Harry's Day 1 @ Comic Con: Alice, Tron, Dickens, New Moon, Hole, Final Destination, Avatar, District 9, Trick or Treat & more!!
Published at: July 24, 2009, 3:02 a.m. CST by headgeek
Hey folks, Harry here - what a first day of Comic Con. Fun, Surprising, Blissful, unbelievably kickass, rushed, stressful, panic attacks, addressing 4000 + people... and Brian Cox's tormented kitty cats! Yeah. That sounds like Comic Con to me.
This is the official first day of comic con, but the fact is, PREVIEW NIGHT - found me dropping over a $1500 on the floor on 2 killer t-shirts by WHITE NINJA comics' creator and an awesome tote bag from the QUESTIONABLE CONTENT creator, a killer FEZ for me to disguise myself with - and an original 28" long concept art piece of Malificent as the Dragon from SLEEPING BEAUTY's production. Tis sweet as cupcakes sprinkled with Splenda.
But that's not what you want to hear about - but for me, that's what Comic Con is about. It's about getting Treasures, big and small on the Floor. It's about meeting with fans, awesomely talented folks and clutching an original Frank Frazetta THUNDA page priced $17,500 and wondering if my Fez is enough of a disguise to get away undiscovered with. It's also about washing your hands in the bathroom next to Frank Darabont - and talking about what he's been buying... ORIGINAL Concept Art from the original ROLLERBALL (btw). Frank isn't here to announce anything. He isn't addressing the crowd... He's shopping and apparently stalking me in the potty!
I got wildly drunk last night - seem to remember Garth from DARK HORIZONS and I realizing that we had never actually met till that night, although we've known each other for over 13 years now. Then there were the beautiful ladies from DETROIT that bought me wine and chatted me up till around 2am, then the awesome SIDESHOW sculptor, his model and a burgeoning filmmaker that chatted me up till 3 am. SO - I started Day 1 of Comic Con with 3 hours of sleep. And felt great!
1st thing on the agenda was living in HALL H for 8 hours beginning with DISNEY's 3D panel and exhibition moderated by the amazing Patton Oswalt, which kicked off with Zemeckis and A CHRISTMAS CAROL. I have to say - it is amazing how different things looked after just a short 2 months on the Scrooge and Marley scenes. They're still great, but they're more fleshed out, better lit and rendered - and frankly, the 3D rocks. It reeked of atmosphere and quality. The scene of Marley with the coins upon his eyelids. GREAT. This is looking very good!
Next was ALICE IN WONDERLAND - we just got a look at a different trailer than the one that showed up online, albeit in 3D - This looks so fucking great! Watching Alice shrink into her own dress in 3D just was stunning - and that bastard evil cat... double damn squared! It is just FRIGHTENINGLY FREAKY! We got to see it 3 times - divided up with Q&A with Tim Burton and Patton - Burton's response to being asked if he'd ever direct a HARRY POTTER film was priceless... "You mean, now that they've all been made?" "I suppose we could do a spinoff about Harry's OWL." and many more barbs were just rich. Johnny Depp hitting the stage gave us a preview of the gal heavy audiences vocal abilities - and honestly... it was a crazier reaction than they even did later with Mr Hair & Perfect Skin.
Then the last Disney presentation was both my favorite and my most aggravating. Intellectually I know that they don't have anything solid to really show yet, they JUST WRAPPED photography this past Monday... as in, 3 days prior. But I didn't know that going in - and well - fuck it man, I'll be honest - I was wearing my Adidas TRON shoes I was so damn excited. And when the screenwriting team came up to talk to me... I geeked out pretty hardcore on them, but it was nothing compared to the FLYNN'S ARCADE metal token I was handed when I entered the HALL H. Seriously. Having a token from FLYNN's Arcade... that's a holy geek item - and everyone that entered was handed one. HOW COOL!
Anyway - as you saw in Merrick's posted piece - we got a great atmospheric slide show - but even better we got some footage of stunt performers doing AMAZING acrobatic moves that will be integrated into the DISC games we'll witness in the film. STUNNING stuff captured on a digital camera system that was capturing a thousand frames a second... in 3-D!!! Shit will be mind blowing when complete. But the big deal. Just being in the presence of Jeff Bridges. He just made the room collectively feel legit and cool. So Cool!
After that - we had a potpourri panel that lasted 45 minutes - that comprised of PARTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS - which looked fun as hell in 3D. Then we had Joe Dante come out with his film, THE HOLE. This isn't a giant film. This is Dante's stab at trying to recapture a bit of that 80's Spirit - with a horror film about a hole in the basement that you shouldn't mess with. The initial trailer didn't do much for me, but the scene... well - when a crazy scary marionette is tormenting the shit out of a little kid. That's the sort of joy I love from Dante. Apparently when you look into the abyss, the abyss of that hole looks back at you and conjures your greatest fear to - well, not tell you happy bedtime stories, that's for darn tootin'!!! The last bit was THE FINAL DESTINATION - again in 3D, and the 3D kills were just awesome. It tracked a great response in the Hall - and I have to say. I loved it.
