Monday, October 17, 2011

Why The IGN Theater Is A Science: Dalin’s Quick Review of Saturday’s Big Panels.

Often, many people are always curious why conventions get so overly populated. Well when you have New York Comic Con for instance, it’s one of the very few instances where East Coast nerds of all kinds can experience what the California nerds take for granted. Celebrities come in droves, previews of new movies come out months in advance, and we get free swag (nerds love free swag!) So when it came to this past year’s edition of panels for the biggest room in the con, the IGN Theater, it was nothing short of spectacular, especially in the case of Saturday’s schedule.

            I entered the room during the late morning, and my first panel to experience was that of a silly sort: A Liars Autobiography, a new documentary about the life of Graham Chapman, a key player in Monty Python’s famous legacy. Featuring hilarious clips, sandwich boards of things to look forward to in the movie (Racy, Raunchy, and Rude!), the highlight was an moment of audience participation, where the entire room sang a few lines from one of the new Monty Python approved songs in the documentary (about a certain love of sitting near a person’s head, if you get my drift.)

            Next was the Nikita TV series panel. But to be honest, other then the childlike giggle middle school girl grin I got from seeing Shane West, it otherwise was a bore since the series is nothing of my interest, as is with anything on the CW. Showed the usual next season preview, and gave some new twists for fans of the show. But by the looks of the crowd there weren’t that many fans present, but the stars were as nice as they could be in the situation.

            The came Sony Pictures panel, where we were handed 3D glasses (one of the only times you will be given these suckers for free when near a screen. Told you about that free swag!) The first clip was a surprise, a rough-cut trailer of the Total Recall remake with Collin Ferrell. Visuals were impressive, but not much else. Next was a small Q&A with the directors of the new Ghost Rider: Spirit with a Vengeance, which unlike the original looked more ridiculous and promising for my weird tastes. A featurette was shown of how the film was shot, which really was very interesting and made me want to pick up a camera and lay on a skateboard to get a new angle myself. Finally, another preview for Spiderman was shown, but truly nothing special other then what we had previously seen in the trailers.

            Then it was time for The Walking Dead panel, a huge crowd favorite. The majority of the cast came out, along with creator Robert Kirkman and other members of the crew. An extended preview of the first episode was shown, which really got the crowd pumping beyond belief. Definitely was a highlight of the convention for many of the other con goers that were in the room. But the panel that of course would steel the show would come next? Especially when you have Tom Hiddelston singing a line from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

            So was staying in the IGN Theater for over 7 hours worth it? A hundred and fifty percent yes, even though my stomach thought otherwise. 2012 will be a very similar plan of action for me, but this time I will have a batch of Luna Bars in hand. Bring it on New York Comic Con, I am going to be ready for the epic! 

AVENGERS - Assemble at NYCC

"The Avengers" assembled Saturday night at New York Comic Con 2011 -- and it was pretty awesome. Some of the principal cast members of the upcoming Marvel superhero epic were in attendance, including Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans, an unannounced Mark Ruffalo and even Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige.

At times it felt more like a sporting event. There was uncontrollable screaming, shaking and maybe even a few tears for a few lucky fans who were able to ask the stars questions. The noise was deafening. The panel opened with the trailer (and let me tell you, it looked even more amazing on the big screen), and the screaming and cheering was so loud, you couldn't hear a thing. But here's what The Huffington Post did learn, judging by scream levels: Fans love Tom Hiddleston's Loki, but aren't so impressed with Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow.

But the biggest cheers of the night came from the announcement that director Joss Whedon had cut new footage to be screened at Comic Con. What follows is all of the spoiler-y action and the six things that we learned at "The Avengers" panel at New York Comic Con:

New footage reveals that Bruce Banner hasn't turned into The Hulk in two years -- and he doesn't really want to talk about it.

The footage shows Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) tricking Banner (Mark Ruffalo) into a confrontation in India, and it's full of sexual tension. Nick Fury sends Black Widow (Romanoff) to find Banner because he needs Banner and his scientific mind to help with the Cosmic Cube. Meanwhile, Romanoff teases Banner about his little secret, and Banner reveals he hasn't turned into The Hulk in two years. It's sort of a touchy subject, as he gets a little testy and Romanoff pulls out her gun. Another scene shows Tony Stark (Robert Downy Jr.) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) at Stark Tower, where Loki tells Stark that he has an army waiting for them. In a third scene, Stark tests Banner (by zapping him) in the Stark labs to see if The Hulk will appear.

