Many provocative questions arose at Comic-Con International this year. Why was Spider-Man playing drums in the Lego Rock Band booth? Was that dog-eared copy of "The Vault of Horror" really worth $5,400? And who in the world was that guy clanging through downtown on a sweaty summer evening in a full suit of chain-mail armor?
As interesting as those topics might be, the more important query for Hollywood is this: Which movies (and, to a growing extent, television shows) benefited the most from their visits to the mammoth pop-culture carnival that folded up tents Sunday night, and which ones left San Diego the worse for wear?
Comic-Con unquestionably represents a critical testing ground for mass-appeal movies, particularly those playing to fantasy fiction enthusiasts. "It all started here," Jon Favreau, director of "Iron Man," said of 2006's Comic-Con launch of his first superhero blockbuster while he was previewing footage Saturday for next summer's sequel to an ardent crowd. "Nobody cared before you did."
At Comic Con we got to sit down with Megan Fox to talk about her newest film Jennifers Body which she stars in as a boy eating demon! When a gorgeous cheerleader is possessed by a demon and starts feeding off the boys in a small Minnesota farming town, her "plain Jane" best friend must kill her, then escape from a correctional facility to go after the Satan-worshipping rock band responsible for the horrible transformation.
READ INTERVIEW WITH MEGAN FOX
Writer/director/producer James Cameron was on hand at Comic-Con for the first public showing of footage from his sci-fi epic Avatar, his first full-on feature film since Titanic. He closed his introduction with two questions: "How many of you have ever wanted to go to another planet?" The 6,500-strong crowd in Hall H of San Diego's Convention Center roared. "Are you ready to go to Pandora?" Another, even louder roar.
The cheers were merited. Cameron showed nearly half an hour's worth of scenes from the movie in eye-popping 3-D, including some of the most impressive CGI ever seen on screen. Avatar, which Cameron says was "14 years in the dreaming and four years in the making," opens December 18. Cameron announced that August 21 will be "Avatar Day," when IMAX and 3-D digital theaters will be showing 15 minutes of it for free.
You've never heard a room erupt until you've heard Hall H show Johnny Depp some love. As part of Disney's 3D panel, moderated by comedian andRatatouille star Patton Oswalt, Comic-Con rookie Tim Burton -- "I haven't been here since I was a student, when it was a few people and a slide show" -- showed the trailer for Alice in Wonderland. But Burton didn't bring anything else to show off. Except for his star. Depp walked on the stage, waved to the crowd, hugged Burton, and then walked off the stage. Three minutes of Depp, tops. And then we saw the trailer for the third time, because Oswalt liked it so much. Um, okay.
Filming for "Iron Man 2" finished just last week but thousands of fans got their first sneak peek at the star-studded new cast members this weekend at the Comic-Con convention.
Ten months before "Iron Man 2" hits movie theaters in May 2010, fans saw Robert Downey Jr.'s industrialist-turned-playboy superhero Tony Stark working alone and considering another request to join forces with Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson.
Director: Hoyt Yeatman
Stars: Will Arnett, Penélope Cruz, Zach Galifianakis
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
The Plot: A specially trained squad of guinea pigs is dispatched to stop a diabolical billionaire from taking over the world
THE UGLY TRUTH
Director: Robert Luketic
Stars: Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler
Studio: Columbia Pictures
The Plot: A macho morning TV show correspondent (Butler) makes a bet with his love-challenged producer (Heigl): If his tips on how to land and keep a guy don't work, he'll quit the business. But while he coaches her through a fledgling romance, can he avoid falling for her, and vice versa?
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Stars: Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Isabelle Fuhrman
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
The Plot: After their unborn baby dies, Kate and John Coleman (Farmiga and Sarsgaard) decide to adopt a child as a hopeful way to bring some joy and normalcy into their lives. Esther (Fuhrman), a 9-year-old orphan, captivates the couple, and comes home to live with them, though a strange sequence of events follows Esther's arrival, who's angelic façade might mask sinister intentions.
THE ANSWER MAN
Director: John Hindman
Stars: Jeff Daniels, Lauren Graham, Lou Taylor Pucci
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
The Plot: A reclusive author of a well-known spiritual guidance book falls for a sensible chiropractor and learns some important life lessons as he begins to face the public and his past.
Director: Jonas Pate
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Mark Webber, Keke Palmer
Studio: Roadside Attractions
The Plot: A tragedy sends LA's top celebrity shrink (Spacey) into a personal and professional funk. Gradually, his experiences with a pro-bono client might serve as his best prescription for happiness, as he begins to reconnect with those around him.
IN THE LOOP
Director: Armando Iannucci
Stars: Tom Hollander, Peter Capaldi, James Gandolfini
Studio: IFC Films
The Plot: A comedy centered on an English government representative (Hollander) who accidently back the idea of a U.S.-led war in the Middle East, and the subsequent fallout on both sides of the Atlantic.
Just when anticipation for November's release of "New Moon" didn't seem like it could get any higher, the new footage presented by the stars of the film at Comic-Con sent the crowded room of Twilighters into a whole new level of vampire frenzy.
As soon as the "Twilight" portion of Summit Entertainment's panel began, fans started screaming and it didn't stop once director Chris Weitz was joined onstage by Ashley Greene, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson.
The room of mostly female fans erupted into deafening screams when Lautner and Pattinson entered, with dozens of them yelling, "I love you, Rob!" or "I love you, Taylor!"
With help from its greatest fan Martin Scorsese, Powell and Pressburger's 1948 masterpiece 'The Red Shoes' is returning to the screen in its full Technicolor glory. But what does a restoration project on this scale really involve, asks Ian Christie
When he saw the great Old Master painting collection bought from the Duc d'Orléans that reached England in 1799, the critic William Hazlitt rhapsodised: “A mist passed away from my sight. A new heaven and a new earth stood before me.” Can we still feel this sense of revelation in the face of cinema's classic images restored to their original glory?
This year's Cannes Film Festival saw a red-carpet premiere of Powell and Pressburger's The Red Shoes, expensively restored by UCLA Archive with funding raised by Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation.
"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" is in certain ways one of the best of the Harry Potter series, and in other ways a comedown. I received mail from readers noticing that my positive review seemed less enthusiastic that many other critics--and so it was, contrasted to eight important writers who rated it 90 or above on Metacritic. I suppose my three stars seemed a little reluctant.
Not really. I admired the film, I thought the sequence involving the underground cave was masterful, and I am anticipating "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I" in 2010 and "Part II" in 2011. But didn't it seem to you this sixth film was not as light, magical and fun as the earlier ones? In fantasy the term "sense of wonder" is often used. Remember how much wonder we felt in 2001, when "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" was released. Delivery owls! Quidditch! Kings' Cross Platform 9-3/4!"
Harry's universe has grown familiar. Of course it has. There are some owls perched about in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," but the Quidditch match is really unnecessary except that it is expected. GCI has become so commonplace it's almost pro-forma.
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