San Diego Comic-Con 2012
San Diego Comic-Con 2012

Highlights and selected coverage from San Diego Comic-Con International, July 11-15, 2012

 

WEDNESDAY, JULY 11TH (Preview Night)

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THURSDAY, JULY 12TH

Frankenweenie

The “Frankenweenie” panel featured an appearance by Tim Burton, who discussed some behind-the-scenes elements of the film, including the inspiration from his frequent nightmares of going to school, which transformed into very peculiar characters as classmates for the lead. He also talked about the stop-motion animation techniques and his fondness of it, along with the fruition of a feature-length version of his live-action short “Frankenweenie” from 1984. The black-and-white animation is the way he always envisioned a larger project – one that could explore supporting roles and further settings beyond the quick introduction of Victor and his electrical resurrecting of his dog Sparky. The film features voice work by Martin Landau as Mr. Rzykruski, Christopher Lee, Martin Short, and Winona Ryder. Audiences were treated to an extended 3D trailer and two clips.

Oz the Great and Powerful

The “Oz the Great and Powerful” panel featured director Sam Raimi, who discussed the making of the film and its focus on how Oz came to become the notorious supreme magician of the land, from humble beginnings in a black-and-white Kansas to getting sucked into a tornado that transports him to a fantastical world of vivid color. Raimi confirmed that the ruby slippers, which are copyrighted by the 1939 Judy Garland classic, won’t be making an appearance, and that none of the other recognizable characters, such as the Tin Man and the Scarecrow, would be in this new vision, as it takes place prior to Dorothy’s visit. The story is compiled from many of Baum’s Oz books, with the gaps filled in by screenwriter Mitchell Kapner’s imagination. James Franco stars as Oz. As a special treat, Michelle Williams (playing Glinda) and Mila Kunis (playing Theodora) joined Raimi onstage to take a few questions from the audience.

Wreck-It Ralph

The “Wreck-It Ralph” panel featured director Rich Moore discussing his movie about a classic arcade game bad guy becoming unhappy with his role and deciding to move into other neighboring games to become a hero – unwittingly unleashing a new enemy from the action-packed first-person shooter, “Hero’s Duty.” The always funny John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman appeared in person to talk about the easy yet educational process of voice acting. Silverman’s character is the annoyingly whiny Vanellope von Schweetz, which is unfortunately the only character introduction that seems to sour the creative premise, which includes many recognizable arcade game characters – the rights to which were apparently fairly easy to obtain. Other cast members include Jane Lynch, Jack McBrayer, and Stefanie Scott.

CZ12: The Chinese Zodiac

The movie stars Jackie Chan and Kwone Sang Woo, with a special guest appearance by Oliver Platt. It’s filmed in multiple territories, including China, France, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vanuatu, Australia, and Latvia. The panel featured the trailer premiere (which revealed the title to actually, awkwardly, be “Chinese 12 Zodiac” and a Q&A with Jackie Chan himself, who was jovial and a lot of fun. His English is still a bit rough, and the Q&A included a few questions that weren’t interpreted entirely correctly (the most insulting of which was simply worded poorly, asking if he preferred not to work in ensemble films such as “The Expendables”). Interestingly enough, he admitted that he was filming Chinese 12 Zodiac at the time, and so had to turn down the opportunity – but he was indeed asked to be a part of “The Expendables.”

He went on to say that he would love to work with Stallone, and that in the future he hopes to be approached to be in more serious acting roles (outside of the realm of martial arts) by major American filmmakers – and that he’d love to meet Al Pacino, Robert de Niro, and Dustin Hoffman. Chan was joined onstage by costar Laura Weissbecker, who spoke briefly about how wonderful it was to work with Jackie. The legendary filmmaker announced that Chinese 12 Zodiac would be his final “big” martial arts film, aiming to take his future works in the direction of more drama or humor and less complexly-choreographed action/adventure.