Mark Ruffalo claims that he's the only actor who officially gets to play Bruce Banner and The Hulk.

Previous films based about Bruce Banner have leaned heavily on CGI to create The Hulk, but in "The Avengers," Ruffalo will actually play Hulk using stop-action, stop-motion capture. Think "Avatar" but greener.

Everybody loves Tom Hiddleston.

Seriously. The cast loves him -- especially Chris Evans -- and the fans must really love him, because Hiddleston was the subject of almost every single question asked during the Q&A. Everyone wanted to talk about Loki. At one point, when Chris Evans was finally asked a question (okay, it was a panel question, but that counts, right?), he said, "Sorry, I got lost in Tom's glow. What was the question? Was it about Tom? I love Tom, too."

Perhaps supervillans are more interesting than superheroes? Or is the Norse god of mischief just that bad-ass? Or is it because he can sing? For the last question of the night, Hiddleston recalled an incident from drama school when his classmates said he looked like Gene Wilder, so he then wooed the crowd with the theme from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." Now if he was dressed as Loki, that would have been quite a sight. Regardless, it looks like Hiddleston may be the true breakout star of this "Avengers" film.

Clark Gregg made up his own "Avengers" theme song

Regardless of all the Tom Hiddleston love in the IGN Theater, I really love Clark Gregg. Not only does he seem like an awesome guy, but I have a soft spot for Agent Phil Coulson. The crowd prompted Gregg to perform the "Avengers" theme song he wrote, and he eventually did sing it for the crowd -- but not before telling the crowd to imagine Trent Reznor singing it. Here's a sample of the lyrics: "We've got muscles so bulky, and we have a Hulky."

Gregg also wins for funniest line of the night. When asked how it felt to see all of the Avengers assembled together (minus The Hulk), Gregg replied, "I felt like it was the 'Make-A-Wish Foundation,' like I only had a week to live and no one told me, so this was how they were going to break the news to me."

The Avengers assembled! ... in Albuquerque for a little post-filming fun.

It started with a text. Gregg revealed that the greatest text message he ever received in his life was from Chis Evans, and it said simply "Assemble." The cast then reminisced about a post-shoot gathering in Albuquerque -- a night that no one can seem to remember. There was a lot of dancing, and Gregg seemed to believe that Scarlett Johansson had the best moves in the Avengers bunch. However, Evans and Hemsworth didn't take part in the dancing, instead they were trading workout tips.

"I look over," said Hiddleston, "And there was Chris Evans asking Chris Hemsworth, 'But how do you get that right here?' and Hemsworth was like, 'I don't know, just work out, mate.'"

Kevin Feige is in pre-production talks for "Iron Man 3" with director Shane Black.

Feige calls it Phase 2 of the Avengers Initiative and will lead into an "Avengers" sequel. Feige also confirmed a post-credits scene at the end of "Avengers." He also mentioned that "Guardians of the Galaxy" would be its own movie and won't be introduced in any of the other movies.

Walking Dead: Shane Walsh, Jon Bernthal, describes the various mannerisms that make Shane unique

The actor who plays Shane Walsh, Jon Bernthal, describes the various mannerisms that make Shane unique and dishes on which survivor he would most want by his side in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

Q: I didn't think this was possible, but the walkers have gotten even more terrifying this year.

A: Greg Nicotero is the best in the business, we all know that. Last year he blew all of our minds by turning gruesome vulgarity into beautiful art. What I'm seeing this season is that there's a specificity with each zombie. You can actually tell who they were before they got infected and how they got infected and where they were bit. I think that's really what we're trying to do with the show: nothing is taken for granted.

Q: A lot of people all have dreams about work. Do you ever have dreams about walkers, or dreams that you're in character?

A: Yeah, I do. And I hate zombies. Call me a silly method actor but you spend all day hunting them and killing them and running from them and there you go. I love the people that create them and the people that play them, but the zombies themselves I hate. When I go to a publicity event and there's some guy paid to be a zombie for the night and they walk up to me, my first instinct is to take their heads off.

Q: Shane always gets to tote the big guns. Do you enjoy acting with a gun on set? Are you gun person?

A: You know I do love Shane's shotgun. In real life I kind of have a shotgun similar to it, but I'm not a huge gun guy. Only thing about Shane's gun is it's super loud and attracts other zombies. We shoot blanks on set and there's still a good kickback.

