Ahoy, squirts! Quint here, about to begin my 6 hour drive back to Austin from Shreveport. I was tinkering with my final MIST set report (to go up tonight) when this report from WonderCon came in from Buddy-L. It sounds like every year WonderCon grows and grows, really becoming a compliment to the big daddy of them all: San Diego Comic-Con. The Spidey 3 footage shown (an early look at the trailer premiering tomorrow on HEROES, I believe) sounds fucking amazing. Expletive needed... Doc Connors... Venom... goosebumps, guys. Can't wait! Buddy also gives us a lot of detail on the other panels of the day. Thanks for the good work, man! Enjoy the report, squirts!
Hey, fellas. Since no one has reported on it, I thought you might like a heads-up about this years WonderCon. Yesterday was the 2nd day (I went the first day, too, but after I got home from the 300 screening, I was dead tired--I'll report about that day later) and is the ComicCon tradition, Saturday is the big movie day. The second day it was all about the Esplanade Ballroom of the Moscone South building. It was scheduled to start at 11:00, but didn't start till noon. First they showed the RATATOUILLE teaser we've all seen, then they brought out Brad Bird. Bird joked that with so many sequels coming out this summer, that he should rename the film RATATOUILLE 1. "'Cause you've got DIE HARD 4, SPIDER-MAN 3, ALIEN vs PREDATOR 2..." He went on to explain the story: A rat named Remy (Patton Oswalt) lives with his family in the French coutryside, until Remy has them discovered and kicked out. Now he's on his own in the city of lights. Remy is unusually skinny because he only likes human food, not rat food (Bird showed sketches that emphasised a more emaciated appearance). Although Remy's personality was written by Bird, he heard Patton Oswalt do a routine about a "steakhouse" and decided he was the one for the job. Other characters include Remy's glutton brother (voiced by a Pixar animator who also did the voice of Dash's teacher in THE INCREDIBLES), their dad (Brian Dennehy), a hapless garbage boy-turned-chef named Linguini (Lou Romano), a snooty food critic named Anton Ego (Peter O'Toole), the evil restaurant owner named Skinner (Ian Holm), and the ghost of the restaurant's previous proprietor/Master chef named Gusteau (Brad Garret). Remy has long been a fan of Gasteau's food and imagines his ghost coming to him. THE FIRST (really funny) CLIP showed Remy & the ghost looking down on the kitchen from the skylight as Gusteau quizzes Remy on who each member of the kitchen staff must be. They watch as a clumsy Linguini ruins a soup--Remy freaks. He enters the kitchen (in that typical Pixar way of his POV while trying not to get chopped, stepped on, or found) and--as if by instinct--drops proper ingredients into the soup (I know, I don't make it sound like much... but I'm not Brad Bird and you haven't seen this footage). He's spotted by Linguini, leading to an awkward stare between the two. THE NEXT CLIP shows a caught Remy trapped in a glass jar. Skinner orders Linguini to take him out and kill him. Linguini bikes to the pier, but feels too guilty to toss Remy in. While talking, he realises Remy understands his words: "I'm not a good chef am I?" [Remy shakes his head] "But YOU are!" Linguini promises to let him go if he helps him in his kitchen. Remy agrees, but no sooner does Linguini open the lid then Remy runs off. However, guilt captures him as he looks back on the pathetic would-be chef. He runs back to him. Bird then brought out Patton Oswalt and the two had several jokes at the expense of Oswalt expanded waistline. They then went to questions. The first was if this movie would follow in the Pixar tradition of John Ratzenberg as a character and Randy Newman doing music. Bird: "No Randy Newman." [Large Applause, Bird is bit taken aback by it] He said his composer from THE INCREDIBLES would be on this film, "and as for John Ratzenberger, well, he's been in all of Pixar's films and they've all been sucessful--why tempt fate?" When asked what the like least/best about working on the movie, Oswalt proclaimed how much he loved being on the Pixar campus which stresses creative freedom even among its cubicled employees. Bird said the tight schedule was hard as the story (by the guy who created GERI'S GAME) and character designs had already been made, but Bird had to write an etirely new script and go from there in a (relatively) short amount of time. Nevertheless, he