not aliens...they're Swamp Things!
War of the Worlds
Just like Saturday
at Comic-Con in San Diego, Saturday at WonderCon turns into
movie day. The major studios invade Moscone Center, trotting
out exclusive film clips and occasional stars to get fandom
hyped up about the summer's releases. Among the films promoted
this year were Disney's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,
House of Wax, Fantastic Four (of course) and
Kevin Smith whooped it up for Passion of the Clerks.
He's not exactly a major studio, but when it comes to fandom,
he is his own franchise.
But I left it
to Mario to attend Kevin Smith. The big man and I have been
at odds ever since I mistook his wife for a publicist back
in 2000. Also, Goodson standing up at a screening of Jay
and Silent Bob Strike Back and opining, "that sucked"
with Kevin only a few rows back didn't help. Let the new
guy face him.
Instead, I stumbled
in on the War of the Worlds presentation. Not a movie
that had me really intrigued (I'm much more interested in
the alleged low-budget period adaptation that's being released
in smaller houses this Spring), at least Spielberg and Cruise
did what they could to treat fandom right - without actually
giving us anything.
That's not true.
I got a War of the Worlds baseball cap which came
in handy during Saturday's on again off again stormy weather
in San Francisco. Bless Tom Cruise.
began with an exclusive look at the Japanese trailer, which
showed very little but was in Japanese so maybe they said
something really cool that nobody in the audience understood.
It was clear, however, that there was just as much footage
from Close Encounters and E.T. in the trailer
as there was W.O.W.
Then came the
live guests: production designers Doug Chang and Rick Carter.
They were in a very tough spot, the same one that Cillian
Murphy and David S. Goyer had at Comic-Con last summer;
the two men had to promote a movie about which they were
forbidden to actually say much of anything about.
that the aliens (this version does not specify them as Martians)
will travel in the infamous tripod war machines of H.G.
Wells' original novel. Though he could not describe the
designs, he did share with the audience a sense of the difficulty
that comes with trying to develop something that has never
been seen before on screen. With video games and genre films
so prevalent, it almost feels like every design has been
people accepted that the aliens would not be from Mars,
a few die-hard fans of the novel and the George Pal adaptation
seemed very perplexed at the change. Carter defended it,
launching into a pretty good extemporaneous dissertation
on the history of why Victorians thought there was life
Both men seemed
very excited by the quasi-documentary approach to the story
that Spielberg has taken. That excitement got matched by
Spielberg and Cruise in a short clip they prepared for WonderCon.
Intense as always, even while being "candid," Cruise leaned
forward and gushed over seeing eight minutes of footage.
Even without special effects, he found his pulse pounding.
Of course, it
was also likely that those eight minutes featured Cruise
himself, so his opinion could be suspect. Much of what was
shown to the audience Saturday was a lot of America's highest
paid actor walking with great intent.
was good to see two of the faces behind the scenes. Carter
and Chang clearly love what they do. And for Chang, having
started out as a stop-motion animator on Pee Wee's Playhouse,
this job is a dream come true, doing CG for Lucas, Spielberg
and Zemeckis. I put the emphasis on that last one, because
And then came