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The Expendables 2

Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, Jean Claude Van Damme, and Arnold Schwarzenegger joined the panel discussion, which focused on the ideas behind collaborating with so many famous action stars and how it could get the draw necessary for success. Schwarzenegger was a huge hit, being welcomed with plenty of applause. Lionsgate assembled two montages of Stallone films and Arnold films that highlighted their most famous, explosive roles. Schwarzenegger was also presented with the 2012 Comic-Con Inkpot Award for his contribution to pop culture in the film category.

The Massie Twins got to do their recognizable one-question interview, asking if the former governor of California would reveal any details on the sequel to the movie “Twins.” He replied with his intention of doing a follow-up with Ivan Reitman tentatively titled “Triplets,” and that he was still very much interested in comedies, despite being in production on several new adventure films slated over the next couple of years.

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FRIDAY, JULY 13TH

Resident Evil: Retribution

Appearing in person for the event were Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Oded Fehr, Boris Kodjoe, Mika Nakashima, and writer/director Paul W. S. Anderson. The panel featured a preview and discussion of the highly successful film franchise, based on the popular video game series, and exclusive never-before-seen footage from this latest installment, “Resident Evil: Retribution,” in state-of-the art 3D. It all seems a bit too familiar – both the footage and the Comic-Con panel itself – with the return of both Rodriguez and Jovovich, while also being a touch short, thanks to a 30-minute time slot, which seems very much like filler. Milla revealed that there will likely only be one more film after this – one in which the story is brought to a close and her character might possibly be disposed of. But as with the two resurrected characters on the panel, it’s quite obvious that as long as money is being made, even the death of a leading role can’t stop reappearances and continuations.

Total Recall

It’s particularly fitting that this picture, with its distinct focus on deja vu, would receive yet another Hall H presentation. Cranston received the biggest applause, while Farrell landed the majority of the Q&A questions. He humorously commented on his transitioning from smaller, independent films to larger roles, the decision not to use his natural Irish accent for his character, and filling Arnold’s shoes – which he was not trying to do.

This version is intended to reinvent the imagery, the setting (this film no longer takes place on Mars), and the characters, although there are elements of the original film that will inevitably work their way into this new incarnation, including the three-breasted hooker, chick fights, and Beckinsale’s Lori mercilessly pursuing her husband. Cranston spoke briefly about his vision of Cohaagen, while director Wiseman guaranteed that “Total Recall” would be a brand new adventure that won’t feel recycled.

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Looper

Unfortunately Bruce Willis was unable to join the group, with writer/director Rian Johnson admitting that he was currently filming a new Die Hard movie overseas. The Massie Twins got to conduct their one-question interview, this time playing up to the fact that they previously engaged in a hilarious conversation with Emily Blunt four years prior. Asking Levitt, “What was the best part about working with Emily Blunt?” he responded with a rather serious comment about the rarity of working with a woman who was both pretty and funny. What a shame she didn’t recognize us!

Elysium

The “Elysium” panel featured Matt Damon and Jodie Foster joining writer/director Neill Blomkamp and producer Simon Kinberg on stage. They presented footage that demonstrated Blomkamp’s obsession with depressingly disheveled, post-apocalyptic futures, this time with the rich and powerful leaving Earth to a spaceship called Elysium, where sickness and crime are nonexistent. Back on the desert-like Earth, poverty is everywhere, along with robotic police, criminals, manual labor, and death. Max (Damon) suffers an accident that leaves him with only 5 days to live – unless he can get to Elysium, where the remedy is readily available. He seeks out an underground crime ring that sets him up with powerful prosthetics and a mission to swipe valuable digital information from an Elysium official (William Fichtner), forcing Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster) and a right-hand-man supersoldier (Sharlto Copley) to hunt down and kill the rebellious Max.