says it was well worth the effort, because he felt creatively "spontaneous. I'm psyched!" Oswalt: "But because of the tight schedule, he wouldn't incorporate my idea of Remy fighting robot ninjas." There were understandably a lot of IRON GIANT fans in the crowd (myself included) as each mention of the title got a great reaction. Bird was asked if he planned to return to hand-drawn animation anytime soon? He said that his next directorial project would be his first live action, but stressed that he'd love to do a 2-D animated film soon: "Cell animation is NOT dead!" He went on to say that his ideal career would be to alternate between live-action, CGI, and cell projects every now and then. When it was my turn, I asked if--given how much Disney goes to promote "their" Disney Digital 3-D, would this or any upcoming Pixar film (which has been the only part of Disney not take part) use the technology. He explained that Lasseter and the boys at Pixar are a bit gun-shy to go 3-D after doing some IMAX 3D tests years ago that didn't live up to their standards, BUT they're still exploring the projection tech. I then asked "It's been rumoured since the first film came out, but only you can say for sure--will there be an INCREDIBLES 2 ?" He emphasised that he really, REALLY loves the characters and would love to re-visit them, "BUT it has be because there's a story there. I don't do sequels just to do them, neither does Pixar; I'd have to come up with a genuinely good story. But I love the characters." The next person asked how much the on-screen action is dictated by the writer vs. the storyboard artist? Bird: "I do both. I work thoroughly with camera angles. I do it myself because I don't want people 'constructing my sentences.' But I've worked with great people who understand how I work. Our strategy for this film was that it would be seen [primarily] from Remy's POV; even Linguini is looked up at as if from the floor." Q: "How many films does Pixar have in production at any given time?" Bird: "Right now, five-to-six, either in 'embryonic' stage or full story reels made. Our next one will have its teaser in front of RATATOUILLE." Q: "Do you have any advice for an animator on how to build story?" Bird: "The 'art of animation writing'--what is that? THE SIMPSONS isn't 'animation writing', it's comedy writing." Oswalt concurred, adding that if one wants to learn how tell good stories, they should read books, read the scripts of the films they like, and--Oswalt put the most emphasis on this--"Read Will Eisner's books!" The final question was whether Bird would be voicing a character in this movie. He said that he doesn't want to be one of those directors who makes a habit of appearing in his own movies, but the character he voices is a "weasly, unnoticable guy." They then showed the full trailer for the movie--it's 100 times better than the teaser. The usual Pixar "credits" (TOY STORY, MONSTERS INC, etc.) are shown as listings in a restaurant menu. At one point Remy controls Linguini like marionette to make him cook. It got great laughs and the two left the stage two a grand applause. Next was the Trailer Park. It started with the CGI frog band from MEET THE ROBINSONS doing one of those pre-movie anti-cellfone/no talking trailers to the tune of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine". The typical AICN reader has most likely seen all of these trailer on-line by now. They were DISTURBIA, PATHFINDER, NEXT (w/ Nic Cage), LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, VACANCY (w/ Luke Wilson), BEE MOVIE, EVAN ALMIGHTY, HARRY POTTER, THE SIMPSONS (full trailer), HOT FUZZ, FANTASTIC FOUR (teaser and tv commercial), THE INVISIBLE, and the second TRANSFORMERS trailer. The DIE HARD, SIMPSONS, and HARRY POTTER got the biggest applause. Next was the panel for THE REAPING with panelists Stephen Hopkins (dir.), Hilary Swank, Idris Elba, and producer Joel Silver. They showed a "special long-form trailer" with new footage (not bad) then went into questions. The first few questions were pretty soft-ball ("What was it like working together, What's it like to work with FX, etc.