NYCC: Warner Bros!
Saturday morning I had the extreme pleasure of attending the Warner Bros. presentation at New York's Comic Con, which might indeed make you green with envy. Why? Because I got to see footage from WATCHMEN, TERMINATOR: SALVATION and FRIDAY THE 13TH. Okay, that last one isn't such a big deal, but trust me - the first one is.
Getting right to it: The packed house was greeted by Dave Gibbons, illustrator of a graphic novel called WATCHMEN and the only creator of that book to have his name on the film. (Alan Moore doesn't even want his name in the credits.) After a humble intro, he introduced us to the first 18 minutes of Zack Snyder's film, which were phenomenal. Now, I'm not a huge comic geek or anything, but I do really like WATCHMEN, and I can safely say that based on this footage, the movie is as close to its source material as can be hoped for by its most ardent fans. (Naturally, only people who know the graphic novel will understand what the hell I'm talking about in the following...)
We meet Edward Blake in his apartment as he watches a t.v. news debate focusing on Russian nukes (one of the panelists is Pat Buchanan). His door is cracked open, and he is promptly thrown about the place, quite brutally, by an unseen enemy. Snyder indulges a few of his 300 impulses by doing the "slow-mo then fast-mo" thing, but it works here very well, accentuating how harsh the beating is. Blake puts up a fight, but he's seriously no match for the assailant. Eventually, after getting his ass handed to him, he is tossed out the window - followed by his smiley-face pin. The both of them hit the ground. He is dead.
Then the credits begin, and how wonderful they are. Set to Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'", we witness the birth of the Minutemen, and the world in which they inhabit. We see JFK's assassination, Kent State, Castro, Richard Nixon getting elected to a third term, Vietnam, the works (for the uninitiated, this not only takes place in an alternate reality where superheores are accepted and common, but where the course of history is different than the one we're familiar with). It's really moving - the best montage of its kind I've seen in a long while. Of course, we're also seeing fantasy characters and their interactions within these events (you'll never guess who was on the grassy knoll), their rise and fall with the times. Eventually the Watchmen are born. Our only glimpse of Dr. Manhattan is during the taking of the group photograph.
After the credits (which run the length of the entire song) we see Blake's blood being washed off the street, and meet the two detectives investigating the crime. Soon after, we meet someone else doing his own investigating: Rorshach, who finds out more about Blake than the cops do in about 1 minute flat. Blake is The Comedian, and other "superheroes" should be worried. And for those concerned, yes, Jackie Earle Haley's "Hurmm" works.
Then we cut to black. I could have watched more, obviously. But a special treat was in store for us - an additional scene: We see Walter Kovacs (Rorschach) in jail, waiting on a food line and getting some heat from a pissed-off prisoner near him. The man tries to stab him, but Kovacs has none of it - he lays the guy out. As the guards subdue him, he sends a message to the other prisoners: "You think I'm trapped in here with you, but you're trapped in here with ME!" He's f*cking intense, people. And his voice makes Bale's Batman sound like Mickey Mouse.
That brought the house down, the lights came up, and a quick Q+A with Dave Gibbons ensued. To sum up, he confirmed that there is indeed no squid at the end (again, people who know the book know what that means) and he didn't seem at all concerned about it. In a movie filled with special effects, that would have just been one more special effect, he said. Besides, the point and meaning of what occurs at story's conclusion remains intact, and that's all that matters.
FRIDAY THE 13TH
We moved on to FRIDAY THE 13th after that, seeing the first 6 or 7 minutes. Essentially, they include what every F13 movie should : Teens getting killed in the woods by a masked maniac (in this case, Jason is still in bag-head mode). There's definitely a mean-streak in what I saw - similar to the remake of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. These kills aren't to be laughed at, they're brutal. A girl in a sleeping bag is hung above a roaring fire, a guy gets his leg caught in a bear-trap, another guy's foot is impaled by a machete - right before he's pulled through the floorboards of a cabin while his girlfriend screams hysterically. Grisly stuff. And yet, well done and legitimately unnerving. I don't think the crowd was impressed overall, but I was. My guess is that this will be Platinum Dunes' best film by far. Not hard to do, granted...
Moving on: McG came out to introduce what amounted to a very long trailer for TERMINATOR SALVATION - lots of footage we;ve seen already, a few extended bits, and some unfinished shots (blue-screen, wires were still visible, etc). I won't bore you with every little detail, other than to say I'm personally not into the look of this film. It's too gloomy; it doesn't seem like much fun. (Maybe that D.P. did deserve some bitching out?) The action sequences come off as hazy and erratic. Lots of dirty motorcycles flying through the air, some car chases... Christian Bale does a lot of yelling - as is his wont - but isn't showing us anything new. Of course, these are just first impressions, and I'll see the film when it comes out, but I'm certainly not more excited about it now that I've seen some extended clips. I will tell you that Michael Ironside still looks like a badass, and I'm glad he's in this film.
Afterward, McG took some questions and name-dropped James Cameron, the "first three" STAR WARS films, and a lot of other things he figured would get fanboys on his side. (Including dismissing the CHARLIE'S ANGELS films and mentioning that he has conquered the fear of flying that prohibited him from directing SUPERMAN RETURNS). More interestingly, he insinuated that Sarah Connor will be in the film - as she's an essential part of the John Connor/Kyle Reese storyline - and also made it clear that we'll be seeing the origin of the T-800. While being a bit cagey, he said that he doesn't want "today's" Arnold in the film, basically hinting that we'll be seeing some kind of CG version of the younger, sleeker Governator. It's as much the T-800's tale as it is John Connor's, apparently.
Stay tuned for more of the NYCC wrap-up! Tales of KNOWING, ASTRO-BOY, SURROGATES, and the big one - UP - are coming soon!