WonderCon: Complete Wrap-Up and Thoughts
by Alex Billington
February 26, 2008
I'm finally safely home and have caught up on numerous hours of sleep after being in San Francisco for a long weekend at WonderCon. Besides toting a shiny new Jim Lee designed Batman statue that I picked up, I've got some great memories that I'm taking home with me. WonderCon is one of the last big comic conventions before the summer season, and the Hollywood studios decided to show off some of their very best upcoming movies. Although I've already covered a few of the panels, specifically Wanted, Get Smart, Wall-E, Iron Man, and X-Files 2, as a wrap-up I wanted to give all of my final thoughts on the movies that were previewed at this year's con. It's a brief yet comprehensive look at some of the more exciting films due out in the next few months.
Listed in order the panels took place on Friday and Saturday.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall:
This is definitely going to be another hilarious Judd Apatow comedy that I'm really looking forward to seeing. The trailer and footage we were shown looked hugely promising. I easily laughed as much as I did in Superbad, which is a rare thing. While in the end I don't think it will top either Knocked Up or Superbad, I think it falls in directly behind those other two. The film's star, newcomer Jason Segel, was as natural of a comic in person fielding questions from hordes of comic book geeks as he seems to be on screen. That sort of presence in real life instills quite a bit of confidence in me because I know he probably gave a very genuine and organic comedic performance in the film, too, which is the first part of making a great comedy.
As I mentioned in my coverage of the footage from WonderCon, I'm excited for the visual style and the intensity in Wanted, but I'm still thinking this is just going to be yet another mediocre summer flick. There's nothing in it that seems to stand out or make it unique. If I were to rank it up against the four other comic book movies this summer, it still falls into the fifth spot. I can't really explain why, but part of it may be that McAvoy isn't as unique of an actor yet in comparison to some the other actors out there (e.g. Downey Jr., Norton, Ledger, Bale). His acting in the extended scene we saw was really annoying, like he was an idiot who was just whining the whole time. While it was an entertaining scene, I'm still not entirely sure how good this will turn out.
Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D:
I really have absolutely no excitement for this. To put it plain and simple, it's a theme park ride that you'll see in a movie theater instead of at a theme park, and who wants that? I'm speaking both about the trailer and the 20 minutes of 3D footage that we saw at WonderCon. The 3D doesn't look as sharp as Beowulf, which was the only 3D I've ever actually enjoyed, and the script seems absolutely terrible. It's full of the cheesiest and stupidest lines you'll ever hear ("shut your trap" when punching a giant venus fly trap) and packed with the most over-the-top 3D gimmicks they could fit into 90 minutes. Nothing amazes me about the 3D in this and I don't need to experience a theme park ride at the movie theater; I prefer to fly down to Universal Studios for that.
Before WonderCon, I really despised 10,000 B.C., playing it off as just another over-the-top epic blockbuster that seems way, way too far-fetched for me. However, the latest trailer and the extended trailer that we were shown at WonderCon have in turn changed my opinion for the better. In the extended trailer it actually explained the story better, which involves this main character guy traveling from his homeland (presumably somewhere in the north-western Americas) all the way to Egypt, where this "new" civilization took his "girlfriend." And from what I can tell, since his tribe is skilled at mammoth hunting, he's going to use that to his advantage in Egypt to attack them. After seeing that, I actually have a bit of an interest now, and will still see it opening weekend, but I'm not really expect much from it.
