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Quint catches up on Disney's PRINCE CASPIAN and WALL-E panel at Comic-Con!!!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Comic-Con ended two days ago, but it seems like it’s still going on. I guess this is how Vietnam vets feel. Some part of me somewhere is still running around that floor, trying to figure out how I can watch the Sony panel and interview the director of WALL-E at the same time. I was able to post up my Rogue/Focus panel thoughts before I left San Diego and now is when I catch up on the last of the panel coverage I have. I still have at least 6 interviews to post (watch tonight for two of them) and those will all be up by this weekend. I’m going to start with Disney panel on Narnia and Wall-E. I saw all of the PRINCE CASPIAN stuff and most of the WALL-E stuff, but I had to ditch out in order to interview Iron Man. Let’s begin with Narnia. I’m not a fan of the LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE as a film. It’s not insulting or anything, I just never connected with it. The visual style was so bright and obvious… there was nothing fresh in it for me, nothing exciting. So, I was at the Disney panel more for WALL-E and Pixar, but I have to say… I don’t know if my mind is changed in regards to the Narnia films, but I definitely enjoyed the Prince Caspian stuff. It seemed darker, more interesting… the approach to the effects seem much more real, less bright and new. There’s aging variations now with the creatures and with the structures of Narnia… I can’t overstate how drastically improved the creatures and sets looked.

Andrew Adamson and Ben Barnes (Caspian) joined the Con via a satellite hook up. Richard Taylor from Weta, Howard Berger from KNB, Dean Wright (VFX) and the costume designer and a producer were on the panel.

Bullet points- - As of Saturday, they were in day 106 of production, with 30 or 40 more to go. -Adamson said CASPIAN was a more difficult film to make because the book isn’t as linear as LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE was. -Release date is May 16th, 2008 -A lot has been made of Disney committing to make all 7 books. That’s been exaggerated a bit. The producer said that the plan is to make all 7, but only if the box office stays strong. If it does, then expect a new Narnia movie every May. That’s kind of a “no shit” brand of news. -The next movie up will be VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER, production beginning in February. -Adamson will produce, but not direct further Narnia films. -They’re aging up a lot of the creatures. There will be a lot of variation now, instead of just one age type for all creatures. So, we’ll see young centaurs/dwarves/etc, old creatures, middle-aged… -They also spent a lot of time developing different fighting styles for the different races so you can distinguish them in battle better. -The VFX department is busier on this one with two large battles plus the River God from the end. -Effects-wise they’ve “learned from the last one,” and all involved say that Prince Caspian will be four times bigger than TLTW&TW. -The KNB crew shirt for CASPIAN has a darker centaur with a giant afro and “NARNIA” in a ‘70s disco font with a glitter border. How sweet is that? -Everybody that asked a question of the panel seemed to write for a different Narnia fansite. -The filmmakers displayed the Telmarine armor. Check it out:

The footage: They screened a pre-viz sequence and an edited together promotional piece. Pre-viz: It was mostly greyscale animation, but it started with Griffins flying the Pevensie children into a heavily guarded castle. Lucy, I think, was dropped onto one of the guard tower spires, just feet above a guard on look out. The guard hears something and edges around the parapet. The animatic had a very high angle on this, a bird’s eye view of Lucy peeking over the edge of the roof as the guard circles the spire below her. The angle changed to be close on the guard as he raises his weapon, sure something is there… there’s another sound, he turns and then is immediately grabbed by a Griffin claw around the head and pulled away. What surprised me about this footage is that it was pretty graphic. You had the Griffins joining the flight as well as the kids. Arrows flew. Kids were killing guards… and once in the castle you got other magical creatures… Dwarfs and mice (Reepicheep led two other mice with swords out) attacked. I could have sworn I saw Reepicheep slice one guard’s throat. He just kind of lowered himself down on a piece of string as the guard’s back was turned. The guard turned and out came the sword, slashing at his neck. Fuck that guy, I guess. That mouse is viscous! They also have a nod to LOTR in there as one of the dwarves is about to fall off the edge of the castle wall and one of the kids grabs him by the beard to keep him from falling off. This cute shit I don’t like much, but I’m glad it seems to be surrounded by a darker movie. I love seeing these fantasy flicks where children and teens kill the shit out of people. The promo reel that ran had some finished scenes. Nothing major, but the cinematography looked nice, the world worn. The red color of the Kingly armor was still cartoony bright, but in the context of the teen boy killing people… doesn’t bug me so much. The logo is much the same as the one from TLTW&TW, but the word “Narnia” is overgrown, weathered. If the final film is what is promised in this preview, then I’ll probably like it much more than I did the first film. I don’t demand much, just that these films don’t JUST cater to children and hardcore fans of CS Lewis’ book. My favorite part of the panel was when Howard Berger brought out an animatronic head. It gives you an idea of how much better these things look this time out. Kraken was able to grab some video with his camera. It’s a little blocky, but you get the idea… God, I love this side of movie-making… animatronics… I’ve always loved them.
WALL-E Now this one I had to leave before it was over, much to my chagrin. I saw most of the panel, though. Director Andrew Stanton (FINDING NEMO) and sound effects legend Ben Burtt (father of the Star Wars universe sounds –including the lightsaber and Vader’s breathing- as well as the sound design of INDIANA JONES’ world.) came out to talk about the newest Pixar flick. (And yes, I don’t know why Andrew Stanton looks like a zombie in the below picture… I know it’s the eyes, but I don’t know how they got that way… trust me, he had pupils when I interviewed him later).

So, I don’t know if this information was out there before the Con, but it was certainly new to me, but here are the biggest moments of the panel: -A new Pixar logo came on… really great… Luxo did his thing, jumping on the “I” but his light bulb burns out. He looks around, confused, and Wall-E rolls out, unscrews the burnt out light and replaces it. As he rolls back out of the frame, he knocks over the “R” in Pixar. He stops in front of it, drops a hatch and ducks his head down, making a squatty, boxy new “R” out of his body. After a beat, his eyes slowly peek over the top of his body, questioning... Really sweet. -The original concept for Wall-E: “What if mankind evacuated Earth and forgot to turn off the last remaining robot?” -Wall-E stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter – Earth class. -He is made by a company called Buy N Large and they even have a website. -Consumerism and over-populartion has made Earth all but uninhabitable. A forced 5 year long evacuation of all humans leaves the Earth in the hands of these robots, who are there to clean up. Something goes wrong and nobody comes back. -At the time of this story, Wall-E is 700 years old. -Wall-E ends up going to space and finds one of the few remaining space cruiser type ships that holds the last of humanity. -Humans have depended on robots to do everything for them for so long that they have very little muscle and are all fatties that can’t do anything but lay down. They are essentially now a race of couch potatoes. -Wall-E falls in love with one the robots on this ship, a probe-bot called Eve. However, his love is a tragic one because he is the only robot that has found emotion, so his love is not returned. -Wall-E does speak (voiced by Ben Burtt), but he speaks in mechanical sounds. Stanton said, “I’m basically making R2-D2: The Movie.” I don't think the robots have traditional dialogue, but I'm guessing the people he meets up with in space might.

-Burtt took the stage to demonstrate how he’s bringing voice to the robots. He took many different mechanical sounds… the treads of Wall-E’s “feet”, the various bleeps and bloops, the compactor he is and the different servos that make that work… all that forms into dialogue. -Burtt did some live foley for us on the stage, but this is where I had to leave in order to catch my Robert Downey Jr. interview. As always, Pixar seems to be making another classic. I don’t know how these guys do it, but the little bit of production art they showed and the background Stanton and Burtt gave us had more heart and intelligence to it that 98% of films made. The ships look curved and smooth. No hard edges. Very white. Imagine Kamino from Episode 2 and you get a basic idea of the visual tone. I saw some production art of destroyed cities on earth, cars rotting, crumbled skylines sticking out of the earth like a corpse’s rotting teeth. There also seemed to be a piece of art that looked like Wall-E narrowly avoids some lava somewhere in the film. I also interviewed Andrew Stanton later this day and we talk much more about this flick. It’s a good interview so watch out for that. That’s about it. I have one more panel report to cover the last little nuggets from the Con, but this is it on the big stuff. Hope you enjoyed it! -Quint

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