In which we give you a recap of the biggest presentations from Thursday to Saturday at Comic-Con...
Saturday: No one expected Day 3 to be such a manic day—the geek convention got down and dirty…literally. Green Lantern and Harry Potter fans showed up in record numbers, costing hundreds of fans a ticket into Hall H, including myself...
..so we begin instead with Let Me In, an American horror film based on the John Ajvide Lindqvish novel and the Swedish film Let the Right One In. Director Matt Reeves, Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Richard Jenkins chatted with fans about the complexities of this dark tale. The film follows the life of Owen (Smit-McPhee) who befriends a girl vampire (Moretz). Based on the sneak peek trailer fans got to watch, the story of these two kids focuses mostly on the pain of adolescence. This is Reeves’s first time directing children, so he went to none other than Steven Spieldberg for advice: “He told me to let them come up with stuff and have them keep a journal in character…from the point of view of the character.” If you’re wondering about Richard Jenkins’s role, he plays Moretz’s father who helps her hunt for blood.
The fourth installment of the Resident Evil franchise was received by fans with arms wide open. Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Wentworth Miller, and director Paul W. S. Anderson exuded a contagious excitement for Afterlife. According to Anderson, this 3D film used the same cameras James Cameron used in Avatar. Jovovich exuded her contentment with the film, saying, “We all got into loving it, it’s a crazy wild adventure…I have the kind of character that keeps evolving. I get to come back over and over again and tweak things. This time [Alice] is more human and ready to get her friends and defeat Umbrella.”
Then came the madness...as soon as the panel finished and the cast exited the stage, lights slowly came back up, and revealed an unexpected altercation blowing up between two males. From my firsthand point of view…it all happened in a split second. One man was in a choke hold and before you could call for help the two men were on the floor. According to reports, a man was stabbed above the eye. It’s important to point out that security was very late in responding. The crowd was screaming for help and a medic and Comic-Con personnel were a little too late. Paramedics took the stabbing victim away in a stretcher, and two men were apprehended. Afterwards, trailers were played to distract the massive crowd, but the momentum seemed to be completely lost. Before long, the cast of the animated Paul was on stage.
For all those alien lovers out there, Paul is definitely one movie that will entertain you. Seth Rogen voices Paul, an alien that enters the life of two sci-fi geeks whose road trip to Comic-Con takes them on an insane adventure. Sigourney Weaver, Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, and Jeffrey Tambor round out the cast. The team tried filming at the San Diego Convention Center but the fire-marshal responded with a “**** no,” so the crew had to rebuild the Comic-Con convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
And then, just when you thought you couldn’t gain back that zest and fervor in Hall H… Harrison Ford hit the stage. The Comic-Con virgin electrified the crowd, who welcomed him with a standing ovation. But get this—Ford came out in handcuffs and was escorted by three security guards to his seat…so thanks, Harrison, for breaking the tension after that unnecessary altercation.
Cowboys and Aliens stars Ford and Daniel Craig, and director Jon Favreau presented exclusive footage, but, due to schedule delays, the panel didn’t have an opportunity to chat with fans. Favreau promised fans to come back to Comic-Con next year.
The much-anticipated panel for Captain America: The First Avenger finally took stage. President of Marvel Comics Kevin Feige introduced the panel—Director Joe Johnston, Chris Evans, and Hugo Weaving. Captain America takes place in the early '40s and the crew has only been shooting for a few days. “This is a classic adventure love story with an edge,” said Johnston. Evans admits that taking on this role was “intimidating and daunting…I’ve been on set for five days, we eased into things...the suite is fantastic.” According to Feige, “This really is the next step for us and you’re gonna want to see what we’ve done."
