Category: Comic Con Blog 2008 (Page 1 of 4)

Comic-Con 2008: Day Three – Sony

As the final major movie panel of the weekend, Sony really disappointed, which was a bit of a letdown, since it would have been nice to end Comic-Con with a bang. Instead, the studio limped its way through a presentation of the “Cloverfield”-inspired horror film, “Quarantine,” by just showing the trailer, while panels for “Underworld 3” and “Pineapple Express” seemed to come and go without anyone really taking notice.

“Underworld 3: Rise of the Lycans” (guests: director Patrick Tatopoulos and stars Rhona Mitra and Bill Nighy)

The idea of making the “Underworld” series into a trilogy has been around since before the first film was even released, but after the disastrous sequel that was “Underworld: Evolution,” it’s hard to believe that they’re actually going through with another movie. To be fair, director Patrick Tatopoulos is mixing it up a bit by telling the tale from the werewolves point of view (not to mention setting the story in ancient times), but this prequel sounds about as interesting as another “Scooby Doo” movie. The fact that Bill Nighy is returning is encouraging, and he definitely sounded excited about coming back for another round. During the film’s panel, he proudly proclaimed “I’m a vampire, I’m a zombie, and I’m a squid” in reference to his roles in “Shaun of the Dead” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Underworld” films. Rhona Mitra, on the other hand, was just a little too snooty for my liking (can’t movie stars do a better job of pretending that they enjoy promoting their films?), but she did promise that while her character won’t be wearing the popular PVC leather from the first two films, her outfit is still very “saucy.”

“Pineapple Express” (guests: director David Gordon Green, co-writer Evan Goldberg and stars Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride and Amber Heard)

After two lackluster lead-ins, I really hoped that the guys behind “Pineapple Express” would be able to lighten the mood, but the panel was quickly ruined by a series of awful questions from the crowd that led to Seth Rogen ripping on most of them – namely Bob Stencil, a Comic-Con favorite who Rogen called out for acting like a dumbass. A few minor details were also spilled along the way (like how everyone did their own stunts because of the film’s restrictive budget, or that the two stars weren’t really smoking weed during production), but there wasn’t anything particularly groundbreaking. Apatow did disclose that he has no plans for a new TV series in the immediate future (mostly out of fear of being cancelled again), but anyone that’s been paying attention to his career over the last few years could have told you that.

The one shining moment during the Q&A session was the random appearance of Human Giant. Paul Scheer asked who would win in a fight between Frank Miller’s Elektra and James Franco; Rob Huebel inquired whether the film was based on a Frank Miller graphic novel; and Aziz Ansari tried to give Judd Apatow the script he co-wrote with McG called “Superbad 2: Full Throttle.” It was a nice distraction for the crowd, but it didn’t really help with promoting “Pineapple Express.” Not that it mattered, because even though the four clips that were shown were all funny, this isn’t the kind of movie that people need convincing to see. Either you want to see it or you don’t, and you probably already made up your mind shortly after seeing the first trailer.

Comic-Con 2008: Day Three – Universal

If there’s one panel that totally took me by surprise this weekend, it was Universal. Most of the films represented probably didn’t deserve to be featured at a place like Comic-Con, but the studio had the fans eating right out of their hand thanks to their decision to bring just about every major cast member from all four of their films. They also debuted some great footage from two of the summer’s biggest remaining movies, as well as reconfirmed that Sam Raimi is still a master of horror.

“The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” (guests: stars Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, Maria Bello, Michelle Yeoh, John Hannah and Luke Ford)

The movie may be opening in less than week, but that didn’t stop the cast of “The Mummy 3” from including San Diego in their international publicity tour. After showing an extended clip from the film involving a pack of Yetis that are called upon to help the O’Connell family escape from their latest misadventure, the cast spoke a little about the challenges of making a third installment after so much time had passed after “The Mummy Returns.” Brendan Fraser insisted that he was just sitting around waiting for the call for years, but the fact of the matter is, I don’t think Universal ever really thought about moving the franchise to a different part of the world until director Rob Cohen was brought on to the project. Michelle Yeoh agreed that Cohen is very much Chinese in the inside, and that one of the reasons the film was being made was because it featured “the fight that all of Asia had been waiting for,” referring, of course, to her onscreen duel with longtime pal Jet Li.