Q: Shane and Rick have a love-hate relationship. Do you have a lifelong friend like that?

A: Man I think a lot of people have that relationship with me!

Q: Have you enjoyed playing a character with a dark side this season?

A: I think that Shane really has figured out that in this world it's all about making hard decisions. If you have a group of people and you're trying to survive what do you do if one person is holding you back? Do you get rid of that person? Or do you do the "right thing" and keep that person alive? I think Shane has discovered this new world order; he discovered it in Season 1 when he beat Ed up down by the water in Season 1 or when he trained the gun on Rick. Things like guilt and shame -- are those valuable emotions in this world, or do they actually have no place in them? I love those themes of the show.

Q: Shane is the only character with a sex scene thus far. Do you give Andrew Lincoln a hard time because of it?

A: I never have, but now that you said that I'll be sure to do it today.

Q: You used to play high school football -- and we hear you get to be back on a football field this year for an upcoming episode. What was it like?

A: It's great, that was down at Newton High and they have a really good team. I grew up in Washington DC and while high school football is important there, down here it's huge. It's like religion, the teams are serious! One of the things I really wanted to do this season was go to a game.

Q: What's the biggest prank you ever pulled in high school?

A: Man ours were pretty vulgar, I don't know if I want to talk about our pranks. The first thing I thought of I definitely can't say.

Q: Shane has a very distinctive walk. He also rubs his head a lot. Are those Shane or Jon gestures?

A: No man, I hope that what I'm doing is Shane. I've tried to find mannerisms for him, especially this season. He has things he does when he gets nervous or agitated. Shane is constantly boiling and constantly at war with himself, and I think that these gestures and movements come out of what's going on inside of him.

Q: If you had to be stuck with only one of the characters from the show in a zombie apocalypse who would it be and why?

A: Daryl Dixon. I think Shane kind of figures that out this season as well. I think he's an enormously valuable member of the group. He can do things and he's down to do things that a lot of the other members aren't.

Q: Do you personally feel like you're better prepared for a zombie attack now?

A: Yeah I do, because I think there's definitely some things I know now that I didn't know then. But I gotta tell you, when you really let your mind go there and you think about the ins and outs of what would go down, I think we'd really all be screwed.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Although it got trashed by the critics (scoring a 23% at Rotten Tomatoes) audiences who came out to see this past summer’s fantasy adventure Conan The Barbarian seemed to enjoy the film, giving it a “B minus” CinemaScore. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough audiences showing up to see the film to hit any higher than fourth place at the box office its opening weekend.

This weekend at New York Comic Con, the film’s three stars Jason Momoa, Rose McGowan and Stephen Lang appeared at a panel to discuss the film. Invariably, the subject of the film’s poor box office and the chance of a sequel came was brought up. Momoa, who had stated when he was doing promotion for the film that he had written a story for a possible sequel, stated that there was little possibility that a sequel would happen.

I haven’t heard a word from anyone and it’s kind of sad because I feel a little cheated myself because we really busted our asses to make it amazing for the fans. I was a fan and I think we really hit it but to tell you the truth a lot of people didn’t go see it so I doubt that they’ll make a sequel. I would love it, but there would be less money there and [a sequel] is something that I would want to be bigger and better.

McGowan jumped in to add that a fate of a movie can often be outside the control of its cast and crew, stating that the film’s R rating may have kept some audiences away while the PG-13 rated horror film Fright Night, which opened the same day, further siphoned off potential ticket buyers.

People don’t understand behind the scenes stuff. Lionsgate and Millennium, the people behind [the movie], to an extent did a really good job. But the entire distribution team at Lionsgate just got replaced. Also the second weekend Hurricane Irene happened and two-thirds of the country was shut down so it was just bad luck essentially.

McGowan went on to draw an analogy as to what it was like to make a film she was proud of only to have it fail at the box office. “It’s essentially like giving birth to this really great baby, you hand it to the nurse and it falls out of her hands and flies out the window,” she said.

“They dropped my baby?” questioned Momoa after the laughter in response to McGowan’s statement died down.

“They did!” she replied. “They drop kicked it!”

Lang added that he has participated in a number films that weren’t successful right away but still went on to find their audiences. He also stated that he was disappointed that he wouldn’t get to see more of his castmate Momoa continue to explore the character of Conan in future films.

It’s really easy to do a postmortem on the thing. I think that the R didn’t help the business of the film one bit. Maybe it was necessary for the movie. I see that. I think Rose says it pretty well that the distribution didn’t work out quite it should have. I sure wish this one had done much better than it did. I think it deserved a number of sequels and I would like to see Jason track that character for a long time.

