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A Couple Of Readers Report From Cinema Expo Amsterdam! KUNG FU PANDA! BEE MOVIE! HARRY POTTER! And BEOWULF Footage!!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. I’m not really sure what this event is... sounds like their version of ShoWest... but we got in two verrrry interesting reports from people who attended. I talked to a filmmaker friend the other day who’s seen a chunk of KUNG-FU PANDA, and he was flabbergasted by it. He told me it’s amazing, with real kung-fu action that has to be seen to be believed. He seemed less impressed by BEE MOVIE, though. I’m now absolutely itching to see some KUNG-FU PANDA footage, but in the meantime, here’s this report from our first reader:

Hi Harry, First time writer. I didn’t see any reports on the Cinema Expo in Amsterdam on your site, so I thought I’d give it a try. I went to see the Paramount/DreamWorks presentation with – amongst others - BEE MOVIE and KUNG FU PANDA and – two days later – I saw HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX. I know that journalists have an embargo to write about the film, but strangely enough us visitors didn’t have to sign anything. So here it goes… BEE MOVIE was introduced by both Jeffrey Katzenberg and Jerry Seinfeld. Now I’m not a big Seinfeld fan. Therefor the first teasers of the movie didn’t really please me. But the 15 minutes of footage that were shown looked very promising. Although I suspect that the humour is more for adults than children. In the first scene we see our hero Barry Benson get away from the hive for the first time and fly with the honey collectors into human territory. This scene is awesome. It takes place above Central Park and has a great “The Right Stuff” feel to it. Despite the fact that it’s forbidden for bees to talk to humans, Barry picks up a friendship with Vanessa (Renee Zellweger) who saved his life. In a supermarket Barry discovers that humans actually steal the honey from the bees and takes our race to court. We were shown one scene in court involving Sting (as himself) and Ray Liotta (as himself). Pretty hilarious, but most of the young kids who’ll also want to see this movie will not know who these persons are. I hope the movie will not take this direction. A lot easier to swallow was KUNG FU PANDA. This CGI-movie - starring the voice talents of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu and Angelina Jolie - is a comic take on the whole kung fu genre. Fat panda Jack Black dreams of becoming a kung fu master. By mistake people think he is the chosen one to defeat the bad Tai Lung (Ian McShane). Hesitant master Dustin Hoffman must train him and finds out the only way to get him into action is to lure him with food. Jeffrey Katzenberg said that they hope to turn Kung Fu Panda into a Shrek-like franchise. I guess all the elements are there. There are some great sidekicks (Jolie, Chan, Liu) and with kung fu on the menu at the Olympics in Peking next year this kind of martial arts will get a lot of attention. The 15 minute preview we got had a lot of potential. The fight scenes looked fresh and imaginative and especially Dustin Hoffman looked well cast as the master that doesn’t believe in his student. Bad guy Ian McShane looked pretty scary. The scenes in his prison were very dark, but his outbreak was pretty spectacular. The Paramount presentation ended with a big image on screen that mentioned INDIANA JONES IV. This gave me a big chill (like the begin credits of Star Wars Episode I, easily the best part of the whole trilogy). Unfortunately there were no Harrison Ford scenes shown. Just the ‘Making of’ featurette of the first day of shooting that is shown all over the net now. Lastly, HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX. The book was too long and kind of disappointing. But I very much enjoyed the film. In this one Harry is taken for a liar (because people don’t believe Voldemort is back), Hogwarts gets a new boss (the devil in angel’s clothes Dolores Umbridge), Harry begins an army to defend him against Voldemort and there a big fight at the end between the Order of the Phoenix and the Death Eaters. It’s nice to see that director David Yates wanted to make the shortest Potter movie because he thought “most blockbusters of this year were too long.” Boy, is he right! Phoenix is a totally different movie than its predecessor. The Goblet of Fire was action packed, in Phoenix there’s a lot of talking. The real action can be found at the beginning and the end. I very much liked the scenes with Dolores Umbridge (well played by Imelda Staunton). This evil person hides behind a mask of pink smiles and is even easier to hate than Sneep. The scenes in which the Army of Dumbledore practices magic is also fun to look at. The ending is great. Although I must confess that somehow the death of XXXXXX isn’t as dramatic as the one in the previous film. Good points: Umbridge, the Army of Dumbledore, the grand finale. And the bad points? In the trailer we see Harry and Cho kiss. And that’s about it. The character of Cho hardly gets any screentime (and fans of the books know why, but the moviegoer can be a little baffled). New character Luna Lovegood has a promising entrance. The movie even hints at a love affair between Harry and her, but nothing happens. But I guess the main ‘flaw’ of this movie is that you know you have to watch more two movies before it all ends. And that’s pretty hard because you feel that the Potter story could have ended with The Order of the Phoenix . The story is set up in a way that in the finale Voldemort could have been beaten and Harry could have overcome his insecurities of making the right decisions. What should happen in the remaining movies, non-readers could ask? I very much liked Phoenix, but I wonder if people still want to see the movie versions of book 6 and 7 when – for instance – it turns out that Harry Potter dies in the Deathly Hallows. If you use this, please call me Mark Single.

