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Comic-Con Day Three Ground Report

Exhibit Hall is a microcosm of fandom and fun

By Greg Reifsteck

 Exclusive EOTM Comic-Con Coverage at twitter  @moviemaniaceotm & Facebook.com/ EOTMMovieManiac

(c) Greg Reifsteck

Today’s entry comes from the trenches.  Not the press trenches I have been in the last three days, insulated in press conferences from the rest of the convention.  Today I made a concerted effort to see the Exhibit Hall and only cover one press conference: The Marvel Panel with the cast of Iron Man 3. Watch for that coverage as it happens.

(c) 2012 Greg Reifsteck

As I said on last night’s E Buzz! Show with Carla B. everyone’s Comic-Con journey is different.  I really enjoyed walking around the crowd in the Hall with everyone dressed up and enjoying the spirit of the Con. I am including some pictures of my favorites.

I ran into Breckin Meyer from the USA show buying t-shirts with his girlfriend. Sean Astin signing autographs at a random exhibitor’s booth.

Tons of wonderful creative comic book artists, writers and illustrators were showing off their wares, and doing portfolio reviews to the bright-eyed future generation of the comic book artist’s world.

I was wowed by the booths put up by the major studios and their dog and pony shows and big star autograph lines stretching the length of the hall. RazorGator - Get TicketsThis place is an epicenter of comics, TV, movies and pop culture that grows and evolves and mutates.

(c) 2012 Greg Reifsteck

It was a great breath of fresh air.  Not that I am not excited to meet celebrities and record their thoughts to report to you, my Movie Maniac fans.  It was just good to be a civilian again.  The geek in me was doing the jig in side.  Enjoy these photos and let your own freak flag fly as you enjoy them.

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San Diego Comic-Con: Downey, Jr. takes playing Iron Man as ‘serious as Shakespeare’

By Greg Reifsteck

 Exclusive EOTM Comic-Con Coverage at twitter  @moviemaniaceotm & Facebook.com/ EOTMMovieManiac

A brotherhood of creative riches is sure to make Iron Man 3 a success

(c) 2102 Greg Reifsteck

Before heading out to the hell of Hall H and the general public the stars Iron Man 3 did a press junket for the press conference.

Stars Robert Downey, Jr. and Don Cheadle were joined by Marvel’s Production President Kevin Feige and the film’s director Shane Black.  Black was brought in after Jon Favreau directed the first two films of the Iron Man franchise, and Feige was quick to point out that Marvel Studios is so in tune that they could probably plug any director into their system and make a great super hero movie.

Notorious screenwriter Black (who penned Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout in the last few decades) agreed with this philosophy, since his directorial debut was the indie Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, which starred Downey, Jr.  Iron Man three is his first step up to big budget land and Marvel’s infrastructure made it a less daunting task.

“What surprised me frankly was how much generous help there was to me, that made it as easy as it could be.  [Producer] Favreau was available to give me all kinds of tips and advice..he gave me that transitional feel that I needed. And Marvel as such an effective special effects machine that they could walk me through this process and hold my hand, and pretty much ensure that I was free to concentrate on story and character.”

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“There is an idea for being big, but there is also an idea of upping the intensity that The Avengers managed to capture.” Shane continued when asked how this will compare to the phenomenon of the $600 million blockbuster. “That lightning in a bottle feel of really stuffing so much into a limited space.  We’re trying to get as much into this as we can. We’re going to get a ton of thrills into a short space.”

The kinship between Downey, Jr. and Black also forged a trust on set that is sure to add to the enjoyment of the film.

Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang was one of my favorite experiences,” said Downey about his previous critically-acclaimed collaboration with Black. The script was practically perfect, but we improvised anyway.” To which Black quickly quipped, “You improvised anyway.”

“This time around…we all made enough mistakes together that we are all really seasoned at this point. The main this is that Shane is a storyteller. The kind of emotional depth that happens without taking itself too seriously is kind of what Jon has already set up,” Downey, Jr. continued about the creative camaraderie on the set. “There were times when Favreau, and I, and Don would be calling Shane when we had a big scene the next day. He actually asked that his payment once was that we pick him up a piece of salmon and some fresh blueberries.  So he became known as Code Word: Blueberries.  And he’s working for about the same fee now.”

