We were somewhere around San Diego when the geek-gasms began to take hold. I remember saying something like, ”I’m feeling a little lightheaded…” And suddenly there was a huge roar all around us and the streets were filled with Supermen, Wonder Women, Klingons, Stormtroopers, Steampunks, Zombies and millions of other costumed geeks. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Moly! Who are all these goddamned nerds?”
Saturday started with a BANG! Xena/Grae and I hit the floor of Comic-Con for a second day in a row in search of one thing. Hercules. And we found the mother-fucker! He was sitting at a booth signing autographs and he leaped out of his seat when he saw her, screaming “I gave you your start!” We immediately arranged for a quick video interview where he hit on my girlfriend, Xena/Grae (flattering, but he’s lucky I was working the camera) and showed off his hairy stomach. Xena/Grae let out her most victorious war cry and we hightailed it to Hall H to get in on some panel action.
Once in Hall H, we made our way over to the press pit and bumped into none other than MR. HEAD GEEK himself, HARRY KNOWLES. He agreed to do an interview with us and he talked for quite awhile about his excitement for the new GREEN LANTERN movie. He was even sporting a GREEN LANTERN tee underneath the brightest Hawaiian shirt I’ve ever seen (which is how we spotted him in the first place). He was very cool and he loved Xena/Grae’s costume. Who doesn’t?
First up in Hall H was the Warner Brothers presentation, which started with the much anticipated GREEN LANTERN movie.
The panel included RYAN REYNOLDS, BLAKE LIVELY (yum), PETER SARSGAARD, MARK (KICK-ASS) STRONG and director MARTIN CAMPBELL. I have a great deal of excitement about this property and the panel discussion did a lot to make me feel like this could be a very cool adaption of the popular DC character. I love the GREEN LANTERN, because it’s more science-fiction than most other comic-book heros and it borrows a little from the awesome LENSMEN series of novels by the great E.E. “DOC” SMITH. That being said, they showed a long trailer of footage that looked pretty cool, but didn’t give me much of a feel for the tone. Still, I remain hopeful for this one.
Next was the HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS presentation. The little blonde kid that plays the evil archenemy in the series was there to introduce the special footage presentation, which was exclusive to the Comic-Con fans. The very long trailer was in 3-D (of course!) and I must say it was pretty damn interesting looking. I’m not a HARRY POTTER fan at all. Never read any of the books and I’ve only seen the first, second and fourth films in the series. They’ve never really done anything for me before, but I just might check out this FINAL chapter (which has been split into two films), because it looks like a HIGHLY dramatic conclusion and those are always fun to watch.
The final WB promo was for the new film from ZACH SNYDER, the wild and weird looking SUCKER PUNCH. I knew nothing about SUCKER PUNCH before this panel, except that it has been described as Alice in Wonderland with machine guns. It does look like that, but it also looks like every geek fetish you could possibly imagine all thrown into one Berserker of a movie! The footage featured hot chicks kicking ass, dark castles, mental wards, nazi-like soldiers wearing gas masks, giant robots shooting WWII planes out of the sky, lots of guns and it even has a fire-breathing Dragon! I still don’t know what it’s about and I don’t want to. I just want to see it. I think ZACH SNYDER is a really interesting genre filmmaker and I’m excited to see what kind of thing he has in store for us here.
The panel included ZACH SNYDER and a lot of really sexy actresses, starting with the gorgeous CARLA GUGINO and also featuring EMILY BROWNING, ABBIE CORNISH, VANESSA HUDGENS, JENA MALONE and JAMIE HUNG. Woof!
The trailer shown in Hall H for SUCKER PUNCH sent every nerd fanboy into convulsions and a few to the bathrooms. Think TIM BURTON meets PAUL VERHOEVEN with a little RUSS MEYER thrown in for fun. I can’t wait until March for this one.
