San Diego Comic-Con 2010
San Diego Comic-Con 2010

Highlights and selected coverage from San Diego Comic-Con International, July 21-25, 2010

 

WEDNESDAY, JULY 21ST (Preview Night)

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THURSDAY, JULY 22ND

Megamind

“Megamind” is Dreamworks’ first superhero movie. After super-villain Megamind (Will Ferrell) kills his good-guy nemesis, Metro Man (Brad Pitt), he becomes bored since there is no one left to fight. He creates a new foe, Tighten (Jonah Hill), who, instead of using his powers for good, sets out to destroy the world, positioning Megamind to save the day for the first time in his life. Along the way, reporter and damsel in distress Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey) proves she doesn’t need anyone to save her.

Will Ferrell appeared dressed up in blue face paint and a semi-tacky, apparently hand-made costume vaguely reminiscent of his Megamind character, with donuts and orange juice for the audience. Tina Fey joined him, also bringing some donuts, along with Jonah Hill and a cardboard cutout of Brad Pitt. According to director Tom McGrath, Will Ferrell was the obvious choice for Megamind, a villain who becomes a villain through circumstance, only to realize that he may be playing for the wrong side. It’s a unique take to tell the story through the antagonist’s point of view.

During a brief Q&A, Ferrell admitted that his nemesis is Charlize Theron, while Tina Fey’s nemesis is Betty White. Jonah Hill commented that he “mostly makes R-rated movies,” so he’s excited that he’ll be able to show his kids or nephews one of his movies without being thrown in prison. When asked about the twist with his character (which is actually not a very well-kept secret – Titan becomes the villain), he sarcastically announced that he would be playing The Hulk in the new Avengers movie.

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Tron: Legacy and The Haunted Mansion

One of the most anticipated panels, Disney’s Tron Legacy presentation, featured a retrospective montage on Tron’s pop culture influences. Director Joseph Kosinski, producer Steven Lisberger, and stars Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen, and Bruce Boxleitner, joined the discussion, and rolled footage from the film as well as the new trailer. Kosinski stated that the original Tron was “conceptually decades ahead of its time,” and that the suits used for Tron Legacy would be fully illuminated, with no rotoscoping to create the glowing effect. Jeff Bridges plays two roles in the film, both as the older Flynn and the 35-year-old Clu 2.0.

With 27 years separating the original and the sequel, the Tron films mark the longest wait between the first and second of a franchise. Moderator Patton Oswalt joked about an “in memoriam” reel that was to be shown for all the fans that died during the wait. Jeff Bridges reiterated that Tron Legacy is a sequel and not a remake, and that this new film will stand on its own, meaning watching the original film won’t be necessary to understand this update. Unfortunately we believe that, just based on the footage, Tron Legacy won’t be nearly as much fun if you haven’t seen the 1982 science-fiction classic.

In our one-question interview with actress Olivia Wilde, we asked if after having made this film about video games, she gained a newfound appreciation for guys who play video games. She joked that she recently got back into playing video games and that the last game she played before was Duck Hunt. She commented that she was glad to be a part of Tron and that it has the best fans.

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Guillermo del Toro also showed up after the panel to announce the live-action remake of “The Haunted Mansion,” in 3D. It’s not a comedy, but it’s guaranteed to be scary and fun. The story will center around the Hatbox Ghost, reintroducing the mythology of the original park attraction.

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Battle: Los Angeles

Inspired on true events in 1942, in which 1500 rounds of ammunition were fired at strange aircraft in the sky, “Battle: Los Angeles” is a new science-fiction thriller by John Liebesman, slated for March 11th, 2011. The actual event influenced this alien attack, set in present day, where the original visit could have been a scouting mission for devious invaders. Along with producer Neal Moritz, and stars Michelle Rodriguez and Aaron Eckhart, he presented a trailer and extended footage of the alien invasion movie, featuring biomechanical baddies unlike anything he’d seen in monster movies before. He insisted upon no creatures or insects for the alien designs and was delighted in the idea of an alien invasion told solely from the point of view of a marine squad. Michelle Rodriguez commented on the three-week boot camp training, the 1st-person shooter footage, and her personal contributions to the story. A very nervous attendee practically professed his love for Aaron Eckhart, creating a memorably awkward moment for the star.