Cheadle weighed in how his character Lt. Col. James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes’s onscreen teamwork with Tony Stark will also be more prominent in Iron Man 3.

“I do suit up,” admitted Cheadle. “There are some different iterations that War Machine goes through in this movie.  I don’t want to give too much away.  It’s fun to see those things sort of morph and shift.”

Finally Downey, Jr. asked the press throng, “When does the kid in the Sharpie goatee get to ask a question?” The young journalist didn’t disappoint when he asked Downey the touching question of how he felt about playing a hero.

The classy Downey, Jr. responded, “Well I think I speak for any of us that get to live in this world…I take it as seriously as Shakespeare.”

 

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Disney flaunts its Great and Powerful lineup at Comic-Con

The Lone Ranger, Oz, Frankenweenie impress the press

By Greg Reifsteck

Live 2012 San Diego Comic-Con coverage at twitter  @moviemaniaceotm & Facebook.com/ EOTMMovieManiac

(c) 2012 Greg Reifsteck

Disney pulled out all of the stops at Comic-Con this year.  After putting out the lack-luster bomb John Carter from Mars last year, they finally had a line up to truly be proud of this year.  As the saying goes, if you’ve got it flaunt it.

(c) 2012 Greg Reifsteck

The public were treated to some footage of The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp and Armen Hammer.  The footage was impressive and really shows that Gore Verbinski is spending every penny off the over-budgeted $250 million western gamble.

 

Speaking of enormous budgets, fans were also treated to the teaser trailer of Sam Raimi’s Oz: The Great and Powerful. Here is a link to the trailer they showed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyywumlnhdw

Soon after, I, your wild Movie Maniac high-tailed it over to an exclusive press conference not open to the public.  I will have audio from that conference on tonight’s E Buzz! Show with Carla B. at 7 p.m. PST.

Click here to stream live –

Also in attendance was Tim Burton plugging his black & white stop motion animation extravaganza.  I will have audio of Burton as well on tonight’s show.

(c) 2012 Greg Reifsteck

For a tease, here are some highlight quotes from that press conference from Raimi as well as some images from the lovely cast:

Sam Raimi: You’re right. It’s absolutely different than anything that I’ve ever done before. I had never made a family picture. I guess you call the Spider-Mans family pictures, but basically those are action love stories. And this was just a completely different, otherworldly experience for me. I never tried it before and I didn’t know if I could do it. But I so loved the screenplay, I was so moved by so many different points. I really enjoyed the goal of telling an uplifting story. And what’s uplifting about it, is that the character learns to be a better person.

How much has James Franco changed as an actor since you first worked with him?

Sam Raimi: For me, James was much less collaborative when I first started working with him [on Spider-Man]. He was a real serious actor. I think he still had his James Dean hat on. He was doing it his way. So I worked with him with certain limitations because we couldn’t communicate as deeply as we eventually did on this picture. And I don’t know if that’s just a result of James’ growth as an individual or whether a director just has a much deeper relationship with their leading man or leading ladies than they do with the best friend character that he played. But now that James is a filmmaker, he understands all the things that go into a shot.

Will there be any flying monkeys in this movie? If so, will they get a backstory?

Sam Raimi: In the teaser they showed today, the Wicked Witch has an army of flying baboons. And we saw a glimpse of them today. It’s the first animation that’s completed on it. There’s also a flying monkey story, different than the baboons. A nice flying monke,y so don’t worry.

Who is Bruce Campbell playing in this movie? And will the great Ted Raimi be appearing as well?

Sam Raimi: Yes, my younger brother Ted plays a tiny part, otherwise my mother would have my head. And Bruce Campbell, unfortunately is in the movie. He plays a bit part, because he was busy working. I think he was shooting his TV show, so he took a day off and came down and just did a tiny little, few-line role for us. But it’s a tiny little cameo. It’s really funny to watch in the picture. He did a great job.

