Sunday, March 1, 2009
Director Zack Snyder on the panel for Watchmen (Tony Weidinger)
The day of programming began with people lining up for hours to see the panel on Watchmen . A select few got to see a special advance screening on Friday and most of those were pleased with what they saw. At the panel attendees got to see the opening eighteen minutes of the film, which included an amazing title sequence cut to Bob Dylan's The Things They Are A Changin' and laying out the alternate universe of the story. So you get to see familiar moments in American history -- like the Kennedy assassination -- but with a new twist. The only downside of the extended clip was that it left very little time for Q&A since there were so many people on the panel. In addition to Zack Snyder were cast members Patrick Wilson (Night Owl), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Comedian), Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach), Billy Crudup (the blue Dr. Manhattan), Malin Akerman (Silk Spectre) and Watchmen's artist Dave Gibbons.
Snyder revealed that Haley was cast after the actor sent him a homemade audition tape. Snyder said Haley wore a "slightly dodgy Rorschach mask" but it was the "coolest thing ever" and he had to cast Haley in the role. He wanted to include the video in the DVD but apparently Haley said no. But Snyder is already thinking about plenty of other extras. When Watchmen opens on Friday it will clock in at a 163-minutes. But Snyder's already planning a director's cut with more violence and "naked blueness" to come out later in the year. But he assured fans that the R-rated theatrical release ready to open still contains plenty of violence. The DVD is scheduled to be chock full of bonus features and a standalone animated Tales of the Black Freighter DVD (drawing on a separate storyline from the graphic novel) will be released March 24 along with a faux documentary on Watchmen's original Nite Owl, called Under the Hood .
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Tony Weidinger)
Snyder said he wanted to cast actors rather than Hollywood celebrities. Although he said he spoke with Tome Cruise. That scared the audience but Snyder's final choices for the performers to take on the roles proves that he was not looking for mere star power. The one actor that I was not familiar with was Jeffrey Dean Morgan. But on the panel, in the film, and up close when I saw him on the press line he exuded a real old Hollywood style charisma, or should I just say that he's hot. In the trailers, I thought he looked like a cross between Robert Downey, Jr. and Javier Bardem yet he's someone that I had never heard of before. I had to look him up on IMDb and even then I couldn't recall him from any of the films listed or the TV shows ( Supernatural the most prominent). But he's definitely someone I'll be watching.
Star Trek cast members Zoe Saldana, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto (Tony Weidinger)
Next up in the Hollywood panels was Star Trek , J.J. Abrams' prequel to the original Star Trek series. Abrams is best known as the creator of Alias and Lost on TV, and producing Cloverfield . An amped Abrams paced the stage and tried to reassure the devoted Star Trek fans in the audience that he was going to pay due respect to Gene Roddenberry's source material. He brought along Chris Pine (James Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock) and Zoe Saldana (Uhuru). They sneaked a peek at the new trailer coming out later this month and the ballroom audience seemed impressed. &
This Transformer costume was one of the best at WonderCon (Tony Weidinger)
There were a lot of great costumes on display at WonderCon. One of the best was a homemade Bumble Bee Transformer. The costume had great detail and drew a crowd wherever the person went. I also saw Disney's Fairy Godmothers, a pair of Darth Vaders, tons of Stormtroopers, a bunch of jokers and Carwomen.
McG at WonderCon (Tony Weidinger)
The last of the Hollywood panels was for Terminator Salvation . Director McG came out and in a calculated move to win the audience to his side he gave a shout out to Zack Snyder and Watchmen . He noted that Snyder must have a "firm hand" on his set, Hmm? I wonder if McG is jealous. Based on Christian Bale's outburst on the Terminator set I'd venture that McG doesn't have a firm hand on his set.
McG went on to explain how the project came about. He says he actually went to James Cameron (the director of the original Terminator film) to seek his approval. Cameron said McG had an "interesting point of entry" for the film but stopped short of giving his blessing to the project. McG then said he enlisted the late visual effects wizard Stan Winston (who had worked on the original films) and dedicated the film to his memory. McG kept saying that he has a "no bullsh-t policy." I'm not quite sure what that meant but when asked by the panel moderator to address the audio tape of Christian Bale's on-set outburst, all McG had to say was "What don't you f-king understand?" But McG did make a phone call to Christian Bale to scold him for "never coming to these events." But Bale did attend WonderCon to promote Batman Begins. So maybe it's not fan conventions that Bale has an aversion to. Bale didn't answer the phone so McG had the audience leave a message of appreciating cheers on the machine.
Terminator Salvation cast members Moon Bloodgood, Anton Yelchin, Common and Bryce Dallas Howard. (Tony Weidinger)
In prepping the audience for a preview of the trailer that will debut at the head of Watchmen on Friday, McG said he wanted it to put character and story first. But not to fear he also wanted to deliver action. So he described the trailer as guaranteed to "knock your f-king balls up you're ass." It was good but not that good. Many of the elements looked lifted from other films. The giant robot looked like a runaway from the Transformer set; the underwater bots looked ripped off from the Matrix ; and car/truck stunts bore the obvious influence of Road Warrior.
McG also had an awkward moment when he asked actress Moon Bloodgood to show off her "boobs" because he wanted to gauge "the temperature of the room" as to whether of not they want to see her "boobs" exposed on screen because the studio is apparently giving him flak about doing so. McG (who keep pumping up the audience and making them cheer in order to get to see the trailer and each clip) acknowledged that he comes to these conventions to get feedback from the audience and called them "part of the filmmaking team." This seemed like a forced attempt again to win the audience over to his side.
McG brought up Tim from tech support because he loved the guy's impersonation of Arnold. (Tony Weidinger)
McG bringing another fan onstage for no apparent reason. (Tony Weidinger)
So that was day two at WonderCon. I'll have some video of panels up early next week.