--questions we already know the answers to). Then it was time for Joel Silver to get on the hot seat, 'cause the next question came from one of the MANY pissed off Joss Whedon fans in the crowd: "What can we do to convince you to bring him back?" Silver: "It wasn't Joss' fault... we've been having trouble with the WONDER WOMAN project for quite some time now. For the last few years Marvel films have been kickin' the DC films' asses, but now it's time to get back on track. We've got the Justic League movie in the works (YES, those were his actual words) and we'll make WW work. Joss tried, but it just didn't work." The next couple questions were for Hilary Swank and her involvement. Joel Silver had sent her the script a few days before winning the Oscar for MILLION DOLLAR BABY (a film for which she apparently suffered mercury poinsoning due to her training diet) and she couldn't put it down and how she hadn't done much work in this genre (Okay, who besides ME remembers her in the original BUFFY movie--Show of hands? Although that was more comedic than anything). She did a lot of research about people who go around debunking "miracles" and likewise phenomena. Silver was then asked if he was still involved w/ Dark Castle, and if so, what can we expect. Silver: "Absolutely [I'm still involved]. Next is the straight-to-video RETURN TO THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL and the [cinematic] film WHITE OUT with Kate Beckinsale, which starts shooting Monday. It's very disturbing." Director Stephen Hopkins was asked if--in the tradition of films like EXORCIST and POLTERGEIST--any "strange occurances" happened on set. He mentioned how odd it was to shoot a Bible-themed movie in the "Bible-belt" Louisiana both before and after it was hit by Katrina, which looks like the hand of God striking. Swank and Elba mentioned a situation in which, in the midst of filming a scene with a (mannequin) corpse, the sound equipment kept dying out at the exact moment an un-holy stamp appears onscreen. When it was my turn, only one thing was on my mind: "So, Joel, what's up with that SPEED RACER flick with those Wachowski fellas?" He didn't say anything new, just re-emphasised how it'd be their first directorial since THE MATRIX films and how it's the "Wachowski Brother version of a Family Film." and that it starts shooting this June. I then asked how soon until we could see the new Mach-5? "You'll just have to wait." Hilary Swank was asked if she could name all the ten biblical plagues in order. She got about six of them, out of order. She was also asked about the difference between this movie and her old movie SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK AGAIN? "Hopefully people will actually see this one." I missed most of the TMNT panel (done solely by Kevin Muroe). But I was there for the 300, which was destined to start at 3pm on the dot. Zack Snyder played a message from Frank Miller (from what I understand, the same one he played in New York) about how he wished he could be there, but he slipped on some black ice and his hip's shot to shit. Nevertheless he loves the flick. They then played a clip from the movie of the Spartans fighting the Persians. Joining Snyder were Lena Heady (the soon-to-be Sarah Connor who got almost no questions) and Gerard Butler (who was the center of attention). The majority of the questions were directed at Butler, mostly from women--at one point, Snyder was complimented for hiring Butler and thereby creating the "perfect action date-movie". Most of the time was spent with Snyder saying how "perfect" Butler is, etc. TO BE FAIR--Butler is a cool guy, funny as hell, and tried to brush off all the affection coming his way. Butler was asked what role he'd love to play. He said poet Robbie Burns. As a high-profile film like this will likely bring him stardom, he was asked was he liked best/least about fame? "That people in my normal life think I look like I'm giving a squirrel a blowjob." (No, I don't get it either.) He said how much he enjoyed doing these "warrior" movies (he's also in BEOWULF) ever since he first showed up in the role of ATTILA. He had to learn to carry himself in a different way and took certain aspects of the charater with him off the set. However, both he and Lena Heady expressed discomfort about the "digital backlot" shooting. Zack Snyder was asked what he thought the legacy of this movie would be. "It's hard for me to [step back from it] and have perspective as to how people will react. I think when I made DAWN, the studio wanted one movie, but I made another and people liked it. Making a movie is like having a kid, no one wants to hear that their kid is ugly." When asked about WATCHMEN, he said "I want to make it, the studio wants to make it. We're talking about shooting the end of summer. But