ShoWest: Warner Brothers' Summer to Remember
by Alex Billington
March 14, 2008
When you hear Warner Brothers summer line-up, you'll understand why I call it the summer to remember: Speed Racer, Get Smart, The Dark Knight, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, arriving through May and August. They've got four of the summer's most anticipated movies coming up, and the best part is they all look fantastic. As a final closer today at ShoWest in Las Vegas, Warner Brothers presented "The Big Picture '08", a look at these four films as presented by filmmakers and cast from each. What a finale it was, my jaw dropped multiple times over the course of this entire presentation and I was left more excited that I think I've ever been (even before last year's plethora of trilogies). WB is going to kick this summer's ass!
Unfortunately there wasn't anything too knew in The Dark Knight footage, so before I get down to that (because I know that's what everyone is waiting for), I'm going to cover Speed Racer and Get Smart first.
After a lengthy introduction from studio president Alan Horn, producer Joel Silver took to the stage to introduce a 4-minute, 10-second Speed Racer clip. It was basically an extended doublewide trailer (refer to the latest one), full of endless new scenes, breathtaking footage, and enough energy, vivid colors, and bright lights to give kids seizures - but, it was the most amazing promotional teaser I've ever witnessed. It blew me the hell out of the water, in fact, it melted my brain. I can't even remember everything I saw because I was stunned. I know there multiple times where I couldn't contain my excitement and blurted out "holy sh*t!" right there in theater.
First things first, Joel Silver did confirm that it would be PG, no longer G. After watching this footage, for the first time I understood how they are going to pull this off. In simple terms, the Wachowski's are essentially creating the most literal interpretation of a live-action cartoon. It would be as if you replaced all of the exact elements of a cartoon with live-action elements, but kept the same colors, look, style, focus, everything. The smoke from the cars looks almost 2D because it's cartoon smoke, but done in live-action. It's really hard to explain without seeing the visuals to go along with it. Where the rating comes into play is that the violence is "cartoon violence", meaning in the fight scene with the ninjas, when someone got punched in the face, it wasn't physically violent, but you could see a colored "puff" appear around the guys fist like a "pow" without actually seeing the word.
In addition, the story is explained a lot more: when Speed doesn't sign the big racing contract, the big head honcho "Mr. Royalton" (played by Roger Allam) puts out an offer for millions of dollars to anyone who can take Speed out during a race, hence the attacks. There is of course cheating and love thrown into the mix, but even the story is starting to really come together.
What do I need to do to convince you this movie is going to be PHENOMENAL? I'm at the point where I've outspoken myself in regards to everything great that I can say about the movie. Every new trailer has a new bit of commentary regarding the movie and now I'm just wondering how I can convince everyone out there that this will be as mind blowing as I already know it will be!
The last thing I need to mention is one of my favorite scenes from what we were shown. There was a great part where the cars are racing in the desert and there is a car with two huge "flail" spiked-balls-on-chains hanging off the back. The car does a flip over another car and causes these two giant balls with spikes to go flinging over the top of him in order to smack Racer X's car (and destroy it), but at the same time he hits his bottom boosts and jumps up into the air and actually punches the other driver in the face as he's flipping in the air over him, causing him to crash. It was breathtaking, I screamed with joy like an 8-year-old school boy when I saw it. The photo below is from the most recent trailer.
Following Speed Racer, director Peter Segal introduced a short clip from Get Smart, the upcoming comedy event of the summer. I said it before and I'll reiterate it again in this article: Get Smart is the comedy that looks the best out of the four big ones this summer. The clip we were shown is when Maxwell Smart goes on his first mission. He's given a Swiss Army pocket knife that has a flame thrower and even a crossbow in it. Later he's shown on a plane with Agent 99 and after screwing up his drop preparation, he falls out of the plane without a parachute. Agent 99 chases after him with her 'chute on, but an assassin from the plane dives after them, too. There was a hilarious 5-minute mid-air battle we saw that looked great on-top of being quite funny. An impressive balanced dynamic between action and comedy that Segal and company definitely pulled off.
I also interviewed Pete Segal yesterday, so stay tuned for that coming in the next few days. Had a great time talking with him and by the end I was even more excited for the movie. In the meantime, we'll jump over to George Lucas and Star Wars next. After 31 years of hearing the 20th Century Fox theme before the movies began, the Warner Brothers logo will now play in place of it - and this time that's a good thing.
Last, but not least, George Lucas took the stage with his army of Clone Troopers to present a brief clip from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Back in February we announced that Clone Wars would be launching in theaters with a 100-minute movie before it heads to the small screen. Exciting news, although I wasn't sure whether this was a good idea, after today, I'm convinced it will be. The scene was a short battle scene where Anakin and his padawan Ahsoka are fighting some enemies at the top of a giant rock wall. There was also a brief bit of a fight between Obi-Wan and a female Sith villain who had two red lightsabers. I got so into the scenes and fighting that when it ended abruptly, literally I wanted to do is sit there and finish watching the entire movie. It wasn't anything extraordinary, but it pulled me and I was enjoying what I saw.
And finally, I can't forget The Dark Knight! Everyone I know is insanely excited for this movie. And we're patiently waiting for another trailer and another glimpse of what we will eventually see in theaters this July. I am anxious for the buzz to get started again and for all of the die-hard fans to start talking about TDK non-stop. Director Christopher Nolan and stars Christian Bale and Maggie Gyllenhaal took to the stage to thank exhibitors before they showed the opening scene of the movie and a bit of extra footage.
We were shown the 35mm compressed version of the same IMAX scene that played in front of I Am Legend last December. As a reminder, it was the scene where the Joker and his cohorts rob a bank and eventually drive away in a school bus. Nolan confirmed that the scene IS the very first scene of the movie, and it actually played with the blue logo like the movie was beginning. After that scene ended, another 30-seconds of footage was shown in trailer format, and a few new scenes popped up.
It was hard to recall all of it, but Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent appeared quite prominently. First, the Lamborghini that Bruce Wayne drives is actually in the movie and I saw a glimpse of the silver beauty driving (you can see the toy version of the car here). There is a scene where Dent is riding in the back of the car and for a half-second I could've sworn that one side of his face was messed up, like he was Two-Face, but it was two dark and he was turned away and it flashed for literally a half of a second. There was also a scene with a coin spinning on top of a table, and another party scene with Dent asking Alfred about Bruce's crazy ex-girlfriends. Overall, it still excited me, but I want more! Soon enough we'll have another trailer...
This summer looks like it's going to be one to remember and Warner Brothers is certainly to thank for a larger part of that. Speed Racer, The Dark Knight, Get Smart, and even Star Wars: The Clone Wars, are all very high on my most anticipated movies list for 2008. This studio knows what they're doing - they're marketing, promotion, publicity, and distribution is all top-notch, and their movies are always incredibly high quality. Warner Brothers is promising us a great summer and I'm telling you that you have nothing to be worried about. Now only to find out how to make two more months pass by quicker!