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AW visits WonderCon 2009!

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AngryWeb is here with a report on the major studio events that went down at WonderCon this past Saturday.  While we aren’t going to summarize every single detail of the studio panels that went on, we are going to include all of the highlights and important points that were made.  Alright, so let’s get right to it…

Warner Bros – Watchmen

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Zack Snyder talked briefly about the film – highlights included the following:

– Jackie Earle Haley was cast as Rorschach after he sent in a DVD of himself to Snyder, reenacting the scene in his living room where Rorschach’s mask is removed in the comic

– a director’s cut, running approximately 3 1/2 hours, will be released by the fall, which will include Tales of the Black Freighter as well as transition shots of the two Bernies intercut into the theatrical release – apparently, these scenes only took 2 days to shoot.  Snyder also plans a short theatrical run in July for this ‘ultimate’ cut.

– the studio wanted less violence and less…umm, blue private parts.  Snyder constantly negotiated with the studio and although a few of the more graphic scenes had to be cut, Snyder ended up getting most of what he wanted.  He also noted that the footage is still around somewhere and implied we might even see it on the director’s cut or DVD/blu-ray release.

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– Snyder has 6 kids and joked about filming Watchmen Babies.  His son, however, does play young Rorschach in the opening credits.  Snyder also dismissed discussions regarding a Watchmen sequel saying it was like doing a sequel to Moby Dick.

– the cast, minus Matthew Goode, came out to speak; nothing too important to mention – Jackie Earle Haley came up with Rorschach’s voice out of his own intuition as he read the novel and had to shout a lot to develop the raspy tone prior to shooting; Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s favorite scene to shoot was the rape scene (that was a joke, of course…)

As for the first 20 minutes of the film…

– it is highly faithful to the graphic novel and I mean down to the word

– scene by scene description: The Comedian flipping through channels (a news panel, speech by President Nixon, brief MTV-like channel, finally a commercial for Veidt fragrances); grapic fight scene between Comedian and mysterious attacker; opening credits played to Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are-A Changin'” (Mothman being arrested, Silk Spectre I w/ police on steps, Minutemen group photo, Neil Armstrong sees Dr. Manhattan on moon, JFK assassination, Rorschach and Laurie Jupiter’s childhood flashbacks, Watchmen group photo, and a few other shots I won’t spoil); police detectives at the crime scene; Rorschach’s journal, investigating the crime scene, finding the Comedian’s hidden closet; Dan Dreiberg visiting Hollis Mason; Dreiberg returns to apartment to see Rorschach (eating canned beans, awesome!); Dreiberg and Rorschach in basement, discussing Comedian’s death; Rorschach walks off into tunnel; end.

– an extra scene was also shown with Rorschach in prison, lining up in the cafeteria; he is being threatened by another prisoner, who holds a glass shard; Rorschach deflects the attack with his tray and throws a basket of hot oil on the prisoner’s face; end

– bottom line, this film is incredible; Snyder’s use of slow-motion is never overdone and used very efficiently; if you haven’t read the graphic novel, please do so before watching the film; you’ll enjoy it a whole lot more.

– 4 DAYS!!!

Summit Entertainment – Astro Boy, Knowing

Astro Boy

– I don’t know if it’s because I’m not a fan of Astro Boy or if it’s just in its early stages of development, but I was not impressed with the footage that was shown

– the footage had tickers and names along the sides, indicating this was still probably unfinished footage.  Maybe this is simply the way Astro Boy was meant to look, but the colors did look a little plain, with minor shading, and simple polygons

– basically, we see Astro Boy falling off a building, discovering he has rocket-powered shoes, flying alongside the building, and then racing against a train.  Astro Boy is voiced by Freddie Highmore.

– “Astro Boy” comes out October 23rd of this year.

Knowing

– Alex Proyas could not be there, but left video introductions to 2 clips he showed.  Is it me, or is the guy really serious most of the time?