I’m not exactly sure I agree with that comment (wasn’t the battle between Li and Jackie Chan in “The Forbidden Kingdom” far more anticipated?), but Li didn’t say otherwise. In fact, the martial arts star was mostly tightlipped throughout the course of the panel, but he did lighten up later one, especially after an audience member asked Fraser who was more intimidating: Jet Li or The Rock? Fraser danced around the question, insisting that Li was such a professional that he could perform a roundhouse kick that only touched your shirt, but he eventually admitted that he didn’t know, since he never actually met The Rock on the set of “The Mummy Returns.” He went on to criticize just how unintimidating the Scorpion King actually looked in the film, stating that it was “no better than an avatar” and earning the collective applause of the audience for saying so.

“Death Race” (guests: director Paul W.S. Anderson, creator Roger Corman and stars Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Joan Allen and Ian McShane)

It’s pretty funny just how different Paul W.S. Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson are from one another as directors, but despite their distinct career paths, both have experienced equal success behind the camera. The former is best known for making the king of mindless entertainment that is often criticized in the industry for glamorizing violence, and if the clip we were shown is any indication, Anderson has done it again. Anderson and cast spoke briefly about filming the 2008 update to Roger Corman’s beloved cult classic, and though Ian McShane seemed convinced that none of the actors did any of the driving in the film, both Jason Statham and Tyrese Gibson confirmed that they did in fact do most of the basic stunts (180 degree turns and such), while Anderson went on to include that the movie was shot entirely with practical stunts. When the question of whether the film would be using the points system from the original film was poised during the Q&A session, Anderson stated that his “Death Race” is actually a prequel to Corman’s movie and will help explain the origins of Death Race’s existence. Sounds cool – as long as Anderson’s version isn’t so bad that the original is actually looked at as the better of the two.

“Drag Me to Hell” (guests: director/co-writer Sam Raimi and stars Alison Lohman and Justin Long)

Let me begin by saying that I am a huge fan of Sam Raimi. I loved all three “Evil Dead” movies, all three “Spider-Man” movies (yep, even the third one), and I fully credit him for making Bruce Campbell the cult movie star that he is today. When news broke that Raimi would be returning to the horror genre with Ellen Page as his female lead, I was ecstatic. Then, Page had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts, and shortly after, the film’s first photo was released, lowering my expectations drastically. Thank God for Comic-Con, then, for giving Raimi the means of proving me wrong. “Drag Me To Hell” may not be “Evil Dead 4,” but it certainly feels like it. We were shown a trailer for the film, as well as two clips, and all I have to say is that it looks fucking awesome. Blending horror with his trademark slapstick humor (lets just say a stapler is used as a weapon in one scene), the only way this movie won’t succeed is if the studio sticks to its May 29th release date. This is a movie that shouldn’t have to fight for recognition, but if it remains a part of the summer season, it will have to do just that.

“Land of the Lost” (guests: director Brad Silberling, Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Anna Friel, Jorma Taccone and Sid & Marty Krofft)

Of all the films on the panel, this one was probably the biggest waste of time. Most people were hoping that Will Ferrell would make an appearance, and though he did send in a funny clip meant to fake people into thinking it was a live satellite feed of him trapped in his room in San Diego, it was mostly just a fun little bit meant to fill up their obligatory block of time. The cast and crew really didn’t talk about the film a whole lot (other than director Brad Silberling’s confirmation that just about everything you loved about the original series would appear in the filmic version, except Uncle Jack), but when Sid & Marty Krofft were asked about the possibility of any of their other creations being adapted for the big screen, they said that movies for “H.R. Pufnstuf” and “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters” were in very early development stages.