SATURDAY, JULY 14TH

Django Unchained

Disappointingly, Leonardo DiCaprio (as Calvin Candie) and Samuel L. Jackson (as Stephen, his right-hand house slave) were absent from the panel. Tarantino made up for it with approximately eight minutes of footage, cut roughly to match the “sizzle reel” originally used to excite the producers. And he was joined by star Jamie Foxx. The panel also included Christoph Waltz, in the role of the seasoned gunfighter who must teach Jamie Foxx’s Django to become a bounty hunter. Don Johnson appeared, playing the part of a more light-hearted plantation owner, and rounding out the guests was Kerry Washington, as Django’s love interest Broomhilda von Shaft. Tarantino revealed breaking news about Jonah Hill being added to the cast last minute, in a comedic cameo as a pre-KKK member of the “Regulators” who apparently has a moment so hilarious that it rivals the code-name-assigning scene in “Reservoir Dogs.” Tarantino admitted that it just might be the funniest thing he’s ever written.

End of Watch

The panel itself featured writer/director David Ayer and star Michael Pena (but sadly no Gyllenhaal), who spoke about the rigorous four-months of preparing for the role, doing ride-alongs with real LAPD and neighboring California police units, and studying martial arts, fighting techniques, and gun lessons for the stunning realism depicted in the film. Lots of cameras attached to moving bodies gives the film a stirring shaky-cam immediacy, and the smaller budget of the project allowed Ayer to get final cut and do everything he wanted to without compromising creativity to bigwigs.

Silent Hill: Revelation

Based on the groundbreaking video game franchise from Konami, “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” is the sequel to the hit film “Silent Hill.” A world premiere of 3D footage was presented by special guests Adelaide Clemens (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Kit Harington (HBO’s Game of Thrones), director Michael J. Bassett, and producer Samuel Hadida. Two clips were shown, edited around a moment with the nurses and with the mannequin spider monster that didn’t get too bloody – but Bassett assured audiences that the movie was a hard R, and would visualize some very disturbing creations and imagery. Associates from Universal Studios unveiled plans for a Silent Hill maze to be built for Universal Horror Nights this Halloween at both the Holllywood and the Orlando theme parks.

Pacific Rim

The whole principal cast joined the panel, with del Toro revealing a good chunk of footage. Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures really pulled out all the stops for this presentation. del Toro promised 5-6 different types of massive robots and 7-8 monsters, each with their own special powers and unique capabilities. The project looks epic in scope and scale, but it’s still very early to tell how the story will fit with giant robots fighting giant behemoths.

This presentation was followed by the completely unannounced teaser trailer of a new Godzilla movie adaptation, as well as with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis debuting their trailer of “The Campaign,” which featured Ferrell hilariously punching a baby in the face. This segment was one of the highlights of the day, with the moderator creating some awkwardness by asking for audience questions prior to the footage, and Ferrell subsequently making fun of participants for their unpreparedness.

Man of Steel

This panel featured the always overconfident Zack Snyder presenting exclusive footage of his new vision (with producer Christopher Nolan) of the legendary DC Comics hero tentpole. Expectedly, the footage was shown more than once, and star Henry Cavill joined Snyder for a quick Q&A session. While Snyder was intent on preserving secrets, it was revealed that the villain for Man of Steel would be General Zod (played by Michael Shannon), and that Clark Kent would be more relatable than in the past. The approach to filmmaking was to pretend that this was the first theatrical adaptation of Superman, and that none of the other previous projects existed. Hans Zimmer will be starting the score in about five weeks.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The panel itself included Peter Jackson – to introduce and showcase over ten minutes of exclusive footage, with scenes from both “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again” – Martin Freeman as Bilbo, Ian McKellan as Gandalf (who generously visited the Hall H campers the night before), Andy Serkis (who was asked to use his Gollum voice just for fun), and Elijah Wood (Frodo), presumably stolen away from the “Wilfred” panel to make a special appearance. Quite a few familiar faces will return for this new two-part epic, including Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett, and Christopher Lee. The panel was also treated to a lengthy behind-the-scenes/making-of mini-documentary leading up to the final day of shooting for part one.