The Crocs alone are going to get me in the theater.
I'm sure there are people out there who don't like Paul Rudd, but I can't actually recall meeting any of them. I know first-hand the effect he has on the ladies, because I've witnessed it whenever my wife is around him or even watching him, and I think there is an entire generation of women who were marked for life by "Clueless." For comedy fans, there was a rebirth of Rudd that started with "Wet Hot American Summer" and really picked up speed thanks to "Anchorman." And Hollywood loves him, as evidenced by James L. Brooks casting him as the lead in his last film and actually casting Jack Nicholson to play his dad.
When you talk to Rudd about comedy, it's obvious that he's a huge fan and a rabid consumer, a guy who is almost always out there pushing for the new. One of the reasons I love seeing him make comedies is because I know how seriously he takes it. You should listen to the new "Comedy Bang-Bang" podcast, where host Scott Aukerman talks to Rudd, David Wain, and Ken Marino about the making of "Wet Hot." Rudd's great at taking what is on the page and making it live and breathe, but he's also one of those guys who is just painfully funny in off-hand conversation.
The Crocs alone are going to get me in the theater.
Harrison Ford must have had a good time riding and shooting for "Cowboys and Aliens," because he's signed to play Wyatt Earp in an adaptation of "Black Hats," a Max Allan Collins novel.
Collins also wrote "Road To Perdition," and he's a damn fine comic and prose writer. Pulpy and smart, he's got a knack for hooks. He knows how to set up a good game of "what if?", and in this case, Wyatt Earp shows up in New York in the '20s to check in on the son of Doc Holliday, only to end up butting heads with a young Al Capone who is leaning on Holliday's son's speakeasy.
My review of "Cowboys and Aliens" isn't ready to be published quite yet, but since both Variety and the Reporter have published and other people are starting to show up on Rotten Tomatoes, it's a safe bet I'll be jumping into the mix sooner rather than later.
SAN DIEGO - If you followed our WonderCon coverage this year, then you saw a fair amount of material about Tarsem Singh's new film, "Immortals." We interviewed the cast and the director, we spoke with producer Mark Canton, and I even moderated the panel with Henry Cavill and Luke Evans. I walked away from that thinking that the film looks very stylish, and that it's obvious Tarsem's not doing anything like a traditional take on mythology, but instead a supercharged superhero take on gods and titans.
There were two chunks of new footage from the film shown today in Hall H, the first of which showed scenes from throughout the film. "Long before Man roamed these lands, there was a war in Heaven. The victors declared themselves Gods. The vanquished were renamed Titans and imprisoned deep inside a mountain."
The film deals with King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) deciding he is going to unleash those titans to topple the gods, and the gods turning to Theseus, the one human they think can lead an army against Hyperion. Much slow-motion and bloodshed ensues.
SAN DIEGO - With no Batman or Superman or Avengers in sight, there was one title that seemed to be the most anticipated of Comic-Con, but the release of the first teaser trailer for "The Amazing Spider-Man" took some of the wind out of the Sony sails on the eve of this week's event. They had something to prove with today's panel, and I'd say based on the footage they showed and the conversation with the filmmakers that happened onstage, they may have walked away having turned the opinion of most of Hall H around.
Sony's one of the only studios to throw what felt like a conventional Comic-Con panel this year, with four different films all given the star treatment back to back to back to back. They were smart to bookend the panel with their two superhero titles because that meant the captive audience sat through presentations they might not have otherwise, and overall, it was a confident display that seemed to accomplish exactly what they set out to accomplish.
The big question for most fans about another "Ghost Rider" film is "why?" After all, the first one is one of the stranger Marvel misfires, and he's always been a character that is known primarily for how he looks, not for any particular storyline. I remember talking to Nicolas Cage on the set of "Kick-Ass" about the possibility of a sequel, and at that point, his big idea involved Johnny Blaze going to work for the Vatican as a demon hunter. I have no idea based on what we saw today whether that's still an element of the film or not, but one thing's for sure. The new "Ghost Rider" movie is going to be absolutely barking mad.
SAN DIEGO - Say what you will about the merits or demerits of an event like Comic-Con, but the first-ever appearance by Steven Spielberg in Hall H was a genuinely stirring way to kick off a Friday, and moments like these make a strong case for this as more than "just" a promotional event.
Comic-Con took advantage of the moment with Paramount to play it up, awarding him the Inkpot that I've seen them give to other legends like Hayao Miyazaki the year he brought "Ponyo." Before they brought the legendary director out, they ran a clips package cut to various pieces of John Williams music composed for those films, and it's one of those things that you can't get wrong. When you're pulling images and moments and iconic beats from "Jurassic Park" and "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" and "E.T." and "Temple of Doom" and "Close Encounters" and "War Of The Worlds" and "A.I." and "Sugarland Express" and "Duel" and "Munich" and even "Hook" and "Empire Of the Sun" and "Always," you're going to find way more than enough material to work with. The music, the images, the memories they evoke… this is a career you can't argue with, and it always amuses me when contrarians try to take something away from Spielberg's reputation. Few filmmakers, living or dead, have ever worked with this kind of focused skill for as long or in as many genres as Spielberg, and the images he's created are a roadmap through the pop culture of the last 40 years.
SAN DIEGO - Since Disney decided not to bring "The Muppets" to San Diego to help promote their new movie this fall, my guess is the most direct hit of bottled childhood available to Comic-Con attendees walked out onstage today to thunderous applause in a familiar grey suit and red bowtie.
