And when will we see more Comic-Con coverage?
We're almost back to normal, folks.
I'm sitting in my hotel room in Toronto right now, and in six hours, I'll be taking a car to the airport so that I can catch my 8:30 AM flight back to Los Angeles, where I'll finally be able to sit down and jam through all of the work I've got backed up.
"Wait," you say, "what are you doing in Toronto? I thought you were at Comic-Con." Well, I was. And I drove my family home from San Diego on Sunday, had just enough time to unpack, do some laundry, repack, and head to the airport so I could come here to visit the set of Edgar Wright's adaptation of "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World." We wrapped that up a few hours ago and then grabbed some dinner. I still feel like I haven't really slept right since last Wednesday, so things are about as weird as they get right now.
Right now, I'm trying to finish my "Inglourious Basterds" review before I head to the airport. Then tomorrow, I have to work my way through a whole stack of stuff, including reviews of "In The Loop," "Thirst," "The Goods," and "Funny People," as well as more Comic-Con reports on things like "Tron: Legacy," "Sherlock Holmes," the Disney animation panel, and interviews with Terry Gilliam and Hayao Miyazaki.
So, yeah... I plan to stay busy for a while.
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Updated: Watch Video Interviews with Favreau, Cheadle and Johansson
Well, Marvel, looks like you've got a "2" to be proud of.
Greg liveblogged from the panel today, so I'm just going to focus on the footage that was shown. I'm glad they showed it twice, because the first time, people were busy going insane, loudly, myself included I suspect. The second time they showed the footage, it was absolutely quiet in Hall H, and we were able to get a better sense of the nimble verbal wordplay that is absolutely a signature of this series.
I love how they worked the crowd up before showing it, though. They started by showing us a behind-the-scenes package that looked like something you'd see on a commercial for tomorrow's "Entertainment Tonight" puffball piece. It was lame. As the lights came up, Favreau started to apologize, explaining that they just finished shooting last week.
And then Robert Downey Jr. came walking out onstage. Irate. "What was that bullshit?" He started to harangue Favreau. "You showed me better stuff than that in the editing room." After he got the entire Hall H audience to sing "Happy Birthday" to Favreau's eight-year-old son, who was there today, Downey sang, "Now you have to show footage."
And so he did.
The opening shot is Tony Stark, in the armor but without the helmet, sitting in the giant donut on top of Randy's Donuts near LAX. An iconic spot in LA, and a great image for a film. As the camera pulls back from him, we find someone on the ground, looking up.
"Sir... I'm going to need you to exit the donut."
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And we're there to liveblog every single moment of it!
Good morning, everyone. I've never liveblogged from an event before, but I figure the one event at San Diego Comic-Con this year that is worth trying to do it with would be "Lost," because I feel for every single fan who can't be here. I have no special access to "Lost," so I'm just a fan like anyone else, and at 11:00 PST, when the panel gets underway, I'll start updating you guys on everything that's happening as it happens, wireless access permitting.
Be back in a few...
Okay... first up is an ad for this year's viral campaign, LostUniversity.org. Then a great "rediscovered" spot for an '80s show called "The Dharma Initiative," which looks like an "In Search Of" knockoff. Hilarious.
Carlton: Our theme for today's panel is fan appreciation.
Damon: Yesterday, walking out of Hall H at 7:30, we saw people in line for today's panel, and for someone who has camped out for other things, that's very surreal.
Carlton: We're going to start out this morning by celebrating some of the stuff you guys have made.
They're starting with some of their favorite fan videos from over the years. Nice way to say thanks.
I love the one where they dub "Lost" dialogue over "Muppet Babies" footage. And the Jack-calling-XBox 360 customer support for help with the red ring of death is great. Of coruse, there's a great Jack/Sawyer "Brokeback" mash-up. Lord. Deadly accurate.
Carlton: Are you making it up as you go along? That's the question we're asked the most. So we had an idea to do something that will prove conclusively that we are not making it up as it goes.
Could this Peter Jackson production be one of this year's best sleepers?
This is not a review of the film "District 9."
Although I did indeed see it on Thursday night as a precursor to an hour-and-a-half long intimate evening with Peter Jackson, I've been asked not to write a formal review of the film yet. So instead, what I'll offer up is a preview of the movie, some background on it, and a general reaction.
Neil Blomkamp was originally brought to Peter Jackson's attention by Mary Parent while she was working at Universal, and the idea was for Neil to direct "Halo" while Peter would produce it. Solid plan, until the co-financed film between Universal and Fox imploded, and suddenly Peter Jackson was left with a protoge but no movie for him to make.
Thankfully, Blomkamp's solution was to return to South Africa to make a small SF indie film based on some of his earlier short films. And the result is, in my opinion, an instant classic, a movie that had the same effect on me as the first time I saw Paul Verhoeven's "Robocop" in 1987.
