CON: Sony Panel, Part 2: Total Recall and 30 Minutes or Less!
Sony and Columbia Pictures came out guns blazing at this year's San Diego Comic Con, easily assembling the most impressive panel so far. They brought with them previews of a quartet of highly-anticipated upcoming films: GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE, 30 MINUTES OR LESS, TOTAL RECALL and THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Understandably, some have more to show than others at this point, but all were appealing, not to mention crowd-pleasing.
The 30 MINUTES OR LESS panel included director Ruben Fleischer and stars Aziz Ansari, Nick Swardson and Michael Pena, all of whom delighted the crowd with their pitch-perfect timing. Ansari in particular works the crowd like a pro. Jesse Eisenberg couldn't make it (he's shooting the new Woody Allen movie in Italy) and Danny McBride was not available, but like so many others missing from the Con, he provided a video salute to the crowd (although he spent most of the time playfully ripping on his costars). They then showed us a nice lengthy clip and an extended trailer.
The clip involved friends Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) and Chet (Aziz Ansari) gearing themselves up to rob a bank. Chet is pumped up on 5-Hour Energy drinks and Nick is explaining the plan: They're Latinos who stabbed a prison guard and escaped from jail. Armed with fake guns, they burst into the bank and announce the stick-up. In the midst of the confusion, a security guard tosses his gun across the floor to a panicky mother, who immediate slides it away from her, causing it to fire. A man gets sot in the leg. Soon after, Chet gets a female teller to grab cash from the vault. They receive the bag and are about to make their get away before Nick offers the shot man a piece of the cash, feeling bad for him. When the shot man opens the bag, he gets blasted in the face with a dye pack, further screwing him over...
It's all very profane and very funny and the crowd loved it, as they did the extended trailer that followed, which includes many memorable lines. (Michael Pena steal the scenes he's in, like when he's trying to convince himself he's a pimp even while crying over a neck wound.) You get the feeling that this is going to be one of those oft-quoted movies in the PINEAPPLE EXPRESS vein.
During the panel, which was perhaps the most entertaining at the Con, we received many words of wisdom and entertaining stories from the guys on stage:
- Nick Swardson only started watching McBride's HBO show Eastbound and Down about halfway through filming 30 MINUTES OR LESS. After that, all he could do was quote Kenny Powers.
- Aziz hilariously freaked out the entire crowd by asking if everyone saw the first DARK KNIGHT RISES footage that was shown earlier in the day. Obviously, he was joking, but for a moment he had everyone going; a collective heart attack almost rippled through the audience. He also went on to say that it was shown right after the INCEPTION 2 panel.
- Even though the screenplay for the film was what got everyone interested in the film, there was still a lot of improv on set; McBride and Swardson did a lot of riffing together. The scene where Michael Pena talks himself up in the mirror was also completely Pena's own. (There should be plenty of outtakes on the DVD, including a love scene Pena was in and, if you believe it, a scene where Swardon's character goes to Avatar world.)
- Jesse Eisenberg apparently did all of his own stunt driving, which included a high speed chase scene. Aziz claims he wasn't there, that it was actually Jamie Foxx and they just added Aziz's face in later.
- Speaking of stunts, Nick Swardson has to wield a flamethrower at one point and it was a real flamethrower. Danny McBride evidently kept throwing rocks at the unit that was strapped to Swardson's back.
- Reuben Fleischer is currently in pre-production on THE GANGSTER SQUAD, starring Sean Penn and Josh Brolin. In regards to ZOMBIELAND 2, he says that it would be incredible to get back together with everyone, but at the moment everyone is so busy: Eisenberg with the Woody Allen flick, Emma Stone with ZOMBIELAND and Woody Harrelson with THE HUNGER GAMES.
- Evidently Jesse Eisenberg followed a pizza guy around for research the same way actors who play cops might tag along with real officers. Talk about being committed to the craft!
Up next was TOTAL RECALL, which was a very nice surprise, considering they've only recently started shooting. On stage were director Len Wiseman and stars Colin Farrell (his second appearance of the day in Hall H), Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, John Cho and Bryan Cranston. Wiseman acknowledged that he didn't have too much to show, but he was wanted to bring along something, so he showed us one of the early scenes in the film. I'll have to warn you that this contains some SPOILERS...
Douglas Quaid (Farrell) walks into a Recall, to get one of the company's memory implants. In contrast with the 1990 Paul Verhoeven film's now-retro looking lab, the Recall in the remake has an Asian flavor, with muted colors and a relaxed vibe. It's almost like he's walking into a 5-star Japanese hotel room. That said, the chair he sits in to receive the implants definitely recalls (if you'll pardon the pun) the chair in the original one. John Cho (with bleached blonde hair) plays McClane, Quaid's guide through the procedure. Before they're able to begin with the implant, however, McClane suddenly switches gears and declares Quaid a spy. Before anything can happen, however, a group of armed officers burst in and open fire upon the group, killing everyone except for Quaid. Scared and unsure of what exactly is happening, Quaid is about to allow himself to be apprehended when something suddenly snaps in him and he expertly takes out the entire gang of officers. It's a very Jason Bourne moment, and the footage in general was fairly impressive. (The last bit with Farrell beating up on the officers is done in one long unbroken take that swirls around the action.) After that, a new squad of cops await Quaid outside in the hallway. One of them fires a very weapon that litters the room with tiny cameras, so that the officers are now able to see the entire room with little surveillance cameras via a video feed.
The scene led into a short montage of footage, some of which was still in pre-viz form. We get a peek of Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel fighting (more on that in a bit), some cool futuristic-looking cityscapes and even another nice homage to the original, a moment when Colin Farrell says, If I'm not me, who the hell am I? The only moment with Bryan Cranston, playing villain Vilos Cohaagen, comes when he's face to face with Farrell and tells him, You don't have the most reliable of memories, do you?
The panel after the footage (which got a very nice round of applause) included the following highlights:
- Bryan Cranston, who really stole the show whenever he took over, described his character thusly: I am a world leader and a general and a very, very dear friend of our guy, our lead down there, he said, gesturing toward Colin Farrell. I'm very excited about this because I've been talking to Len about the role and I wanted to instill a sense of compassion and earnestness to him, and believability in why people would follow his word. He truly believes that what he's doing is for the greater good, and I think that makes him a little scarier. But so much fun
- Kate Beckinsale called her character very sweet and understanding, although of course she was being tongue in cheek. She works for Bryan Cranston's character.
- Farrell made a joke about his character being an Austrian ex-pat who rises to prominence in the world of body building - a sly Schwarzenegger reference (and really the only one of the whole panel). He also made a crack about playing Kate's husband, which Len Wiseman (her real-life hubby) laughed off. He said it was one of the more uncomfortable jobs he's ever had.
- Wiseman said that they were definitely using the original Philip K. Dick story on which TOTAL RECALL was based as inspiration.
- One thing that made everybody happy was the revelation that Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel have a fight scene. Beckinsale says Biel is the most beautiful woman she's ever seen, and she's never been so scared as when she had to fight with her.(She also says she has a $3 million nose.) Cranston makes a joke about the crew wanting multiple takes, while Wiseman makes a joke about wanting them to kiss. Nice!
- There's a sequence where Beckinsale is chasing Farrell and Biel in a hovercar, and smashing into them. Biel said it made her and Farrell exclaim how much they love their jobs.
- Wiseman says that the remake will certainly have the ambiguous "is it all a dream" element that that original had.
So that was what went down at the Sony panel, at least part of it. To read part one, click right HERE.
A look at one of the armored cop suits and their hovercraft cruiser
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