R0BTRAIN's Bad Ass Cinema: The View from Hall H, Part 1 – Rob's Favorite Comic-Con Moments

Before I get started, I’m really sorry this took so long to get posted. I didn’t have a computer with me in San Diego (technically, I was on vacation, but it also didn’t end up being feasible for me to take the only computer in my house with me), and reports from my iPhone weren’t exactly able to be terribly enlightening (though I hope those of you who follow me on twitter and Facebook found my fanboy rantings amusing). To be honest, it would be super tough to even find the time to write, as I was going and going from about 7AM to 1AM every day of the con, but If I get to go next year, let’s hope I can do a little better for you people.

Secondly, once again I’d like to publicly thank Robert Kirkman for the opportunity to get to go to Comic-Con in the first place. He doesn’t always try to show it, but he’s one of the best people I’ve ever known, and when I really needed him on this trip, he came through despite being insanely busy. I had the time of geek like, and ended up enjoying myself even more than I did last year, and I owe it all to him.

I know it can be cool on the internet to bash Comic-Con and the crowds. I’ve heard a lot of reports of people not getting into the panels when they wanted to, and then you have to fight to get from one end of the convention floor to the other. I’ve also heard people complain about the commercialization of the event and how Hollywood has completely taken over. I was also present in Hall H when one of the attendees got stabbed this year, and some have said that the incident soured the entire con for them.

I’m not one of those people.

Sure, I had some problems with my hotel reservation, which had me out in the lobby for about two hours while the situation was resolved, and then there were issues with my badge that had me pretending to be an Italian comic-book artist named Salvatore on preview night, but all that just added flavor and further anticipation to the awesome experience I had as soon as I hit the convention floor. The place is absolute geek heaven from end of it to another. It’s a celebration of thousands of fans coming together in one place, and except for one person, its actually one of the most pleasant places to be around people, because we‘re all like minded and having a great time.

Despite being shoulder to shoulder, people stop walking when you try to take a picture of a costume or a booth. Strangers don’t mind chatting you up in line and don’t mind saving your seat when you need to go to the bathroom in the various panel rooms. You’re all there to enjoy yourselves and for the most part, that’s exactly what happens. It’s just a place where the highs are so high you don’t mind the pains that are inherent to the whole experience. I actually had so much fun, I had a tough time pairing down my favorite experiences, and moments like getting to see Mike Nelson and the guys from MST3K or seeing footage from Green Lantern and Let Me In were left out. Hope you guys can even get a taste of the fun I had while I was out in geek paradise. Enjoy!

Rob’s Favorite Comic-Con Moments, Part 1

10. Wowed by the Wisseau

I don’t know how many of you have seen The Room before, but without question its one of the most gloriously bad films of all time. Somehow shot for $6 Million, the movie largely takes place in one room, and features some of the worst acting, dialogue, and general film-making you’ve ever seen. We’re talking about a movie that makes the late night offerings on Cinemax look like Avatar by comparison. The “film” was the brainchild of writer/actor/director Tommy Wisseau, who just like Ed Wood, fancied himself as a modern-day Orson Welles, but also like Wood, managed to not see just how inept he is in all movie making categories.

Still, even with The Room’s crimes upon humanity, I found it irresistible to stay away when I found out that a new short film starring Wisseau, entitled The House that Drips Blood on Alex, was going to premiere at the con, and that Wisseau would definitely be in attendance. At least if this was a total trainwreck, I’d be there and have a fun story to tell. What I was not prepared for, was for the short to be really entertaining, and for the panel to be one of the best times I had during the entire event.

Firstly, The House that Drips Blood on Alex, which premieres on Comedy Central sometime in October, is not a solemn dark comedy like Wisseau’s infamous feature debut. Instead the short is a rollicking good time, using its star’s “acting style” to its advantage, with wall to wall comedy. When this thing premieres around Halloween, I’d absolutely recommend you check it out for some cheeky fun.

The second thing I didn’t expect was to have the good time that I ended up having at the panel, much in part due to Wisseau himself. The short just seemed to be further evidence that the man seems to be enjoying the notoriety earned by his terrible first movie. On top of that, he’s just going with the attention he’s getting, whether the love he’s getting from fans is ironic or not. I’ve got to hand it to him, because I don’t remember seeing many other stars taking the time to sign posters and take pictures with fans for free, or singing “happy birthday” and giving gifts to fans anywhere at Comic-Con.

9. Red-Faced

I can’t be alone in my surprise for how good Red looks right? I read the comic and enjoyed it, but this looks like a lot more fun and the perfect sort of thing we should be getting from Bruce Willis right now. The new trailer blasted its way through Hall H last Thursday and I wasn’t the only one who was surprised by just how effective it was, especially the final few moments, which is just loaded with bad-assery.

