Thursday, July 31, 2008

Comic-Con Post 3

Thursday used to be the day that there was very little programming and people spend all day buying things, but that is now Wednesday, so we did go around looking for freebies, check out the booths, and hit a panel or two.

If you've never been to Comic-Con, they have many booths, great and small, to promote comic books or geek-centric entertainment (like video games, anime, toys, TV shows, art, computer programs, and cartoons . . . basically anything that doesn't involve interaction with women), and the big companies have signings and swag they hand out to stir up buzz for their projects. And some of this stuff is really quite impressive (and valuable, eBay fans).

For example, last year the Warner Bros. booth gave out some great oversized cloth bags with "Smallville" on them that have served me ever since, as I take packages to the mail in mine, and while they were giving out similar backs this time 'round, I never got one.

The Paramount booth was giving away t-shirts of their upcoming movies (such as TRANSFORMERS 2 and G.I.JOE 1 and STAR TREK . . . well, also 1), but to get one, you had to go to a line by the entrance (which was pretty consistently capped) and stand in it until approximately eight minutes before Hell froze over, then get a voucher that you could take to the booth and trade for a shirt. Once you'd gone through that line, that is.

Right next to that booth was the Summit Entertainment section, those who are bringing Stephenie Meyer's unconscionably popular TWILIGHT to the big screen this December. They had a small booth (half a booth, really), and they were giving out full-sized TWILIGHT posters, but you had to stand in an outside line just like the Paramount one.* I passed on that one, but Merrill stood in it, while I got in the Paramount one. His line moved along at a healthy pace, while mine didn't move at all. People were just sitting down and resting, getting up every ten minutes or so to move up to replace the five people who'd gotten to go get t-shirts. Merrill zoomed through his line and went off to see a panel, while I was permanently stuck in Paramount.

After a while, I asked the guys around me if they cared if I left to go to the bathroom, and they thought it was fine, so I took off. I got a little lost, going left instead of right, and when I came back, a miracle must have happened, because the line had not only moved, but the guys who'd been saving my place were nowhere to be found. The people who were directly behind me were now at the very head of the line, and said they didn't remember me and wouldn't let me back in with them (a woman there actually told me to "Get lost," which is a phrase I haven't heard outside the movies in, oh, my whole life). I sighed and started to go meet Merrill in the panel, but as I was walking away, one guy I didn't know said, "Hey, over here." He let me in behind him, just out of mercy, I suppose, but his condition was, "Just make sure you do the same for someone else." I guess not everybody at Comic-Con sucks as much as, well, I do.

There was a panel for Robert Rodriguez's upcoming RED SONJA movie. It stars Rose McGowan as the titular warrior woman, but there was very little of note at the panel, as the shooting won't begin for months, and the script is still being readied. The most interesting thing said there was that it would be directed by someone else, Douglas Aarniokoski, who has worked with Rodriguez before. But that's not the interesting part. What struck me as unusual is that Aarniokoski is the film's director in name only, as Rodriguez isn't able to technically be the director because the film's being made under the Director's Guild union, and Rodriguez is no longer part of the DGA.

Basically, he said that he and Aarniokoski would shoot as a team, sometimes concurrently, in an attempt to bring Rodriguez's vision to the screen together. I don't really understand it myself, but maybe that's what was going on with POLTERGEIST.

I was sitting too far back to get any decent pictures of this panel, and the zoom function only produces blurry messes like this:
Later in the day, I was supposed to interview Robert Englund for his new movie JACK BROOKS: MONSTER SLAYER, but I got a call from the publicist to tell me I'd been bumped from the list, and could still interview the director and other actors if I wanted to. Since I knew nobody would ever read the interview if I did it, I passed.

Nevertheless, I took it upon myself to go back and feed the meter instead of having Merrill do it, and when I finally made it to the car, a lovely parking ticket was waiting for me. When it rains . . .

But as the man used to say, "ah well."

For want of something else to do (honestly, I cannot remember why we went there), we headed for the big Hall H to see Disney's RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN panel. Duayne Johnson was there, as well as class + hotness = Carla Gugino, talking about the 2009 remake to ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN.
It wasn't a particularly illuminating panel, and I'm not sure that a remake is wise (guess what, kids, they called it a "reimagining!" Because there's no such thing as a "remake" anymore), but maybe we were just so sick of walking and physically tired that we just had to go somewhere and sit down for an hour.

At the end of that panel, they DID show a trailer to TRON2. The audience just ate it up. I've never been a fan of TRON (in fact, it may need to go on my next list of "Movies I Hate That You Love"), but to see the CGI guy take his helmet off and see that it was a 2008 era Jeff Bridges did make me clap my hands. I thought they were doing a remakeagining, and a sequel is always better.

After that panel, they had one for "Hulk versus Wolverine," which maybe should be capitalised, but I decline to. It's the newest Marvel Animation direct-to-video release, and they brought out the voice cast and then showed us the film. It was unfathomably violent and had really nice animation, but Merrill and I both fell almost instantly asleep. I awoke every time the audience cheered (usually over something Deadpool said, or something particularly brutal), but eventually just flipped a mental switch to even block that out, since I plain didn't care. Sorry, Stan.

After that, Merrill and I just got up and left. We were too tired and hungry and sweaty and uncomfortable to listen to a Q&A about an animated film we couldn't stay awake through. We (eventually) found my car and hit the road.

I guess now would be a good moment to mention that my uncle has a house in Oceanside, and he had said we could stay there for a couple of days, as long as he was going to be there anyway. My mom thought it was a lot to ask (though she has brothers and nephews and nieces come over to her place all the time, often choosing to sleep on the floor so the guest can have the bed, and I'm not sure I ever heard her complain), and suggested we bring sleeping bags and our own towels, so there would be no laundry evidence that we'd been there.

Well, that was fine, and since my uncle and I were once much closer than my own father and I were, I had no doubts that we'd have a place to stay. Until, that is, that I started getting word that my uncle was going through some kind of surly period where he's angry at everyone, worthy or unworthy. Merrill and I thought it might be a good idea to check out motel rates, as a sort of contingency plan.

But I trusted my uncle and still felt like I was his favourite nephew, and would do right by me, so I called him on his cellphone and--when he didn't pick up--left him a message. We were leaving for San Diego and we sure would appreciate it if we could stay at his place, but if he wasn't going to be there or it wasn't alright, would he please give me a call? Best wishes, Rish.

And my uncle never called.

It's one thing to change his mind, but quite another not to return a call. I gotta say, my estimation of the man took a jarring hit to the solar plexus.

And that left us in San Diego with nowhere to sleep. We knew all the motels in town would be booked up or price-jacked, and the best deal we'd found had been in Temecula, roughly forty-five minutes north along the I-15 freeway, so we drove up there, got a room, washed the grime off, and felt considerably better.

To be continued . . .

*Which reminds me, there were exclusive toys you could buy at Comic-Con, as there are every year, but this time around, they made you go to a different floor and stand in line to get a ticket which you could go downstairs with and stand in the line at the Hasbro or Gentle Giant or Mattel booth to buy collectibles with. You'd think those lines would be way shorter than the ones for free stuff, but amazingly, it was the opposite.

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