Comic Con 2011: Saturday 7/23/11 Review

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The first two days of Comic-Con were fantastic. We saw some great panels, and got a lot of information regarding some big upcoming projects. However, the third day wasn’t quite as successful. Due to extreme crowds, and some miscalculations on our part while attempting to jump from room to room, we only ended up seeing four panels. Even getting to those panels felt like a miracle considering how many hours in total we wasted in various lines throughout the day. With that being said, here is a brief rundown of the few panels we were actually able to get into.

Terra Nova: A very expensive weekly television program Executive Produced by Steven Spielberg, Terra Nova tells the story of a future in which the Earth becomes uninhabitable, and mankind is forced to travel back in time to when dinosaurs roamed free. At this presentation, they showed us the entire pilot and then had a brief Q&A with some of the cast and crew. I wasn’t entirely sold on the show going in, thinking it might have just been a cheaper version of Jurassic Park on a weekly basis. However, I ended up pleasantly surprised, as the pilot did a great job setting up several compelling storylines and characters. The dinosaurs are definitely an aspect of the show, but they are from the entire point of it.

(See a preview of Terra Nova)

Coming from writers with credits as varied as 24 and Star Trek: The Next Generation, this is a show with a lot of action, a lot of heart, and several intriguing mysteries to explore. Production values are very high, with special effects and set pieces far beyond the scope usually seen on television. I found some of the family drama slightly manipulative, but necessary in order to move the plot forward. Fox has a reputation for cancelling genre shows before their time, but I really think this one will catch on. Unlike shows such as Firefly, Drive, or even Fringe (which is still on the air), this show feels very mainstream, and not as if it will only appeal to a niche audience. My only concern is the obviously high budget. If the show doesn’t get huge ratings, I’m really afraid that Fox won’t be able to justify spending that much per episode. So, if you’re reading this, please watch when it premieres this Fall. Because I really want to find out what happens next.

The Immortals: I’d seen the generic posters, but had no idea what to expect from the actual film. Turns out, this is a story about war amongst the Gods (Zeus, Poseidon, etc.), presented in a way very reminiscent of 300. The film was directed by Tarsem Singh, and while they hyped his unique visual style before showing any footage, I didn’t find their “Tarsemvision” to be all that compelling. Several years ago, Singh directed a fantastic film that very few people saw called The Cell. That was one of the most unique films I’d ever seen, and was a true original. Unfortunately, this one looks much less interesting. There is a lot of mediocre CGI, along with footage that changes speed mid-shot, and a color pallet exactly like 300. Singh even admitted that he made the movie from a visual perspective first, with story coming next. They showed us a preview and one of the final action scenes (twice), did a Q&A and that was that. The film doesn’t look bad, I guess. It just isn’t that exciting either. This one’s a rental.

(See The Immortals Trailer)

Knights of Badassdom: What a disaster this one turned out to be. The title should have the first giveaway, but I was drawn in by the eclectic cast. The film stars Summer Glau, Danny Pudi, Peter Dinklage, Steve Zahn, etc. These are all people that I would never expect to work together, especially in a film like this. The basic story revolves around of group of LARPers (Live Action Role Players), who accidentally summon a succubus during a pretend ritual. Wackiness ensues. I love a good juvenile movie, but this just looks ridiculous. With the cheap effects, lame jokes, and awful premise, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this one goes direct-to-video. They showed the preview (twice), did a Q&A, and that was that. I’ve already spent more time writing about this one than it deserves.

Snow White and the Huntsman: Finally, a decent panel. After the disappointments that were The Immortals and Knights of Badassdom (I still can’t believe that movie exists), I needed a panel like this. While the film doesn’t start production until next week, they still managed to put together an intriguing presentation that had the entire audience eager to see more. The film stars Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth and Sam Claflin, all of whom were on the panel. They also had the director (Rupert Sanders) and a couple of the producers there. Since they haven’t even started filming yet, they weren’t able to show us any actual footage. However, Sanders has already shot a quick demo reel designed to give the studio and crew a visual representation of how he imagines the film will look. They showed us this reel, and it was extremely impressive considering that he shot it in three days. This is going to be an epic production, one which he described as being in the vein of The Lord of the Rings. Everybody involved seemed genuinely excited to be a part of the film, and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out. They also showed us photos of all the actors in their costumes, and they look amazing. I have a feeling this one is going to be something special.

And with that, Comic-Con 2011 was over. Unfortunately, day 3 didn’t live up to the first two, but we still had a great time with Terra Nova and Snow White and the Huntsman. There are a lot of great looking projects out there, and hopefully, they’ll all live up to their potential. It’s that sense of the unknown that makes Comic-Con so much fun. A lot of the great looking projects could end up terrible, and a lot of the terrible ones could be amazing (although I highly doubt that for Knights of Badassdom). Thanks for reading, and we’ll back for Comic-Con 2012.

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