– 2 clips shown – 1. Nicolas Cage in backed-up traffic, sees GPS coordinates matching numbers on his sheet of paper, leaves car, planes crashes onto freeway, flames everywhere, Cage walks over to see people scattered about on fire, helps them; this is all pretty intense; 2. Nicolas Cage sees mysterious man in subway station, chases after him on train only to find out he stole some blu-rays/DVDs, realizes threat is bigger, another oncoming train derails, people evacuate the train when they see the other train hurling towards them, train launches onto the platform crushing crowds of people as it continues sliding through; holy sh*t, this is graphic.

– this film might be far better than we all thought and not just another average, underwhelming flick for Cage.  The audience sat in awed silence (with occasional “whoa”‘s) at the end of each clip.  “Knowing” comes out March 20.

Disney/Pixar – Up

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– “Up” is Disney/Pixar’s new CGI-animated flick about Carl Fredricksen, a 78-year old curmudgeon, who has been evicted out of his house, but rather than moving out, he ties 1000’s of balloons to his chimney, and flies his house to South America.  On the way, he befriends Russell, a chubby young boy scout of a group called the Wilderness Explorers.  Together, they embark on several adventures meeting various creatures along the way such as giant birds and talking dogs.

– Director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera were there to speak about the film, showing lots and lots of hilarious footage that evidently won the audience over

– important points discussed by Docter and Rivera included Pixar’s priority for good storytelling, and how they constantly rewrite and test out the responses for each of the scenes in their films; Toy Story 3 is also currently in development with a new director who did work on the first 2 features

– “Up” will, no doubt, be a very good film with comedy that has been incredibly well-executed.  Look out for this on May 29.

Focus Features – 9

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– “9” is an upcoming CGI-animated flick based on the 2005 Academy Award-nominated short film of the same name.  The film basically centers around a being called “9”, a ragdoll created out of a burlap-like material, who wakes up in a post-apocalyptic world and joins forces with characters 1 through 8 to save civilization.  Produced by Tim Burton and directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted), the film exhibits a dark, slightly gothic tone with plenty of action and adventure.

– in addition to the trailer, about 5 minutes of footage was shown of most of the ragdolls, 1 through 8, encountering a bird-like creature and battling with it

– Animation director Joe Ksander and actor Elijah Wood, who voices 9, were there to speak; nothing too important to note; someone asked about whether Wood was approached for the Hobbit, of which he was as clueless as everyone else was lol; Wood talked a little bit about the character of 9, his courage and struggle, etc. and that what drew him to the film was its uniqueness apart from other CGI Hollywood films, which tend to focus on animal characters.

– while I’m not sure myself if this is something I’ll make a trip to the theater to watch, this does look like a great film that will have a pretty decent run at the box office.  “9” hits theaters 9.9.09.

Warner Bros – Terminator Salvation

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– this panel was overall, pretty similar, to the one at Comic-Con last summer; McG and the cast (minus Sam Worthington and Mr. Motherf*ckin’ Christian Bale) were there to speak, and even Tim was called up on stage once again (remember the Asian, Arnold-impersonating tech support guy from Comic-Con?)

– McG called Christian Bale again, like he did at Comic-Con last year, and had the audience scream into his voicemail; and of course, Bale’s tirade was addressed on a comical level with McG cussing out over Bale

– McG also talked about his discussion with James Cameron, who asked him why he was making a 4th Terminator film to which McG replied that while Cameron’s films focused on the Terminators coming back to the present day, he wanted to bring audiences a film that would focus on the actual machine-ruled future.  The director also continued to stress that the main emphasis of the film was to tell a good story, and would not have made the film had it simply been for commercial purposes.

– Anton Yelchin paid close attention to Michael Bien’s character of Kyle Reese in the first film…such as the types of sneakers he wore and the pipe bombs he builds

– McG asked the audience three questions: 1. if they wanted to see Moon Bloodgood’s boobs in the film 2. if they wanted Linda Hamilton to appear in the film 3. if they wanted Schwarzenegger to appear in the film.  The crowd cheered for all three 🙂  ***I’m reading that McG has confirmed Schwarzenegger’s CG appearance in the film, as well as Robert Patrick aka T-1000’s appearance in the 5th film as an aged scientist.

