and being it is in 3D, makes it as if you apart of this world.  The few scenes shown were so captivating that I really started to feel I was living in this world.

Avatar was conceptualized 14 years ago, but due to limited money and special effects technology, Cameron had to shelve this treatment.  It was 4 years ago when he pulled this treatment out and realized how relevant it is to today.  Avatar is about our world and society as human beings and how we are practically destroying our own planet.  The film is about war and conservation of our environments yet told in a way much like Disney/Pixar’s Wall-E.

The acting by stars Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, and Zoe Saldana is fabulous.  Avatar features motion-capture technology allowing the actors to be in a stunning world that can be manipulated easily.  The creatures the humans transform into are of the native people of Pandora called the Na’vi.  These are 10-foot-tall blue creatures with tales and slightly different facial features.  The realism amazed me as I began to think I was just watching tall blue-painted actors run around the screen.

Avatar is going to be getting a lot of buzz soon.  Keep an eye out for this one.  If you cannot wait, James Cameron is holding “Avatar Day” Aug. 21st where he is trying to get as many IMAX and big screens as possible to play 15 minutes of the movie for free.

Avatar comes out Spring 2011.

Drawn Together Movie: The Movie –
If you know “Drawn Together”, then you know how raunchy it is.  Just wait for the movie!  Expect more raunchiness and attacks at other famous cartoon characters.  Basically the plot is about how they don’t have a plot and need to find one in order to save the show from being cancelled.  This is quite funny as the show has been canceled.  They are trying to get Comedy Central to pick-up the show again though.

This panel was hilarious as all the voice actors besides Adam Corolla were there and did a sex scene in their voices and commented toward many other things in their respected voices.  I had no idea how talented these voice-actors were.  Their credits include “Rugrats”, “Animaniacs”, “Inspector Gadget” and more.  The movie looks great if you’re a fan of the tv show no doubt.

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