Ostensibly, Paul Reubens appeared to promote the upcoming home video release of "The Pee-Wee Herman Show On Broadway," which appeared on HBO, but it really felt more like he showed up just to say hello and answer some questions. They opened the panel with a clip from the show, the opening few minutes of the special, and then Eric "Quint" Vespe walked out to start the panel with no announcement or preamble from anyone else.
That's appropriate. When I went to see "The Pee-Wee Herman Show" in Los Angeles at LA Live with my wife and my son, Eric was also there that night. He and another friend flew in expressly to go see the show, and talking afterwards, it was obvious that the night meant quite a bit to him. To see him sit onstage in Hall H steering the conversation with Pee Wee is a great pleasure, and it came across much better than a more polished promotional thing might have.
SAN DIEGO - It was a relaxing, enjoyable day in Hall H, and no one is more shocked to type those words than I am.
"Twilight" fans lined up for days, literally, to get into the first panel of the morning, and I was worried about how that would impact my ability to get into Hall H for the panel afterwards. Turns out it was incredibly simple, and I was able to just stroll right in, early enough that I ended up seeing about half of the "Twilight: Breaking Dawn" panel. It's still strange to me to see Bill Condon up there in the midst of all of this, and I'm not going to write about the film at this point. I will say that the guy sitting behind me with Tourette's made the entire experience much more surreal, though, and the only person who dropped the F-bomb in that room more times today was Guillermo Del Toro.
Speaking of which, once the "Twilight" panel ended, but before the Sony Animation panel started, we got an unscheduled sneak peek at Morgan Spurlock's new Comic-Con documentary, and it looks like a very heartfelt and genuine portrait of fandom, not a movie that makes fun of geeks. Some familiar faces like Joss Whedon, Kevin Smith, and Seth Rogen show up as talking head interviews, and there are lots and lots of costumes and fans on display as well. I thought the money quote came from Del Toro, who said, "Comic-Con is like a Russian doll. There are many Comic-Cons within Comic-Con." Very true. I may spend my time focused on Hall H and the film events, but it's possible to come here and never once set foot in that room and have an amazing time. It all depends on what you want to get out of the con, and I look forward to seeing "Comic Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope" this fall.
SAN DIEGO - By far, the biggest of today's Hall H panels in terms of anticipation had to be the one thrown by 20th Century Fox, and they wasted no time in making sure people got what they came for when Damon Lindelof, the moderator of the panel, walked out to discuss the new movie "Prometheus."
He thanked everyone in attendance for choosing the Fox panel over the "Game Of Thrones" panel which was going on at the same time, and then teased us a bit by suggesting that he might be able to produce a real knight to talk to us.
"I was driving in my car a year ago and my phone rang and someone said, 'Ridley Scott will call you in five minutes. Are you available?' So after I crashed my car and dealt with the aftermath of that, Ridley Scott did call me, and he told me he was going to send me a script and he wanted to know what I think of it. I read that script, and at the time, the question was 'Is this an ALIEN prequel?' That was the start of a process where I got to sit across the table from him and really go to work with this guy whose work inspired me so much in the first place." That really is a dream scenario, and Lindelof's enthusiasm for whatever they ended up building together was palpable as he introduced the first footage from the film.
It was over a decade ago, and my writing partner and I found ourselves seated in a conference room across a table from Avi Arad and Kevin Feige. We were at Lionsgate, and the reason for our meeting was to pitch our version of "Deadpool." At the time, Lionsgate had struck a deal with Marvel to make movies based on their lesser-known characters, many of which they had inherited from Artisan.
We ended up not getting the job, but that was my real introduction to the team who were determined to turn Marvel into a viable movie studio, and in the years since, I've watched as they have slowly but surely pulled off what I would have sworn was impossible as I was growing up.
Now, as "Captain America: The First Avenger" opens in theaters and next summer's "The Avengers" wraps up shooting, it's time to look back at how Marvel got here, what they did right, what they did wrong, and where all of this could be headed next.
"Captain America: The First Avenger" is one of the finest movies yet from Marvel Studios, and a big departure in tone and storytelling from most of the films they've made so far. It is a strong indicator that the more willing the studio is to experiment, the more exciting the payoffs can be. In this case, there's no clear precursor to this one in anything else Marvel's done, and it feels like branching out and trying something this different freed them up. It helps that director Joe Johnston shot the film like he had something to prove and Chris Evans appears to have been born for this role. Everything came together here in a way that I'm not sure anyone could have predicted, and that indefinable chemistry is one of the things that makes this feel so special.
The first and most immediate difference between this and the other movies Marvel has made so far is the time frame over which the story plays out. The film starts in the present day, then flashes back to the early days of WWII. The main story plays out not over days or even weeks, but over years. It is, in essence, a look at the entire WWII career of Captain America, and his origins as Steve Rogers. It isn't structured like a typical superhero film, either. It focuses on two main arcs over the course of its running time. First, there's the story of Rogers, a skinny weakling with a lion's heart who is chosen to be the test subject in the Super Soldier program headed by Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) and how he learns to handle the power he's been granted. At the same time, we follow the efforts of Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), aka The Red Skull, whose HYDRA is starting to outgrow its origins as the dark science division of the Nazis thanks to his discovery of a strange glowing cube that once resided in the vault of weapons kept by Odin in Asgard. The collision between these two story arcs is what keeps driving the movie forward, but there is plenty of room built in for digressions, and the end result feels like reading an entire collection of issues of the same book.