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Salt

Comic-Con 2010 Salt Panel, Hall H Presentation Exclusive Photos feature Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Director Phillip Noyce and Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

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RED

Based on the cult D.C. Comics graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, RED is an explosive action-comedy starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren. Frank (Willis), Joe (Freeman), Marvin (Malkovich) and Victoria (Mirren) used to be the CIA’s top agents – but the secrets they know just made them the Agency’s top targets. Now, framed for assassination, they must use all their collective cunning, experience and teamwork to stay one step ahead of their deadly pursuers and stay alive. To stop the operation, the team embarks on an impossible, cross-country mission to break into the top-secret CIA headquarters, where they will uncover one of the biggest conspiracies and cover-ups in government history.

The Massie Twins return to Comic-Con’s Hall H presentations with a two-on-two, one-question interview with Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren.

The Massie Twins: What do you think it would be like to be John Malkovich?

Helen Mirren: Ummm. (to Bruce Willis) Well first of all, which end do you want to be? Do you want to be the top end or the bottom end?

Bruce Willis: Well, John Malkovich is… (very long pause)

Helen Mirren: Well he’s the Renaissance man. He’s a clothes designer, he has a clothes line, he does one man shows, he does opera, he directs. He’s just the most extraordinary, talented man, and being the brilliant actor that he is, both serious and comedic, is only a small part of what John is. He’s also very kind and very sweet and incredible fun to be with. So we’re all big John Malkovich fans, as I’m sure you are as well.”

It was an honest answer, but not the humorous one we’d hoped for with the sarcastic “Being John Malkovich” lead.

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The Expendables

In one of the most entertaining panels of the day, Sylvester Stallone showed off footage and trailers from “The Expendables,” his latest actioner starring a veritable who’s who of action movie stardom. Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News fame moderated the panel, which featured Terry Crews, Steve Austin, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and writer/director Stallone. Sly worked the already pumped up crowd with Rocky trivia and a list of his injuries accrued during the film, including a 4-day hospital stay for a punch to the chest from Lundgren and actually getting his neck broken during a fight scene with Steve Austin. Bruce Willis dropped by for a surprise visit and Stallone almost had an arm-wrestling contest with Austin to round out the festivities. Highlights of the panel included the “tunnel fight” sequence footage which involved brutal fist fights and even more bloodthirsty knife duels as well as plenty of destruction from heavy weaponry. Stallone also joked with the notion that his films only do well when he gets hurt making them and offered his opinions on the ease of destroying property in Brazil (the filming location of much of the movie) as well as his attempts at getting Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris, and Jean-Claude Van Damme into the film. Knowles was likely correct in stating “The Expendables is the manliest movie ever made.”

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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

The Universal panel for “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” featured Edgar Wright, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, Alison Pill, Mark Webber, Johnny Simmons, Kieran Culkin, Satya Bhabha, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Mae Whitman, Anna Kendrick, and Aubrey Plaza.

Director Edgar Wright moderated his own panel with an unprecedented 13 special guests, plus a surprise visit from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (who unfortunately will NOT be in the film).  Due to the number of guests, Wright made his panel members answer all questions in one word, which added some humor and some much needed time for footage and Q&A. An extended trailer and a “music video” segment of footage was shown featuring the band “The Clash at Demonhead.” In a very surprising giveaway, a few hundred audience members were given a “1 Up” pin that entitled them to a private screening of the entire film with the director right after the panel ended. We actually received the 1 Up pins, but ended up giving them away to a young couple who were hopefully able to attend. Highlights of the session included jabs at Michael Cera’s scrawny figure and Wright’s sniper threats against those asking multiple questions at a time. The low point was Cera’s Captain America costume which he wore for the full duration of the panel.