The next panel gave us a break from 3D - and the second the head of programming for Comic Con hit the stage there were screams. A look at Yoko's Twitter phone revealed that Quint's Life Partner was rubbing up against Robert Pats in an elevator somewhere and wishing that he was diamond dusting his chimney no doubt. That's right - this was SUMMIT'S panel - and it kicked off with a nice early look at a not quite finished ASTRO BOY trailer that was quite fun - which was introduced by Freddie Highmore and Kristen Bell. And Freddie towers over Kristen btw. Really freaky to see he's hit his growth spurt. The audience liked it, but wasn't bowled over. As... well... the room was about 75% tweaking TWILIGHT gals.
Next was SORORITY ROW - which was intro'd by Briana Evigan, Leah Pipes, Rumer Willis and two other babes. Feels like a remake of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, but with the Sorority setting. I really didn't like much of this. The only blip on any Heart Monitor went off when I saw Carrie Fisher as a shotgun toting Sorority House Mother. But otherwise - Yawn.
Then... NEW MOON.
I would have killed to have seen Patton Oswalt moderating this panel. It would have been GENIUS! In fact - as a rule - COMIC CON needs to pay Patton whatever it would take to just handle all HALL H panels. The first guest to hit the stage to screams was director Chris Weitz, still smarting over idiotic studio re-editing of THE GOLDEN COMPASS, but truly it seemed he was feeling better over this experience. Next came Ashley Greene, the soothsaying vampire Alice Cullen. I have a serious crush on her. Then Kristen Stewart came out - I love her awkward fragile flower routine that she does in front of people. She's just looking like she can barely tolerate this type of experience. Then Taylor Lautner/Teen Wolf Jacob came out to intense screams. Of everyone - Taylor seemed absolutely in his element here. Answering every question to maximize the mania in this audience. It was actually kinda amazing watching him work this audience. He really gets it - and seems to love it. That was so releaving. And lastly - the strutting Pattinson appeared - the screams were the most piercing here. And he seemed to me to reflect a degree of disdain for all this. I believe that outside of the money and the credit to his career that this is doing - he really deep down would admit he regrets being Edward. He doesn't seem comfortable with the screams, the constant following and cult that has really overpowered him.
The footage wasn't really meant for me - both scenes were cut to appeal to the readers and the audience that was here. When Jacob takes his shirt off to wipe blood from Bella's brow... you couldn't have heard an Atomic Blast. Though curiously - Bella has inhuman blood that could not be absorbed or wiped by wolfboy's brown shirt. Wonder if that'll get done in post. Overall - I get the idea that Weitz will make an infinitely superior film to the first, and every member of the cast seemed to vastly prefer him to Katherine. Especially Robert. At least that's how I read them.
After that - the audience went from a female majority to a male majority with the impending awesome that was AVATAR. I do have to say - the snobbery that I've read from some of my fellow online Bloggers - kinda annoyed me, specifically when Devin from CHUD twittered that it was time for REAL GEEKS to get in. I'm sorry. But any film... any audience... that camps out overnight, travels from around the world, to see a glimpse of their Vampire movie stars and a brief glimpse at too short footage. They're REAL GEEKS in my book. They make their own T-shirts, costumes, outfits. They hang on every word, rumor and report. They're real geeks, just excited by the romance of young love and the fantasy of immortality. And that's cool. To see so many truly hot young women at Comic Con... that isn't a shame, that's a goddamn relief! Because at Comic Con - they'll become not real geeks, but BIGGER geeks - and just spending these first several panels with them - well, it was nice. There was a passion and a thrill and energy to the room that was missing when they had gone.
BUT - I have mixed feelings about them leaving before AVATAR's 25 minutes screened. One, I was glad that we wouldn't have screams... But I really wish they had seen AVATAR, because the burgeoning relationship and romantic possibilities between Zoe Saldana's Neytiri and Sam Worthington's Jake Sully. It was so magical, so enticing and so powerful that it would have instantly transformed all of them into campaigners for the film. I honestly believe that.
Before Cameron took the stage - Fox's Tom Rothman took the stage with a prepared monologue delivered with the oddest most aggressive forcefulness that I've ever seen. It kinda came off as though he felt the LOUDER he was, the more awesome everyone would think he was. Instead, it was just sort of... odd.
Jim came out and the room was absolutely intimidated. You could feel everyone just kinda nodding their heads as Jim earnestly and with true conviction showed us what one of the richest true blooded awesome geeks on this planet was like. A small town boy from Canada - whose town was a fraction of the population of the room... that grew up devouring science fiction novels and thinking and dreaming about the possibilities of OUT THERE. And this is his dream of what is out there.