– 2 long clips were shown as well as the new trailer that will be shown with Watchmen

Gas Station Chase Sequence – while the CGI was evidently unfinished, this was some badass footage – in brief, we see Kyle Reese and Marcus loading weapons and looking for supplies in a store; scavenger terminators then crash through the ceiling and start plucking up other people in the store including an old white-haired woman and tossing them into the harvesters; Reese and Marcus drive off in a tow truck, and are pursued by these motorbike-looking terminators; Reese continues shooting at them, eventually the tow chain with a ball attached to it smashes into one of the motor-terminators; they reach a bridge that’s been destroyed halfway through, to which Marcus slams on the brakes; end.

Water Terminator Scene – John Connor is in a helicopter flying over a small lake at night; an underwater terminator reaches out, grabs one of the men, and sends the helicopter spinning down to the lake; Connor takes his rifle and sees terminators swimming towards him; he continues firing at them, until he runs out of ammo; a terminator almost reaches him before Marcus jumps out of nowhere and destroys it; half of Marcus’ human face is gone, revealing his metallic endoskeleton; Marcus tells Connor “I’m the only hope you have”; Connor asks him “What are you?”, to which Marcus replies “I don’t know.”; end.

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– while I won’t walk through the entire trailer scene by scene, let me just say that it is very action-packed with a ton of explosions and chase sequences; highlights include a scene of Sam Worthington chained up, with much of his machine makeup visible; what appears to be an assembly line of T-800’s; shots of the two clips mentioned above; and finally, a shot of Marcus standing in the darkness with half his mechanical face exposed, saying “I’m the only hope you have”, and zooming out to two explosions revealed to be the two glowing red eyes of the Terminator and the landscape outlining the shape of its skull.

– as I am pretty confident this next installment will kick ass from the footage we’ve seen, let’s hope McG’s been truthful to every word he has said regarding the commitment to the film’s storytelling

Overall Impressions

– First off, no, I did not make it into Paramount’s Star Trek panel as the line into the ballroom was pretty long; I know there are a ton of other reports out there regarding this panel and I’m hearing that it was quite good.  Abrams even talked about Cloverfield 2, and how he’d only do it if there was a good story attached, rather than for commercial purposes.

– This was actually my first time at WonderCon, of which I only spent the Saturday there.  Having been to San Diego Comic-Con for the past 2 years, it’s obvious that that convention is far grander than what you’ll experience at WonderCon.  While SDCC does have larger facilities, plenty of guest appearances, studio freebies, and a lot more TV/movie studio appearances, WonderCon seems to be more geared towards the comic book demographic.  In the exhibition hall, you won’t see any TV/movie studio booths giving away free posters, flyers, etc., but rather mostly independent comic book retailers, toy sellers, and classic celebrities signing autographs.

– I also have to say that the DC Comics booth was very disappointing with simply 3 empty tables, a few giant posters, and maybe a few guys monitoring the booth.  No Superman or Batman buttons, sample comic book issues, or even flyers being given out.  Dead quiet 😦

– Capcom also had a booth showcasing Street Fighter IV.  I had the chance to play it and had my ass beaten by a guy with a 35-win streak (and counting).  It was awesome!

– As for my final impressions, based on my experiences at San Diego Comic-Con and San Francisco WonderCon, and for people wondering what the differences are between the two, let me say this: If you want a good, all-round experience in entertainment media, pampered with free posters, t-shirts, all that good stuff, while seeing much longer, in-depth panels of some of the best TV shows and highly-anticipated movies, San Diego Comic-Con is where to go.  However, if you’re someone more deeply invested in comic books and the business while also wanting a decent exposure to the latest in film entertainment, WonderCon is a great convention to consider.  It’s also much cheaper at a prereg-rate of about $12/day 🙂

– Chances are, we’ll have another one of these reports for San Diego Comic-Con, which runs July 23-26.  As for now, keep it here at AngryWeb as we continue to bring you the best of the best in entertainment geekdom 🙂

-Eugene

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