 

Dark Twilight Panel and Red Carpet bring reboot news and jeers

By Greg Reifsteck

Live 2012 San Diego Comic-Con coverage at twitter  @moviemaniaceotm & Facebook.com/ EOTMMovieManiac

The Twilight: Breaking Dawn 2 panel took the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con by storm Thursday morning 28 cast members strong.

(c) 2012 Getty Images

There was a cloud of sadness over the crowd, after the death of a Twilight fan Gisela Gagliardi on Tuesday that was hit by a car, crossing the street against the light, while waiting in line for the panel since Sunday. Many members wore black ribbons in her honor to the panel.  But after that the focus of the crowd in Hall H changed to the final film of the Twilight saga.

(c) 2012 Getty Images

Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, as well as Mackenzie Foy, Elizabeth Reaser, Peter Facinelli, Kellan Lutz, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed and Jackson Rathbone all were in attendance.

The 22-year-old actress Stewart first hit the red carpet in a BCBG skirt and Fluxus t-shirt, and was joined on the red carpet by her co-star and real life boyfriend Robert Pattison.

When asked by MTV journalist Josh Horowitz about the rumored reboot, co-star Jackson Rathbone joked that it would be called “The Amazing Twilight,” a reference to the Amazing Spider-Man film that arrived in theaters just five years after the last movie. Continued Rathbone, “Andrew Garfield is going to play all the roles. I can’t wait to see what he does with Bella.”

Co-star Ashley Greene told MTV she was hoping to have more time to bask in the glow of the franchise, a reference to the benefits of being known for the billion-dollar series of films.

Even star Pattinson reportedly made light of the possible reboot.

“I pity the person who would take over my part,” said Pattison at the press conference before the panel. “I would make a campaign against them!”

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The Movie Maniac San Diego Comic-Con Preview – DAY THREE

The Hobbit, Iron Man 3 and Tarantino!

By Greg Reifsteck

Follow on Twitter @moviemaniaceotm & Facebook.com/ EOTMMovieManiac

Your legs are gimpy from partying, standing in lines or walking the length of the Exhibit Hall. Or, your ass is asleep from sitting in panels all day.  Either way, you have lived on snack bar food, shared a room with three other people and have not gotten much sleep. You have also suffered the back and forth on the never-on-time Con shuttles.

Day Three – you have made it!  And your reward?  The full damned cast of The Hobbit!  That’s what.  Oh, and other things major things are happening, too.

(c) 2012 Warner Bros

Being the Movie Maniac, I will be bringing you up-to-the-minute online updates of the cinematic action going on at the Con on the EOTM Blog.

I will be giving a live Comic-Con update on Carla B’s E Buzz! Show on Friday night at 7 p.m.  Please tune in for all of the action.

I will also be doing a round-up, including interviews from the convention on my new internet radio show Greg Reifsteck Movie Maniac debuting Sunday July 22, 5 p.m. PST on EOTM Radio.

Click here to stream live and set a reminder.

Here is part two of a preview of what I feel will be the movie highlights of the Con.

DAY THREE – Saturday, July 13

The second day of the Con really fits its lucky number date. Ringworms get to hang out amongst the super hero diehards and the Tarantino snobs.  Yes, another melting pot of marvelous fandom.

11:30 a.m. – Django: Unchained Panel- Hall H

Tarantino’s ode to spaghetti westerns comes to the Con.  The remake/homage to 1966’s Django features Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christopher Waltz.  Who will show up from the cast is anyone’s guess.  Just get your damned cameras ready.

(c) 2012 The Weinstein Co.

 

12:45 p.m. – End of Watch and Silent Hill: Revelations 3D Panel – Hall H

Open Road films will have Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena on hand for their film about two young officers are marked for death after confiscating a small cache of money and firearms from the members of a notorious cartel.  They will also bring out the stars of the latest chapter in the popular horror series.

 

2:30 p.m.  – Warner Bros. Panel – Hall H

Yes most of the major cast should be in attendance from The Hobbit, Ringers Director Peter Jackson, Martin Freeman and even Ian McKellen in a very rare Con appearance should be there.  We also get Guillermo Del Toro, who almost directed The Hobbit, presenting his giant creatures and robots movie Pacific Rim, with Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi and Ron Perlman. We also just might get to meet the new Man of Steel.

6 p.m. – Marvel Iron Man 3 Panel- Hall H

With Shane Black taking over the helm of this super hero series’ third installment, we hope for more dark humor out of Tony Stark and less CGI mayhem.  Robert Downey, Jr. and some other surprise cast members will be around to please the crowd.  Don’t leave early.

 

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The Movie Maniac San Diego Comic-Con Preview – DAY TWO

Browncoats, bad-ass women, and sci-fi spectacle

By Greg Reifsteck

Follow on Twitter @moviemaniaceotm & Facebook.com/ EOTMMovieManiac

After you shaken off the hangover of Day One of Comic-Con, and that Fan Mate has already run off with a different Wonder Woman or Doctor Who Cosplayer, Day Two will be a maze of mayhem and fandom.   Again there will be the craziness of Hall H, but there are still other fringe panels to enjoy.

Being the Movie Maniac, I will be bringing you up-to-the-minute online updates of the cinematic action going on at the Con on the EOTM Blog.

(c) 2012 Universal Pictures

I will be giving a live Comic-Con update on Carla B’s E Buzz! Show on Friday night at 7 p.m.  Please tune in for all of the action.

I will also be doing a round-up, including interviews from the convention on my new internet radio show Greg Reifsteck Movie Maniac debuting Sunday July 22, 5 p.m. PST on EOTM Radio

Click here to stream live and set a reminder.

Here is part two of a preview of what I feel will be the movie highlights of the Con.

DAY TWO – Friday, July 12

The second day of the Con really has something for everybody, with the sci-fi and animation genres dominating the programming.  The Browncoats will celebrate a milestone in a reasonably sized ballroom, while the fan boys will be drooling all over themselves with the endless parade of hotties in Hall H.

11:45 a.m. – ParaNorman Panel- Hall H

Focus Features will be bringing out Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Travis Knight, Chris Butler, and Sam Fell from their latest horror-based animated feature.

12:30 p.m. – Firefly 20th Anniversary Panel – Ballroom 20

The Browncoats will be rejoicing that they do not have to get caught up in the Hall H line with their smaller but mightier celebration of their beloved series. Nathan Fillian, Alec Baldwin, Gina Torres, Summer Glau and of course Joss Whedon join others from the cast.

2:15 p.m.  – Tron: Uprising Panel – Room 6A

Everyone knows the revival of Tron with last year’s Disney feature Tron: Legacy left a lot to be desired. But those, like me, that appreciated the spirit of the effort are drooling over this animated series being featured on Disney’s XD Channel. Bruce Boxleitner, who has played Tron in both of its versions lends his voice once again, and will be in attendance with newcomers to the grid Elijah Wood,  Emmanuelle Chriqui and Tricia Helfer.

3:00 p.m.  Adult Swim: Robot Chicken Panel- Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront

You cannot call yourself a true Movie maniac without being a can of film parodies, especially ones done in stop-motion animation. And no one does them better than actor Seth Green and his producing partner Matthew Senreich. Both will be in attendance along with Breckin Meyer and other voice actors and writers that make this so-wrong-its-right send up of the movies a joy to watch with every episode.

4:05 p.m. Resident Evil: Retribution Panel- Hall H.

The zombie movie series that will not die, and that keeps writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson in a paycheck, brings out his easy-on-the-eyes wife and star of the series Milla Jovovich, along with Michelle Rodriguez, Oded Fehr and others to talk about their latest adventures with the undead.

4:35 p.m – Total Recall, Elysium and Looper Panel– Hall H

This Sony panel will not disappoint sci-fi geeks as the studio brings out directed by Len Wiseman, who will join stars Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, and Bryan Cranston  from its Total Recall remake. They also have writer/director Rian Johnson will join stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt from their time travel flick Looper.  And lastly the very secretive film Elysium, the latest from by District 9’s director Neill Blomkamp. Be a part of the first audience anywhere to get a first look at his new movie, and its stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster.