You can see it in every frame of the film. This is Cameron's dream - a dream he wishes to share with all of us. And frankly - it blew me away. Quint did a great job describing the blow by blow of it all, but to me - the magic of Pandora came to life the second that Sam's Jake had his consciousness transferred into his Na'vi body. When I was paralyzed below the waist - I spent 6 months trying to wiggle my toes - and the facial glee that his character has at being able to wiggle his toes. For a signal from his brain to his feet to actually work... and that reaction. I'll never forget the moment when I saw my toes twitch and begin to move. It is... amongst the most amazing moments of my life. And the wonder and awe he has at being able to stand, towering over his fellow humans, to walk, awkwardly at first, but to be able to move... effortlessly. Its a dream I've been working towards the past few years - and I can not wait to get there.
I loved the performance that was coming through in this character as he played with Pandora - but when Zoe's Neytiri became involved. My jaw... dropped. It is seriously one of the most wonderful and awe-inspiring images I've seen in years. I was watching a completely unfettered collective of imaginations realized in such a beautiful, cinematic and thrilling manner that I just was stunned.
This film will be a cultural marker I feel. You'll always have people that feel cooler than anything that others love, but this is pretty stunning work - and in many ways - Jim was showing us the small scenes. The character beats. Not the huge stuff. At least as I know it from the scriptment all those years ago.
After AVATAR - Yoko and I decided to hit the floor for a bit, then head to the screening of DISTRICT 9.
This begins one of the most thrilling and painfully aggravating sequences of events of my day.
I was to host a Panel discussion of TRICK 'R TREAT with Michael Dougherty, Brian Cox and Lauren Lee Smith tonight, but I was assured by Sony that I'd have time to see DISTRICT 9 and get over to my panel. So I went. Unfortunately the event ran about 45 minutes late, which meant that at the tensest most intense points of the film... when everything is getting gi-fucking-normously awesome. I had to get the hell out of dodge.
But before that, I got to see about 4/5ths of a great great great movie! It begins with a bit of doc introductory stuff that coaxed me into a sensation that this was going to be a reflective film. One that was assembled for South African TV, this was funny, horrifying and amazing to watch. The acting was top notch - and not done tongue in cheek. It just felt earnest and real.
Then... BAM! You are in the movie. And holy shit it was great. I'm not even sure where the transition happened between the two formats - but suddenly I became aware that I was in a straight forward narrative - and entranced. The effects work from Weta - and the use of those effects by Neill Blomkamp in the complete service of the story was breathtaking.
I can't completely comment on the film - as I don't know how it ends, and I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW. When Yoko elbowed me and handed me her watch which read 9:05pm... the blood drained from my face. I realized - this was terrifyingly horrible to leave. I have been a champion of TRICK R TREAT for the past two years, but I was six strokes into one of the best cinematic brain fucks I've had in a while - and I had to pull out and run. As I hit the lobby - I saw a concerned Jeff Blake (Vice Chairman of SONY) notice me and Yoko rushing away from the film... way early... and as I passed him, I had to stop to ensure him that I loved what I was seeing, but had to rush to a panel. IT KILLED ME.
Then - Yoko and I catch a cab to dart back to the Convention center - and the driver puts my wheelchair in the trunk of his cab... awkwardly and not secure and then slammed the trunk down upon it 5 times till it shut. Yoko and I look at each other like... "WHAT THE FUCK!" When we arrived at the Convention Center - Yoko gets out to get my chair... and it won't unfold. Seriously. It just. It just was frozen. Both the cabbie and her begin pulling and yanking and trying to get it to work - and NOPE. Finally. As I had reached my breaking point - it finally opened up... but Jesus, Allah and Zeus... PANIC ATTACK. Seriously. Just horrifying. Luckily it is fine and in great shape - but goddamn it. I seriously have to get out of this fucking chair.
And my last event of the evening was TRICK R TREAT panel. It went extremely well. Dougherty and I have been chatting online several times a week since 2002 when he was working on X2. TRICK R TREAT premiered 2 years ago at my BUTT-NUMB-A-THON, which Dougherty has attended like a little school boy on Halloween night. So I had no real fear of him, but Brian Cox... the original Hannibal Lecter... William Wallace's fucking awesome scarred up Uncle... and so much more, well - he's pretty intense on screen, but in person - what a great guy. When he was talking about his lil Sam doll he keeps in the cupboard - and uses to torment his kitty cats. Well, how can you not love this guy? Seriously. So cool. The audience was fired up and rearing to go in the filled to maximum capacity BALLROOM 20.
Afterwards, Yoko was feeling a tad worn out - so we came back to the Hotel for a relaxing moment - which has become a very peaceful writing time for me - as she reads that first book that inspired TRUE BLOOD.
Well, I've got to check out the schedule to see what I'm doing tomorrow.
Good night - and Happy Comic Con!!!