Unfortunately for this year’s WonderCon, I was only able to spend one day at the convention. When busting your cherry, convention or otherwise, it is often best to go nice and slow. While I’d have loved to get a few more hours at the convention, which moved to Anaheim, California, this year, I did more than just get my toes wet. Because it was raining.
I spent the better, longer part of Saturday sitting in the massive ballroom at the Anaheim Convention Center, just down the street from Disneyland, staring up at a gigantic screen projecting clear images of actors, actresses, writers, and directors which, to my naked eye, were tiny specks about a quarter of a mile away.
The panels I managed to get into included Lockout, Battleship, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Resident Evil: Retribution, so let’s all take a look together at the joyous cinematic wonders they had to show!
For the life of me, I don’t know how this Luc Besson-produced, Guy Pearce-starring space-action flick is not getting more attention. It’s kind of like if Snake Plissken and Han Solo both impregnated Lara Croft and the child grew up to be Snow (Pearce). We got a look at the trailer, which is still awesome, and an extended sequence of Snow breaking into the impenetrable prison.
Maggie Grace was on hand to talk about the film and she was charming and lovely. What we take away from this panel is that this movie is going to be all sorts of violent and cool. I wrote down that it looks like “Dead Space with Han Solo.” There was a neat anti-gravity scene where Snow is supposed to float across a gravity generator, but is instead tackled into the abyss where he then kicks some ass before the machine is deactivated, plummeting one man to his death (I’ll let you guess whether it was Snow or Henchman #4). We saw a lot of violence, gunshots, a brutal shotgun to the face, and a bodyguard who finds an innovative way to extend the amount of oxygen in a survival capsule.
Mark my words, this one is going to kick ass.
I was really disappointed in the Battleship footage, especially after hearing about how much effort director Peter Berg was putting into it. He described how he always wanted to make a movie about the Navy, since his father was a Marine and a Naval Historian. He originally wanted to make a story based on the book In the Heart of the Sea, based on a true story that involves cannibalism, but Hollywood wasn’t interested.
He eventually came to Battleship and acknowledged the dubious source material, but explained the origin of the alien story – he wanted to make a big, fun, summer movie and you can’t have a lot of fun watching real humans tear each other apart violently. Well, I can, but still. With aliens you can do almost anything you want to them.
Berg went in depth describing the realism behind the aliens, constantly referencing Stephen Hawking and “Goldilocks Planets.” It definitely feels like Berg is on the defensive already, but he made a lot of interesting scientific points. Basically, Goldilocks planets are the ones that are most similar to Earth in the universe – we suspect they’d be habitable, have water, gravity, and a decent atmosphere. So, we send strong messages to them, hoping someone hears our message and wants to be friends.
Stephen Hawking says that’s fucking retarded, since an advanced alien race might hear our message as a dinner bell, or at least a signal flag of an awesome planet they might want to take over. That’s what happens in Battleship. We send a strong signal out to some of these planets and five years later a five ship formation of aliens comes to Earth.
The director also convincingly described the mindset behind the game of Battleship – you hunt for your opponent and often miss, but as soon as you score a hit, you turn into a beast and do everything in your power to saturate that one area and blow whatever is there off the map. That’s what he wants to bring to the movie.
We saw a new theatrical trailer, which was pretty exciting and well cut together. Disappointingly, we also saw two cut-together sequences. In the first, Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is trying to impress a girl by getting her a burrito, so he drunkenly breaks into a 7-11, complete with the theme from The Pink Panther playing. It was super jokey and silly and ends with him getting tasered – twice.
The second bit of footage involves the crew of the ship pulling an alien from the water. The guys remove his helmet, revealing a very humanoid looking alien. They have lizard-like eyes, four fingered hands and feet, but are otherwise pretty human like – except for their (no joke) porcupine quill goatees. Hm. Other aliens rescue this downed opponent, and a “thug” alien stays behind to wreak havoc on the ship. Their armored suits are bulletproof, so Hopper ends up leading it through the ship to the deck and positioning it in-front of a 5″ gun, that blows it away.
Berg teased that while it might not be the biggest Hollywood movie this summer, Battleship “will have the biggest guns,” referencing the 5″ and 15″ guns of a Naval ship. For reference, that measure is of the diameter of the round fired. So a 5″ gun fires a big ass bullet that measures five inches across the back. A 15″ shell, well, you get the idea. Those things go boom. Big time.
Peter Berg did a good job convincing me of all the effort and thought that went into the movie, but the actual scenes did little for me, totally disappointing. The trailer, though, still looked cool, so hope for this one is still there, but barely.
Resident Evil: Retribution
Milla Jovovich is a sweetheart! She is a cute, bubbly, excitable, and nice person. I will see Resident Evil: Retribution and I will enjoy it the same way I enjoy most of the others: by fully acknowledging that it’s pretty stupid.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson told us that this film starts off delivering the epic battle the end of Resident Evil: Afterlife promised, before finding a way to bring back a lot of old characters, like Michelle Rodriguez, and some new characters from the video games.
In the footage we saw, Alice (Jovovich) is armed with a pistol and a nasty length of chain and is kicking zombie ass down a Tron-esque white-lit hallway. We see plenty of slow-motion, lots of outrageous kicks and cool moves, along with a lot of opportunity for 3D.
Anderson told us that his Director of Photography had some custom rigs made specifically for this movie, allowing him a greater degree of movement. As this is Anderson’s, and his crew’s, third 3D film, he promises to deliver on the effect.
All indications are that this movie will be cartoony, violent, silly, and ultimately moderately enjoyable.
The Amazing Spider-Man
We were shown some of the same footage from San Diego Comic-Con, which was some cool-looking Spider-Man stuff and a few spots of unfinished effects. The Amazing Spider-Man is looking pretty good. Lizard is huge, but mostly lizard-like. We’ll definitely be getting more info on Peter’s parents and it looks like the manner in which Parker indirectly causes Uncle Ben’s death is a bit different.
Gwen Stacy is now the focus in terms of love life and comments from actress Emma Stone about knowing how Stacy’s story ends before hand seems to indicate that we’ll get the ending we expect for her character – which is a good move, considering it is the second most life-defining moment of Parker’s life.
There is an extended scene of Parker (Andrew Garfield) asking Stacy out that is decently awkward, though I actually wish Parker was even worse at dealing with women and far nerdier. On the positive side, Parker does use his science skills to build web-shooters, rather than having them be organic, which leads to some laughs, and Spider-Man definitely has his attitude back.
In dealing with a carjacker, Spidey teases that the criminal “shouldn’t dress like a car thief” and sasses him when asked if he’s a cop, asking if cops generally wear red and blue pajamas. When the wanna-be thief pulls a knife, Spidey almost has a nervous breakdown, before doing all sorts of silly web-shooting tricks, laughing at the criminal’s expense.
My only hesitation of this film came during the Parker-Stacy sequence which had a whole lot of emo music played over it. I don’t want director Marc Webb to lean heavily on the soundtrack to portray emotion, as he did in 500 Days of Summer. That aside, this movie is definitely showing some strong potential.
Which of these films are you most excited to see?