Keep in mind... today, "Robocop" is respected and loved and acknowledged as one of the great SF films of the '80s. But before it came out, it looked like a joke. I was working at a theater at the time, and we made fun of that poster relentlessly. "PART MAN... PART MACHINE... ALL COP!" Oh, please. I went to a pre-release employee's screening just to make fun of the film... and then lost my mind. I ended up taking a good dozen people or so back to see it over the next few weeks, amazed by the film, and time after time, people flipped out for it.
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Odd and beautiful adaptation of the Maurice Sendak classic finally debuts
I'm sure by now you've seen the trailer. It's one of my personal favorite trailers in recent memory, because it does what I feel like a great trailer should do... it teases. It gives you a taste, but it doesn't really give anything away.
Spike Jonze has taken a long and undeniably difficult road to get to this morning and, to be fair, so has Warner Bros. This is an $80 million film from the director of "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation." Not exactly a track record that makes a studio think "giant box-office guarantee." Spike's film, which I saw in rough form many many months ago, is beautiful and stark and sad and scary. It's a great film, I think, but not an easy film. I've spoken to Spike at length about the making of the film.
And today... finally... at the beginning of the Warner Bros. presentation in Hall H that kicked off the day, Spike and Warner Bros. premiered footage from the film, far more than the trailer. For me, the biggest question mark of the movie was answered conclusively today, and I can say now with all confidence... "Where The Wild Things Are" is going to be a very special movie. And the characters, the Wild Things themselves, are gloriously, amazingly alive.
Maurice Sendak appeared with Spike in a special reel that was shown at the start of the panel, and listening to him talk about how his book was fairly reviled when it came out, how his own family didn't like the book at first, and it wasn't until a few years later that the most important group of critics in literature finally weighed in on the book... the librarians. They were the ones who saw that children didn't just read the book... they internalized it. It became part of how they processed the world. It was Sendak who whispered in Spike's ear, "Make it dangerous," and he did. His film is not a safe piece of merchandising bait. It's very somber, and it's very strange, and it's conceptually quite bold, maybe as bold as either of his Kaufman collaborations.
Max Records, the boy who plays Max in the film, came on after the Sendak/Jonze film and then introduced the footage. He professed to being nervous enough to need to read the notes on his hand. He explained that he had just recently seen Maurice who said to pass along a very sweet message to the Comic-Con crowd:
"I really like this movie, and I hope they like it, because if they don't, they can all go straight to Hell."
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... and the controversy is just warming up...
"Avatar" absolutely will change the way films are made.
Or, to be more precise, it will revolutionize the way $400 million films are made. And make no mistake... we're about to see another price paradigm shattered, just like we did the first time a single film cost over $100 million. "Avatar" is ginormous to the power of superhumongous. And, personally, I'm glad. Because it's not my money. I'm in for at least $28 or so theatrically, and another $40 for the eventual BluRay that will be just plain awesome. So for a personal investment of around $70, I get to go to Jim Cameron's new planet, Pandora, and have a crazy adventure with the giant blue cat people.
I'm glad I didn't live blog this event, and that I didn't rush back to the hotel to just run a description of the footage. I'm glad I ended up doing several other things after "Avatar," and that I've run into a number of people whose disappointment in the footage was profound, near-complete. I've been listening to the reactions of the ones who are disappointed. A good friend of mine, a guy who loves at least one James Cameron film so much that if he ever has a son, he will probably name that son "Aliens"... that guy was so upset about the footage tonight when I saw him that I felt like he was almost confused by how upset he was. There were things he liked about it, but a whole lot of it was stuff he didn't like. And that freaked him out a little. I don't think he expected at the start of today that he'd be a raving fan of "District 9" and disappointed and irritated by "Avatar."
But that's Comic-Con, isn't it?
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Quick impressions on my way out the door
God, I'm dying time-wise, but San Diego is amazing so far.
Yes, "Avatar" is awesome. I've heard contrarians so far, and we'll get into that tonight.
Yes, my interview with Terry Gilliam is the best interview I've ever done, and you'll read the whole thing SOON.
Yes, Burton's "Wonderland" is gorgeous and strange, and yes, 5000 people seemed to explode at the same time as Johnny Depp made a surprise appearance on the panel.
Yes, "Tron: Legacy" looks cool and gigantic.
And, yes, I'll have details on all of this and more later tonight. I hate not being able to share details yet, but if I don't walk out the door five minutes ago, I'm not seeing "District 9," and then I won't be able to talk to...
.... well, you'll see. I'll be back tonight with full reports on everything above and even more insane coolness. Comic-Con never stops, it seems, and so I guess for the next four days, neither do I.
Talk to you soon.
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Plus an early look at Neal Brennan's 'Goods' with an R-rated clip
Welcome to The Morning Read.
Very possibly the last Morning Read ever published. I am, after all, leaving the house in a few hours to drive to San Diego, where I full expect I'll have a massive David Cronenberg style meltdown sometime around 5:30 on Friday afternoon. Expect the second half of my Con coverage to read largely like this:
"Oh god, oh, god, ohgodohgod, oh, god, ohgod. So. Many. Nerds."