LET ME IN was up next. I went into this panel skeptical. I love LET THE RIGHT ONE IN and considered it one of the best films of 2008. I was worried when I heard that it was being remade for American audiences. I didn’t think we needed one. I’m still not sure if we do, but after seeing the panel I think it could be a pretty cool English language version of the original with a few new surprises. Will it be as good? Probably not, but at least director MATT REEVES has made the right decisions in keeping the children’s age the same, having it take place in a snowy location and keeping the story set in the early eighties. It seems to have the same tone as the original too, which was slow and foreboding.
MATT (CLOVERFIELD) REEVES was joined by the cast, which included KODI SMIT-McPHEE (outstanding in THE ROAD), CLOE MORETZ (HIT GIRL from KICK-ASS) and the most brilliant character actor working today, Academy Award-nominee RICHARD JENKINS (who plays the vampire girl’s guardian).
A scene was shown that features the RICHARD JENKINS character attempting to “acquire” a victim, by hiding in the back seat of their car. Unfortunately, the would-be victim brings a friend along for a lift home and complicates the situation even more by stopping to get gas. The scene’s set-up and location have been changed from the original film and it’s actually kind of an improvement in terms of suspense the way it is presented here.
I walked away from this panel with a lot of excitement for LET ME IN. MATT REEVES has made all the right decisions on the look and feel of it and I think it’s going to be an excellent new adaptation of the brilliant Swedish novel, LAT DEN RATTE KOMMA. It’s coming out in October and that’s perfect.
RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE was next and I was VERY excited! Not only am I a huge fan of the series, but I’m also a huge fan of the two SUPER-STUNNING lead actresses for the film, MILLA (I LOVE YOU) JOVOVICH and ALI (I WATCHED HEROES AFTER SEASON ONE JUST FOR YOU!) LARTER (who is the HOTTEST pregnant woman you’ve ever seen in your life)! They are BOTH two of the sexiest women on the planet. Period.
Also, on the panel was director PAUL W.S. ANDERSON and some actor guy named WENTWORTH MILLER, who I could care less about.
The footage for RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE was in 3-D and looked pretty off-the-hook amazing! There was a fight scene shown between the girls and this HUGE monster guy called THE EXECUTIONER (who wears a hood made of metal and swings an enormous hammer). It takes place in a big shower room with drops of water shooting in your face in 3-D and it was tile busting cool!
I was a fan of the RESIDENT EVIL game on PS back in the day, but the thing I love about the movie series is the way it takes the zombie genre and turns into this hyper-kinetic comic-book action sci-fi thing with a totally ROMERO/CARPENTER-style cynical commentary on corporate greed and the corruption of power. The fucking UMBRELLA corporation needs to be stopped and I hope Alice and all her sexy-ass clones can do it! BTW- What’s better than MILLA JOVOVICH in 3-D? An army of MILLA JOVOVICH clones in 3-D! Sign me up!
Immediately following this panel was the now infamous eye-gouging in Hall H. What happened was this: one nerd got mad at another nerd for stealing his seat, so he stabbed him in the face with a ball point pen. At first, we heard the nerd had been poked in the eye, but were told later that he had just received a very nasty scratch across his face. Still, his brand new exclusive HARRY POTTER Comic-Con tee shirt was speckled with blood as he was carried off and the attacker was led away in handcuffs by the San Diego police. Hall H is getting dangerous!
After the commotion had settled, things finally got back to normal in Hall H and the PAUL panel began. Director GREG MOTTOLA and the star-studded cast came out, which included SIMON PEGG, NICK FROST, BILL HADER, JEFFREY TAMBOR, SIGOURNEY WEAVER, JASON BATEMAN, JOE LO TRUGLIO and once again, SETH ROGEN (only this time thankfully, it’s just his voice).
The plot of PAUL is about two British nerds (PEGG & FROST) who are attending the San Diego Comic-Con of all things (everyone in Hall H went nuts when they showed a shot of them walking up to the convention center) and decide to take a cross-country trip to visit Roswell, New Mexico. They pick up an actual extraterrestrial in the desert named Paul and the wackiness ensues as they’re pursued by government agents. The film looks very funny in a SHAUN OF THE DEAD meets E.T. kind of way and the Hall H reaction was extremely enthusiastic.