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FRIDAY, JULY 23RD

Drive Angry 3D

Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, and Patrick Lussier showed up for the Drive Angry panel, a supernatural “hard-R” action flick tracing the bloody revenge of a father (Cage) chasing down the evildoers that killed his daughter, all while being hunted by The Accountant (Fichtner), an otherworldly collector for the devil. Cage seemed less energetic than his last appearance at Comic-Con, but still had a chuckle at our question to Amber Heard: “On the set, did Nicolas Cage act more like a Big Daddy or a Bad Lieutenant?” Cage told Heard to tell the truth and she joked that he was a bit of both, but it was an honor to star with the legendary actor. Another humorous inquiry questioned Cage’s apparent affinity with characters who are trying to escape from hell, to which the actor joked “You mean like my life right now?” The footage and trailers shown displayed plenty of action and violence, all in eye-popping 3D.

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Skyline

“Skyline,” a science-fiction thriller opening November 12th, 2010, is directed by Colin and Greg Strause, the owners of the special effects company Hydraulx (that worked on Fantastic Four, Terminator 3, and Avatar, and now currently working on Battle: Los Angeles). The panel also included stars Donald Faison, Eric Balfor, Scottie Thompson and Brittany Daniel. The idea for the movie was hatched over lunch while they were lamenting over the difficulty of getting a movie made – and the success of something as low-budget and independent as Paranormal Activity. They wanted to get away with making a movie in an apartment and worked incredibly fast, doing pre-production, production, and post-production inside of 11 months.

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Super

Liv Tyler, Rainn Wilson, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker, and Ted Hope walked on stage to introduce “Super.” Ellen Page also joined the panel, quite unexpectedly, giving it one more impressive cast member to tout its creativity. The synopsis: After his wife (Liv Tyler) falls under the influence of a drug dealer (Kevin Bacon), everyday guy Frank D’Arbo (Rainn Wilson) transforms himself into the Crimson Bolt, a superhero that fights everyday injustices. He lacks super powers, instead opting to wield a weighty wrench. Later, he’s joined by hopeful sidekick Boltie (Ellen Page) and is guided by visions of his favorite TV star The Holy Avenger (Nathan Fillion).

Unfortunately the synopsis sounds a lot like Kick-Ass, and even the events of the film seem a lot like the Matthew Vaughn action-comedy. An exclusive clip was shown, featuring a guy and a girl getting their heads smashed by Crimson Bolt’s mighty wrench after cutting in line at a show – at first it definitely seems more extreme, but considering the violence seen in Kick-Ass, maybe Super won’t even be able to top that. Director James Gunn mentioned that he’d started working on the script eight years ago and that it has really been hellish getting the film made. Also, we learned that Rainn got involved through Jenna Fischer, producer Ted Hope came onboard because of Twitter, that adding Bacon to anything makes it exponentially better, Rob Zombie makes a cameo as the voice of God, and that Rainn Twitters too much in real life.

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Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Guillermo del Toro unveiled footage and a trailer for “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” a remake of the acclaimed 1973 TV movie. Written by del Toro and directed by Troy Nixey, the film follows a young girl who moves into a new house with a terrible secret – and horrific creatures who wish to make her one of their own. Del Toro originally wanted the film to receive a PG-13 rating, but when submitted to the MPAA, it received an unalterable R rating for “pervasive scariness.” Considering this a badge of honor, del Toro proceeded to the Q&A segment with his regular verbal vulgarities, warning the audience “if children are in the audience, it’s too late. But you should leave now”. The word of the day was “motherf***er” and the hilariously foul-mouthed presenter compared filmmaking to sexual impulses and the lack of comedy in the film to the seriousness of venereal diseases. The footage shown was surprisingly intense, featuring some pretty brutal imagery and a masterful grasp on building anticipation. The final jump scare in the trailer proved so effective that our own photographer Joy (along with plenty of people in the audience) almost had a heart attack. Del Toro also revealed that his early film “Cronos” is coming to the Criterion DVD Collection, and his next project, which he will reveal in a few short months, will be another pure horror film.

