Neuroses usually instilled in your average superhero character have preceded Comic-Con 2011, as bloggers and industry watchers over the past few weeks have cried out a list of movies and studios that wouldn’t be making the annual trip down to San Diego. Before touching down in southern California, the event was already a disappointment for some. For sure, Marvel’s dialed-down presence creates a major void, and the absence of The Hunger Games, The Hobbit, and other major 2012 releases is curious, but this year’s movie offerings are far from anemic; maybe this could be a year where a lesser known movie breaks through or a new career is launched. And with presentations from the Spider-Man reboot to Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s apparent Alien universe spin-off, all that earlier chatter about a weak movie roster feels disproportionate to what lies ahead from Preview Night to the last day of the ‘Con.
And at the risk of being sensationalist: something tells us we might get a surprise visit from a certain hobbit, his dwarf friends, and Peter Jackson since the production is on a break from shooting.
That proclaimed, here’s a quick rundown of what has my interest as we head into Preview Night:
Immortals: Tarsem‘s visual direction is always welcome, and I’m hoping his mythical action/fantasy can overwrite my memory of Clash of the Titans. I also want to see what Henry Cavill, aka the new Superman, looks like up close.
Breaking Dawn – Part 1: While the Twilight movies do little for me, I have truly loved watching its Beatlemania effect over Con-goers since 2008. If ever there were an example of Comic-Con’s raison d’être, it’s the relationship between Bella, Edward, Jacob, and the fans who cram into Hall H to shriek their love for Stephenie Meyer’s characters. With the franchise approaching its end, I’m looking forward to this panel and the first-day frenzy it will create on Thursday.
The aforementioned Prometheus: If more Ripley isn’t an option, I’m more than willing to follow Ridley Scott, Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, and the rest of his amazing cast back in history — all the way to the “beginning of time” per Scott himself. Of course a trailer will be revealed, right? And I’m just realizing I’ve never heard Ms. Rapace speak English.
Drive: I can’t recall a better reviewed movie from the festival circuit over the past year (one that’s getting a major release, that is). Herein, Ryan Gosling announces himself as an action star and Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn traffics in ’70s masculinity with an ’80s aesthetic, from what I’ve read.
The Amazing Spider-Man: What primed me for this curious reboot was Andrew Garfield‘s performance in Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974. And though I’m unsure of the extent of Emma Stone‘s role as Gwen Stacy, she’s the most welcome female presence on the superhero screen since Michelle Pfeiffer. Just please don’t make their romance too quirky, Marc Webb.
The Darkest Hour: Director Chris Gorak‘s follow-up to the flawed but engaging Right at Your Door is an example of a smaller film that might find traction this year. Timur Bekmambetov is the main producer behind the project, hence the Russian location. And as someone said on our message boards: it’s about time aliens invade someplace aside from the USA. Exactly how Emilie Hirsch, Rachael Taylor, Joel Kinnaman, Olivia Thirlby, and Max Minghella find themselves in the same predicament is the tip of the mystery. Meanwhile, Bekmambetov has gone viral yet again, but we’re more interested in this sci-fi/horror story than Apollo 18.
Snow White and the Huntsman: Though it is keeping a remarkably low profile, I would, in all honesty, cut in line for the merest glimpse at this reworked fairy tale, mainly because of my love for co-stars Ray Winstone and Ian McShane.
Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Spielberg: Leading separate charges, the directors will discuss their respective projects, the ghost story Twixt (I’m intrigued for myriad reasons, but hesitant) and Tintin (whose recent trailer revived my flagging interest).
And finally, what is Comic-Con without surprise appearances and unveilings? Aside from The Hobbit potential, I’m hoping for more from The Avengers — even a phone-in from Joss Whedon and crew would suffice. Since Daniel Craig and Noomi Rapace will be present, I am thinking we’re going to be treated to a deeper look at The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Chronicle is way under the radar but I sense Fox might take advantage of the open playing field to introduce their superpowered-teen mystery. Ditto these higher profile movies that are a custom fit for Comic-Con: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, space-jail thriller Lockout, the maligned-by-bloggers Men in Black III, either Dark Shadows or Frankenweenie — or both?
What’s on your list?