CONAN panel at NYCC 2011

At 10am, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowen and Jason Momoa walked in and since there was no moderator, they would have to wing it themselves.
What's been your favorite role to play and what would be your dream role to play?

Favorite Role: Khalar Zym from the new Conan the Barbarian movie.
DreamRole: Theodore Roosevelt.

Favorite Role: Paige Matthews from the TV show Charmed.
Dream Role: Would like to do a Jazz period piece or play Scarlett O'Hara

Favorite Role: Conan.
Hardest Role to play: Khal Drago
Dream Role: A Braveheart hero set in Hawaii. He would love to do a movie about his people and his native Hawaii.

Then more question were asked. Here are the highlights:

Favorite Comic Books/Characters:

Stephen: Thor, Spiderman, Fantastic Four, Captain America
Rose: She doesn't have a favorite comic book, but wishes she could play one.
Jason: Wild Cats and Spawn.

If they could work with any actor, who would it be?

Stephen: Kate Winslet. He also would have loved to work with Marlon Brando. Actually he said Brando and Jason teased him about it, saying he's dead and good luck with that.
Rose: Russell Crowe or Julianne Moore.
Jason: Daniel Day Lewis or Gary Oldman.

The one character they played they would have over for dinner?

Stephen: Khalar Zym or Stonewall Jackson
Rose: Paige Matthews
Jason: Conan. He also said the one character he's played he would never have over is Drago, because Drago would bend him over the dinner table and do his thing. (If you've seen Game of Thrones, you know what he means). The crowd was in hysterics over that.

The actor they're starstruck over?

Stephen: Gene Hackman. He also has worked with Lucielle Ball and Dustin Hoffman and couldn't stop raving about both, especially Lucielle who he said had beautiful blue eyes.
Rose: She acted with Peter O'Toole and kept in contact with him and his family. He once said to her, let's start a scandal together.
Jason: Rose and Stephen.

What advice would you give to your younger self as they start their journey into acting?

Stephen: He wouldn't say anything because if he did, it would be a butterfly effect and he wouldn't be where he is now if he didn't take the roles offered.
Rose: Get an education first. Very important.
Jason: He would have taken more serious roles, perhaps taken acting classes like at the Actors Studio. Someone from the crowd said he loved him in Baywatch and Jason blushed. He joked how he didn't want to talk about that and Rose said it was a way to pay the bills.

Other interesting tidbits...

There has been many rumors about Rose playing Red Sonja in the remake. She says she would love to but can't because she broke a certain bone and if she does a stunt wrong, she could end up paralyzed and won't take the chance.

He's dying to do a romantic comedy because he thinks he's "funny as fuck" (he was extremely hilarious at the panel, so I say, GIVE THIS MAN A ROMANTIC COMEDY). He's tired of frowning in his movies and he wants to make a movie his children can watch.

Jason won the role of Drago by doing the Haka, a sacred native Hawaiian dance that's usually reserved for weddings and funerals. Someone asked him to do it but he said it's too sacred to do for fun. Jason had to learn the Dothraki language by listening to a CD that sounded like a cross between German and Arabic. He did not have a fun time learning Dothraki.

A man stood up and said his girlfriend, who was sitting next to him, would love him forever if Jason could say "you are my sun and the stars" in Dothraki. Jason did in his Khal Drago voice and everyone in the room swooned.

Jason would love to do more film making. He did write a script for a Conan sequel, but since it didn't do well, the sequel won't get made. Right now he's filming a movie that takes place on a Native America Reservation that he wrote the script for and is directing. Its a drama and a road movie (think Jack Kerouac). From what I gathered, the movie is about a Native America woman who is raped on the reservation by an outsider. Since any crimes on a Native America reservation still must be taken up in federal court, it could take years for the trial to start and the criminal to be brought to justice. Someone close to the rape victim, probably a male character would kill the rapist and would be in the lam, thus the comment about the road movie.

Jason hates horses. He doesn't mind petting them, but he has this vision of riding on one and it falls on him and he dies. Then he couldn't be there for his children. He was, shall we say a bit fearful as Drago at 240lbs riding a horse. So says the King of the Horses.

Loves the fact that Avatar has been remastered and brought back into theaters and doesn't mind if Avatar keeps coming back to the theaters better than before. I've never seen Avatar, but after hearing Stephen speak, I want to see the movie.

