Warners pretty much won the convention today with a five film, 2.5 hour presentation that was nearly flawless. Right from the get go Hall H was out of their seats starting with what would have to be one of the most expensive moves of the convention – turning the mega screen into an almost Cinerama experience with two even longer giant projection screens being unveiled on either side and being utilised throughout each presentation to display company logos, production art, behind-the-scenes footage, etc.
Guillermo del Toro was up first with “Pacific Rim”, his giant robots vs. giant monsters movie. Making the best use of the three screens throughout, the film itself got a big launching pad thanks to an extended trailer that wowed.
The worry with this project was the one-line concept itself sounds shallow, an empty giant robot movie provokes images in the mind of “Transformers”. That’s not the case here – instead we’re getting the closest thing to a Hollywood blockbuster based on anime you could probably get. As someone like myself who grew up loving “Neon Genesis Evangelion”, something like this was quite cool to see.
Unlike Michael Bay, del Toro’s action remembers the laws of physics – these ‘Jaegers’ and their fights have inertia, scale, momentum, and environmental factors. The 25-storey tall robots are controlled by two pilots, each sharing different hemispheres of its ‘brain’. The designs themselves aren’t “over designed” liked the Autobots but still somewhat similar if sleeker.
Environments were greatly varied – there was a battle at sea, a collapsing robot in the snow, and various shots of the human characters in jump suits. Like all his films, the colours and lighting was extremely rich and deep, the style just beautifully handled. The Godzilla-esque monsters themselves scored only the briefest of glimpses but fans of his previous work will be very happy.
Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman, Charlie Day, and Rinko Kikuchi joined him on stage to answer a few questions but del Toro pretty much commanded the room saying the tone was much more “romantic adventure” than a war movie. There are nine monsters and a half dozen robots fighting in varied environments. To add authenticity, he did things like use oil with the camera and add lens scratches to make it feel more real.
This shocked the crowd. Gareth Edwards (“Monsters”) showed up and showed off a teaser trailer for the “Godzilla” reboot. The piece showed hundreds of dead bodies, skyscrapers with giant tears, rolling dust clouds, and so forth. What starts off looking like the camera panning past the side of a volcano turns out to be the carcass of a dead creature.
Soon one makes out a giant claw gripping a building before the beauty shot of the character whose features you can make out through the dust cloud. The trailer played perfectly and was a big improvement on the silliness of the Emmerich “Godzilla” remake – the tone aims to be much more real and grounded, the footage focusing on the devastation and impact of this giant beast on our landscape.
The oddest choice for this presentation, Will Ferrell and Zach Galifanakis showed up to what started out with a very awkward Q&A with a failed comedian. It wasn’t until an extended version of the trailer with some longer versions of previously revealed gags came through that the crowd was swayed. Even then, it was a fun if time wasting presentation.
Man of Steel
This was the biggest question of the day, the Zac Snyder-directed and Chris Nolan-produced reboot of the Superman franchise. Things got off to a slightly shaky start as an obviously quite nervous Snyder tripped over his words a bit. He then however let the footage speak for itself.
The upcoming 87-second teaser trailer that’ll hit theatres is likely a significantly cut down version of this extended trailer which surprised. After the big crowd pleasing ‘all money shots’ action of the previous films, this was much more solemn. The tone much more reverential, serious, and aiming to be something profound.
Indeed this was very much Snyder trying to emulate Nolan’s filmmaking style – a Hans Zimmer meets Vangelis sweeping score (temp), tasteful handheld photography with an emphasis on the real and practical where possible, plenty of stuff about Clark’s journey to determine who he is, and so on. Character beat moments given as much weight as the few big flashy money shots of Clark in the suit flying, fighting, destruction, etc.
There’s brief glimpses of Amy Adams, Russell Crowe (who also narrates the start) and Michael Shannon’s Zod decked in large armour and who seems to have close cropped hair and a salt-and-pepper non-moustached goatee. The Kryptonian design elements ditch the Donner-era crystals in favour of something much more H.R. Giger-esque. Henry Cavill fills the suit perfectly (in more ways than one) and is a great choice from what we could see (though he had no dialogue).
Cavill then showed up on stage to various declarations of love from the audience, be it swooning women complimenting him during the Q&A to a random guy in the audience screaming “You’re Hot”. He also earned his fan cred citing “Red Son” as one of his big influences. Moderator Chris Hardwick, who did a great job throughout, came down from the stage to console one fan overwhelmed and in tears.
The final presentation began with a Comic-Con specific video blog about the last week of filming with short appearances from the various actors involved both in and out of character. There were the first public looks at Luke Evans’ Bard the Bowman, Stephen Fry’s Master of Laketown, Sylvester McCoy’s Radagast the Brown along with glimpses of some big sets hereto unseen.
That preceded Peter Jackson popping on stage to setup a 12.5 minute reel of footage from both “The Hobbit” films (though mostly the first one). The footage was a combination of about five full-on scenes intermixed with 20-30 seconds of quick cuts. These include the dinner at Bilbo’s house where he’s recruited into the action, Gandalf in some haunted hallways being chased by something and then later conversing with Galadriel. There’s also an extended scene of Bilbo and Gollum meeting and then Bilbo finding the ring (and not telling Gandalf).
Quick shots were mostly location stuff but some familiar scenes including the Master’s secret gold stash and brief shots of Saruman, Legolas fighting, cave trolls, and a giant stone being hurtling a giant piece of rock at the company of dwarves. The main things missing from the footage? No dragon, no barrel scene, no Bard, and no 48fps – the presentation was at the standard frame rate in 2D. The footage itself went over as expected – the tone keeping in line with the first trailer and the previous ‘Rings’ films if a little lighter and more adventure style.
Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, and Elijah Wood were all on hand for the presentation in which Jackson confirmed extended editions are likely for the two films but there’s no possibility of a movie based on “The Silmarillion” due to the Tolkien estate rights issues. The same random guy in the audience who screamed “You’re Hot” at Henry Cavill did the same to McKellen. All had fun though seemed a bit solemn that their exhaustive but rewarding time filming the project had come to an end.