COMIC CON: Paramount Pictures Preview Panel

I arrived at the Con after a merciless plane ride in which the gentleman to my right was muscle-bound… and thus not able to lower his arms from my chest the entire flight. Not good times.

However, things started going better after my short cab ride to downtown San Diego where I met up with B-Luv, owner and operator of the Rope. We approached the Con and the mayhem ensued (or started ensuing? My English teacher hates me).

For those of y’all who have never visited you should know that it is PACKED. I don’t caps stuff lightly, I really and truly mean that it was mayhem x chaos = craziness. Ruthless crowds, some dressed as characters I had never heard of. Some of the characters I don’t even think they had ever heard of, though they proudly sported their homemade costume anyway. Brad showed me around and I searched in vain for some Image G.I. Joe comics. Stay tuned on that epic quest. Dre landed safely and wandered off to meet with Uwe Boll (yikes) and Brad and I headed to the Paramount panel which was to feature:

and…

Cloverfield! Boom!

The Hot Rod boys showed up first, Andy Samberg let us know he was excited to be in attendance (it was funnier when he said it, trust me). They showed a clip where Andy did some badass dancing, followed by the most epic movie fall scene ever. On a personal note, I’ve seen the movie, it’s fun, let’s all boost awareness. The guys were funny the whole time they spoke, but it’s impossible to translate because it was all off the cuff and also because I’m functionally illiterate.

Next up was Stardust, with Comic God Neil Gaiman in the hizzy. They showed a long clip involving Michelle Pfeiffer and Claire Danes and a quest to kill Danes (as the star descended from the sky). There was some definite grumbling from the crowd about the book vs. the movie adaptation, but I loved the movie (and didn’t read the graphic novel) so I’m not sure what to do with that. Gaiman did his best to assuage everyone’s concern saying the movie was 80% of the book.

Later on I got a chance to speak to him and I had to ask about the marketing behind Stardust, how in the world they were going to get people to see a film that’s closest relative was The Princess Bride (which took years to gain mass acceptance). He essentially shared the same fear and commented that people have told him the trailer they’ve seen is bad to which he’s retorted “You should have seen the first version that never got out.” Bobby Deniro’s name also came up, he’s in the film as a space pirate, and it was mentioned that his role was “embiggened” for the movie adaptation. Hey, I guess if you’ve got Deniro in your film changing the source material a bit isn’t too ridiculous is it?

Some other Gaiman news before we move on to another Gaiman project (seriously). He said a Sandman movie was closer than it’s ever been, but he’s never going to make a bad Sandman movie just to make it. He also said The Death Stories will most likely make it to the movie theater long before Sandman does.

And then there was Beowulf. B-Luv saw the complete second reel to the film last night (about 20 minutes) and noted that “Angelina Jolie was sexy, even in motion capture animation.” For my part I found the few minutes of footage I saw to be a little odd, but Gaiman and Avary gave me an explanation for that a bit later during an interview (that’s a tease!). Some quick hits about the film: Crispin Clover will be using around 40% Old English with his character, and they had to cut a ton of F-bombs to get down to a PG-13 rating.

The film was written in Mexico, with Gaiman and Roger Avary, although Gaiman jested that Avary’s main job was drinking cheap Mexican beer. The movie will be the widest ever 3-D release, and it will also be released in IMAX and traditional 2-D as well, all on November 16th. Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, Jolie and Clover were described as the “dream cast” that all agreed immediately. Actually I think Gaiman called it “bullshit casting” that he thought he had no shot at. Anyway, when I spoke with Gaiman and Avary (in a rountable format) the question came up about having to show the trailer in 2-D versus the intended 3-D. Gaiman was quick to pounce and noted there is no other way to market a movie, but it is definitely not in its full glory. He went on to mention the little boxes that trailers play on in computers and how that would probably hurt the film’s chances but he thought that the movie would do great where word-of-mouth was concerned.

