get to the bat, people...
Hollywood at the Moscone
wouldn’t be WonderCon without sneak peeks at the upcoming
summer films being prepped for release. While War
of the Worlds brought more of what one would expect
from a gigantic summer blockbuster from the likes of Cruise
and Spielberg, the high gloss sheen that accompanies all
well polished action fare, the big news stirred from camps
that seem to hit closer to “fanboy status” than
the likes of a big budget remake of the H.G. Wells classic.
Sure, everyone loves a good invasion flick, and the return
of Spielberg to “alien” territory does have
a sort of allure to it, but how can this ever compete to
the return of “the bat” to the silver screen?
More on this in a bit.
first film-related panel held on Saturday was Disney Presents:
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Admittedly,
I’ve never read Douglas Adams’ series, although
it has held its place on my extremely lengthy “to-be-read”
list, I’d just never gotten around to reading any
of the books…yet.
behind the scenes footage screened on Saturday has made
one thing clear, however; this film looks like it is going
to be one hell of a ride. It looks funny, it looks intriguing,
and it left me itching to see more. The mere fact that the
aliens in the film are all puppets designed by the Henson
workshop and were treated akin to actors on the set was
enough for me to get behind the film. When director Garth
Jennings mentioned that the intent was to minimize the amount
of time actors spent acting with a tennis ball on a stick
in front of a green screen, the room seemed to breathe a
sigh of relief.
Line: “Don’t Panic,” it would
seem like Guide is coming along well.
up was Sony Presents: The Cave, a thriller involving
“a pack of divers who become trapped in an underwater
cave network.” Yawn. Star Cole Hauser (2
Fast 2 Furious, and Tears of the Sun)
was on hand to present some never-before-seen footage of
The Cave to WonderCon audiences. Cole was amicable
enough, describing how much of a pleasure it was to work
on the film “yadda, yadda, yadda.”
proof is in the pudding, and the “never-before-seen
footage” was pretty substandard fair. Frankly, I had
never seen footage from The Cave, so anything would’ve
been “never-before-seen footage,” and ultimately
it didn’t really impress me. The implications of “hell”
were a little too reminiscent of Constantine for
me, whereas the overall suspense of being trapped in an
underground cave just looked, well, too processed to really
elicit any feeling of rush or thrill.
line: Don’t Bother.
it was the anticipation of Batman Begins, perhaps
it was the hope of seeing something that would tip the scales
in favor of Fantastic Four, whatever the case may
be, Paramount Pictures Presents: War of the Worlds
went by in a blur. I remember it being there at WonderCon
because I was handed a promotional hat and t-shirt to help
jog the old memory banks post ‘Con, but aside from
that the overall experience was nothing short of ordinary.
Spielberg has a track record a mile long, and Cruise is
always fun to watch, so no matter what something has to
hit with War of the Worlds, I just don’t
need to have the anticipation bolstered to get me in a seat
this summer. The film could be terrible for all I know,
or it could be just the kind of charge that Spielberg needs
to get back on track after The
Terminal and (yes, I’ll say it) Catch
Me If You Can. Who knows. Either way, one sort
of knows what will be on the table come July 4th, 2005 with
the players being who they are, which makes for a “ho-hum”
feeling surrounding this project.
Line: Who cares? That is, until it comes out of
My biggest disappointment of WonderCon 2005? Universal Presents:
Joss Whedon: Serenity. “What?” you
ask. Well, I thought I could be slick and jump between the
big ticket panels like those mentioned above and the smaller
“comic oriented” panels like DC Comics: A Glimpse
into the Future held across the hall. Wrong. With the gap
between Hitchhiker’s and The Cave
I was successful, but the jump between War of the Worlds
and Joss Whedon’s Serenity proved less profitable.
So my biggest disappointment comes in missing out on seeing
Whedon first-hand, discussing his follow up to Firefly
and announcing his one year extension on one of everyone’s
favorite comics, “Astonishing X-Men.”
Line: Bummer. (Thankfully it looks like Derek was
inside, so we can all get the scoop from him, in time.)
(Give me time -- still have a day job...)
thing is for sure, I’m not one to be kept down. This
determination is what got me into Room 134/135 in enough
time to catch the bulk of Spotlight on Kevin Smith. While
hardly promoting anything other than himself, Kevin is always
a joy to listen to. Discussing topics ranging from what
his approach would have been had he helmed The Passion
of the Christ to the outing of his brother’s
homosexuality and the bearing this has had on the bulk of
his filmwork, Kevin is always candid, always funny, and
hardly ever disappointing.