I’m sure that question weighs heavily on the folks at Warner Bros. these days, MarkSingle. Thanks for the report. This next reader saw what I think is the very first presentation of finished BEOWULF footage anywhere, and I’m jealous. I think the jump from POLAR EXPRESS to MONSTER HOUSE in terms of mo-cap work was amazing, and I hope BEOWULF turns out to be as groundbreaking as I’ve been hearing. I love that it’s dark, serious, crazy fantasy, and I think it’s a pretty wild change of pace for Zemeckis as a director. Be warned... there are spoilers in this report, and some of this sounds like it needs to be seen in order to truly understand it. But it’s detailed, and worth your time:

Hi Harry, Regarding your scoop of the Beowulf-posters I felt I should let you know about an exclusive world premiere of footage from the movie that I saw last wednesday on CinemaExpo: after a screening of ´No Reservations´ (which was suprisingly good eventhough I didn´t expect anything from it!) we got to see the full second reel of Beowulf, 10 to 15 minutes long, and about that same amount of minutes into the movie. I´m afraid I have to dampen your enthusiasm a little bit, basically you can summarize what we saw as "300 meets The Polar Express". I have to say the animation doesnt look like anything you´ve seen before, it´s actually done so well that it takes you a few minutes before you realize the actors are animated as well (or actually it looks more like animation-effects have been painted over actual live footage). This is intriguing at first but quite soon the characters start looking quite dead, just like the ones in ´The Polar Express´. If you want to know what we saw storywise, here we go, SPOILER ALERT: Beowulf has just beaten Grendel in a fight. Grendel looks like a dark blue Gollem and since Beowulf almost literally tore him to pieces you see the inside of his body which is like some lavacoloured crystal. His other carries him to a cave, scene is POV from his mom so you dont get to see her. We see a scene where Anthony Hopkins and Robin Wright Penn have a talk together and only when you see mrs Penn´s face up close you realize she hasnt had massive botox injections but you´re watching CGI. Hopkins looked more lifelike, still a bit dead as well though. But I´m afraid as soon as the De Laurentiis family see the CGI-animated Hopkins they straight away want to make ten more Hannibal sequels. Then we see a scene where Beowulf gets visited by Grendel´s mom in his sleep, in the disguise of a beautiful woman (not yet as Angelina Jolie). She beckons him and then changes in to a vampire like monster, very Van Helsing. When Beowulf wakes up all the men in the same room with him have been slain, their corpses hanging upside from the ceiling. He goes out for revenge and knows it´s grendel´s mother he needs to look for. he finds her in the cave with a lake we saw earlier through Grendel´s mom´s eyes. A suspenseful scene starts where Beowulf is looking for her, and we see glimpses of her tail - since she is a golden seamonster. Then suddenly her head rises out of the lake, and it is Angelina Jolie. No I am not kidding and I might be from Amsterdam but I was not on drugs, we really saw a massive CGI-d version of Angelina Jolie´s head rising out of a lake as the head of a seamonster. This sounds silly and i think thats what it was. SPOILER ENDING All in all, eventhough the animation looks impressive, the footage gave me such a strong feeling this project has been greenlit to cash in on the succes of 300, maybe on that of lord of the rings as well. Swords&sandals are hot, fantasy is hot, throw the two together and it´ll get even better. Ray Winstone as Beowulf looks a bit like Disney´s Hercules (nothing like the He-man you see on the posters) but seems a bit too similar to Leonidas, including the way they enhanced his muscles with CGI. Based on the footage I saw I´m far from sure about Beowulf. The footage was received well with a big applause but right now it reminds me more of that other historical swords&sandals-movie we saw Angelina Jolie and Anthony Hopkins in, you know Oliver´s Stone´s Alexander biopic with Colin Farrel as a drag queen that was more a drag than a queen - or king. I don´t suppose you´ll use this, I haven´t posted yet eventhough i check your site daily. I felt the ned to do so since I felt I should let you I'm afraid this project is not living up to your expectations. If you do use this call me The Man From Amsterdam Kind Regards, (and keep up the awesome work, in our country you're the no 1 newssource for moviegeeks too!), Jules
Readers Talkback
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  • July 1, 2007, 10:04 p.m. CST

    FIRST!!!

    by complexion

    first

  • July 1, 2007, 10:05 p.m. CST

    second!

    by darrenspool

    awesome.

  • July 1, 2007, 10:09 p.m. CST

    Third

    by Veni Vidi Vici

    looking forward to Harry Potter.

  • July 1, 2007, 10:10 p.m. CST

    harry potter dies?

    by darrenspool

    great spoiler warning btw.

  • July 1, 2007, 10:24 p.m. CST

    do people know how long it takes to make a movie?

    by waggy

    300 came out a couple months ago. Beowulf has been in development and then pre-production for years. Hardly what I'd call a cash-in. Have to admit though, i am a little worried about the "doll effect", so that part of the review does worry me a tad.

  • July 1, 2007, 10:31 p.m. CST

    CGI Hopkins

    by theBigE

    That's a funny thought - more Hannibal films! That Panda and Bee Movie sound terrible, and as a dad that has to take kids to these things, I'm not looking forward to them.

  • July 1, 2007, 10:34 p.m. CST

    What's with critics impatient for the end of Potter?

    by Drath

    This is the second critic I've ready bitching about how this movie is such a chore because the good stuff is in book and movie 7. What the fuck are you people on? The journey is the thing! And Sneep? What is that, some fan wanking pet name for Snape or does he just not know the character's name? Oh hell, like anyone cares what reviews the movie gets. I just want them to get back Cauron and Williams for one more movie.

  • July 1, 2007, 10:46 p.m. CST

    Try reading up on MoCap people...

    by Slavestate

    Inform yourself.

  • July 1, 2007, 11:06 p.m. CST

    Where's the real reviews?

    by Smokin Doc Cottle

    Dolphins or Bulldog? <p> Willie's Wonder or White Widow? <p> You know what I mean! Personally, I prefer Dolphin's "house" brand. <p> They have a vaporizer, too! <p> Smokin, cause I got em!

  • July 1, 2007, 11:10 p.m. CST

    Kung fu Panda

    by jsm1978

    Reading that little blurb, first thing that popped into my head was "Beverly Hills Ninja".

  • July 1, 2007, 11:21 p.m. CST

    Yes, Harry Dies!

    by vampirepacman

    He's killed by Sneep! Damn you Sneep, I trusted you!

  • July 1, 2007, 11:24 p.m. CST

    Well, Seven movies is quite a bit.

    by lost.rules

    I mean Star WArs only had six, and it could've ended after two. Still love Harry Potter, though.

  • July 1, 2007, 11:25 p.m. CST

    Beowulf is definitely NOT being made to cash in on 300

    by Canada's King

    Seeing as how Beowulf was in production a year before 300 even started filming. That's all I really have to say.

  • July 1, 2007, 11:27 p.m. CST

    Hairy and Sneep and Hermyionee and Won

    by lost.rules

    Plus, Dumbbelldoor. All classic characters.

  • July 1, 2007, 11:49 p.m. CST

    Is Mark Single a really articulate 8 year old?

    by DOGSOUP

    I keed I keed but still...not helpful whatsoever.

  • July 2, 2007, 12:10 a.m. CST

    Harry Potter Dies?

    by DarthDooku

    Well, we don't know that for sure....

  • July 2, 2007, 12:16 a.m. CST

    Death in Order of the Phoenix (Spoiler)

    by Gorrister

    The death of Sirius was very sudden in the novel and, in my opinion, anti-climatic because of it. There was no warning whatsoever and even when Sirius fell through the veil, the reader wasn't entirely certain if he was dead or not since we didn't know what the veil actually was. So, if it's true that the death of Sirius Black in the movie isn't as dramatic as it is in the novel, then that is really saying something, considering that it wasn't that dramatic to begin with. Of course, Harry's reaction to the death is where all the drama came from. His fury with LaStrange and his eventual willingness to resort to using an Unforgiveable Curse.

  • July 2, 2007, 12:24 a.m. CST

    You better be talking out of your ass

    by TiVo1138

    when you say that Harry Potter dies in book 7.

  • July 2, 2007, 12:25 a.m. CST

    Guys...

    by drew mcweeny

    ... he was saying, "If this sort of thing happens in Book seven, would it affect people's desire to see the films?" He doesn't have spoilers for the book.

  • July 2, 2007, 12:27 a.m. CST

    Sneep, Snape

    by CranstonS

    Come on, people, cut the guy a break. Didn't anyone notice that the screening was in Amsterdam? The guy's Dutch, and in Dutch "ee" makes the "ay" sound, as in Snape. So it would probably be spelled Sneep in any translation of the books.

  • July 2, 2007, 12:36 a.m. CST

    Most versions of Beowulf...

    by Bungion Boy

    describe Grendle as an enormous monster that when he enters the great hall and eats all the people at the banquet, occupies the whole room with his massive body. Also there are usually passages about being so fat that there are decomposing corpses in the rolls of his fat. I'm all for RZ reinterpreting it and look forward to seeing Crispin's take, but I also would love a really traditional version. There haven't been many film adaptations of the story. The ones that have been made are pretty bad and have minimal budgets or, worse, are on the Sci-Fi channel. I'm hoping for goodness here, especially because the cast is so good. I actually liked Polar Express more than most people I know so maybe this film is meant for me.

  • July 2, 2007, 12:39 a.m. CST

    Dammit CranstonS...

    by vampirepacman

    Why do you have to educate me? I enjoy being ignorant.

  • July 2, 2007, 12:50 a.m. CST

    color me dumbq

    by BadMrWonka

    but I had no idea Beowolf was mocap...I thought it was plain ol' live action. I'm a little dismayed. I hated the polar express, and I spent 300 trying uncomfortably to supress my obvious erection so my date wouldn't see it.<p>now they're gonna mess with one of literature's greats? what's next? Michael Bay's "History of the Pelopponesian War"?

  • July 2, 2007, 4:27 a.m. CST

    Harry Potter probably won't die

    by Sheeld

    Why? Because everyone is pretty much expecting it to happen, and Rowling has been pretty savvy in coming up with neat little twists and surprises for all of the previous books, so why not for the last one? Then again, it would make a lot of sense if he did die. We'll see.

  • July 2, 2007, 5:24 a.m. CST

    About the Beowulf preview

    by 300spartansinhell

    Doesn´t sound promising, but then I don´t believe everything he says. First about that 300 and Polar express comparison. If it really looks close to those movies, then I´m all in, as long as there is "no dead eyes". That the actors faces look cgi is just fine with me. That´s why I want to see the film. I want it to look like a moving painting. And the giant cgi angelina head: could it be that it was a close up wich made her (or her head) look like she is giantish. Can´t wait for comic con and what the reports will say then.

  • July 2, 2007, 6:49 a.m. CST

    I couldn't understand this thing right here...

    by ELGordo

    "Pretty hilarious, but most of the young kids who’ll also want to see this movie will not know who these persons are. I hope the movie will not take this direction." So you don't want the film to be hilarious? Because kids might not get it? Idiot.

  • July 2, 2007, 7:17 a.m. CST

    Relax, Harry isn't going to die in book 7.

    by ExcaliburFfolkes

    The prophecy says that either Harry or Lord Voldemort must die for the other to live. Therefore, if Harry were to die in book 7 that would mean Lord Voldemort would survive, which admittedly would be an unexpected twist, but isn't very likely.

  • July 2, 2007, 10:48 a.m. CST

    Harry Potter

    by antonphd

    If Rowling spent 7 books making us care about Harry escaping from being abused to finally finding a life but having it in turmoil because of Voldemort and have him fight all the way thru these 7 books just to have him die... there will be no way that Rowling will be able to show herself in public. She'll go from beloved to hated in every country the book is in print. I doubt she want's to become a world wide hated individual, so, my money is on Harry winning in the end.

  • July 2, 2007, 11:18 a.m. CST

    About the 300/Polar Ex comparison

    by Slavestate

    Its a bunch of feldergarb. Wouldn't you think that in the years since Pol. Ex. was shot that the technology has come a long way? I think you'll all be pleasantly surprised once the movie comes out. I'm deffinately looking forward to it. Especially in IMAX.

  • July 2, 2007, 12:52 p.m. CST

    Lekker neuke in de keuke

    by Dwide Shrewd

    I'm loving the contributions from AICN Amsterdam. Go down to the Bulldog and smoke a big bowl with Sneep for me.