The day concluded with Thor, another Marvel classic. Director Kenneth Branagh said the goal was to create a clean, classy, modern, punchy, destructive and cool action film. Anthony Hopkins co-stars, although he wasn’t able to make it to Comic-Con. Star Chris Hemsworth says, “He brings the most enthusiasm on set. At times, he would look at me and say, ‘God isn’t this fun.’” Hemsworth says he’s been preparing for the role since he got it nine months ago: “I got a bunch of books of men finding their way in life, noirs mythology, comic-books and just filled up with as much info and soaked it up since I had not read the comics as a child."
Fans asked Feige what happened with the controversial ousting of Edward Norton, and he responded with, “We love consistency and The Hulk will live on” regardless of cast members, producers, etc. This prompted the crowd to throw some serious boo’s towards Feige...can you say awkward?
But, just when you thought it was over…the monitors dimmed out...and revealed an Avengers logo, with Samuel L. Jackson doing a voice over…the next thing you know Jackson was there on stage, introducing the cast members which included Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo…on such a mad, mad day, it was the perfect and preferred way to end it.
Friday: The chaos and over-zealous reactions from fans in Day 1 have died down a bit by Day 2, which began with none other than Nicolas Cage, who seems to be starring in most of this summer's movies. Drive Angry is Cage's newest gig. The revenge action thriller tells the story of a father seeking revenge after his daughter is killed—a la Edge of Darkness.
Nic adamantly said he likes characters that raise more questions than answers: "My character is driven. He's not on drugs but he does enjoy a bit of sugar…there's just something about this character that is a mystery." Nic fans have nothing to worry about though—he promises to keep making films as crazy as they can be. "I'm eclectic and always looking to push the boundaries…at this point in I'm opening my options."
Director Colin and Greg Strause said their latest project Skyline began while they were chatting with friends over the difficulty of making movies—and then Paranormal Activity came out. So the duo decided to shoot their own film. "We wrote, designed, and shot in less than eleven months," said G. Strause. "If you hate it—we can't blame anyone." The film highlights the lives of young professionals battling to survive an alien invasion in Los Angeles.
Switching to comedy, director James Gunn, Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, and Liv Tyler made their way into Hall H to promote the pseudo-superhero comedy Super. Kevin Bacon, who plays a drug dealer that ultimately destroys Wilson's marriage with Tyler, was a no-show. The hilarious plot takes a comic turn when Wilson decides to become a superhero to win his wife back, and Page becomes his (thirsty for action) side-kick. Thrilled to join the low-budget film, Page admitted to falling in love with her character. "She's a lunatic, she's got issues, and she's ready to kill anyone." Although the shooting process was hellish, according to Gunn, the trailer and exclusive footage had the Comic-Con crowd in stitches.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark—its mission is to scare the living day lights out of you. Guillermo Del Toro, writer and producer for the film, introduced the trailer, and, trust me, people were thankful when the lights came back on. Toro's reaction to the trailer? "What the **** was that?!" The film is directed by Troy Nixie, Del Toro's protégé. According to Del Toro, "Horror needs to have balls and those balls need to be sweaty and wrinkled…[this film] combines fairy tale and horror based on the original film." And if you're wondering how scary this film is, Del Toro says it's meant to hit you "like a mother-******." (Pardon his French).
Up next, the h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s cast of The Other Guys! Will Ferrell, Eva Mendes and Mark Wahlberg had the crowd in tears. There wasn't much talk about film since the trio was too busy chatting about Anchorman, Eva dating under aged-boys, and Wahlberg shouting out profanity in Hebrew.
The much-anticipated panel for The Green Hornet was the last featured film of the day. Seth Rogen and Christoph Waltz received a lot of praise and love from fans. Seth admitted that his costume mask was a "pain in the @$$, I developed pimples—a rash almost, I was sweaty most of the time." But, jokes aside, Seth, a life-long comic book fan, was one of the writers on this project and says the great thing about Hornet is the relationship story line created around the action heroes. Waltz plays the villain in this film, so, when fans asked how subtle his role was, he answered, "I was asked to play a very subtle character and was handed a double barrel gun…so that's as subtle as I can be."