they're unsure about an R-rated superhero flick. He was then asked about this film and parallels to Iraq (the question go a lot of jeers). Zack: "I just wanted to make Frank's book. It was made before 9/11, before Iraq. It's a strong story; politics just caught up with us as we were making it. [But] anything that inspires conversation is a good thing." They ended the panel by re-playing the battle scene. Next was the Sony Pictures presentation, beginning with the panel for RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION, with Oded Fehr and Ali Larter. They began by playing the teaser trailer--starts out looking like an ad for Vegas, until we see that this advert is old and that Vegas is now a desert wasteland on which Milla and the zombies fight. The title comes up out of the sand. As the actors took to the stage, it was inevitable that Larter would be asked HEROES questions, but the very first question drew the ire of the entire room. This fat guy said that he and his friends "love the show, but think that yours is the worst character. [Lots of boos] Even though you're a so-so actress [More boos], is there a possibility that you can ask them to kill your character off [The folks next to me call to have this guy castrated]." To her credit, Ali took it in stride and just told him that she's glad he enjoys the show. Once that asshole was gone, she was asked the difference between shooting film vs. tv. She said how a film allows you to work on one character from start-to-finish, but in television, you're getting a new script every week for someone who's constantly evolving. She mentioned that she was going to be working on an unamed film in the show's hiatus. An Iraeli questioner asked Oded Fehr--in Hebrew, no less--what it was like to be a working Hollywood actor as opposed to an Israeli one? Oded translated the question for all of us and said he didn't get the chance to act Israel, but is "very blessed for the opportunity to act and support a family in Hollywood." He was then asked how he got his voice role on JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED. "They just called me up and I said 'Yes'. It was a really great, interesting show." When asked if he would return for his controversial Showtime series SLEEPER CELL, he said that the show was officially over but he was glad for the chance to have done it. Both actors were asked how involved they were with their own stunts. Fehr said that he got as involved as possible, but some stunts were too dangerous for even him to want to try. Larter said she was glad for the stunt people as the 128-degree Mexican heat made it hard for her to work, let alone do stunts. They were then asked if they'd played the RE games before shooting. Larter said she hasn't. Fehr said if he starts playing games he becomes addicted, but claiming it was "research for a role" was the perfect excuse for him. Fehr was asked about returning for the possible MUMMY 3? He said that he'd recently spoken to Stephen Sommers, but as it looks now, Oded won't be involved, although he'd like to be if offered. He said how close he was to those films as the first was actually his first professional acting job. He was then asked if he planned to do another DEUCE BIGALOW. He said that he'd love to do any kind of comedy again. Ali Larter asked if, now that HEROES is a popular show, she planned on leaving it any time soon for bigger screen career. She said that she's inspired being on the show and that she'll stay "for as long as they'll have me". When asked if this movie would be the end of a trilogy or just another in a long line of sequels, Fehr didn't quite know how to answer, saying he believes "no movie is ever really 'done'. There's always somewhere you can go with the characters." Larter mentioned how honoured she felt to be accepted by the cast, particularly Milla Jovovich as "it's her franchise." The two then finished by introducing an "unfinished" clip (which looked pretty done to me). It features Alice (Milla) and all of her new friends from the end of EXTINCTION, plus Larter, searching an abandoned desert outpost of some sort. A metal door slowly opens and a shitload of zombies pour out. Our heroes start blasting at zombies left and right. Alice does some cool Krav Maga-style neck snaps and bone breaks. Lots of zombies being shot in the head. I'll say this for PW Anderson: what makes the RE series work (even at its dumbest moments) is that the guy knows his audience