All three were very proud of their word in Conan the Barbarian and loved working together. They're all disappointed that they can't do a sequel or there won't be a sequel. Rose thought that even though Conan was a total popcorn movie, Conan had everything to be a success.

They didn't seem too pleased with Comic Con in San Diego. The energy is pretty much the same in NYC. Jason hated San Diego because it was too sunny and bright (ha!) and loves New York. I found this funny because he comes from Hawaii.

Stephen, Rose and Jason were very funny, down to earth and very personal. You could see how much they love their jobs and they were so happy we came to their panel. Whenever anyone would stand and say how much they love their work and them, the three were so grateful.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Walking Dead Panel at NYCC - Saturday

Yesterday, members of the Deadcast and crew (including creator Robert Kirkman) swung by the New York Comic-Con for a capacity-crowd panel. Everyone was pretty mum, spoiler-wise, although Kirkman explicitly stated his wish to get one fan-favorite character from the comic books into the show. (Conspiracy theorists will be sad, or perhaps happy, to hear that there was nary a mention of departed Dead showrunner Frank Darabont.) The panel was moderated by Chris Hardwick, host of the spin-off talk show The Talking Dead. Read on for a full report, and be sure to check back tonight for my full Walking Dead episode recap:

Kirkman and Hurd kicked off the panel by discussing how excited they were to expand the world of The Walking Dead with a 13-episode second seaosn. Hurd applauded Nicotero's work on The Walking Dead Webisodes and announced that the zombie make-up guru just directed an episode for the new season. Kirkman assured fans that Nicotero and his crew have created even more gruesome zombie effects this season. "All the crazy stuff you think you saw in the first season is going to be even better and more exciting this season," Kirkman said. He added that he was excited to explore storylines from the comic in a different way in the second season. The writer nodded to Shane, a character who dies early on in the comic book.

Fans were then treated to an exclusive scene from the new season, featuring the characters hiding out from a herd of hundres of zombies. The crowd gasped as Andrea dispatches a zombie with a screwdriver and a major character suffers a grisly injury. (Who? Watch The Walking Deadthe sneak peek clip yourself to find out.)

–Executive producer Gale Ann Hurd kicked off the event with a piece of information that was like an arrow straight into geek hearts everywhere, describing Kirkman’s expanded involvement in the show’s second season. She explained, “We lured Robert from Kentucky to the wilds of Los Angeles, so he can participate in the writers’ room every day.”

–Kirkman’s involvement in the series is intriguing, since the first season deviated significantly from the original graphic novels. (Spoilers for this season and the Dead comic ahead). Kirkman noted that the early episodes of this season would focus on Herschel’s Farm, a setting from the second volume of the series. “Readers of the book will know that Shane [Jon Bernthal's character] was dead by then, in the comic. His character existing in this world changes those storylines and makes them richer and adds different levels. It’s a lot of fun for me because I wrote these stories a long time ago, and getting to do things in a different way is a lot of fun.”

A persistent topic of conversation was the scale of the production, which this season involved shutting down an entire section of highway in Atlanta. But in between all the special effects, it’s important not to doubt the actors’ commitment to the show. Discussing a zombie attack in tonight’s premiere, Laurie Holden (Andreas) said, “I dislocated four ribs filming that scene.”

–Norman Reedus was the clear audience favorite, earning wild applause every time he spoke up or made any facial guest whatsoever.. He described his character, Darryl Dixon, as a man who needs a hug, “But if you try to hug him, he’ll try to stab you.” When he said this, a loud cry went up throughout the room, as if ten thousand women were all screaming once, “Stab me! Stab me!” (Judging by the general audience reaction at the biggest panels at Comic-Con, Hollywood should cast Norman Reedus and Tom Hiddleston as brothers in an emo-badass action franchise right away.)

Chandler Riggs -- who plays the young Carl Grimes -- was a hit with fans, wearing sunglasses and discussing how he is "the coolest kid in school" for being on the show. He revealed that early on in the show, he would think about his dog who had died to achieve the intense emotions required by the scripts. Now, he can get to a place where he can cry on cue.

Before the panel closed, Hardwick opened up to fan questions, among them which weapon each cast member would prefer in a zombie apocalypse. Crossbows (like the one Daryl uses), bo staffs and razor-tipped boomerangs were mentioned as favorites, but Riggs trumped them all with his choice: "flamethrower with a bayonet on it."