San Diego is abuzz with tens of thousands of fans dressed in a variety of odd costumes, braving an intense San Diego heat to be a part of the biggest comic book convention on the planet. Comic Con is so big, with so many demands on the throng of media, that even Dark Horizons splits journalistic duty.
Day 1, the official start to Comic Con, began not with the usual whimper but with a bang. While this writer will be relegated to the upstairs area to do endless interviews, my first port of call was in fact the infamous Hall H. Ah yes, Hall H, where 6000 dying fans clamour to find out what is happening in Hollywood, and my first port of call, the Paramount panel.
After an initially slow start with amusing remarks from the folks at Hot Rod [my interviews from this film are coming soon, and some nice footage from the likes of Stardust [which I've seen and highly recommend, trust me] and Beowulf, the real highlights were to come. Iron Man, with an unexpected early appearance by director Jon Favreau, looks quite stunning. It was a well-received panel, and Favreau was hilarious. The footage looked spectacular and who would have thought that Robert Downey Jnr could be in such a film, but he looks impressive.
Steven Spielberg was live from the set of Indiana Jones and the ------ well, that was his joke as well. Joined by a surprisingly youthful and chatty Harrison Ford, and special guest Karen Allen. Yes, Indie's original gal is back. This is a summer movie that Spielberg is doing not for himself but for the fans, he said. Can he pull it off? Well we have next summer to figure that out. J.J Abrams was on stage to talk about his untitled monster movie but said little, but when he came back to talk Star Trek, the crowd went wild. We all know by know that JJ has cast Heroes' Zachary Quinto, aka Sylar, as the young Spock, and we now know that Leonard Nimoy will be back, because he joined the panel. Does he approve of the new actor playing Spock? "It's logical", says Nimoy to rapturous applause.
Immediately following the panel, While Garth stayed behind, I was upstairs catching up with folk from Paramount and Lions Gate. The Paramount interviews included Mark Waters, director of The Spiderwick Chronicles, an attempt to tell an American fantasy that involves goblins and childhood. Waters was also frank about Lindsay Lohan, whom he'd directed in the hits Freaky Friday and Mean Girls, and candidly admitted he wouldn't hire her again until she sorted out her life. But Mark talked enthusiastically but working with special effects and the challenges adapting this series of children's books to the big screen.
While most studios, when dealing with the press, invite them to small intimate roundtables, or grant them 1:1 interviews, Lionsgate decided to be different at this Con, and those of us invited, took part in an odd little event called a press line. The talent is paraded past journalists, including myself, to ask questions about films they know nothing about. It was a curious affair, but the actors and filmmakers were forthcoming, if not bemused.
First up were the folks from Midnight Meat Train, based on a 25-year old novel by Clive Barker. Beautiful Leslie Bibb was first up in front of my waiting recorder, where she conceded that as a rule, she hates horror films and gets scared easily. But in this tale of obsession, Bibb rose to the challenge playing Maya, and loved working with the likes of Bradley Cooper and Vinnie Jones. A gum chewing Cooper talked about the fun of switching from comedy to horror and drama, being obsessed in this film and being of the object of obsession in All about Steve with Sandra Bullock.
It was great to chat to Dark Horizons fans Dane Cook, who was with the always-gorgeous Jessica Alba, here to talk up their comedy Good Luck Chuck. While it was gratifying that young Dane "reads your site every day", he clearly fun doing this comedy, in which he has to avoid having anything to do with poor Jessica, because of a curse. Well, more on that movie later. Alba talked about her ease in doing comedy and her tendency to avoid being cast as the pretty girt, buy mixing it up. The film looks like fun, and Dane Cook's own diversity is evident. More on this Dark Horizons fan later.
After standing in a press line, it was time to eat before heading to a screening. The film, is Shoot 'Em Up, and I've got to say, dear readers, that with so many mundane action films, this dynamic action comedy from ingenious writer/director Michael Davis, is an original, octane charged masterpiece. The plot is immaterial: an innocent bystander [Clive Owens] tries to protect a pregnant lady from assassins, led by Paul Giamatti, at his best. Things don't go as planned as the mysterious Mr Smith helps the woman give birth, takes charge of the baby, ends up being pursued by the hitmen, and teams up with hooker, played by the devilishly sexy Monica Bellucci. Shoot em Up is audacious, hilarious, inventive and stylishly crafted.
Owen plays a character he was born to play, and Giamatti is simply stunning. But this is a director's film and visually, it has a kinetic energy and a true sense of style that sets it apart from all that have gone before it. Sexy and ferocious, here is a movie that never ceases to be exhilarating and original. From one of the most dazzling sex scenes we've seen in a while to a shoot out mid air, this is a consistently entertaining and energetic rollercoaster that is destined for box office glory.
Tomorrow I sit down one on one with Mr Owen, as well as other actors and filmmakers whop are here in San Diego to deliver some tantalising new material for fans. This Con is pretty amazing. More later from the upstairs meeting rooms.