My first experience at one of the epic Comicon events ended minutes ago, and I'll just say that I was impressed. 6,500 people were crammed into the massive convention center room, and no seat was empty. Being one man, alone, I was able to finagle a seat center-stage, about 25 yards in front of the panel. The Paramount event covered a lot of films, including the new Indiana Jones, Beowulf, and Iron Man. Here's a blow-by-blow of all the presentations:
The first feature length comedy from the Lonely Island comedy troupe is Hot Rod, about a guy named Rod (Andy Samberg) who wants to be a daredevil, but he's really not very good at it. The Lonely Island trio of Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer are all currently employed by Saturday Night Live: Andy as a cast member, Akiva and Jorma as writers. They are also the major creative team behind the SNL Digital Shorts, which have been popular (and awesome) over the last two years. Like the digital shorts, Akiva directed Hot Rod. The three dudes came on stage and generally acted like good-natured goofballs. Needless to say, a good time was had by all.
Neil Gaiman, a God to the attendees at Comicon, came out to talk about Stardust, the new fantasy film based on his book. The screenwriter, Jane Goldman (decked out in bright pink hair) joined him. They took some questions about the film, mostly about Gaiman's process, which wasn't all that interesting. Gaiman is a really cool guy though, candid and funny with a surprisingly mild British accent. They showed a long scene from the film whose plot involves a fallen star, played by Claire Danes, who has a necklace that a lot of people want to get a hold of for some reason. One of these necklace pursuers is Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays a witch. The scene involved her setting a trap for Danes, and there were a lot of cool special effects and fantasy nonsense. There was a unicorn and some ghosts and a lot of green light. The film comes out on August 10. It should be pretty good.
Gaiman, as per the wishes of the dude running the event, walked off the stage and then right back on to present Beowulf. He was joined by Roger Avary (co-writer of Pulp Fiction and writer-director of Rules of Attraction), who seemed very uncomfortable on stage. They talked a lot about their journey of bringing Beowulf to the screen, which has taken over a decade. The two wrote the film together over cheap beer in Mexico, which seems like a sweet way to go about writing a screenplay. The film uses crazy digital enhancement of live acting, and it stars Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Ran Winstone, and John Malkovich, among others. The film will be released in the fall in a variety of formats, including 3D and IMAX 3D. They showed us the world premiere of the two minute trailer. It wasn’t as mind-blowing as they told us it would be, but it looks very intriguing nonetheless. This is the same technology that Robert Zemeckis used on The Polar Express, and Zemeckis (who directed Beowulf) looks like he's improved on that technology since then. And, Angelina Jolie is naked. Which is never a bad thing.
Holy crap! They teased us by saying that there wouldn't be any footage shown today, and that they were going to save it for the Marvel panel on Saturday. Those sly bastards. At the end of a pre-taped bit from director Jon Favreau (Swingers), Favreau walks on stage in person to discuss the film. Then, out of nowhere, he cues the footage. We see a good 5-7 minutes of footage, and man does it look great. Favreau hasn’t disappointed. Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark. He's going to be incredible in this role, as if there was any doubt. We see the origin of Iron Man, his accident, and the evolution of the suit. We see him flying and, if you had any doubts about how him flying would look, you're going to be happy with the final product. I can’t stress how awesome this all looks.
Indiana Jones and.....
This was the treat of the whole event, if you ask me. We didn't get to see any footage, but we got a live feed from the set. It started with just Steven Spielberg talking about how ecstatic he was to finally be making another Indiana Jones, and that he's making it only for the fans, because he knows that they all want another great Indy movie. Harrison Ford is introduced, sitting next to Steven, in full Indy costume! He may be getting old, but damn he looks good as Indy. I have no problem with a 60-plus Indy, he's grizzled as hell. His sidekick is played by Ray Winstone who said a few words, and then we see Shia LeBeouf sitting on the end, in awe that he's even in the movie. Shia even wonders aloud what the hell he's even doing there. Next, and for a treat for the fans, Steven brings on Marion Ravenwood herself, Karen Allen, to say a few words. Karen has aged as well as one could hope and, seeing as she was, by far, the best Indy girl, it's going to be nice to have her back. No footage, but it was great to see Spielberg with the whole cast.
- Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Picture by Oscar Dahl)