This movie is definitely going to be the big comedy event movie of the summer. Whereas we've got plenty of big comic book movies and action movies, Get Smart is going to be the comedy that everyone is going to love and enjoy. I really can't wait - I think this looks like Steve Carell's best role to date and big breakthrough lead performance (even more so than 40 Year Old Virgin). It looks like it perfectly captured the essence that made up Mel Brooks' classic 1960's TV show and modernized it similar to Austin Powers but with even more spunk, action, broad comedy, and better performances. Every time I see a new trailer or see footage (which has only ever shown at either Comic-Con or WonderCon), it gets me ridiculously excited and anxious to finally see what Pete Segal and his fine cast have put together.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian:
We were shown a very length extended trailer that featured no dialogue, only a wonderful score and full scenes of action and story. It went through the movie from its start to finish and really gave a good overview of what we can expect. My most prominent reaction was that this looked very, very dark and intense. While I wasn't a big fan of the first Chronicles of Narnia, this one looks like it has a much deeper, darker, and fantastical storyline, which may make for a better movie. I was also amazed that 3 months out (it arrives in mid-May), a lot of the CGI work was still far very from finished. I hope they can pull it together quickly enough to be done by the time it's supposed to come out, because so far I'm getting quite excited for another great fantasy adventure movie. At least for one that far surpasses The Golden Compass!
I don't know how much more I need to say beyond what was mentioned in my coverage of the panel previously, because really, this is easily my most anticipated movie of the decade (and I'm not joking). I'm trying not to get too excited because we could end up with another Spider-Man 3, but I don't think that will be the case at all. While I was very excited beforehand and was looking forward to the WonderCon panel, not one second of footage they showed even made me consider getting worried. They exceeded my expectations and excitement with the footage and even had me overly emotional at one part. I really think Wall-E is going to be one of those movies that blows everyone away and becomes an instant classic loved by all. If you still doubt me, just wait until June 27th and you'll see.
I don't really know why they brought this to show at WonderCon, beyond for some extra marketing, but nevertheless it still wasn't amazing. It looks like yet another dull horror thriller like One Missed Call but with ghosts. Sure, spirit photography is a freaky phenomenon, but putting a hottie (Rachael Taylor) as the lead in a movie that takes place in Japan really doesn't do anything to help what was already destined to turn out bad. I'm wondering whether I may even see this when it hits theaters in March, but as of right now, I don't think I'll waste my time. There is a specific niche of fans who enjoy these Japanese remake horror movies and it'll play to them and they'll all go see it, but this isn't going to be a hit and it won't attract my attention.
The X-Files 2:
I was amazed at the reaction of the fans for X-Files - they swarmed the panel and were going crazy over the actors and teaser trailer. I never really was an X-Files fan to begin with, but I did actually enjoy the first movie. I thought it brought a more cinematic feel to the TV show and really turned out to be a solid film. With X-Files 2, I'm hoping for the same, but I'm concerned because the footage we saw looked like just another TV episode. Maybe they designed it that way because they knew the fans would be there and that's what would get their attention the most, but it's making me worried as someone who isn't a fan of the show. I hope they pull it off in the end and will be crossing my fingers once they put out a real trailer.
Maybe it was just the atmosphere or maybe it was just that I was surrounded by 6000 comic book geeks, but I'm really wondering whether Iron Man could take the top comic book movie prize this summer. I already talked extensively about what we saw at the panel, but to reiterate - Jon Favreau knows how to manipulate the fans and deliver an exciting experience (like saying that he didn't bring the 90 second trailer, but he did bring a two and a half minute one) which always leads to more enthusiasm. The new full two and a half minute trailer (that will be playing in front of 10,000 B.C.) looks absolutely incredible. There is so much in there that, like Transformers, is going to exceed our expectations and take comic book movies to an entirely new level. Everything about this movie looks perfect, from Jon Favreau to Robert Downey Jr. to Stan Winston designing the suit to ILM doing the visual effects. Iron Man is going to be one hell of a ride.
I really can't wait for this summer to roll around - there are so many amazing movies to see! And not only do we get to see almost everything mentioned above, but at the end of July we had back out to Comic-Con in San Diego to do it all over again. I really love movies so damn much and comic conventions get me more excited than almost anything else. As a final kicker, check out this photo from the floor at WonderCon - only at a comic convention would you ever find Wolverine and Storm Troopers in the same place.
Photo by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid.