There wasn’t a whole lot feature film wise this year at New York Comic-Con, but the sheer quality of what was displayed nearly made up for that. Universal and Focus Features dominated the IGN Theater, partially helped by the fact they were the only one of the major studios showcasing their films. But thankfully, they came to impress and every film delivered.
The three films that had panels and footage shown were: Joe Wright’s fantastical assassin oriented film Hanna, the much (currently) divisive prequel to The Thing, and of course the David Gordon Green comical pot filled epic Your Highness. Each film couldn’t be more different, but all of them still managed to play greatly, or at least well. The IGN theater wasn’t as chaos fueled as San Diego’s Hall H, so it’s a bit difficult to judge the general consensus, but each piece of footage seemed to receive a genuinely positive response.
Hanna (April 8th, 2011)
The idea of a Joe Wright film being promoted at a Comic-Con seemed like something that would never happen or something that nobody would ever think of happening, but it did. After seeing the two clips, it’s understandable. Hanna looks surreal and comes off like a David Lynch action film, with slight flourishes of Jean-Pierre Jeunet thrown in. Everything feels heightened, and that makes even more sense when Wright described the film as a fairy tale. It looks fantastical in both its mood and performances.
I feel bad referencing other filmmakers in describing the footage because, really, Hanna does come off like something we haven’t quite seen before. There seems to be some touches of styles were familiar with, but it feels original and unworldly on its own. Joe Wright is a filmmaker known for his scope and he’s bringing that to the assassin world. This looks absolutely nothing like The Professional, which will surely be the endless comparison made due to having a young girl as a protagonist in an assassin film. A big difference: here, Hanna herself has been trained her whole life and is already a one woman army.
Two action beats were shown and both were distinct. One featured Eric Bana (who plays Hanna’s father) shooting through a door and aiming in a rather unique way: through a bullet hole. The other featured Hanna being interrogated and making a rather memorable break for it. Even though it’s always difficult to judge a clip based out of context, they both worked extremely well on their own merit. Stylistically and tonally it’s nothing Wright has done before, and being the esteemed filmmaker that he is, that’s exciting. One more exciting piece of news that should make you look more forward to Hanna: The Chemical Brothers will be scoring the film [via First Showing].
The Thing (April 29th, 2011)
This prequel had the most baggage and doubt coming into Con. Will it be a disaster like most horror remakes/prequels/reboots? Will it lose sight of the old school nature of Carpenter’s The Thing? And most importantly, do we really need a prequel to The Thing? To answer the first question, it by no means looks awful or comes off like it’s going to “rape” anyone’s “childhood”. In fact, it looks quite good. So on that front, there’s no need to worry. As for whether or not it’s sticking with the practical side of things, yes, it is. There seemed to be some prominent CG shots here and there, but the few glimpses of the creature we got seemed to be mostly practical. Keep in mind, there was never a clear shot of the alien, but based on some rather excellent money shots it looked mostly non-CG and the crew acknowledged there’s a heavy use of practical involved. On a technical level, it looked great. The production design and cinematography, especially, stood out.
Whether or not this is needed is still up in the air. This is a prequel and not a remake, but the tricky thing about that is they’re still going to be playing with a lot of the same beats: the theme of paranoia, the mystery of the alien, and probably much more. And one major challenge that not many seem to be talking about: How can you play into the mystery of the alien, when we already know what it is? If your audience is already ahead of your characters, there’s a problem. Who likes watching a guessing game when you already know the answer? But, as of right now, these are just speculations. The more positive comments mentioned previously have solid footage to be based on; these qualms are just general concerns.
And one thing every horror fan should be excited for: they casted actual men. There’s no twenty-somethings or models here, but instead the gruff heroes we like. Having your protagonist played by Joel Edgerton certainly also gets you bonus points, whose had a fantastic year with both Animal Kingdom and The Square. And hey, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (aka Mr. Eko) is here! If that alone doesn’t raise your hopes, you’re not a real nerd. So overall, lower your trepidation and put away your pitchforks, the footage was really well cut together and there’s actual promise here. They don’t seem to be pulling their punches, they seem to have scares based on atmosphere over gore, and the creature effects seem top notch.
Your Highness (April 8th, 2011)
The real winner of the day was undoubtedly, Your Highness. David Gordon Green seems to have made not just a spoof of an epic, but an actual epic. The best analogy to use is this: Imagine Lord of the Rings or those eighties fantasy films, the latter being acknowledged as a great inspiration for the film, but with Danny McBride, James Franco, and a whole lot of pot and sex jokes thrown in, so yeah, it looked brilliant. It’s rare to see a comedy with such grand scope that doesn’t feel like it’s shot for TV, and that’s something we got from Green as well with Pineapple Express, but here he’s taken it to the next level. The world building and design feels genuine and like an actual universe of its own. Nothing seemed to be blatantly shot on sound stages, and that came through clearly in the seemingly epic scope. And the glimpses of action as well looked impressive.
This came off like McBride and co. at their most unrelenting, it’s filthy in all the wonders of the word. The sizzle reel ran around four minutes and once it was over, you wanted to see it again, and again. While walking out of the theater you felt endlessly capable of quoting classic worthy lines, which is always a positive sign. There’s no doubt in my mind that Your Highness wont end up as amazingly magically as the horny wizard here played by Justin Theroux, who looks unrecognizable and perfectly broad here. Your Highness shouldn’t just be your most anticipated comedy of next year, but your most anticipated film period. That’s right, forget about Marvel’s summer slate, medieval sex and pot jokes are far more cooler than some men in tights.
Stay tuned for more interviews and reactions as our coverage of the 2010 New York Comic-Con continues…