So here’s just a thumbnail report of what I’ve experienced so far at Comic-Con, the world’s largest gathering of pop cultural enthusiasts. For another look at what’s going on, check out www.aintitcool.news.com because they have very recent reports about what their own guy is attending.
In the meantime, here we go with my own version….
Up until a year ago, this was my favorite day at the Con. Sure, I love the recently added movie-pedaling panels with all their star dazzle and surprise announcements—don’t get me wrong—but Thursdays were always about experiencing the smaller pleasures of Comic-Con. There used to be no lines, and there was a sense of anticipation in the comic workshops and cult horror movie presentations. Now the bigger guys are creeping in to take the places of those panels—panels, for instance, that used to feature things like all the actors who’ve played Jason in the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies. That stuff is fun, but I’m afraid those topics are going to be extinct. Sad.
But a favorite Thursday panel of mine is still intact. It was more crowded than usual (let’s just say that, in the late ‘90s, the Con had about 30,000 people attending; last year, it grew to over 100,000). However, the humor and dish in the CFQ/GEEK MONTHLY Movie Preview remains the same. Here, a panel offers gossip about movie and TV releases with a bit of snark. This year, they chatted about the movie that’s bound to leave a mark on the Con—SNAKES ON A PLANE. (I’m totally going to see it. You know you are, too. I missed tonight’s presentation though, and that bums me out.)
Now, with that information out of the way, I give you some gossipy bullet points from the panel about a few movies and TV projects. Close your eyes and move ahead if you want to avoid any sort of spoilers:
· For SNAKES ON A PLANE, there were reshoots that included more jokey dialogue and action after the makers realized that the audience wasn’t going to buy a straight drama about snakes on a plane. (BTW, every time I say or think of that title, I crack up. It never gets old.)
· For 24’s next season, it’s been hinted that Dwayne Palmer, David Palmer’s brother, will be president. Doooh!
· On LOST, there’s a rumor going around that Rose is Walt’s grandma. We’ll see if I can get more information about this tomorrow, if I manage to get into the LOST panel.
· On BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, truly one of the best programs on the tube, word is that a guest star from the defunct ALIAS will be making an appearance. They’ll play someone from Adama’s past. Also, a fairly major character will die, and we’ll find out what happened during that finale’s time jump. (Scroll down to Friday for more on BATTLESTAR—I went to that panel.)
· For those PROJECT GREENLIGHT fans out there, it sounds like there’ll be no more seasons since it got poor ratings on Bravo. However, FEAST might finally be out in October…or December…or January… Yeesh.
They also showed clips from two animated movies—both extremely interesting. RENAISSANCE uses black and white animation to tell a film-noir action story set in the future. BROKEN SAINTS, which was a Web comic book done in flash animation, is coming to DVD. Both look crazy, but in a great way.
Lastly, there’s mixed buzz on the new fall series HEROES. Personally, I can’t wait for this story about normal people who discover they have superhero powers. One panel guy said it was really cool while the others noted some plot problems. Still, they said it has lots of potential, with its UNBREAKABLE meets LOST premise. Sounds good to me.
After the CFQ panel, I was compelled to go to the ASPEN workshop. ASPEN is a publishing house that puts out titles like FATHOM and SOULFIRE. I’m a huge Michael Turner fan; he’s an amazing penciler and storyteller. It was great to see him looking relatively healthy after a few recent surgeries. Furthermore, I enjoyed seeing the camaraderie between the employees while “meeting” them at the same time.
Then came one of those “big guy” presentations I was talking about; you know, the usurpers of what used to be my lovely Thursdays. Lionsgate Studios specializes in horror flicks, so I had to go see this program, even if I was ticked off about their Goliath asses encroaching on my peaceful schedule. At any rate, at the Con, when a movie studio makes a presentation, it’s a lot like a live informercial, with movie stars, directors, producers, and publicists on hand to persuade you to buy their product. Here are a few details about the Lionsgate slate of movie clips and presentations:
· SKINWALKERS: This is a film most notable for the involvement of Stan Winston, who designed remarkable creatures such as the ALIEN monsters. The man is a genius. And I’m excited about this movie, which comes out in early 2007, because it’s about werewolves. Now, when’s the last time you saw a good werewolf movie? THE HOWLING? (Um, I’m talking about the first one, because the rest were…not so good?) The thing that impressed me about what Stan said here is that he’s humanizing the creatures, really taking care to offer lots of characterization. Also, there will be no digital creatures! I love that, so I’ll say it again—no digital creatures! I don’t know what he has in mind, but he’s promised something different. The clip he brought was pretty intense, featuring what looked to be a “nice guy” pack in human form before the full moon rises. A man was strapping them to the rafters of a cabin’s cellar, most likely to keep them from going out and killing. Then the bad werewolf people attack because they’re looking for some little McGuffin boy and they think the good werewolves know where the plot-tot is. I’m looking forward to this.
· CRANK: All you need to know is that this stars Jason Statham, who’s, like, the British bad-ass of the moment. The audience was really into him and the clip, but I’m not so sure about my own reaction. It’s not my favorite kind of flick, but it has a good premise: a hitman is injected with something that will kill him unless he can find the antidote within 90 minutes. Action ensues. In the clip, there were a few funny-ucky moments, including a part where Statham chops off this dude’s hand, then out of necessity, picks up the cut appendage since it’s still clutching a gun and uses the weapon to kill another dude. Gives new meaning to the word “handgun.” Snerk, snerk. Anyway…my choice for a DVD showing.
· Next they showed a clip of THE DESCENT, which I’m totally going to see. Basically, you’ve got a bunch of women exploring a cave when things go to hell in a handbasket. It seems like there’s a high level of suspense and claustrophobia. Eek! And there was a slight, startling glimpse of a “cave monster,” and it looked like one of those pale batboys you might see in a nightmare. (Or is it just me who has those dreams?)
· Lastly, we got a taste of SAW III. The requisite clip of gore was shown, featuring one of Jigsaw’s demented traps. This one involved a guy whose skin is fastened to hooks; this means he can’t move in order to disable a bomb that’ll kill him…unless he chooses to harm himself by tearing away from the hooks. The audience loved it. Basically, it’s the same old same old.
The final workshop I attended Thursday was about THE TRIPPER, David Arquette’s directorial debut. He showed up in all his glory—full of stoner/nerdy charm and jokes—but the only thing missing was a movie clip. He lost it on the way to the Con. I kid you not. Even so, he was endearing, but I didn’t stay for the whole thing. Maybe they found the tape and I missed out.
So as Thursday drew to a close I went home, played with my adorable nephew and niece, slept well, then woke up early to brave the crowds again.
This morning started out with another visit to the Silhouette booth on “the floor.” (BTW, “the floor” refers to a massive room that is absolutely circus-like in its energy. People wandering around in costumes, comic book and toy vendors, movie studios—it’s a riot of noise and stimulation.) Nancy Holder was signing DAUGHTER OF THE FLAMES, so I got to meet her and chat with the crew manning the booth again. Then I headed over to the Penguin/Mysterious Galaxy booth, where I met the booksellers and one of Penguin’s editors. She knew my name! Eeee. That was exciting. We talked about NIGHT RISING, the first Vampire Babylon book, for a bit, then I went off to the gargantuan Hall H for some major studio presentations.
Warner Brothers started things off with THE REAPING, and Hilary Swank was there to lend her smile. This looks like a good film, even though we merely saw the trailer—no clips here. It’s a movie about a “miracle debunker” who travels to Louisiana to disprove what looks to be symptoms of the biblical plagues. I’m kind of excited about this since it’s supposed to be “twisty.” And I don’t want to know any more than that….Afterward, Neil LaBute, director of THE WICKER MAN, came out to show us a scene. Now, in a previous blog, I talked about my wariness in regards to remaking this movie, but LaBute sold me on seeing this version—because that’s what it is: a version, and not a remake. He’s reimagined some structural aspects of the first movie while keeping to the original spirit. I like how he said that the island’s main cash cow is honey and that the matriarch is “queen bee.” He’s clearly done a lot of thinking about the changes. As a justification for altering this pivotal “queen bee” role from what used to be a male part, LaBute said, “I’m more afraid of women than men” (and that’s obvious from his previous work). I trust him as a director, so bring it on….Next, there was a brief interview with Daniel Radcliffe of HARRY POTTER fame. Not much going on there, but it was good to see little Daniel again….Then—yes!—Bryan Singer came out to chat about SUPERMAN RETURNS. He brought Richard Donner, director of SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE, and that was a wonderful surprise, especially since they showed “lost” footage of the SUPERMAN II Mr. Donner would’ve directed. (He “wasn’t asked back” to direct the sequel, even though he was shooting much of it at the same time as the first movie. Go figure.) The clip was great, showcasing one of Lois Lane’s attempts to test Clark Kent and her theory that he might be Supes. Hee. As for Singer, he’s always really interesting, but you might be most eager to know if there’s going to be a sequel or not.
Sounds like there will be! He said that the paperwork just needs to be done, really, but you never know with Hollywood, so he can’t say an official yes just yet. Best of all, he said that since the Superman universe and characters have already been established with SUPERMAN RETURNS, he can go all “WRATH OF KHAN” on the next film. Sweet!!!!!!!!! Movie geeks know exactly what that means but, unless you love STAR TREK II, the reference won’t matter to you. (Trust me—it’s a great thing! If Singer’s going to go “WRATH OF KHAN” on the next Superman, it’ll be emotional and tragic and suspenseful and…yeeeee! I’m such a geek.)
Next came the 20th Century Fox panel. Briefly:
· there were clips of Eragon, a book I haven’t read but it seems to be very beloved by a big crowd. The kid playing Eragon was on the panel. He’s going to be a heartthrob.
· RENO 911! was on tap with really hilarious clips and also a panel of actors staying in goofy character. Super funny stuff. I don’t watch the TV program, but I might have to now.
· PATHFINDER is a tale of Vikings who came to our East coast before Columbus and tangled with the Native Americans. Looks intense. Clancy Brown (LOST, STARSHIP TROOPERS) was on the panel. Trivia: he talked in a Nordic dialect for his part.
Lastly, before I hit “the floor” for some shopping, I went to the very crowded BATTLESTAR GALACTICA panel. Some of you know what an amazing show this is, and if you don’t, I highly, highly recommend it. A few teasing hints were dropped about this coming season (though everything seems top secret), and some great actors showed up, including Edward James Olmos (who was tickled to be at a Con) and Lucy Lawless (such a salty, awesome chick). Here are a few minor spoiler nuggets:
· the first 10 episodes are an exploration of how Cylons live. It was confirmed that one model will be permanently retired.
· Olmos says that “what happened at the end of last season was a light moment compared to what’s to come.” Things will be very dark.
· Interesting and kinda “ew”: one character will be “missing a certain part of his anatomy” now, and will have to cope. ???? Your guess is as good as mine.
· It was said that “we’re going to lose some people that we’re very fond of.” (Oh oh.) Also, there are some characters that the fans have been ‘shipping for (Lee and Starbuck, perhaps?)—and they will get together. BUT the aftermath won’t be easy sailing. At all.
Those are just highlights of my first two days. If I told you everything, I’d be here all night and you’d drown in the minutia.
Tomorrow I’ll be attempting to get into the LOST panel, as well as VERONICA MARS, GRINDHOUSE, and of course, Kevin Smith’s free-for-all verbal target practice on the audience.
See ya then!