Paramount scored the first bona fide surprise of Comic-Con when Christopher Nolan strode onstage in Hall H. After some evasive small talk, Nolan showed the very first trailer for Intersteller. Much like Nolan’s Inception, which was too complicated to describe in a sound bite, the trailer basically showed enough footage to convince you that you are going to want to see this when it opens in November. With Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway leading his cast, it also showed that Nolan might very well have a major entry in the Academy race on his hands.

christopher-nolan-comic-conBasically, the trailer established that the world needs saving and that it’s down to McConaughey. A widowed and haggard father of two, he is loathe to leave behind his children but finds himself on what seems to be a space mission, though you get the clear impression time travel is part of this mix. Nolan cited Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 as a major sci-fi influence in his life, and you can see that he has tried to make something as ambitious, in his own way. It was Nolan’s first visit to Hall H, because all of his Comic-Con bait films were in various states of production or post production during previous geek fests. He was introduced by Matthew McConaughey, all cool and lean from his turns in Dallas Buyers Club and True Detective. Both of them soaked up the geek love, while playing hard to get. Asked if there was

anything they could share about Interstellar? “Nothing whatsoever,” joked the helmer, before presenting the trailer that was by far the best thing about Paramount’s Hall H presentation today.

ParamountLogo_newThe new trailer won’t be released immediately. It was preceded by a brief teaser that set the stakes by displaying archival footage of JFK discussing the importance of forward progress into space. In the trailer, Michael Caine’s voice is heard reciting Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night,” and Nolan offers glimpses of the stunning space vistas he shot with large-format IMAX. Though only a trailer, it was ambitious and seemed important.

“I needed the biggest canvas possible,” he explained of his insistence on IMAX. Nolan also shed light on his preoccupation with the space race: “I grew up in a time when being an astronaut was the highest ambition of any child. The idea that we’d keep exploring space seemed an inevitability.”

Paramount Studios Presentation - Comic-Con International 2014Nolan wasn’t the first surprise of Paramount’s panel. The studio opened the session with an extended look at its upcoming Ninja Turtles reboot which re-introduces the iconic 1980s heroes in a half-shell as photorealistic CG creatures in a contemporary live-action setting. April O’Neil is played by Megan Fox in the Michael Bay-produced pic, which is directed by Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles). Original Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman was on hand, assuring die-hard fans that the Paramount/Platinum Dunes production has his blessing and his input. Count of how many times Wiz Khalifa’s new ninja rap tune “Shell Shocked” played during the panel: (sample lyric: “Knock knock you about to get shell-shocked”).

Paramount Studios Presentation - Comic-Con International 2014The first big reaction Paramount got out of its panel came with the sudden appearance of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who drew screaming fans to their feet when he sauntered in through the aisles, among the plebes. “Finally, The Rock has come back to Comic-Con!” he roared, inviting fans to come see his new Hercules pic (opening tomorrow) for free tonight in San Diego’s Gaslamp.

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Also screening tonight at Comic-Con will be Paramount’s Project Almanac, whose cast and director Dean Israelite popped in to preview footage from the pic, about a band of teenagers who discover the ability to time travel. Repping Hot Tub Time Machine 2, original HTTM cast member Clark Duke made an appearance to introduce the new redband trailer.