  • July 2, 2007, 2:45 p.m. CST

    I'll wait and see for myself, thanks

    by skycrapper

    Cause the production art from Beowulf looked pretty awsome and I could care less that I'm watching CGI.

  • July 2, 2007, 2:46 p.m. CST

    I am hoping HP book seven ends like this . . .

    by Ingeld

    with him waking up and it was all a dream. He is still ten years old, sleeping under the stairs and being abused by his aunt and uncle. He is not a wizard; there is no Hogwarts. He is just one of the hundreds of thousands of kids who are abused every year. Now, that reality slap ending would make me respect Rowling.

  • July 2, 2007, 3:23 p.m. CST

    Mark should fucking stay Single too...

    by s00p3rm4n

    "A lot easier to swallow was KUNG FU PANDA." Shut. The fuck up.

  • July 2, 2007, 9:04 p.m. CST

    balls

    by ephor

    who started this shit about CGI extravaganzas and gore-fests making people's balls explode or giving them hard-ons?!? why does every review from every hack geek have to reference their genitals as a means of understanding their opinion of the film? And dude, was your confession of hiding your erection from your GF during 300 your way of coming out? I'm fine with that. I'm gay myself but fuck... your cock is not capable of objective cinema criticism so just use your brain and tell us what you think.

  • July 3, 2007, 2:27 a.m. CST

    Why does Mark think Bee Movie should be for kids?

    by Dreamwriter

    He sounds like he's complaining that kids won't get the jokes, and that he's disappointed about that fact. Why? Whomever stated that that was a kids' movie? Kids wouldn't even get the pun in the title. Face it, Seinfeld and his friends aren't children's movie writers.

  • July 3, 2007, 6:26 a.m. CST

    Colbert has an advance copy of Deathly Hallows

    by Gorrister

    He gave away the ending. Harry Potter wakes up in bed with Suzanne Plachette.

  • July 3, 2007, 6:31 a.m. CST

    The book could kill Harry and still have a happy ending

    by Gorrister

    Everyone seems to assume that if Harry is killed, it is due to his trying to kill Tom Riddle. However, Rowling has also stated that she doesn't want someone writing sequels twenty years or so down the road (whenever her copyright runs out). Rowling could very easily devote an epilogue to giving readers the rundown on Harrys life after defeating Voldemort. It could say something like: Harry became Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts, got married, had lots of kids, became Headmaster and eventually died of old age after a long and relatively boring life.

  • July 3, 2007, 7:37 a.m. CST

    The book was too long....

    by rudyfb

    What a dyslexic moron... I'll watch the HP movies as i've always seen them; on DVD

  • July 3, 2007, 9:18 a.m. CST

    Bungion Boy: "Most versions of Beowulf..."

    by CatoTheCensor

    What the fuck are you talking about? There's only one version of Beowulf, from manuscript Cotton-Vitellius A.xv. And nowhere in the entire poem does it say anything about Grendel's rolls of fat. What the hell are you talking about, you illiterate cow? In fact, the descriptions of Grendel are vague and almost dreamlike. He does have a strange baleful light, "leoht unfæger," that shines from his eyes. Nothing funnier than attempts at literary criticism on AICN talkbacks.

  • July 4, 2007, 6:25 a.m. CST

    Comments from Mark Single

    by MarkSingle

    Hi guys, surprising to see that my report on the Cinema Expo had such a big impact on some readers. I hadn't realized that I had written a controversial piece. Hahaha! It's okay to be burnt for this, I don't mind. But let me then burn for the right reasons. 1- First of all: this is a personal view on Bee Movie, Harry Potter and Kung Fu Panda. Anyone who has actually seen the movies (or the parts that were presented) is very welcome to disagree with me. 2- Sneep is the Dutch translation for Snape. My mistake. Thanks, CranstonS 3- As everybody knows, the last Harry Potter book will be released by the end of July. So I haven't read it yet. My only point is: when the movie Half-Blood Prince is released, everybody knows the ending of the saga. Suppose Harry does die in the final book, isn't there a chance that people will want to skip movie 6? 4- Bee Movie is a film that will probably cost a lot of money. Therefor it must attract a lot of people to be able to make a profit. The scenes I saw were so colourfull that children will be drawn to it. But if you fill the movie with jokes only meant for adults the story will be out of balance. If you present Bee Movie as a picture for the whole family, let them please make a family picture as well. So that's about it, folks. Don't you just love these talkbacks?!

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