Thursday: Day 1 at Comic-Con got off to a frenzied start as rumor hit the streets that Brad Pitt would be making an appearance. Sadly, he was a no-show, apparently staying back to watch the kids so wife Angelina Jolie could promote Salt. Instead, his costars in Dreamworks’ animated Megamind, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey and Jonah Hill, were on hand in Hall H. Ferrell voices a down-and-out alien super villain, so in true Ferrell style he showed up in character, with a bright blue face and a mega headpiece. Who have been their biggest menaces over the years? Ferrell called out Charlize Theron, saying he didn’t want to get into it but there was “bad blood” there. Tina Fey named Betty White, and Hill named…Mel Gibson’s girlfriend. As discussion flourished on the Mel scandal, Hill concluded by saying, “I don’t support him but I do think Jews killed Jesus.”
Talk about getting the crowd going! Up next: Tron: Legacy. Jeff Bridges, Olivia Wilde, Garrett Hedlund and director Joseph Kosinski greeted screaming fans and surprised the audience by asking them to follow a series of steps in order to be part of the film. The task at hand: the audience had to meticulously execute numerous prompts—screaming in a clear unified voice (Disk! Wars!, Rinz! Ler!, Dee! Rez!). If they recorded clear takes, the director promised to use it on the final movie cut. Fans were also treated to eight minutes of footage with spectacular scenes and a glimpse of Jeff Bridges playing an avatar who looks like a 35-year-old version of Kevin Flynn—yes, Bridges goes back in time, thanks to modern technology.
Before long, Angelina Jolie took center stage. Director Phillip Noyce began by saying it was Jolie’s “zest for action and violence” that allowed the team to take her ideas and develop a character that transcends gender. Jolie’s character Evelyn Salt, a CIA officer accused of being a Russian spy, was originally written for Tom Cruise. But Jolie took ownership and performed all her stunts. At the end of the day, says Jolie, “It was about hand-to-hand combat—getting down and dirty and just punching each other.”
Guillermo del Toro made a surprise appearance and overjoyed audiences when he talked about his latest project – Haunted Mansion, inspired by the Disneyland theme park ride. The talented director of Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone says this project is a dream come true. He told fans the movie will be released in 3D and his goal is to make a scary film, not a comedy.
Another action-packed film RED (Retired Extremely Dangerous) made its trailer debut at Comic-Con and Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker, Bruce Willis, and Karl Urban made an appearance. Mirren immediately confessed to how intimidated she was to work in a different genre, especially an action movie. The film is a comic book adaptation in which Mirren, Willis, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman play retired CIA agents—little did they know that knowing too much would make them prime targets, and now the agency they once worked for is out to kill them. Side note: Parker couldn’t keep a straight face as she talked about Alec Baldwin’s advice to her: “look like you have to pee and it will make it seem as if you’re in danger.”
A roaring, testosterone-driven crowd welcomed the cast of The Expendables, an old-school return to the bad-ass‘80s that makes you want to hit the gym. Terry Crews entered Hall H by ripping off his shirt, followed by Steven Austin, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone. These deadly human machines brought intense fighting sequences to life with a few injuries along the way. Stallone got his neck broken by Austin, which resulted in three screws to the head! Ouch! In Austin’s defense, he says, “If the writer, director and producer tell you to beat him…you kick the sh*t out of him.” For die-hard action movie fans: the cast of the The Expendables agrees that the film is a sincere love letter dedicated to all of you.
Jamming to crazy beats, the cast of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World rocked their way into Hall H at the end of the day. The increasingly unpredictable Michael Cera stepped up to the mic in a Captain America costume. Besides the crazy gear, Cera was in an oddly sarcastic mood, addressing questions with off –the-wall answers. Jason Schwartzman chimed in and revealed his favorite scene in the film, “I love the shower scene with Michael Cera. The training paid off.” Cera added, “We shot it over two weeks, it was challenging but great.” The big surprise came when director Edgar Wright announced he would take a select few to a private screening of the film.