and how to get that "I-don't-wanna-get-bit" feeling from the games on screen. Uwe Boll could actually learn from this guy. Next, animation director Dave Schoob (NARNIA) came out to talk about his new Sony Animation movie, SURF'S UP. He didn't field questions and the majority of his talk was dry stuff about making the characters, but the clips were funny. It's mockumentary (or rather "documentary proof that penguins invented surfing) about a penguin ("We started the movie 2 years ago; before penguins were the hot-ticket in Hollywood.") who longs to be the greatest wave-rider of all time. His name is Cody (Shia Lebouf). He's joined by his retired zen surfing mentor, Geek (Jeff Bridges, who in the clips comes of like The Dude as a penguin), a surfer chicken from Lake Michigan named Chicken Joe (Jon Heder), an exploitative otter who promotes the surfers like "an otter version of Don King" named Reggie (James Woods--they even gave his character the Don King hair), and Zooey Daschanel as Cody's love interest who's name I missed. The whole flick was done doc-style with moving, hand-held cameras (done via mo-cap) and scratchy footage to imitate 16mm. THE FIRST CLIP was the doc crew following Cody in his home of Shiverpool, Antartica. Cody thinks "it sucks". They interview him, his brother, and his mom who says that he never really knew his father. They then show a photo of Cody's dad smiling, they pull back to show a giant orca is about to eat him. Very funny. THE NEXT CLIP was Cody carving out his own wooden board, which Geek thinks is worthless. Cody tries to prove it by taking it into the water, but the moment he jumps on it, it breaks apart like cardboard. THE LAST CLIP was Cody trying (and failing) to surf as Geek coached from the beach. Honestly, it looks like it'll be a flick worth checking out. Hell, Sony anim. can't possibly do any worse than OPEN SEASON, can they? The hall got crowded as people finally got what they wanted to see: SPIDEY 3. Unfortunately there were no guests present and therefore no questions, so all we got was the kick-ass footage. The footage began with an intro from Avi Arad apologising for the absence of Sam Raimi, who currently working on a film, but said we'd enjoy the clip. The new trailer (green band and all) will--I understand--be shown during HEROES this Monday. It begins with Eddie Brock in a cathedral praying for God to kill Peter Parker. Next is Spidey jumping off the building window and swinging around the city; enjoying his new black threads. There's a scene where he and Curt Connors examine a piece of the symbiote, Connors explains what it is. The piece keeps trying to jump at Peter, who puts a glass over it. Connors: "it seems to really like you for some reason." Harry Osbourne is once again visited by the ghost of his father (returning Willem DaFoe) telling him "You know what you have to do." This then leads to new footage of Harry as the New Goblin chasing Peter (not Spidey) through the city. He throws pumpkin-bombs at him that sprout wings and chase Peter. Peter: "I hate those things." There's a series of quick clips with MJ telling Peter she's worried about him, Peter throwing a pumpkin bomb at Harry and it exploding in Harry's face, and numerous other action shots (although NO Gwen Stacy or Sandman to be seen). Then comes the climax as Spidey is in the clock tower pulling the symbiote off. Brock looks up and says "Parker?" As Peter pulls the symbiote off in pieces, some lands on Brock's jacket. He tosses it aside until more lands on his hand. Peter finally gets free as the symbiote (looking like a CG oil-spill) drenches Brock. The screen goes black. THEN--for a good one 1/2 seconds (good enough for the human eye to make out and identify, but not long enough to linger on--in place of Brock, VENOM snarls at the screen. We then get the title card of the silver "3" over Spidey's red colours as they turn black. But before it's over, a battle-damaged Spidey (with torn mask and costume like in the climax of part 1) hears Venom grownling at him in the dark, but can't see him. Before he can think, two slimy black hands give a lightining-fast grab at his head and pull him upward. THE END. Our WonderCon host proved himself a Master of the Obvious when he asked "Wanna see it again?" After that, I left. I'll be probably be back tomorrow for the last day and in a little while I'll send my report on Day 1 (which had some interesting developments of its own). Till then, Later. Buddy-L