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Zombie Outbreak in Hall H

July 11th, 2015 | Posted by arno in Comic-Con - (Comments Off)

My interest in “Fear the Walking Dead’ increased after Friday’s Comic-Con panel, but I wonder if AMC should have scheduled the new show’s panel before “The Walking Dead” instead of after it.

To kick off the back-to-back panels, “The Walking Dead” cast and show runner Scott M. Gimple took the stage armed with a season 6 trailer, an announcement that the premiere episode would be 90 minutes in length, and news that the zombie herd would be growing this season – 654 walker extras were used the first episode.

GImple also let it be known that while “we sometimes play with the truth in trailers” that Rick and co. would face multiple threats early in the season, and he’s excited and terrified by the fact that the first three episodes will push the audiences rather hard.

One of the main threats, The Wolves, will be part of the new season but “hopefully in a way you won’t expect” according to Gimple.

Masterfully stoking the rumor mill even further, Gimple admitted there would be some character flashbacks in season 6 but gave no hints as to whose past we might get to see. Later he tipped his hand a bit by indicating that we may find out this season what Morgan had been doing with himself prior to finding Rick. In the present, Morgan will represent a fundamental challenge to the way Rick has been leading the group.

Wrap up all that news and speculation with the cast’s familial chemistry and ability to work the crowd — by now you’ve seen the photos of Melissa McBride walking on stage with a plate of cookies — and you have the best kind of Hall H entertainment you can imagine when the cast really can’t say anything about the upcoming season of their program.

“Fear the Walking Dead”’s cast were in the exact same position — they’ve only shot the pilot episode of their six-episode first season — so the hour-long panel felt a little thin, especially since the cast has yet to develop a repoire. In fact, the cast all met on the day of the first table read in Vancouver.

Elizabeth Rodriguez and Ruben Blades worked with the crowd and their inability to share much information the best. Rodriguez’s character is in nursing school, and she let it be known her skills are a vital part of the series. Also intriguing: Blades’s character is forced to confront a past from which he was trying to get away.

Co-creator Dave Erickson did a good job framing the story as the fall of a major city, especially one where people go to become someone new, which sounded as ominous as he quietly intended. He referred to the zombie outbreak as “the shark you don’t see …we don’t get to full apocalypse until late in the season.”

Quick Hits – Star Wars: The Force Awakens Panel

July 11th, 2015 | Posted by arno in Comic-Con - (Comments Off)

J.J. Abrams had his mom make him a Jawa costume for Halloween when he was 13.

Domnhall Gleeson’s character name was revealed; he’ll be playing General Hux, a high-ranking officer in The First Order. Oh, and he’s stationed at Starkiller Base.

Oscar Isaac asked Harrison Ford for advice about piloting; Ford said, “It’s fake. Also it’s in space so the same stuff doesn’t apply.”

John Boyega took Harrison Ford to a Nigerian restaurant in Southeast London. A waiter there asked: “Are you Harrison Ford?” His response: “I used to be.” That joke aside, Ford looked amazing consider the leg-shattering accident he suffered recently. I also got the inside scoop on how that happened…

“They were right about the acid flashbacks.” — Carrie Fisher on being back on set.

Abrams quote: I sat with John Williams to show him a Star Wars movie he hadn’t seen yet..

“We didn’t have a lot of conversations about being good and evil while filming. It was more about what’s bad versus what’s right.” Adam Driver on developing his character with JJ Abrams

Domhnall Gleeson’s response to the question “Is your character evil?”
“He’s British, so yeah.”

“A little bit like before except we looked a little melted this time. But it was good, like, a Force-melted.” — Carrie Fisher about being back on set with Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford.

The panel’s answers to “What color light saber would you have?”

Blue – Kathleen Kennedy
Red – J.J. Abrams
Black – Lawrence Kasdan
Gold- John Boyega
Silver – Daisy Ridley
Rainbow-colored – Oscar Isaac

“Doctor Who” Teases Season 9

July 10th, 2015 | Posted by arno in Comic-Con - (Comments Off)

Season 9 of “Doctor Who” begins airing in the U.S. on September 19, and Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Michelle Gomez and writer/executive Stephen Moffat teased the show’s return at yesterday’s Comic-Con panel.

Here’s what we learned and we left feeling:

Peter Capaldi got used to playing The Doctor:

“The writers know me now and want to write for me. Because Clara and the Doctor feel more in a groove, they’re really enjoying being the luckiest people in all of history.”

His answer to the question ”When did you feel like Doctor Who?”
“I think it’s when they threw a rubber spider at my face and said: ‘Fight it!’”

Q: How would you react to being in an episode with Sherlock?
A: “More cleverly.”

Michelle Gomez quietly owned the panel:

Gomez on Missy in season 9: “[She] has to come at it from a different angle, which is surprising and exciting to play. “There’s something slightly different to her. Another eyebrow-raising comment: “Who do you think the Master is, and what do you think he/she/it wants?”

On the Doctor/Master dynamic: “This great friendship that just went wrong. It’s her life’s purpose to chase the Doctor and make him realize that ‘No, you started it. I’m right.’” She later added: “We both kill a lot of people. He feels bad about it, I don’t.”

Jenna Coleman describes Clara’s perfect day:

“Teaching a bit of Jane Austen, going to the stationary store, opening the door to the Tardis, and then jetting off to like Jupiter. Or Uranus. Kill some octopus-shaped alien, get some tea, and then hang out with the Doctor.

Chris Hardwick from Nerdist is the premiere Comic-Con moderator:

“I love that you’re cranky and intense, and I kinda don’t know if you’re a good guy or not.” – Chris Hardwicke to Peter Capaldi

“I feel like you kinda dommed the Doctor this season.” Hardwicke to Jenna Coleman

There was a surprise cameo at the end of the Season 9 trailer:

“Game of Thrones” star Maisie Williams appeared at the end of the minute-long trailer. “You! said the Doctor. “What took you so long, old man?” was her response.

A Comic-Con Farewell to Katniss, Peeta, & Gael

July 9th, 2015 | Posted by arno in Comic-Con - (Comments Off)

I like living in an entertainment world where Conan O’Brien gets as much applause at Katniss Everdeen. “I’m #TeamJosh!” O”Brien exclaimed as walking out on the stage, augmenting Lionsgate’s preferred hash tags for their Comic-Con presence. “I’m middle-aged and I don’t know what any of that means,” he said.

Conan’s wit and the sibling chemistry between Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth charmed to no end, it was almost as if this wasn’t the curtain call for The Hunger Games at Comic-Con.

Here are some remarks and things we learned about The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2:

There was a strong indication from Francis Lawrence and Jennifer Lawrence that the first Mockingjay installment was a little exposition heavy, and that Katniss is back in action for the finale.

Liam Hemsworth positioned Gale as a big part of the plans after being on the sidelines for a while (too long). He and Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) devise ways to ambush and trap the enemy.

A lot of fans would like to see the books from Peeta’s point-of-view.

When asked which outfit she’d most want for herself, Lawrence joked: “I love the wedding dress from Catching Fire because it’s so understated. The wet suits would be hilarious to take to a beach. The orange backpack from the first Hunger Games. I have so many memories of hiding my phone in there.”

“The truth is [my favorite moment] is in this movie but I don’t want to spoil it.” — Jennifer Lawrence’s response to Conan’s question about her top Katniss memories.

Josh Hutcherson can perfectly imitate the sound of a cricket and a sheep, but his Rue/Katniss whistle always sounds like “The X-Files” theme.

The best moment of the panel was a quiet one. When asked about wrapping production on the last movie and what it meant to them, Jennifer Lawrence turned to both Josh and Liam and asked: “I’m your best friend, right?”

Bill Murray Opens Comic-Con 2015

July 9th, 2015 | Posted by arno in Comic-Con - (Comments Off)

A superhero of his own design kicked off the first day of Comic-Con 2015; an apparently hungover and unslept Bill Murray took the stage to delight the Hall H crowd and to promote Rock the Kasbah, director Barry Levinson’s comedy about a veteran music manager who discovers a teenager with an extraordinary voice while on tour in Afghanistan.

Here are the top Murray moments and quotes of the presentation:

He walked through the crowd to the tune of “Smoke on the Water” and soon said: “We started the morning with bagels and tequila.”

Murray’s character Richie Lanz is partially based on concert promoter Ron Delsener, who was responsible for bringing Van Morrison to the U.S.

After Glazer remarked, “We were driving around during Ramadan…”, Murray said: “It was great – there’s no traffic.”

“I go to work with a knife strapped to my leg; it means people will know their lines.”

Bruce Willis was a page when Murray was on “SNL”. His job was to refill the M&M and peanut bowls. He said Willis once said: “Only you and Gilda were nice to me.” Who knows if that’s true but it’s brilliant.

“These are all my lines from other movies.” — A response to reading Kasbah‘s script.

“I’m in the [Writers] Guild but I don’t take the credit. You get away with a lot more if you don’t take the credit.”

“Miley Cyrus is really f_cking good. I thought she was just going to be this knucklehead you’d want to go on a road trip with…maybe she wouldn’t have ID. I don’t want to hear anymore knocking of Miley Cyrus.”

Answering moderator Josh Horowitz’s question about whether he actually was up for the role of Han Solo and whether he’d try out for the just-announced Solo movie: “I can’t say I was ever up for the role originally, but I’m up for the new thing. I’m working out – just a lot of swimming and Pilates.”

In response to a fan question about his favorite role to play: “Well, once upon a time, I did save New York. I had the coolest damn car to drive around Manhattan.”

Comic-Con Wrap-Up: 10 Big Winners

July 15th, 2012 | Posted by arno in Comic-Con - (Comments Off)

Guillermo del Toro : The unofficial mayor of Comic-Con unveiled the best trailer of the event, his stunning, giant-sized first look at Pacific Rim, which aims to seamlessly fit together human emotion, smart science, and smarter CGI/visually effected moviemaking into one of the top event films of next year. After catching glimpses of del Toro’s robot vs. kaiju action, pretty much all other monsters (aside from Godzilla, but more on that in a sec), looked off in scale and purpose. Please don’t hate me, Milla.

Wreck-It Ralph: Much has been said about Disney’s acquisition of Pixar since that deal was inked in 2006, but Wreck-It Ralph, a story set in the world of classic video games, is showing indications of how Disney Animation Studios can create increasingly resonant movies by looking to Pixar’s standards. During the Con’s “trailer park” panel — an interstitial event where trailers are shown between live presentations – Wreck-It got the most applause each time I was present.

Joss Whedon: With a post-Avengers glow, our favorite male feminist hung out with fans the night before the emotional “Firefly” reunion, announced that “Dr. Horrible’s” will air on the CW, and seemingly is in position to do whatever he wants next, which may or may not be an Avengers sequel.

Iron Man 3: Robert Downey Jr. dancing up the aisles to a Luther Vandross song kicked off a presentation that offered a glimpse of Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin and gracefully let Jon Favreau sound off on his participation in the third chapter of Tony Stark’s saga. I never thought this franchise would earn lazy comparisons to Transformers, but let’s just say Stark and company will rebound after a questionable second outing.

After Earth: Apparently you don’t need Will Smith, his son, Jaden, or director M. Night Shyamalan to pack a conference room with news of a sci-fi/adventure story set 1,000 years after our planet’s destruction.

The Campaign: Initially I bristled at the inclusion of this comedy during the Warner Bros. presentation, but an improved second trailer and the Will Ferrell vs. Zach Galifianakis banter fully won me over. And I still can’t believe it every time I see that baby get punched in the face.

“The Big Bang Theory”: Being somewhat naive about this show, its graduation into Hall H made me realize how much of a true fan connection has been developed over its 5 seasons. Also, Kaley Cuoco should be hired for more comedy films.

Django Unchained: Of course Quentin Tarantino motormouthed his way through the script’s development and its myriad movie inspirations, and the footage was full tilt; however, it was the ways in which Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington articulated their respective connection to the material that made me feel this might be QT’s first important film.

Godzilla: A 2-minute tease of Monsters director Gareth Edwards‘s take on the kaiju icon proved what we already know: Edwards is an emerging talent who could help reshape what it means to make an event film in Hollywood.

Two Season Threes: “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” held two of the biggest panels this year — both in Hall H, and both as we await their respective third seasons. Universes will expand, characters we love (and otherwise) will die, and fourth seasons are a given, so let’s get to it already.

‘Thrones’ & ‘Dead’ Lead as TV Rules Day Two

July 14th, 2012 | Posted by arno in Comic-Con - (Comments Off)

“The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” announced their respective return dates to 6,000+ ecstatic fans in Hall H on Friday. These two genre-changers capped a major day for television at Comic-Con; personally, each panel reminded me of the tipping point that occurred here at the height of “Lost”‘s popularity, when there was a clear an indication that the small-screen gives us more to invest in in terms of character- and plot-line development. You know, the qualities Steven Soderbergh has cited as he prepares to leave the world of film for TV.

Both panels delivered wildly entertaining previews into their respective third seasons.

Please don’t put me in the barn for saying this, but “The Walking Dead” is an almost-there show. What I mean: Now that we’re beyond the Frank Darabont dismissal drama and the shaky start to season two, true greatness awaits in season 3 as the Ricktatorship senses a mutation in the zombie epidemic and encounters a seemingly abandoned prison that pits them against pure evil in human form. I’ve had issues with the Rick Grimes character over the second season, and Andrew Lincoln seemed aware of Rick’s abrasiveness and questionable decisions. The same goes for his wife, Lori, played by the radiant Sarah Wayne Callies. (“I’m not a homewrecker, I play one on TV,” she offered.) Together, Lincoln and Callies offered sound defenses for their characters’ past actions, and Callies’s assertion that she’d ultimately done right by her husband and family was better articulated than most of Lori’s dialogue. I was like: hey, Robert Kirkman, perhaps she should be in invited into the writers’ room? At the end of the table sat Danai Gurira, who appeared at the end of season two as the katana-sword wielding Michonne, and David Morrissey, who will psychologically terrorize audiences as The Governor. Both actors kept their statements brief, but it’s clear they’ll be more front and center at Comic-Con 2013. And what else is there to say aside from the fact that Merle, the survivalist redneck played by Michael Rooker, appeared at the very end of the season 3 preview trailer.

George R.R. Martin himself moderated the “Game of Thrones” panel; one cool thing about Martin is the fact that he’s been doing the sci-fi/fantasy convention rounds for years, so he was most interested in truly interacting with his cast and the audience without being anything but his sex-and-violence-focused self. He had no filter – it was like hearing your cool grandfather swear, and the crowd loved it. They also loved each time Emilia Clarke and Richard Madden took a question; there was a serious Team Daenerys/Team Rob vibe happening. If I had to gauge who should win the throne from the Hall H reaction, it would be a Targaryen world. The season 3 casting announcements were thorough surprises; personal highlights were brief testimonials from Diana Rigg (who looks amazing) and Mackenzie Crook and his whole Rhys Ifans/I don’t really sleep look. This upcoming season is going to be such an all-star game it will be hard to back a single contender.

Comic-Con: A Warm, Totally Fuzzy First Day

July 12th, 2012 | Posted by arno in Comic-Con - (1 Comments)

Cooler temperatures, successful crowd-dodging maneuvers, and a genuine feeling of starstruckness made it a perfect first day at Comic-Con 2012. Here are some highlights:

  • Assessing the individual and collective maturity levels of the kids, who have grown up in front of the press over the past years and are keenly aware of the credit due to Stephenie Meyer, the franchise’s directors, and the worldwide fan base who have turned them into icons. And sensing there might be truth to the notion that Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are indeed a couple by the way he devotes full attention to her.
  • Watching a kid in a Nintendo controller mask, a DIY construction made of cardboard and magic marker, get more attention than his older brother’s Batman costume.
  • John C. Reilly saying to a reporter, “You’re at Comic-Con, man, do your homework” in response to the question if he played the video game Wreck-It Ralph as a kid.
  • Talking with comedienne, Wreck-It Ralph co-star, and fellow New Hampshire native Sarah Silverman about Funspot, the arcade in our home state that used to give you five free tokens for every “A” you received on your report card (and 3 tokens for every “C”).
  • The Scooby Doo kids.
  • Holding brief, nearly back-to-back audiences with Tim Burton and Sam Raimi, both in similar all-black ensembles. It was good to listen to and speak with Burton about a project to which he’s long been connected, the feature-length expansion of his short, Frankenweenie. Raimi, though graceful, already seems weary of all the Spider-Man reboot questions and the misinterpretations of his Oz: The Great and Powerful project (and he didn’t seem to dig my question of whether he discussed directing techniques with James Franco, which I will be overanalyzing for weeks).
  • Seizing up as Michelle Williams approached and realizing I was thoroughly starstruck. Instead of asking about Oz: The Great and Powerful, I just wanted to look at her hair, patterned dress, complexion, and shoes from a respectful distance. It’s a bit odd to see a queen of independent dramas in this setting, and I didn’t think it was the place to talk with her about Meek’s Cutoff and how she was robbed of an Oscar nomination there.

With all the talk of Comic-Con becoming too Hollywood-centric and mainstream, sometimes all you need is a photo of Batdog to help you turn down the background noise.

With Preview Night Upon Us

July 11th, 2012 | Posted by arno in Comic-Con - (Comments Off)

From the IMDb archive: Catherine Hardwicke and Kristen Stewart at the first Twilight panel.

My first exposure to Comic-Con’s unique superpower, the ability to launch a pop-culture phenomenon, coincided with the Twilight panel four years back; this year, that saga comes to a close with a Hall H curtain call for Breaking Dawn – Part 2 on Thursday morning, preceded by an industry party the night before, where Michelle (@IMDbMichelle) and I (@IMDbArno) hope to snap some candids for you before the Con officially kicks into gear for 2012.

It’s an expected start to a year that has one major day of movie presentations — with The Hobbit, Django Unchained, Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, and others turning Saturday into the day everyone’s focused on. But let’s acknowledge the two studios who are missing from this year’s roster: Paramount will sit out 2012, and Fox’s barely-here presence has film bloggers wondering aloud if the Con’s special abilities are waning. I wouldn’t say a Hugh Jackman PR stunt to hype The Wolverine would change the prevailing opinion that the industry might be falling out of love with the event, but it would be a welcome surprise in a year that features more than a few notable absences.

Jackman’s Con history is in sharp contrast with someone like Will Smith‘s, who’s no longer Mr. July and isn’t scheduled to appear during the After Earth panel on Saturday. The presentation for the summer 2013 sci-fi flick won’t be graced by Smith’s son and co-star, Jaden, nor director M. Night Shyamalan. The panel isn’t even being held in Hall H. It’s all so curious that I feel as though one, two, or all three of them have to put in a surprise appearance.

Sci-fi fans will be treated to panels with Guillermo del Toro and Neill Blomkamp. The lovable and profane del Toro will unveil bits from his robots-versus-sea-monsters creation, Pacific Rim; Elysium, Blomkamp’s follow-up to District 9, could emerge as the buzziest Con revelation.

I’m also going to cover two of the best TV shows to stream from bed: “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead“.

And if I manage to get a split second with Quentin Tarantino, who will unveil more of Django Unchained, I’m going to ask him if he prefers fast or slow zombies and, since he has some TV experience under his belt, to sound off on “The Walking Dead” since Frank Darabont‘s unceremonious dismissal.

Look, Up in the Sky! It’s … Stan Lee?

June 28th, 2012 | Posted by arno in Comic-Con - (3 Comments)

These photos of an animated Stan Lee from the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man video game essentially sum up our growing enthusiasm for Comic-Con 2012.

We will be there. Follow @IMDbMichelle and @IMDbArno for scene-by-scene details.