Sunday, 16 August 2009

Empire Movie Con: Day 2 Roundup

Well that’s that then. The movie con is done and dusted having completed a second day of fabulous movie related morsels. A big thank you to the Empire crew for laying on such a great weekend and for all the goodies and pressies – (a George Lucas in Stormtrooper disguise action figure for everyone? You guy’s rule!!). We saw more trailers, more footage, more stars and more movies. A screening of the terrific Adventureland proudly topped off the morning, while a very hard quiz dominated the early afternoon. Before and after those events though, day two went like this..

Iron Man 2

We started with a bang with a short but sweet look at Iron Man 2 introduced by the president of Marvel comics, and another appearance from the man himself, Robert Downey Jr, who was only slightly less animated than yesterday after no doubt partying all night with supermodels as is no doubt such a megastar’s wont to do.

We see Tony Stark enjoying some breakfast in suit, but sans helmet, reclining in the hole of a giant donut above a café – “Sir - I'm gonna have to ask you to exit the Donut” shouts Samuel L Jackson – oh yes; Nick Fury. We move to their chat inside – says Stark, “just so I’m clear, should I look at the eyepatch, or your eye?”.

We move to a courtroom, Stark is very publicly duelling with a board of US Senator’s who are demanding he hand over his weapon to the US government, which he flatly refuses in no uncertain terms, denying his device can be accurately described as a weapon, no, it’s a hi-tech prosthesis. His attitude causes uproarious laughter from the onlooking public and reduces the Senator (Gary Shandling) to shouting obscenities. Very funny.

Next up, Don Cheadle (oh silly Terrence Howard) is buying futuristic guns in an aircraft hangar from Sam Rockwell. “I’ll take them. Which one? All of them.” Durr. Cut to a very large Iron man destroying everything in several directions at once. Sweet.

We also see the leaked teaser trailer you may have recently glimpsed, its still hanging around somewhere, but nowhere safe enough to link to. In it we see Iron man actually in action, swooping down on a city-scape, all while dodging fire and incoming rockets. Again, sweeet. We also see Mickey Rourke hammering together his own arc power source, and laughing maniacally whilst approaching a prostrate Stark with double electric whips a-crackin’! What’s going on here then? Tony seems to be wearing a leather biker suit with Stark on it? Has Rourke gate crashed a race? Who knows, but it looked awesome.

The Hurt Locker

Kathryn Bigelow & Mark Boal show up to talk us though the Hurt Locker, which follows a bomb disposal team on their dangerous day job in the Iraqi conflict. We see a good chunk of footage as a massive car bomb is discovered in a busy area. Tension runs high as Jeremy Renner tries to figure out how it’s wired as the rest of the team cover him. It’s tense enough just watching the bomb disposal side of things, he sheds his heavy protective gear early on – “There’s enough explosive to blow us all to Jesus – if I’m gonna die, I wanna die comfortable” - but the whole site is a massive open space, and as the guys scan the buildings and keep spotting more and more apparent civilians watching the scene, filming the events unfold on camcorders, and watching them get more and more twitchy, there was a crushing sense of impending tragedy as you knew they were going to start killing people. Not this time luckily, as the bomb is defused, and no one starts shooting the townsfolk. You get the feeling things don’t always go so well in the Hurt Locker, so named after the slang for precisely when things do go wrong.

Bigelow and Boal took some questions on the film, Boal himself wrote the script after spending time with a real such unit in Iraq, giving a uniquely authentic edge to the whole thing which really came across. The film looks great, but it was a pretty heavy subject for a Sunday afternoon, so we were all quite relieved to move onto some more trailers.