Next was the COWBOYS & ALIENS panel and JON (IRON MAN II SUCKED) FAVREAU came out with the cast, featuring DANIEL CRAIG, another Con appearance from super-hot OLIVIA WILDE and HAN SOLO himself, HARRISON FORD, who was escorted onto the stage by security guards with his arms cuffed behind him. It brought the house down as well as revealing the identity of the Hall H stabber. Never would have thought it was INDY.
The movie has been shooting for only a month, but a few scenes were completed (including special effects shots from ILM) just for Comic-Con. The footage shown involved CRAIG’S gunslinger character getting into some trouble with the law in the old west. He’s caught up in a feud with FORD about something and is about to be lynched when the tiny western town they’re in is attacked by a flying saucer and CRAIG saves the day by shooting it down with a wrist laser he’s wearing. Hard to say if it’ll be awesome, but it looked pretty good and I love FORD in just about anything he does.
The final and most anticipated panel of the day (and the Con for that matter) was the MARVEL presentation. It started with a tease of next year’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, which featured director JOE JOHNSTON and actors CHRIS EVANS and HUGO WEAVING.
The film has just begun filming, but they were able to show us an unfinished scene featuring WEAVING dressed in a Nazi officer uniform (pre-RED SKULL) trying to find the whereabouts of the “cosmic cube”. Many comic nerds lost their minds in fits of geek joy over that.
JOE JOHNSTON assured us that the movie is gonna be action packed and like RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (which he himself once worked on) with a super-hero. I’m hoping it’s great, because CAPTAIN AMERICA is one of my all-time favorite Marvel heroes. Unfortunately, I’m still not completely sold on EVANS as CAP. Time will tell, but I like the direction they’re going in.
Next was THOR and it looks pretty fucking amazing! Director KENNETH BRANAGH and the cast, CHRIS HEMSWORTH (THOR), NATALIE PORTMAN, TOM HIDDLESTON (LOKI) and CLARK GREGG (AGENT PHIL COULSON), came out to show us some footage and talk about the film. The trailer was in (you guessed it) 3-D and looked really cool! The look of the characters and the costumes are perfect and the ASGARD footage is obscenely awesome looking. ANTHONY HOPKINS looks fantastic as ODIN and TOM HIDDLESTON as LOKI gave me chills at how spot-on he is. I can’t wait for this one! It looks epic!
We all thought that was it, but suddenly the familiar sounding voice of one SAMUEL L. JACKSON boomed across Hall H to introduce director JOSS WHEDON and the entire cast of THE AVENGERS! AND EVERYBODY WENT INSANE! Here they are:
CHRIS EVANS as CAPTAIN AMERICA, CHRIS HEMSWORTH as THOR, SAM JACKSON as NICK FURY, SCARLETT JOHANSSON as BLACK WIDOW, ROBERT DOWNEY JR. as IRON MAN, JEREMY RENNER as HAWKEYE, and MARK RUFFALO as THE HULK! JOSS WHEDON said that we should all expect the most mammoth super-hero film ever and with him at the helm I expect it to be significantly fantastic! This was an excellent place to conclude the Hall H experience at this year’s Comic-Con. It blew the roof off the joint.
Xena/Grae and I retired to our hotel for some much needed rest. We went out later that night to party with all our friends and share tales of nerd adventures had by all. The next day was sadly the final day of Comic-Con, but we were able to finish up some last minute purchases on the floor as we took a final look around.
The last thing we did at Comic-Con was to record a new podcast with our dear friend MAX LANDIS, who’s a very talented screenwriter (as well as the son of the great JOHN LANDIS) and his lady pal DANI MANNING. We discussed all the sights, sounds and smells we discovered at Comic-Con and the show got pretty crazy at times. If you’d like to watch the video podcast of this show, CLICK HERE! You can also go to THE POPCORN MAFIA website to check out the multitude of interviews and comedy bits we filmed there, too.
It was a crazy-awesome four days of nerd insanity and I’m already looking forward to next year’s Comic-Con, where I plan to attack it on an even larger scale than the last. Until next time, nerd out!