Luke Y Thompson is covering the Con for Deadline:
BATTLE: LOS ANGELES
Should they have called this, BATTLE: L.A., since it was actually shot in Louisiana, and that would provide plausible deniability? Regardless, the look being strived for here is obviously BLACK HAWK DOWN meets DISTRICT 9. Aaron Eckhart leads an army team to find survivors in a besieged Los Angeles that has been bombarded by alien artillery fire. He has three hours to get in and out before the U.S. Military’s bombs drop (implied, but not said in the clip, is that these bombs will be nuclear).
They’re trying to keep the aliens mostly a surprise, but the glimpses we do get imply more cybernetic versions of the DISTRICT 9 Prawns…they have that CG fluidity to them. Note to digital artists: real animals make random, jerky movements quite often, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a CG creature do anything awkward like life. Work on this.
Most hilarious fanboy breakdown was the tattooed dude who broke into tears of joy at the sight of Aaron Eckhart on the panel. I mean, Aaron Eckhart? I love him in Neil LaBute movies too, but come on.
An all-star cast that includes Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Richard Dreyfuss…and best of all, 90-something Ernest Borgnine, still grinning. Portions of the audience booed Bruce Willis when he came out – I had no idea he had angered fanboys in some way. Didn’t we all like SIN CITY? Didn’t the last DIE HARD include Comic-Con fave Kevin Smith? C’mon, people. Helen Mirren knew her crowd, coming out in a Harvey Pekar memorial T-shirt, though she did imply that no-one in the audience would have gone to see a movie about Tolstoy (not true, I saw it).
Warren Ellis, who wrote the original graphic novel the movie is based on, said he tried to stay out of the screenwriters’ way, and that you can’t really think about possible movie adaptations when you’re putting the comic together. “That way lies madness, and Mark Millar.” (Millar’s KICK-ASS was being made into a movie before he was done writing it).
ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE
A Comic-Con related midnight screening was secret enough that they let in plenty of walk up attendees…including a pair of homeless guys who brought in their bags of recyclables. I believe the Weinsteins were once scheduled to put this movie out…then they didn’t, and it’s been in limbo for a while. It’s not terrible, but is a bit tonally problematic, as the slow pace, grainy handheld cinematography, and soundtrack scream serious drama…but at heart, it still ultimately just becomes a movie about drunk horny teens dying. It’s so dour about it, though, that it’s not a lot of fun, but I will say that the ending was inspired, taking an “unpredictably predictable” twist and doing a lot more with it than I expected.
Prior to the movie, they showed a trailer for something called BUNRAKU. Now, I’m fairly sure many of you don’t know what that means, which might be a strike against the movie; it’s a Japanese style of puppet show. The movie, however, is one of those all-greenscreen shot flicks like SIN CITY, set in a world full of primary colors and cartoony backgrounds, and a really low-rent version of the cuty-folding-up effect done better in INCEPTION. But look: Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore, Josh Hartnett, Ron Perlman in gray dreadlocks…oh, and the best acting credit ever: “and introducing Gackt.”
Yes, there’s a dude just named Gackt in this movie. And he looks like a real ass-kicker.
The movie that writer-director James Gunn calls “the first movie I’ve ever made for myself that’s truly me” should please fans who remember THE SPECIALS, an early script of his that became a hilarious low-budget superhero parody, though just as that movie at the time was overshadowed by MYSTERY MEN, so too may this be overshadowed by KICK-ASS, which it superficially resembles. Rainn Wilson plays a restaurant worker who marries Liv Tyler, only to see her leave him for drug dealer Kevin Bacon. To get revenge, he creates a dark red homemade superhero outfit and dubs himself Crimson Bolt. Complications ensue when comic fangirl Ellen Page insists that she wants to be his kid sidekick, Bolty. Gunn said the pitch is “a fucked-up, low-rent WATCHMEN.”
One clip showed Wilson getting so frustrated with a guy cutting ahead of him in line that he runs to his car, puts on his costume, and bashes the guy in the head with a wrench.
