Depp at Comicon2

Luke Y Thompson is covering the Con for DHD with an emphasis on Hollywood:

Dear Comic-Con folks – please consider having the TWILIGHT panel first thing in the morning next time. Savvy as they are, and devoted as they are, these folks camp out in line to get inside Hall H and sit through everything else before their beloved metro-vamps show up onstage. And it makes it harder for people to get into the previous panels who really want to. Fans started camping out Tuesday night. Really. I see a sign reading “The No TWILIGHT Zone.” I like him already.

There are fewer screens in Hall H this year, but they’re bigger and 3-D ready. Host Patton Oswalt introduces Robert Zemeckis as “the director of USED CARS, and others”. Zemeckis is presenting his 3-D/CG oeuvre, DISNEY’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL starring Jim Carrey in 8 roles (“tying Alec Guinness in Kind Hearts and Coronets.) One is a little kid – looks bizarre. Zemeckis says: “Not all movies should be in 3-D – depends on the story.” Why do A Christmas Carol again? “If you read the actual novel, it’s very trippy – we finally now have the tools to realize what Dickens wrote.”

Patton brings up the accusation of “dead eyes” in Polar Express and Beowulf. Zemeckis says he sees artificiality in movies every day, with bad acting and prosthetics. “It’s an artistry issue, not about the tools.” He notes that in the early days of oil painting, nobody wanted to paint eyes until guys like Rembrandt came along. The tech exists to read the movement of the retina, and they know how to light eyes. “We’re there now.”

Zemeckis shows a clip with Scrooge stealing the pennies off the eyes of Jacob Marley’s corpse at the coffin-makers. “Tuppence is tuppence.” Though this doesn’t look like Carrey at first, his spidery physicality, and yes, eye movements, are all Jim. Then Marley’s ghost comes – camera POV shakes when it happens, which is a very cool effect in 3-D. Marley is a bit Clive Barker-esque, wrapped in chains all over, shackled to cinderblocks he hurls through the air. Blue and translucent. At one point his jaw separates, and he uses puppetry to manipulate it as he talks – some gross humor re-setting it.

Textures of leather, skin, etc. look great. Then we get a montage. Ghost Of Xmas Past is a little girl with a disembodied fireball for a head, lots of flying through the air, with and without ghosts. Scrooge even goes past the moon a la E.T. Footage ends with signature “Humbug!” line, as a snowflake lands on Carrey’s nose, and he blows it off.

Q&A: Will Carrey make it a comedy? Zemeckis says it will be funny, but so is the book in parts. There will be no “winking at the camera.” He always thought Carrey would be the perfect actor for this – very physical and can do lots of voices. He “turned out to be perfect in every way.”

Will Zemeckis direct live-action again? “Never say never. If the muse hits. But right now I’m dedicated to sending this art form out into the world. I like the control.”

Favorite film of his? “I love ‘em all.” Oswalt: “Used Cars!”

He was asked about a possible Roger Rabbit sequel. Here is his reply: “I can neither confirm or deny, but if that ever does happen, the 2-D animated characters from the original will remain in 2-D.”
Sounds like he’s planning.

Next up is Tim Burton, on his first Comic-Con panel. Oswalt jokes that Tim actually has come as a guest 6 times before, always dressed as Sailor Moon. Burton says he hasn’t attended the Con since the ‘70s, when it was “ a few people and a slideshow”. What attracted him to ALICE IN WONDERLAND? “The hardcore, realistic setting” Why Depp as Mad Hatter? “Johnny had never played a red-headed character before, so we scalped Carrot Top and took his hair.” Stephen Fry is the Cheshire Cat, whose smile looks ultra-wide like those creepy people in the Soundgarden Black Hole Sun video.

We see a trailer. You’ve seen the character designs by now: imagine them doing familiar Wonderland stuff. Falling down the rabbit hole, drastic shifts in size, disembodied floating cat head, Johnny Depp acting like a cross between the Joker and Cap’n Jack, lots of little characters with huge heads, White Queen’s palace with parapets shaped like chess knights, what looks to be Depp again playing the black knight…tagline is “Next year, you’ve got a very important date,” tying in the old animated Alice.

Q&A: How was it working with your wife, Helena Bonham Carter? “Don’t ask that question!” Later, Burton adds, “For the record, she’s not my wife.”

Is it based on both Alice books? It’s based on all the relevant Carroll material, especially the Jabberwock poem. He always found Alice a passive character and the story episodic; has tried to make a clearer narrative. (Tim Burton? A clearer narrative? Really?)

It’s the first time he’s done so much green screen, which “starts to freak you out after a while.”

Fan dressed as Nurse Joker (“Courtney Love, hi!” says Patton) asks if Burton would ever try a take on Wizard Of Oz. Burton says ALICE would be hard to top.

Most difficult thing to do in this movie? “It’s still happening!”

Johnny Depp suddenly shows up. Crowd goes nuts. Burton says Depp cannot see in 3-D. Depp says, “Tim Burton, ladies and gentlemen!” Then leaves. Kinda pointless, but the ladies loved it.