Next up, a quick poster was shown for Sweeney Todd. Depp looked classic in the murderous tale, but that was pretty much all that was mentioned. I’m guessing we’ll see much more about this film before it’s released on January 11th, 2008.

And then there was Cloverfield! Okay, okay, we all sort of thought that they would tell us the official name for the secretive J.J. Abrams today but it was not to be. Abrams did mention that the genesis of the project was a trip to Japan where his eight year old became interested in Godzilla and he thought “Why don’t we have our own monsters?” He mentioned he was fond of King Kong but didn’t feel like it was the same thing. I’m with you brother, give us a monster we can be proud of.

Next up, The Spiderwick Chronicles. Yikes. This particular presentation took around a zillion years and took us through the CGI of The Spiderwick Chronicles. It was as boring as it sounds. Yes, there will be goblins in the movie, yes it’s set in present day America, and yes the creators loved Dungeons and Dragons. Fun!

We got a quick look at the trailer for Drillbit Taylor, the new comedy Produced by Judd Apatow (40 Year Old Virgin) and partially written by Seth Rogen. Owen Wilson stars as a homeless guy who pretends to be a former Navy SEAL, hired to protect some high school kids. The movie looked pretty funny, based on the trailer, and I guess at this point we can trust most projects Apatow-Rogen.

(note, the following blurb ran separately too) I’ve got to say that Iron Man was the coolest part of the ten film presentation, and it switched me from an “I don’t care about this project” sort of person to a “I would like to see this now please” style of guy.

They first showed John Favreau on the big screen, introducing a clip that turned out to be Iron Man cartoon footage – it looked to be from the 60’s. Then the REAL John Favreau showed up and all hell broke loose. He had his camcorder with him and he was taping the audience the whole time, quipping “Hey, if it’s going to appear on YouTube I might as well have my own version!” He even taped during the real clip, I was a little concerned he was going to be arrested as they told us around a zillion times we couldn’t even think of recording anything. He mentioned post production was going well and then we got a real treat; actual footage from Iron Man.

The clip started out with Robert Downey Jr’s character, Tony Stark, who told a reporter he preferred the moniker “Merchant of Death” to “The Modern Day DaVinci” because he “doesn’t paint.” We also saw his transformation into Iron Man after a military convoy he’s riding with gets brutally attacked. Mark 1 and Mark III made appearances, both of which are pretty much hella cool looking. A guy tries to shoot Iron Man in the head… and that does not go well for him. There’s also a really quick shot of three women wearing bikinis in a pool, so clearly we’re going to get a bit of the sexuality with our violence. All in all the footage was great and Iron Man now looks like a movie on the rise (at least to me).

Steven Spielberg came on the video monitor from the set of Indiana Jones IV, day 25. Seated next to him was none other than Harrison Ford and Ray Winstone. Steven noted again and again that this one was for the fans, and how excited he was to be finally working on it. After a bit they panned back to show Shia Lebeouf who looked properly humbled being in the presence of such cinematic royalty. He mumbled “I have no idea what I’m doing here” but Spielberg was quick to point out the Transformers success and that Shia was a talented kid. The big news of the piece (because obviously no clips are available yet) was the reveal of Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood. Spielberg had a great line about how even though they were “all a little older” they were also “a lot richer”.

The last panel Paramount had to offer us was for Star Trek, directed by J.J. Abrams. The one slightly funny moment occurred when J.J. mentioned that he grew up a much bigger Star Wars fan. Getting back to business, there was no huge news to be found as they are still casting; but he promised they were working hard to get Shatner in the film and Leonard Nimoy will be in the film. Zachary Quinto (Sylar from Heroes) was announced as the new Spock, clearly he’ll be taking direction from the old Vulcan. Best of all, Spock told us all to “Live Long and Prosper” – throwing up the Vulcan salute. If that’s not a great way to end your Comic-Con day I don’t know what is.

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