Odds n Sods 2

More bits n bobs from various companies, some I’d seen before some not. There was the trailer for The Road which still looks great, but where's the new footage? Next, a cryptic trailer for Paranormal Activity, the new Blair Witch projectalike, where a couple film the spooky happenings in their house – the trailer was mostly comprised of quotes telling how scary the film is – I guess it’s not one you can show a lot of footage for, but what was there looked promising. There was a trailer for Pandorum (yawn) and also Richard Kelly's latest, The Box which looked great – a creepy and disfigured Frank Langella presents Cameron Diaz with a mysterious box with a button inside – press it, and somewhere in the world, someone you don’t know will die. You also get a big suitcase of money. Hrmm, intriguing no? It looked to have a definite whiff of The Game about it, all conspiracy and distrust and shady goings on; definitely sign me up.

There was also a bizarre excerpt from upcoming Miyazaki treat Ponyo. I could describe it for you, but honestly, it was pretty bonkers. Tiny fishy people things were involved, and many actual fish turned golden and then into waves, while the head fishy person thing turned into a proper little person and ran along the sea to the astonishment of a local warship. Ment-Al. But typically gorgeous.

Oh yes, there was also Kate Beckinsale in White out which was a little too dull for me to recall much about. Sorry about that. She was in the shower at one point, I remember that much. We also got a nice clip from Exam presented by director Stuart Hazeldine, who spoke very frankly about his experiences as a script Doctor in the Hollywood studio system - apparently, it sucks. The film looks okay, but the footage wasn't giving much away. How much drama can you really wring out of 8 people locked in a room? Probably loads..

Bunny and the Bull also looked great - from the madmen who brought us Garth Merengies dark place and the Mighty Boosh, this is a road trip movie set in an agoraphobic's flat. Unashamedly Gondry-esque, this has some very funny people in it, and the clips we saw certainly were certainly full of visual flair, if not belly laughs.

Twilight – New Moon returned to the joy of the 6 people who wanted more. This time we see one of the girls (which one? Honestly no idea) running about an Italian city in the midst of a religious festival (everyone spookily wearing red monk robes) just in time (maybe, as the clip teasingly ended) to reach Robert Pattinson who looks to be attempting to commit suicide by sunlight? More hilarity from the Twilight team – Pattinson did, of course, remove his shirt as he was about to step out of the doorway. Those guys, they know how to get the laughs I’ll give ‘em that.

The Thiiird Dimensiooonn

A big portion of the afternoon was all in glorious 3D by way of some very chunky 3D glasses – mostly Disney flicks, and some little known sci-fi movie no one had heard of. Ahem.

There was a very sizeable reel of footage from A Christmas Carol, the Dickensian tale being given a Zemeckesian makeover a la Polar Express. Jim Carrey looks amazing, but not at all like Jim Carrey, as Ebeneezer Scrooge – we see him humbugging a very Colin Firthesque version of Colin Firth, and being terrorised by the ghost of his former partner. Very impressive CG and 3D, this looked really tasty.

There were trailers for Alice in Wonderland, and Toystory 3, both available on the net, nothing new here, but they were in 3D too and looked great for it. Which isn't quite strong enough to convey how hot the Tron Legacy trailer looked in 3D and on the big screen. Liquid neon sliding across my eyes looked good enough to eat. Bring me Tron!!

We also got a nice excerpt from UP! which still looks just gorgeous, and made me want to see it all the more – here the old man and boy were escaping from a pack of vicious dogs in a cave up a mountain aided by their talking dog and a big bird. Naturally. Dammit why isn’t this out in the UK yet?! Do want.

Then of course, we moved onto other things, which I think deserve to be mentioned in their own post. Which will be up shortly. Oh my yes.

And so that was that, all in all another awesome day, shame it’s all over now. Did I even mention the screening of Wonderland and the film quiz? No? Well, Wonderland was great, another review to write, while the quiz I could have done without tbh, there wasn’t even a picture round.. what the hell, we were in a cinema?! Still, many people won some fabulous prizes. Not me though, I er, lost my pen.

That aside though, props to the Empire crew for an awesome weekend, we saw some amazing stuff and now I’m nicely clued up on what looks good for the next few months. Also that I want to see District 9 again very soon, and need to blow off work for the next 3 months and get in line at an Imax cinema.

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