(c) 2012 Sony Pictures

 

7 p.m. – Blade Runner 30th Anniversary Panel- Room 6BCF

With Ridley Scott finally getting around to doing a sequel to his prized and underappreciated masterpiece, join Blade Runner expert Paul M. Sammon as he interviews numerous cast and crewmembers, including art director David Snyder and The Final Cut producer Charles de Lauzirika. Rumored are very special surprise guests.

 

 

Movie Maniac Review: Stoned ‘Savages’ never gets as primal as it needs to be

The once masterful director needs to sober up and make movies with bite again.

By Greg Reifsteck

Follow on Twitter @moviemaniaceotm & Facebook.com/ EOTMMovieManiac

Drugs have fueled the creativity of many good artists. The list goes all the way back to Edgar Allan Poe and the wicked tales he came up with strung out on opium. Unfortunately that mind alteration can sometimes make good ideas ruminate a bit too long. The result can be a muddled mess of half ideas.

Such is director Oliver Stone’s latest sociology lesson Savages. He tries to study the collision of our peaceful and our primal self. What makes us cross over to our bad side? What takes us away from our content state and drives us to a fight or flight situation?  His hypothesis seems to be we all have someone so precious that we will cross that line for, and when that person is taken from us we will fight tooth and nail and become a savage to get them back.

(c) 2012 Universal Pictures

He sets up a story in which a hippy chick narrator named O or Ophelia (Blake Lively), acts as the Zen glue that holds the lives of two primo Kush entrepreneurs in the balance.  Chon (Taylor Kitsch mumbling his way through another role), is a jar-headed Iraq veteran, and Ben (Aaron Johnson), is a Buddhist spouting brilliant botanist. Both guys obsess over her and love her, as well as each other.  Of course the world of Stone is way too evil to keep their blissful equilibrium safe for very long, even when they seems insulated in sleepy Social of Laguna Beach.

Stone hasn’t met a natural high he didn’t like.  He has made no bones about it, and is quite public about it.  According to Jane Hamsher’s book Killer Instinct Stone came up with much of his wild imagery for his notoriously amped-up Bonnie and Clyde Natural Born Killers while in a peyote- induced haze.

This is why when I saw the high-octane trailers for Savages, I expected Stone’s adrenaline junky side. Instead when his mind unleashes a Mexican drug cartel led by the ice queen Elena (Salma Hayek) and her menacing minion Lado (Benicio Del Toro) on this flawed love-triangle of “heroes,” I hoped would get to see some real bite.

Elena has Lado kidnap O from the lovers, so she can force them to join her drug empire. She is very naïve and from her privileged upbringing doesn’t have much worldly experience beyond the mall. Soon she is in a remote location, sleeping on a dirty bed in a cage, being drugged in and out of conscience by Lado, who is surely doing unspeakable things to her, which are only revealed in the closing moments of the film.

Why don’t we see any of this true evil horror earlier? Unfortunately, Stone has his characters babbling, philosophizing and endlessly facing off, instead of really going to battle.  It’s like the most boring of UFC fights, when neither opponent will commit and they just keep circling and kicking each other in the shins.

Check out the Movie Maniac Radio Talk Show, July 22nd @ 5pm PST only on EOTM Radio.

Stone masterfully and successfully studied a similar chess game of good vs. evil in the piece of pulp U-Turn (1997).  In that escapist film we saw some good old backwoods sex and carnage between a drifter trying to take a wife away from her older controlling husband.   But, in Savages we just get glimpses of some torture, with Stone seeming to be afraid to really pull the trigger. An alleged snitch in the cartel is set on fire at a distance for his wrong doing, and the camera is at a distance and is shot all muddled just when we are going to truly see something intense.

The vibe I kept getting was similar to the one I feel while I am watching the Stone-penned Scarface when it plays on regular television. I am not a sadist, but if I have been sold that a film is going to go to a certain place, I am hoping it will get what I expect.

Best Deals on DVDs and Video Games on the web at IAlso, Stone keeps finding redeeming qualities to all of his evildoers.  Maybe he is trying to say there is a silver lining to everyone, no matter how damaged we are? Elena has a daughter she never sees because she is ashamed of her mother’s career choice in crime.  So, when O demands to stop being mistreated by Lado, Elena takes her into her mansion and makes her a surrogate daughter.

All of this is truly a shame since the acting is top notch all around (well except for the unwatchable Kitsch).  We even have John Travolta thrown in for comedy relief as a bumbling DEA agent trying to play both sides. They all seem more than willing to go that extra mile, especially Tel Toro whose scenes will make you pray that you never get an unexpected visit from gardeners at your house.

Nothing good lasts forever is the message I got from Savages. Not just from the plot, but from the style of Stones directing. This is the man behind Platoon and Wall Street for goodness sakes.  This man used to have the balls to give us a Sgt. Elias or a Gordon Gekko.  Soon he gave us unwatchable Alexander the Great biopics and watered down treatises on the downside of pro football.  A story called Savages needed more suspense, more twists, and more old-school Stone before he got too stoned to tell a coherent story.

Stone has broken the cardinal rule of Tony Montana, the greatest characters he ever written.  He has gotten high on his own supply.  The film world is no longer his.  He needs to sober up go back to the basics.  He needs to go back to being a savage himself.

 

The Movie Maniac San Diego Comic-Con Preview – DAY ONE

Stay connected to EOTM! Online & EOTM Radio for live coverage of San Diego Comic-Con 2012.

By Greg Reifsteck – Follow on Twitter @moviemaniaceotm & Facebook @Movie Maniac

The Good, the Bad-Ass and the Undead.

Going to San Diego Comic-Con used to be a different experience.  It wasn’t about getting a big bag of swag and lining up at 4 a.m. to see some big name celebrities in Hall H. It used to be a social experience to meet up with the same comic book fans year after year back, and be with like-minded people.

(c) 2012 Lionsgate Films

Now with the overcrowding of 120,000 comic book, movie and TV buffs squeezing into the exhibit halls and corridors of the San Diego convention center, and all of the movie and TV studios plugging their latest projects, Comic-Con has become a sociological experiment unlike any other.

Being the Movie Maniac, I will be bringing you up-to-the-minute online updates of the cinematic action going on at the Con on the EOTM Blog.

I will also be doing a round-up, including interviews from the convention on my new internet radio show Greg Reifsteck Movie Maniac debuting Sunday July 22, 5 p.m. PST on EOTM Radio.

Click here to be redirected to Greg Reifsteck Movie Maniac

Here is part one of a preview of what I feel will be the movie highlights of the Con.

DAY ONE -Thursday, July 12

The first day of the Con looks to be a marathon that won’t let up.  Twihards will collide with Disney freaks and muscle head fans, all parking themselves in Hall H.

11:45 a.m. – Stan Lee’s World of Heroes Panel- Room 6BCF

What a fitting way to start the Con, by bowing down to one of the masters. Stan the Man will be joined by Luke Skywalker himself Mark Hamill and hottie Adrienne Curry to discuss his latest online venture.

12:45 p.m. – Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 – Hall H

Twihards will be camped out in the fitting darkness of the early morning to get into this one.  Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and the rest of the blood suckers from the film series finale will be in attendance.

(c) 2012 Summit Entertainment

2:05 p.m.  - Walt Disney Studios Panel- Hall H

It’s a heavy hitter panel with the Mouse House trotting out the two mega directors that will revive the studio after last year’s John Carter from Mars debacle: Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, Sam Raimi’s Oz: The Great and Powerful.  Also being featured will be the animated ode to 8-bit video games Wreck It Ralph, that my sore thumbs are going A,B,A,B, left, right, start over in excitement . Stars John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman will be in attendance.

3:00 p.m. 1982- Greatest Geek Year Ever Panel – Room 5AB

If you cannot get into the Hall from Hell, this lively retro panel will be a highlight for anyone from the MTV generation.

The editors of Geek Magazine along with a panel of other writers will discuss the year that gave us Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Blade Runner, E.T., Tron, Poltergeist, Conan: The Barbarian, The Road Warrior, The Thing, Liquid Sky, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Diner and 48 Hours.

3:00 p.m.  Hotel Transylvania Panel- Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront

More alternative programming if you cannot get into the Disney panel. A must-check-out for horror and animation fans, this hilarious-looking film will be presented by its director Genndy Tartakovsky.

4:45 p.m. Expendables 2 Panel- Hall H.

All of the big guys are back in Lionsgate’s sequel to the Sylvester Stallone-directed mega action star mash up. Van Damme, Schwarzenegger, Lundgren, Randy Couture and Terry Crews all will be there in their HGH inflated glory.

5:00 p.m – The Most Dangerous Women at Comic-Con Panel – Room 7AB

It’s tough to be a woman in the testosterone-fueled action film industry.  Here will be some good estrogen-driven counter programming to the dudes in the Big Hall. Katrina Hill (GeekNation, MTV Geek) has assembled a team of women dangerous in their own right: Leah Cevoli (Robot Chicken), Holly Conrad (Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope), Adrianne Curry (Stan Lee’s World of Heroes), Clare Kramer (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Patricia Tallman (Night of the Living Dead) and many others with moderator Bonnie Burton.

8:30 p.m. – Comicon: Episode IV : A Fan’s Hope Screening and Panel- Ballroom 20

Documentarian Morgan Spurlock will put a capper on the day with his take on the Comic-Con phenomenon.

Petco Park Insanity

This year the Con has gotten so ginormous, it has spilled over into Petco Park next door.  From 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday and in the daytime on Friday and Saturday, there will be the unbelievable Walking Dead Escape fan experience www.thewalkingdeadescape.com where you can hunt the undead or be a hunted zombie in a wicked looking 35 to 55 minute maze that overtakes parts of three levels of the baseball park. Price levels vary for the type of treachery you want to take in.

At night the first ever Dawn of the Con will take place at the park for Con badge holders only from 5:30 to 11 p.m…  Rob Zombie will be the master of ceremonies, presenting a concert of remixes of his classic songs. There will also be exclusive giveaways every hour, as well as a photo op experience with Zombie’s Dragula car.

 

 

The Movie Maniac Review: The Amazing Spider-Man is cover band of the franchise

By Greg Reifsteck

Twitter: @MovieManiacEOTMFacebook.com/eotmmoviemaniac

Dramatic director Webb cannot build suspense with the same old action hits

Every time I saw the trailer for the Marvel Studios reboot of The Amazing Spider-Man, I wondered: Why? Do we really need to go back to the beginning of this story we have seen time and time again.  Is Marvel really greedy enough to try and sell us the same car with just a new glossy paint job and tinted windows?

(c) 2012 Marvel Studios

Slapping the word “Amazing” on what was a pretty promising franchise is as bad as putting “New and Improved” on a box of detergent, or Taco Bell wrapping a taco in a Doritos shell.  But, after the studio forced the imaginative Sam Raimi into directing the lackluster Spider-Man 3, I guess they were just desperate enough to shove more of the same product down the moviegoers throats.

Enter Marc Webb, who directed one of my favorite movies of 2009, 500 Days of Summer, a sweet, quirky dramedy that was not only colorful cinematically.  It also proved this young filmmaker was able to develop rich and vibrant characters and mine their everyday emotions into a realistic story of infatuation and eventual heartbreak.

So I guess Marvel thought, hey, our last dramatic director pretending to be an action director experiment didn’t go quite horrible enough (Ang Lee directing 2003’s cerebral snoozefest  Hulk), let’s try it again with Webb and our Spidey franchise.

The Amazing Spider-Man is not a bad movie; it just feels like I am watching a concert of the new Journey.  Yes that Filipino dude sure sounds like Steve Perry. Hell yes I am going to pump my fist when I hear Wheel in the Sky, but in my heart I know that it isn’t Steve freaking Perry.