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The Other Guys

In easily the most entertaining panel of the day, Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, and Eva Mendes promoted “The Other Guys,” a buddy cop action comedy that promises a lot of laughs with an impressive trailer and hilarious extra footage shown at the ‘Con. Will Ferrell laughed himself into tears just watching the trailers, especially during the scenes likely cut from the film (though hopefully they won’t be). The Q&A session provided some insight into the characters and the actors, though mostly it just offered several unbelievably funny moments of improvised inappropriateness. Mendes actually made some of the most hilarious comments, joking with and about underage audience members and that her “Citizen Kane” of movies is “Anchorman.” She even challenged an audience member to a Ron Burgundy “quote-off.” Will Ferrell, on the other hand, challenged anyone in the audience to a fistfight while holding nothing back in the verbal abuse department. It was all in good fun though at the Whale’s Vagina, even when the comedian mocked the audience, a squeaky-voiced inquirer, and sounded off with a “boner alert.” The panel ended with the reveal of the trailer for the brand new film, “The Virginity Hit,” which looked pretty awful and had essentially nothing to do with the stars on hand.

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The Green Hornet

Writer/star Seth Rogen, producer Neal Moritz, writer Evan Goldberg, director Michel Gondry, and star Christoph Waltz all made an appearance at the Green Hornet Panel.  Based on the popular TV series (and retaining influences from the radio show and serials), Rogen’s vision explores the oftentimes humorous relationship between Britt Reid (Rogen) and his “sidekick” Kato (played by Jay Chou), while Gondry’s visual style provides unique action sequences and a rather strange “Kato Vision” effect that zooms and targets specific areas like a video game focusing on points of interest.  Rogen attributed the film’s pushed release date (early next year) to the extensive time necessary to fully implement and perfect the 3D visuals – a delay necessary if The Green Hornet wishes to stand out amongst the deluge of 3D films releasing in the coming months.  The extended footage shown revealed both laughs and wild action and Rogen joked that the film looks badass because he doesn’t do a lot of his own stunts.

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Priest

Releasing in May of 2011, “Priest” is the first Tokyopop comic to be adapted for the big screen – and yet one more film dealing with the eternal struggle between mankind and vampires. At least this time out the post-apocalyptic setting and futuristic visuals are complemented by the 3D and Genndy Tartakovsky’s wild animation style (the opening prologue of the film, which was screened at the panel, was created by the genius behind Samurai Jack and Dexter’s Laboratory and was actually made completely in the U.S. and featured art from former Disney animators). The story revolves around a long-abandoned Priest (Bettany) who returns to his former occupation of vampire-killing when his niece is kidnapped by the eyeless beasts. Actors Paul Bettany, Maggie Q, Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet, and Stephen Moyer all appeared on the panel, as well as director Scott Stewart and renowned animator Tartakovsky. When asked about whether he continued with his martial arts training after the film wrapped, Paul Bettany stated that he’d only been working on his beer-drinking and cheese-eating skills. Maggie Q’s old track coach showed up to ask a question and her shocked surprise was more entertaining than their actual exchange.

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SATURDAY, JULY 24TH

Green Lantern

The “Green Lantern” panel was presented by comic book writer and creative consultant Geoff Johns and director Martin Campbell and featured actors Ryan Reynolds, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, and Blake Lively. A very brief trailer only offered a glimpse into the superhero movie and its characters, but Ryan Reynolds already hinted at a 3-film contract. We asked Mark Strong if his character in the film would “kick ass,” but the renowned actor didn’t seem to get the reference to his previous villain role and answered the question rather seriously. Maybe too many people in the audience were in the Roger Ebert camp and didn’t appreciate the superhero flick as much as we did. During the rest of the Q&A, Reynolds was asked what he would dress up as if he went to Comic-Con as a normal attendee, to which he responded, “I’d be a wookiee, so I could be both cute and dangerous.” Blake Lively said she’d go as a Harry Potter character and Geoff Johns joked that he would go as Ryan Reynolds. To close out the session, a young boy asked Reynolds to recite the Green Lantern oath and afterwards the star gave the boy a signed copy of the comic book.

