Live from Hall H: Max Payne

Mark Wahlberg gives us the thumbs up

“It’s not minimum Payne, its not medium Payne, its Max Payne.” That is how director John Moore describes his upcoming video game adaptation. With actors Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges at his side, Moore took the stage at Comic-Con to show us all a first look at the film, and boy did he have a lot to show.

The segment opened up with a scene in which Max Payne enters a home where some sort of violent crime has been committed. It was a visually interesting scene, which used a lot of shadow work to build tension in the moment. After exploring the house, Payne is attacked by the intruder, a fight which ends with a few loud spouts of gunfire. As the generally critical Comic-Con crowd looked on in awe, the panelists began to talk about the film.

Of course, as video game adaptations go, fans are always a little bit weary about how it will live up to the experience of playing the game. And it appears that John Moore has a handle on that. “The challenge is to not screw it up,” he explained. “The minute you take a controller out of people’s hands, you have to deliver the value.”

He then explained that in that regard, the film takes on a highly subjective nature, making the audience feel like they are Max Payne in the movie. This is something that we saw very clearly in the second clip that was shown. It was an action sequence in a bathroom that shows Payne take down a few random thugs. The previously mentioned subject nature comes oozing out, creating an interesting audience perspective. The only problem I have is that the dialog is a little rough — a little kitschy, if I may. Exactly the sort of thing that you would expect from a video game adaptation. What was surprising though, were the visuals. They were very dark, very intense and very noir-ish in nature.

The Cast of Max Payne at Comic-Con

After showing the two clips, the cast began to talk about what brought them into the world of Max Payne. But first, Mark Wahlberg made some quick observations about what it’s like to be on stage in Comic-Con’s Hall H: “This is like a concert in Japan. Now I know why the New Kids want to go back.”

When asked why he decided to play Max Payne, he said simply that he wanted to “kick some ass again.” He added that it is “not a one-note performance,” suggesting that Payne is a character with a lot of layers. Mila Kunis also talked about doing some action scenes. Her favorite of the bunch? The ones where she got to beat the snot out of Wahlberg. Ahh… wouldn’t we all like to do that every once in a while.

Moving along, John Moore talked about a newer technology called a phantom camera. A digital hard drive that can shoot up to 1000 fps. As John Moore explained, it is a similar technology to bullet-time, but with a different effect. It allows the scene to slow down significantly without it feeling like a gimmick. At least, that is what I gathered as they played the final clip.

The clip starts with some of the underwater footage from the first trailer, then explodes into a montage laid over Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” It evolves into a pretty bitchin’ action scene — an extended version of the bank scene that was in the first trailer. The scene pounds away with the heavy sounds of gunfire. It is a scene that really jumps out visually, something that seems to fall right in line with director John Moore’s vision.

And ultimately that seems to be the big over-arching theme for Max Payne — the story and dialogue might not blow you away, but the visuals are sure going to do their part. For my part, I am excited to see what comes of all this — it appears to be headed in the right direction, with a lot more potential than other video game adaptations in the past.

Stay tuned all this week as we bring you coverage from Comic-Con International. Not only will we be roaming the floor in search of love, but we will have the latest news Live from Hall H, great interviews with some of Hollywood’s hottest stars and random convention shenanigans, courtesy of our Comic-Con Attack Squad! To keep tabs on all of the happenings, just head over to our Comic-Con 2008 Homepage.

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet. As of yet, no one has stopped him.

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