Webb throws The Social Network’s Andrew Garfield into the Peter Parker role for this version, with a shiny-looking unitard and some even slicker spider web shooting technology to boot. He puts the socially awkward character in high school and gives him the love interest of science major Gwen Stacy (played by one of my movie girlfriends, Emma Stone).

We go through the origin story motions, this time Peter’s father is experimenting on fusing animal and human DNA in an attempt to heal people, and give them better adaptability.  One day while playing hide and seek with a young Peter, Mr. Parker’s study is broken into.  Soon Peter’s father is dropping him off at Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May’s (Sally Field) for good.   Nothing creates a super hero more than parental abandonment.

One day the basement floods and Peter finds some of his father’s old research, a mysterious equation, and a picture of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). Soon Peter is sneaking into an internship program at Oscorp, his father’s old company, and befriending Dr. Connors.  Of course, Peter gives his father’s equation to the doctor, to help him regenerate his missing arm.  But soon, like all science experiments in comic book movies, it goes awry, with Connors turning into a giant lizard and terrorizing the city.

Here is where Webb gets it right.  He knows characters, and the innocent love story between Peter and Gwen is the amazing part of this movie. He knows that silence speaks volumes, and the scene where they finally have their meet-cute Webb uses it very well.  They awkwardly stare and try to form words but cannot because they are both nervous. It’s really cute stuff.  Stone is a vision as always, with her quivering lip and tell-tale eyes.

Then the action cranks up after Uncle Ben is shot and Parker goes on a vigilante spree.  Those scenes are quite fun as well.  Even though Spidey soaring through the air over the city looks clunky compared to the Oscar-winning visual effects work Star War’s vet John Dykstra did for Raimi’s first two Spider-Man films.

Garfield really goes for it in the acting department and I actually liked him more than Tobey Maguire  Yes, he overdoes it in some scenes, but he really masters the spirit of the role.  Maguire always seemed too silent and brooding to me.  Garfield really goes balls-out with the emotion of the role.

The third act of the film is where things get moving too fast and the paint starts to chip off of this old jalopy of a comic book franchise.  We really get to see the surface paint and primer of lazy writing.  The Lizard is a horrible villain and adds no excitement with its fake CGI destruction.  The scenes in which he fights Spider-Man are very by-the-numbers and will have your mind wandering.  Nothing really dazzles in any of the effects scenes down the stretch, including a ridiculous and pointless King Kong-esque sequence involving a weak Spider-Man using cranes to make it to the top of Oscorp to save the city from the ugly fake-looking Lizard.

There is even an allegedly suspenseful bridge sequence in which Spider-Man attempts to save people from their Lizardly doom that falls flat on its face with the same-old, same-old.  Raimi showed wicked imagination in all of his Spider-Man films; even the last one that the studio got a hold of a ruined the third act.  Hey, what a coincidence.  Maybe Marvel needs to take an Artist’s Way course in how to keep people compelled until the final scene.

Webb doesn’t seem fully to blame for the flameout down the stretch.  He simply isn’t an action director.  He is a good storyteller and is magnificent with actors.  The scenes between Garfield and Stone are simple and poetic.  The interaction of Peter Parker and his Aunt and  Uncle are understated and honest.  His casting choices are spot on. But when it comes to making movie magic in the action sequences he just doesn’t have the chops. The result leaves a lot to be desired.

Marvel Studios needs to stop being a Jay Leno and let the Spider-Man franchise go.  Stop pulling the same old car out of the garage and try to make it flashy by parading it around countless times. They smartly did their Avengers assimilation earlier this year with breathtaking results.  They put some their prized characters in the hands of Joss Whedon, a man that was born with a comic book in his hand and the right mind to pull off action sequences that tell a story. The result was a $600 million dollar payday.  If that is the formula for success, Marvel, then I say stick with the veteran directors and simply introduce us to some new exciting characters from your arsenal.  Last I heard you have quite a few to choose from.