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Sucker Punch

An extremely long trailer showcased Zack Snyder’s latest fantasy epic about a young girl who retreats to the bizarre and fantastical worlds of her mind when sent to a mental institution. Led Zeppelin music played over burlesque dances, samurai swordfights, fire-breathing dragons, heavily-armored mechs, crashing airships, and scantily-clad warrior women fighting for their lives. The scope of the worlds was impressive, though the amalgamation of so many clashing genres might become overwhelming if not handled correctly. The panel included Snyder and five of the leading ladies – Emily Browning, Jena Malone, Jamie Chung, Vanessa Hudgens, and Carla Gugino. In our typical one-question, one-on-one, we asked the director how much better it was to work with an all female cast as opposed to the all male one seen in his previous film “300.” He didn’t offer a humorous answer, but did say the girls were excited about their roles and more than willing to dive into whatever wild predicaments the characters found themselves in. Before watching the trailer for the second time (a tradition started several Comic-Con’s ago with the “300” trailer), Snyder announced he will be working on a follow-up movie to “300,” entitled “Xerxes,” which is currently being created by Frank Miller.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Two extended trailers for the conclusion to the Harry Potter series met with heavy applause and wild screams and actor Tom Felton (who plays Draco Malfoy) made a surprise appearance to talk about his experiences throughout the franchise. He thanked his costars and joked that Daniel Radcliffe cried like a baby when filming wrapped on the last movie. No Q&A followed, but both films will be in 3D as well as IMAX.

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Let Me In

Hammer Films, famous for their 70s and 80s horror films (many starring Christopher Lee) is now releasing “Let Me In,” out October of this year. Upcoming works are to include remakes of Quatermass, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, and Cronos, among others. “Let Me In” is a remake of the original Swedish film “Let the Right One In,” about a little boy who is terribly bullied, but finds a unique friend in his next door neighbor – a young vampire girl that must feed on fresh human blood, and wants to stand up for the boy. Is this just another remake? The trailer looks awfully similar to the original film, which is only a few years old. The director of “Cloverfield,” Matt Reeves, is helming the film, with “The Road’s” Kodi Smit-McPhee as the young boy, and Chloe Grace-Moretz (“Kick-Ass”) as the vampire. Richard Jenkins also joined the panel, playing the role of the vampire’s elderly caretaker.

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Resident Evil: Afterlife

“Resident Evil: Afterlife” is the fourth part in the successful Resident Evil franchise, nearly catching up to the number of video games Capcom has already unleashed. Director Paul W.S. Anderson led the panel, joined by his wife and star Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter in a returning role, and Wentworth Miller as Wesker, a fan favorite character from the games. Anderson embraced the idea of shooting in 3D and always knew that would be the way to go, especially after obtaining the same cameras used for James Cameron’s revolutionary Avatar. 3D is the new benchmark and composition, framing, pacing, editing and set designs are all altered specifically for the 3D design. Poor Milla was a bit overenthusiastic about her own work shown in exclusive footage (which included a full fight sequence with the Executioner zombie from Resident Evil 5), most of which is so extremely over-the-top, overdramatic, and drenched in slow-motion and pauses for poses, that it looks nothing short of just plain ridiculous.

When asked about the making of “Afterlife,” Anderson commented on Resident Evil 5’s inspiration to add undead dogs with face-splitting maneuvers, the role of Wesker, taking each film one at a time without contemplating further sequels, and just about everyone getting hurt during various stunts. Wentworth used the internet for feedback on his character, going to fan sites to find out what people expected, as well as using the original video games for back story. Jovovich also, hilariously, educated the audience on kukri knives and Tibetan monk practices.

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SUNDAY, JULY 25TH

Convention Floor Pics

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