Nathan Fillion, a god among men to this crowd, plays a character called The Holy Avenger, a TV superhero who starts appearing to Rainn in visions as a mentor. Liv Tyler, who likes to get method, really took a syringe injection (of safe saline solution) to the feet for a drug-shooting scene, because she thinks hand and foot doubles never match the actual size of her hands and feet.
Rob Zombie cameos as the voice of God. Looks and sounds funny, but I’ve always been a fan of James Gunn. I honestly don’t expect it’ll do well, though. THE SPECIALS may have a quote from me on the DVD box, but nobody remembers it.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK
The Guillermo del Toro-produced remake of the old TV movie contains no sex, profanity, excessive gore or drugs, but the MPAA has rated it R anyway, for “pervasive scariness.” Del Toro asked them what he could change, and says they told him, “Why ruin a perfectly scary movie?” Though directed by Troy Dixie, what we saw has that del Toro atmosphere to it. We mostly got quick glimpses, but a prologue scene set in 1918 featured a nasty chisel to the teeth moment (the critters this time are spiteful sprites who like to collect teeth), and the money shot of the teaser is a little girl under the bed covers, gradually lifting them up, and up, and up…RAARGH! A creature’s head suddenly pops up and screams, and it looks horrific like comic-book character Spawn unmasked, only smaller.
Del Toro says it took a long time to get made, because he wanted to preserve the original ending, and those of you who saw the first one know why that might be a problem for some executives.
Del Toro, among his bazillion other potential projects, says he has always wanted to do a serious take on the “Mexican wrestler versus vampire” genre.
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS
Tom Felton introduced a new trailer, which frankly doesn’t have a lot of surprises – it can’t, since we’ve all read the books and seen the other movies. That said, it looks more epic than the rest, with lots of locations (including several “real-world” settings), large-scale scenes, and a pretty killer flying motorcycle chase. Felton says, “Dan cried like a little girl” on the last day of shooting.
LET ME IN
The U.S. remake of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN looks very similar in a lot of ways to the original Swedish vampire movie, but one scene shown was quite different: it involved Richard Jenkins sneaking into the back of a stranger’s car to kill him for blood, but things take an unexpected turn, and there’s some cool stuff with the car tumbling off a hillside, shot from inside the car, much as you’d expect from the director of CLOVERFIELD. It is still set in the ’80s (Culture Club on the soundtrack, Ms. Pac Man in the arcade), but now in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Hardcore fans know that the book, and the original movie to a point, features a gender-bending element. Director Matt Reeves says he kept that ambiguous, as he didn’t get it from the first movie, and knew others who didn’t either…but he’s put nothing in that would contradict it. In fact, there is a scene where the vampire girl (Chloe Moretz) asks her young male friend (Kodi Smit-McPhee) “Would you still like me if I wasn’t a girl?” Draw your own conclusions. Looks good, though, and I say that as an early supporter of the original.
RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE
We get shown a bathroom fight sequence between Ali Larter and a giant hooded creature with the world’s largest hammer, named The Executioner. Fun stuff, with jets of water in full 3-D, and the Executioner ultimately throwing his giant hammer out at the screen, until Milla shows up and blows his head off.
Paul W.S. Anderson is returning to the director’s chair because he says he missed doing RE movies, and he really enjoyed the Resident Evil 5 game, so this has a lot of elements of that in it, including one fight scene that’s almost shot-for-shot, and zombie dogs with heads that split open. He got more money for this one than ever before, and knew the time was right to do it in 3-D when he saw some early AVATAR footage. He says that one of the pitfalls of 3-D is that you can’t fake punches as easily, since depth perception is more specific; in fight scenes, there now has to be actual contact.
Looks passably entertaining, like most of the series. I have a feeling the Executioner fight may be the best part.
THE HOUSE THAT DRIPS BLOOD ON ALEX
Any strong cocktail needs a chaser, and what better way to wind down after the seriously big panels than with Tommy Wiseau, the oddly accented, seemingly stoned director/star of perennial L.A. cult hit THE ROOM? He stars in this new online short film…and suffice it to say that he gives it his demented all in the title role of Alex, with line delivery and apparent punctuation misunderstandings that will give all ROOM-ies a whole lot of new quotable material.