any film project at all, it would have to be his upcoming
Clerks 2: The Passion of the Clerks and the second
of his Evening with Kevin Smith DVD series entitled
Evening Harder. The former is going to begin shooting
soon, while the latter will be in stores in time for Christmas
along with a “Tenth Anniversary” Edition of
“Yay!” is two-fold. As much as it was a pleasure
to catch Kevin on stage again, weaseling my way back into
Room 134/135 meant that I was now in prime territory to
catch Fantastic Four and Batman Begins.
on tap was 20th Century Fox Presents: Fantastic Four
with special guest Julian McMahon (“Nip/Tuck”
and “Charmed”) who portrays Dr. Victor von Doom
in the film. Here comes another disappointment for the day,
Michael Chiklis (The Shield) was originally scheduled
to appear but was not present for some reason. It would
have been awesome to hear some of his insight into playing
Ben Grimm (a.k.a. The Thing) and possibly reassure some
of those weary of the footage already screened for the upcoming
we are left with Julian McMahon, who was polite enough to
cite the original cartoons as a source of inspiration for
him taking the role of Dr. Doom. However, some of his non-sequiturs
during the Q & A Session of the panel raised more concerns
regarding the film overall. When asked about his research
process, and whether this included his reading of source
material such as comics and trade paperbacks, Julian remarked
that he was given only three days to really develop his
character (most specifically a Latvian accent, which was
ultimately discarded during shooting), so his research was
limited to time constraints.
shooting schedules are understandable, but admitting to
using three or four differing accents throughout the film,
and implying that it would be noticeable in the final cut,
is hardly the type of promotion that 20th Century Fox is
hoping for. When asked whether Galactus would make an appearance
in the film, Julian was perplexed. Not only did he a) not
have a clue who Galactus was, but b) didn’t even know
if he made an appearance in a film that he already shot
and has obviously read the entire script for.
whole thing was an embarrassment and ultimately wiped away
all hope that had been building despite those initial concerns.
Julian was obviously sent out there with a few key snippets
to get across to the fans. One was that the origins were
being adhered to, which ultimately proves incorrect in regards
to Doom himself based on the excising of his Latverian ancestry
and that he and Sue Storm were somehow romantically entwined.
Line: Brace for impact, cause this ship is due
for a crash landing!
last minute audible, Warner Brothers pulled out all the
stops and made, inarguably, the biggest splash at WonderCon
film-wise. In what was originally billed as Warner Brothers
Presents – Elisha Cuthbert, already a change from
the originally billing as Paris Hilton failed to show citing
scheduling conflicts, Warners turned what could’ve
been nothing more than another underwhelming promotional
stab for a moderate thriller into the biggest news of the
they brought out uber-producer Joel Silver to present Elisha
Cuthbert, star of his latest release under the Dark Castle
branch, House of Wax. Yes, it's yet another remake of a
Vincent Price horror film in vein with House on Haunted
Hill and Thirteen
Ghosts, and this time around Cuthbert, Chad Michael
Murray, and Paris Hilton star in what will likely be another
underwhelming retread of a classic. Sigh, right?
on a second because after Silver and company left the stage
we were all treated to Batman Begins’ own
Christian Bale. That’s right, the American Psycho
himself showed up to promote his upcoming bat-flick, and
boy if it wasn’t payday for Warners.
not only provides the legitimacy lacking in the Fox presentation
for Fantastic Four, but he seems genuine in his
knowledge of source material and the desire for fans to
see an accurate portrayal of Batman on the silver screen.
Crediting such influences as Frank Miller, Alex Ross, and
Jeph Leob for inspiration to play the role, Bale immediately
captured the attention of every single fan in the room and
held it until walking off stage.
big thrill for Bale doing Batman? The Batmobile. Not only
was donning the cape and cowl “one hell of an honor,”
but also a source of inspiration as well. It seems that
the cowl was so tight that it proved to be one of the more
excruciating aspects of filming. Bale, instead of giving
in, turned this discomfort into the source of rage needed
to channel the spirit of the bat for this incarnation of
what he deems “American mythology.” Bale stressed
the importance that both he and director Christopher Nolan
felt in keeping the true spirit of the graphic novels intact.
His depth of knowledge in regards to bat-lore was astonishing,
and only re-assured that Batman Begins will be
something special indeed.
his Q & A, audiences were treated to six minutes of
footage from the upcoming film, all of which looks remarkable.
From Bruce’s early childhood, the discovery of the
cave and bats beneath Wayne Manor, the death of his parents,
guardianship by Alfred (Michael Caine), Bruce’s travels
across the globe to Tibet to seek help from Ra’s Al
Ghul (Ken Watanabe), his training with Ducard (Liam Neeson),
and ultimately a showdown with the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy)
in which the Scarecrow douses Batman with a flammable liquid,
lights him on fire, an watches as Batman jumps out of the
window in flames.
Line: Do I need to say it? Buy tickets now! Oh,
House of Wax? Skip it.