Then screaming. Lots of screaming. I dunno... maybe the Benadryl will help. I plan to drink a gallon a day.
Keep in mind, I say that as a self-avowed professional nerd. I'm not opposed to nerds on an individual scale. It's just taken en masse that the thought makes me want to black out. Whatever the case, I'm off to enjoy Wednesday through Sunday at a hotel somewhere in lovely San Diego. I'll be back in my own bed Sunday night, and then I'm off to what could sort of be described as a Comic-Con field trip of sorts for a few days. I won't be back on a regular schedule until Thursday of next week. That's not to say you won't get content... in fact, you'll be getting more content from this blog than normal, and much of the HitFix team is going to be in San Diego as well. Dan Fienberg, Greg Ellwood, Katie Hasty, Jen Wilhelmi, and myself will all be onsite for some or all of the convention. I'm going to be at preview night tonight. I'm going to an IMAX reception before that. I've got a Thursday that doesn't seem physically possible already booked, and a Friday that's just as crazy.
Friday night, don't forget, we're going to be screening Hayao Miyazaki's latest delight, "Ponyo," the new Disney dubbed version that will be released in August. This is your chance to see the movie with the legendary filmmaker in attendance, introducing the film, and somehow, they're actually letting me introduce him. WHICH IS INSANE, BECAUSE HE IS AN ENORMOUS GENIUS, AND I AM A DUDE THAT CAN TURN A CLEVER PHRASE ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE'S WORK! It's still amazing to me that they'll let me be in the same building as him, much less introduce him to an American audience before they get to see one of his films for the first time. That's seriously a crazy honor, and one of the many, many moments I expect will make all the stress of the next seven days worthwhile.
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Sets adaptation of popular game to shoot after 'Spider-Man 4'
Well, Harry, nicely played.
Leave it to Grande Rojo to break one of the biggest out-of-the-blue scoops of the year so far on the eve of Comic-Con so he can roll into San Diego with that omnipresent shit-eating grin intact. And deservedly, because breaking the news that Sam Raimi is set to direct "Warcraft," the mega-budget adaptation of the insanely popular "World Of Warcraft" MMORPG, is a huge story in the geek world.
Actually, it's a huge story. Period. Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures have been working to develop a "WOW" film for a while now. I first reported on this project back in 2007, and at that point, they were working to try to get it onscreen by... well... now. Obviously, that didn't happen. I know a lot of filmmakers have approached them about the project, and they've talked to many directors. But holding out for someone with as strong a voice as Raimi was a great decision, one that should pay off nicely for them in the end.
Raimi obviously digs fantasy. Aside from producing the "Hercules" and "Xena" series, he's also a producer on "Legend Of The Seeker" right now. And there's a lot of interesting fantasy material working its way towards the screen still, even six years after the end of "Lord Of The Rings" on the bigscreen. I'm dying to see what HBO does with the George RR Martin books, for example.
But I'll admit I know very little about the world of "World Of Warcraft." I don't have time to give to MMORPGs. It just sounds like such a huge investment of headspace and energy. Obviously, there's something to it. You don't create rabid addicts the way Blizzard has if you're delivering a weak experience, so people are definitely getting something out of WOW as they play it. The biggest question is, will they get the same thing out of a film version?
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Plus a game of frisbee between 'Scott Pilgrim' and 'Paul,' and 'Tron' sightings a-plenty
Welcome to The Morning Read.
I'm not sure yet how I'll be handling these at Comic-Con. I'll have something up to start the day, but it may be a summary of the previous day's coverage, or a link to other Comic-Con coverage worth seeing, or a quick list of things that happened while we were immersed in the Comic-Con hubbub. I'm not sure yet. Rest assured, we're going to have so much content up between tomorrow and next Sunday that it's going to be overwhelming. For you and for us alike, I think. So that makes this the last "normal" Morning Read until next week, so let's see what's going on out there.
On DVD this week, the two biggest titles are "Watchmen: Director's Cut" and "Coraline." Both of those are BluRay must-haves. That amazing "300" BluRay double-dip is also out today, and even though I haven't seen it all the way through, just a cursory examination of the extra features leaves me convinced that today's Zack Snyder releases are fairly significant just in terms of exploring the potential for what you can do with a BluRay edition of a film. Criterion's releasing both "2 Or 3 Things I Know About Her" and "Made In U.S.A." today, so Godard fans can rejoice. All three seasons of "The Mighty Boosh" finally land on US soil today as well, too, and the discs are packed with extras that do a great job of tracing the whole history of the Boosh. "Midnight Express" hits BluRay today, along with Paramount titles like "U2: Rattle And Hum," "Black Rain," "The Warriors," Mel Gibson's "Payback," "Nacho Libre," "Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow," and "The Truman Show." And if you're a TV fan, "Pushing Daisies" season two is out today, along with season seven (!!!) of "Monk."
It's increasingly uncommon to read a first-hand recollection of what it was like when we dropped atomic weapons on Japan, so this piece in The New York Times is amazing just for that reason, even if it weren't well-written and perceptive and haunting.
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