Hero Complex Film Fest '12: 'Wall-E', 'Serenity' with Nathan Fillion
by Ben Pearson
May 21, 2012
Downtown Los Angeles was filled with visions of the future during the third & final day of the third annual Hero Complex Film Festival. Science fiction fans were treated to the one-two punch of Pixar's 2008 film Wall-E complete with a Q&A from writer/director Andrew Stanton, and Joss Whedon's 2005 directorial debut Serenity, wrapping up with a Q&A featuring fan-favorite star Nathan Fillion. The LA Times' Geoff Boucher and his team put together another fantastic event, and I already can't wait until next year's festival. This was my first time attending, and it's quickly joined the ranks of my favorite film festivals of the year.
I had watched Wall-E again recently enough where I didn't feel the need to check this one out on the big screen again so soon, and according to a few friends, I missed a surprise performance of "You've Got A Friend in Me" by "Battlestar Galactica" composer Bear McCreary which kicked off the day's events. Wall-E played to a good-sized crowd, and I arrived in time for director Andrew Stanton's Q&A. Hero Complex head writer Geoff Boucher moderated the event, and though questions about John Carter were undoubtedly on everyone's minds, he respectfully avoided that film and concentrated more on Stanton's history with Pixar and stories involving the creation of the charismatic little robot we all know and love.
Stanton talked about the variations this project went through, one of which included the human characters looking like gelatinous blobs who spoke in dialogue pulled from an Ikea catalogue. He spoke about the obvious Apple connection in regards to Eve's design, and reminisced about working with Steve Jobs (who he said had a "leader gene") during the film's development. But most interesting to me were his observations as to the reason behind Pixar's success. Stanton said that he and his co-workers at Pixar are "lifers," giving a sort of built-in accountability to their work together. Pixar's notoriously long development process for their projects (anywhere from 3 to 8 years) outlasts the length of time that many other studio heads get to run their studio, and he jabbed other studio executives' shortsightedness instead of looking at a bigger picture where story and characters are more important that quarterly earnings.
With the ridiculous worldwide success of The Avengers, Hero Complex could not have chosen a better film to close the festival than Joss Whedon's Serenity (based on his TV show "Firefly"), a true cult classic that played to a sold-out crowd. The film is fantastic, and while the writing, acting, story, and action are all spectacular for a comparatively low-budget film, I have to give special props to actor Chiwetel Ejiofor for his excellent performance as The Operative. He's a great villain, and Ejiofor's layered performance actually makes him somewhat sympathetic as the film goes on.
The evening concluded with a Q&A with star Nathan Fillion, who was easygoing and answered questions that ranged in topic from his days as a soap opera star all the way up to his current ABC series, "Castle." Fans were able to ask questions and it essentially turned into people asking about every project that has had Fillion's name attached to it over the past few years. Someone asked if he wants to play Ant-Man in Edgar Wright's upcoming Marvel film, and he shrugged and said, "did you ever just love Ant-Man? Not me." He had a similar reaction to a question about a role in a potential Wonder Woman movie, but perked up when the topic of the Uncharted movie came up, saying "that would be great, because everyone wants their own Indiana Jones movie." But ultimately, he recognizes that he's not a big enough box office draw to recoup a big budget, quipping, "If I were making that movie, I wouldn't get me to do it. Do I want to be in it? Yes!"
Special thanks to John Conroy at the LA Times for facilitating my coverage of the festival, and I hope you all get a chance to attend for yourselves in the coming years. It's always a star-studded festival, and Hero Complex is always hosting great events in the Los Angeles area, so keep your eyes peeled for any screenings they might be putting together later this summer. Boucher and his team are hoping to expand the guests to more than just actors and directors, aiming to bring in more folks like makeup artist Rick Baker and people who work in different areas of the industry to talk about their experiences making the movies we all love. For a recap of the first day of the festival, click here, and for the second day's rundown, click here.
Reader Feedback - 6 Comments
I don't know why everyone say serenity is classic? Star wars is classic not this one. Film is ok , good but not masterpiece or classic, story is medium, music , cinematography , special effects , ... Is good but not masterpiece I also dislike acting of natan fillion(also better than other his films) and first woman role character. But I looooooooooove very much acting of : Chiwetel Ejiofor What superb & talented actor he is Why he doesn't invite to be in masterpiece and great films?!!! What shame!!!
Ehsan Davodi on May 21, 2012
Thanks for your input. I like both Fillion and Ejiofor, and Serenity is a classic to me. FYI "classic" is a conventional thing, not factual. Often subjective. For me both Star Wars and Serenity are classics, but it doesn't stop me from seeing Serenity as a way better written and acted movie. Not directed, they're on par for me here. I don't see Fillion inferior as an actor to Harrison Ford at all and Mal is a more complicated and interesting character imo.
re on May 21, 2012
Star Wars had it's fair share of faults. Serenity is a cult classic. After Avengers' success i'm sure more people will revisit it and discover it for the first time.
theaceofknaves on May 21, 2012
Wait, wait, wait...you think Serenity was only meh, and you don't like Nathan Fillion?! You can't hear it, but this is me screaming "Blasphemy!!!" at the top of my lungs. In the words of the great Malcolm Reynolds: "They say 'never hit a man with a closed fist', though it is on occasion hilarious." =P
SuicidalOptimist on May 22, 2012
Yes, Star wars is a classic but so is Serenity. FireFly which is the tv show Serenity is the sequel to is also a classic. If you are a fan of science fiction, I highly recommend you check the show out. It will give you a better understanding of Serenity and Mal Reynolds (Fillion). IMO I like Captain Reynolds a lot more than I like Han Solo.
perry thai on Jun 13, 2012
Geoff Boucher did NOT avoid the topic of "John Carter;" he's quite supportive of the film. In fact, he introduced Andrew Stanton by including "...he took us to Barsoom" and the whole room erupted with applause and cheers (especially from the Facebook "Back To Barsoom" members in attendance). At the end, Stanton himself graciously acknowledged the John Carter fans and stayed afterward to sign numerous items related to the film. If for any reason he didn't know how much appreciated his efforts were on that amazing adaptation, he certainly knows it now. Who knows: We just might see "JC" make its appearance at Hero Complex in the near future. (I'm counting on it)!
Daria Brooks on May 22, 2012
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