Comic-Con 2008: Day Three – Fringe

Especially if you wanted to see panels on such phenomenon as “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” or “Battlestar Galictica,” getting into Comic-Con’s 4000 seat Ballroom 20 required fans to arrive significantly early, with some guests sitting through hours of events they cared little about to see the event they came to see in the first place. Such was not the case, however, if you wanted to check out the J.J. Abrams-led panel on “Fringe.”

The new show from super-creator Abrams (“Lost,” “Alias,” “Felicity”) and the co-screenwriters of Transformers as well as Abrams upcoming theatrical “Star Trek” reboot, has been the beneficiary of viral marketing and a significant amount of buzz, while also being the victim of an unauthorized Internet leak of an incomplete version of the show’s pilot. On Wednesday night, a complete version of the episode was screened as part of the Comic-Con’s preview night.

Though the pilot received good reviews from online critics for Time and MovieWeb, yours truly found those opinions fairly inexplicable. The eighty minute production slowly drains the energy from a fun and intriguing premise (what if most of what we now call pseudoscience was real science?). Though the cliche-ridden, often campy, dialogue was one problem, far worse was a dead-in-the-water performance by Anna Torv as an FBI agent racing to discover what mysterious force killed all of a plane’s passengers and is now severely endangering her coworker/lover (John Valley). “Fringe” also features Joshua Jackson (“Dawson’s Creek,” “The Skulls”) as a cynical adventurer/scientist and John Noble (ultimate bad dad Denethor in LOTR) as his father — an actual mad scientist…or possibly merely an eccentric one. Not surprisingly, Noble steals all his scenes.

Still, who cares what I think? It’s the judgment of fans that counts for team Abrams. But, with Comic-Con attendees apparently voting with their feet, it was the job of the panel, moderated by Television Week‘s Joe Adalian, to make that half-empty auditorium feel half-full. All the principles were on hand, including the three stars, Abrams, and writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (“Transformers,” “Star Trek”). Abrams did most of the talking and, while the mood was upbeat on the surface, damage control was under way. Later on, when an audience member praised the pilot, declaring it “awesome,” two or three audience pairs of hands out of some two thousand applauded.

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Comic-Con 2008: Day Three – Dollhouse

Of course, the “Dollhouse” event was a love fest. Actually, a mega-love fest.

That’s absolutely no surprise if you know anything at all about the kind of admiration (both lusty and talent-wise) aroused by star Eliza Dushku (“Tru Calling,” “Bring it On”) and the Bono-esque stature of multi-hyphenate series creator Joss Whedon (“Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly“) across a huge swath of Geektopia — a swath recently made even larger by the net-success of his second acclaimed genre-blending musical, “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.” Add to that the appearance of Dushku’s excessively handsome costar, Tahmoh Penikett of “Battlestar Galactica” (a show with a few gazillion ardent fans of its own) and you have fanboy and fangirl critical mass.

And, indeed, the first three quarters of the panel was loaded with silliness, over-the-top praise, jokey-silly putdowns (a Whedon trademark) and flirtatious asides between the three folks onstage as well as with the audience. Topics early on included the peripatetic Ms. Dushku’s trips to such locales as Iran, where she survived a “terrorist attack” from some errant Persian rugs.

Moving to a Q&A, the first question was about the source of the premise of “Dollhouse,” in which Dushku will play an “active,” a sort of human blank slate who is downloaded with a new personality and skill set for each new assignment, with jobs that range from from pre-tailored love/sex object to hyper-skilled operative. The show appears to take place in a world much like our own, and this sort of thing sure sounds highly illegal, not to mention extremely immoral, and BSG’s Pennikett will play a cop wondering just why this beautiful woman he keeps meeting never seems to be the same person twice. The show is currently set to premiere this January.

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