Tuesday, July 28, 2009

2009 Comic-Con Wrap Up

I look forward to four days in July all year, four days where the constant talk on everyone’s tongue is movies, directors, actors, stories and more creative worlds than you knew existed. Until I become a full time, working director the San Diego Comic-Con is the closest I can get to being an industry insider in the industry I already know too much about. 2009 was a great year at Comic-Con.

There is nothing like being in San Diego for Con. I can pretty much guarantee that. The setting is well prepared and crucial. Starting a few weeks before Con the banners go up; two years ago it was Iron Man, last year it was Star Trek and this year it was Avatar. The banners signal the soon to come flood of geeks that will overwhelm the city and turn the urban metropolis into geek nirvana. I know this is quite the site for an outsider as I like to talk to tourists that accidently schedule their vacations during Con. This year I made friends with two Irish tourists and a Virginia Tech professor who were amused and overwhelmed by Con. They thought it was one of the most unique experiences they’d ever seen. It was a good year for them to see too.

This year Con expanded into downtown in a way I’ve never seen before. Not only was there the industry after parties, but panels announced events for fans to go to. There was a Heroes carnival set up directly across from the convention center, Tron Legacy had a scavenger hunt that ended in a recreated Flynn’s Arcade, Alice in Wonderland had a tea party, SyFy created Café Diem, and that was just the parties I knew about.

My favorite thing to come away from Comic-Con this year had to be my experience with Robert Downey Jr. No I didn’t get to actually meet him, but those that know me well know that he is one of the actors I dream of directing so getting to see him casually talk about two separate films he’s in was a great experience. I learned that Robert Downey Jr. is every bit as charming, charismatic, amazing and funny as you would hope someone with his experiences would be. Downey appears to know the career high he’s been on for the last year or so is credited not just to his extraordinary talent but to a few key Hollywood types that fought for him and the thousands of fans that spurred him on; he seems to be genuinely excited and thankful for everything he now has.

Speaking of another comeback kid, Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes promises to be a great new version of the classic character. I have waited since Snatch for Ritchie to hit again; he got close with Rock’n’Rolla and it looks like he is smartly trying something new with Sherlock Holmes. While I missed Guy Ritchie at the panel, I was glad to see the producers and stars there. We all remember that if Ritchie doesn’t like his film he is vocal about it (remember the premiere of Swept Away?) and I did not get that vibe here.

Of course, I also live for science fiction; while I have trouble identifying one genre as my favorite I think that if push came to shove I would choose this one. Sci-fi was back to Con in force on the floor thanks to Star Trek and old and new sci-fi will be coming to theaters in the next few months. Amongst the “old” will be Tron Legacy, and the “new” will be Avatar. No one is phoning in a movie here. The filmmakers behind Tron Legacy have reimagined the world to fit with the twenty years of technology that have been created since the original, and Cameron has been pushing boundaries in fiction and technology to make Avatar an entirely new experience. I have given filmmakers a hard time for using 3D because most use it as a gimmick but it appears that Cameron may make me eat my words – he’s found a way to make 3D a story-telling device.

I was also incredibly pleased to find that there was much more original content coming out in film this next year than I can remember being promoted in the past years, even the sequels are doing their damndest to bring something fresh and new to the screen. Richard Kelly is bringing us The Box based on a short story, and I am sure the unique mind that brought us Donnie Darko is going to tackle a supernatural morality tale.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my absolute favorite panel which was of course Iron Man 2. I am still shocked on some level that Jon Favreau knows how to make a movie as spectacular as Iron Man. Favreau appears to have gone into Iron Man 2 knowing that if he doesn’t deliver another hit everyone will think the first was a fluke. Let me say I do not think the first Iron Man was a fluke. A week out of principal photography the footage looked cleaner, more refined and better put together than completed films by directors with three times Favreau’s amount of films under their belt. He’s an actor’s director and his experience has garnered him a connection with his cast that shows in their caliber of performance.

Already, I have purchased my tickets for the Comic-Con in 2010. While I hope when I go back there I will have a feature film headed for distribution and maybe another one on it’s way I know I will enjoy the experience regardless of the position my directing career is in. I know this because in the end a real geek can enjoy anything at Con, and no matter what you’re a fan of you will find others like you that love and appreciate the things that you love.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I actually enjoyed Rock N Rolla although it wasn't Ritchie's best.