Even better was the panel, where we all just basically basked in the glow of how awesome Bruce Willis is. Seeing others like Helen Mirren and Karl Urban was also fun, but John McClane was in complete control of the room, constantly giving us jokes at Mirren’s or his own expense and then giving us great stories about the making of this movie, especially the film’s fight scenes. You know when you hear about how your favorite stars are never as cool after you’ve met them in person? Yeah, Bruce Willis isn’t like that at all.

8. Sucker Punch‘d

I know before I left for Comic-Con I stated in my last column just how much I was looking forward to the Warner Bros. panel, mostly because I’m a giant Green Lantern fan and over time I’ve also come to love the Harry Potter series as well. Well, while each of these panels had their finer points, mostly because Ryan Reynolds is unbelievably charming and the six minutes or so of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows shown was really fantastic, there was still a tinge of disappointment. Green Lantern’s footage was passable, but didn’t feature anything extraordinary or even any shots with Reynolds in the CGI costume we’ve been hearing about. Harry Potter brought great footage, but stars such Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson were nowhere to be seen, with only Tom Felton, Draco Malfoy himself, coming onstage to present the footage.

Thankfully, this left the door wide open for Zack Snyder to come in and steal the entire panel. Snyder has always made a big impression at Comic-Con, with 300 and Watchmen both playing well to the entertainment hungry crowd, but Sucker Punch is an original property, so it was tough to say what he had in store for us. Apparently, what he had in store was footage from what seems to be the movie of my dreams; with imagery from all reaches of geekdom, including an orphanage with production design similar to something out of the Bioshock video games, giant samurai, mechs, dragons, WWI battles, gun fights against robots, and a lot of girls in fishnets. That pretty much covers everything I love.

The trailer on the internet this week showed much of what we saw, but without the awesome sounds of Led Zepplin’s “When the Levee Breaks” pounding in our ears, and also didn’t include any of the footage of John Hamm in the film. A lot of the cast also hit the stage, including the breathtaking Carla Gugino, and all of them seemed really excited about the movie they’re about to unleash on the public next March. The month has already become a kind of prime “pre-summer” release month for those properties that are edgier than your normal blockbuster, such as the aforementioned 300 and Watchmen, as well as Sin City, Hellboy and this past March’s Kick-Ass, so I think Sucker Punch is going to fit in there just nicely.

7. Comic-Con loves its own

This isn’t movie related, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Walking Dead, because the property was all over Comic-Con. I know I just thanked him at the top, but I don’t mention Robert Kirkman much in my writing. Despite this, I’m proud to call The Walking Dead‘s original creator my personal friend, and to see him get to reach this level of success is really amazing. Robert is one of the best and hardest working men I’ve ever known, and he absolutely deserves this whirlwind. With his series becoming a TV show on AMC, I had the pleasure of checking out the panel for the new series, which showed a long trailer that looked completely awesome. I’ve actually heard that AMC plans on not censoring any gore in the series and from the looks of it, we should get to have the full on Walking Dead experience we‘d like to have.

My first and favorite impression from the panel was just how much Mr. Kirkman is loved by the Comic-Con faithful, as he received a bigger round of applause in his introduction than anyone else presented onstage, including fan favorite make-up maestro Greg Nicotero (Kill Bill), Producer Gail Anne Hurd (Aliens), or writer/director Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption), who were all instrumental in getting the series off the ground. All of the panel talked about how the series will stay true to the spirit of the original graphic novels and spoke about the difficulty in orchestrating such an epic scope for the show on a TV budget.

Afterward, I got to watch as the rest of the panel left the stage except for Kirkman, who got mobbed by fans for autographs. Even though he and the cast had to pose for pictures afterward, Robert still took the time to introduce me to Greg Nicotero, which was one of the biggest thrills of the con for me this year. One thing’s for sure; whether the show ends up being successful or not, Robert Kirkman will always have a home at the San Diego Comic-Con, and he absolutely deserves it.

6. DEE-REZ!

Excitement was palpable for this year’s Tron: Legacy panel, as it would mark the last time the film would be featured in Hall H after three straight years showing us test footage and concepts. Moderator Patton Oswalt remarked the film would just be shown in five minute segments for the next 20 years at Comic-Con, and cost you thousands of dollars to see the whole thing, which is exactly what the lead up to this final leg of the film’s journey has felt like. Well, all the teasing is about to end, and with that, Disney presented us with 8 minutes of Tron: Legacy footage that knocked the socks off everyone in the room.

While seeing the footage and the entire cast on stage was cool though, what really set this panel apart was taking part in a sound experiment where director Joseph Kosinski had us all stomping in time and yelling phrases like “DEE-REZ!”, stating that the sounds would be added to the stadium scenes in the film itself. This was just another way to make Comic-Con a memorable experience for all the attendees. It’s this sort of interaction with film makers and other celebrities that makes the con a special experience and keeps people coming back year after year.

Well, that’s it for this week. I’ve got more awesome to come, I’ll try not to take so long next time!

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