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Quint at Comic-Con: ZATHURA clip shown! Plus a tidbit on the WOTW DVD deleted scene!!!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with my another report from Comic-Con 2005. This report covers the little bit that Paramount had regarding WAR OF THE WORLDS with visual effects supervisor Pablo Helman and Jon Favreau's ZATHURA.

WAR OF THE WORLDS

This panel was pretty much here just to let the fans have a chance to get some behind the scenes information from the making of the movie. Still, some interesting stuff came up, like:

TIDBITS:

-All the walls in the cellar set were removable in order to give Spielberg as many options on where to put the camera as he needed.

-There is a 3 minute scene involving Tripods pulling people from inside buildings that was cut out of the film that will be included on the WAR OF THE WORLDS DVD. More Tripod action! Yay!

This panel was pretty short, but fun nonetheless.

ZATHURA

This panel was a bit bigger. Jon Favreau came out and talked about the film, specifically about his dislike for the overuse of CGI. He uses it in the movie, but only when he needed to. Even then he used as many practical effects as possible. Like the house floating through space is a miniature against a CG backdrop of space and planets, instead of a completely CG creation.

He showed a trailer that I remember only pieces from. The teaser really shows you the events leading up to that final shot of the kid opening up the door onto space. This trailer focuses mostly on the events after the kid opens the door. Lots of finished effects work in this one and I have to tell you, I'm pretty impressed with the effects. Nothing looked cartoony.

The words, "From the world of JUMANJI" are on the trailer. I later talked to Favreau (interview forthcoming) and he said that was because by ignoring the connection to JUMANJI completely (both ZATHURA and JUMANJI were written by the same author, Chris Van Allsburg) he got people who thought the movie was just a rip-off. The movie is a strange one... it's not a sequel, but it takes place in the same universe.

Favreau then showed a long, long clip from the film. It was the whole Robot sequence that I saw them film back in November (CLICK HERE TO READ THAT STORY!).

The scene has the two lead kids turning the Zathura game board key. The game board is just like it was back when I first told you about... a great Tin game straight out of the '50s. The older kid's spaceship token goes 8 spaces and out pops a card. "Your Robot is damaged" I think the card said. "What robot? I don't have a robot."

Then they hear the whirring of gears and clomp of feet and a giant shadow on the wall in the doorway to the living room. They turn and watch, eyes wide as the shadow grows even bigger. Of course, in true Samwise Gamgee fashion, the robot rounds the corner and it's just a small little thing, like a wind-up toy.

The kids look relieved, then the older one says something like, "Go make me a sandwhich, beeyotch!" The little brother takes him to task, saying he shouldn't make the robot mad. "He's my slave, I'll tell him to do whatever I want," etc. During this argument the two brother's are talking in profile, one head on screen left, the other on screen right. In between them the Robot grows much, much bigger and enters frame, towering over them.

The Robot charges, arms stretched out. His back opens and like the back of a rocket, fire shoots out propelling the robot at the poor little bastards. They sidestep and the Robot gets stuck in the fireplace. The kids approach it slowly... Then the Robot suddenly (and loudly) jerks his arm, trying to get it free from the crumbled brick. He turns and looks at the older boy, eyes glowing red. The eldest tells his brother to take his turn and quick.

The younger brother has lost the key, so he can't take his turn. They look around the floor quickly as the Robot doubles his efforts to pull free, loosing one arm. The older boy notices the key at the feet of the Robot, so he gets down on his belly and crawls for it. He reaches out his hand, almost getting it when the Robot sees him and his loosed arm snaps at the kid's hand, just barely missing it.

This scene was pretty intense, actually. The sound of the metal claw hand snapping shut was like a bear trap. The kid grabs the key and a panel on the robot's body pops open. Inside is a circular saw. His hand grabs it then starts rotating it, cutting at the brick, sending sparks flying.

The older boy gives the key to the younger brother as the Robot frees himself and the younger brother starts his turn. The older brother runs out, the Robot giving chase. It's too big for the doorways, so it crashes into the sides, sending splinters everywhere. They circle around and end up in the same room. The Robot charges the older boy again after a Leone like stand off (the boy's fingers twitching and the robot's clawed hand clamping open and shut) and is again sidestepped, but this time flies out the window, into space.

Without more than a half breath, the Robot comes flying back in the other window. The little brother actually takes his turn now as the chase continues. His card tells him that they go too close to a planet and enter it's gravity pull. The house starts to lurch, books flying off of shelves and everything turning almost sideways.

Of course this aides in Robot's eventual defeat, but I won't go too much into that.

All in all, the footage looked great. The Robot is totally geekworthy and cool looking, the cinematography (by Guillermo Navarro) is beautiful, the colors vibrant yet not cartoonish. The only pause I have is some of the acting from the two kids is a little off the mark, especially with the youngest, Jonah Bobo. They look good in the movie, they seem to fit the universe... I just hope the acting is a tad better throughout than it was in this clip.

That's about it. I have an interview with Favreau that'll be up shortly, so keep an eye out for that. Until then this is Quint bidding you a fond farewell and adieu.

-Quint





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