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There weren’t a lot of Surprises at Comic Con this year. Other than Disney’s announcement of a Guillermo Del Toro-helmed Haunted Mansion and Marvel’s aside about rights to The Punisher being back in the company’s hands, there weren’t a whole lot of breaking news items.
But it doesn’t mean Comic Con ’10 was a wash. There were plenty of films that debuted in Hall H that make for a very promising end of the year and start to 2011. There were some we’d never heard of or seen anything from and others we’ve been waiting to glimpse for a long time. Below is a list of ten movies that upped their excitement factor with presentations at this year’s Con.
10. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
The word on Friday was that some genuine screams were coming from Hall H when Guillermo Del Toro presented Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, a film co-written and produced by himself and directed by newbie Troy Nixey. Co-starring Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes, the story follows a little girl (what’s with Del Toro and little girls in horror films?) who goes to stay with her father and his girlfriend and accidentally unleashes demons from within the chimney who want to take her down to their world. Although the scares were not 100 percent original, they were effective. Del Toro, known for his uncensored language, went as far as to say the film is "as serious as a [expletive] attack of gonorrhea." Those of you who’ve had the inflammatory infection can be the judge of that come January 21.
9. Let Me In
When people heard about this American remake of the acclaimed Swedish film Let the Right One In about a pre-teen vampire and her relationship with a young boy, just about everyone gave it the stink eye. So it’s a huge compliment to director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) that there’s a lot of discussion out in the blogosphere these days about whether Let Me In has what it takes to defy the rash generalization. Conventioneers were impressed by the performances of young stars Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee in the couple of clips as well as veteran Richard Jenkins. Could this be 2010’s it horror film? It certainly comes out at the right time of year on Oct. 1.
James Gunn (Slither) wouldn’t strike anyone as being able to do anything outside of films that involve the undead, but Super looks to change a lot of minds. The Dawn of the Dead remake scribe’s newest film had stars Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler and Nathan Fillion all take a pay cut in order to be a part of this film, which says a lot about a script. The film, which doesn’t have a U.S. distributor at the moment, stars Wilson as a man who puts on a costume to fight injustice after his wife (Tyler) leaves him for a drug dealer. It might be the latest average-guy-decides-to-be-superhero film, but a couple clips had audiences laughing hard. Wilson and Page (who plays his somewhat insane sidekick) are not your typical comedic talents, so this could be a surprise, even if it only gets a small release. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long.
We all marked our calendars for October 15 when the first RED (Retired Extremely Dangerous) trailer hit the web a couple weeks back. Well, the showing was equally impressive at Comic Con for this film based on a DC Comic about the most talented of CIA agents – who are in retirement. Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich all co-star and more cameos await. They showed off a second trailer, which you can watch here at Apple. The film looks great, plus it could be the first comic-based action film to heavily appeal to an older audience.
When I scanned the movie panel list for possible duds, it wasn’t too hard to circle a sci-fi/horror film from the directors of Alien v. Predator: Requiem, but footage of this independently made film with in-house special effects work was called by many who covered the event as somewhere between District 9, Cloverfield and Independence Day. That’s a heck a complimentary description. The Strause brothers’ film is about alien ships that invade Earth and drop giant blue balls of light down that draw in humans (and make them go bye-bye). Much of the film was made inside one of the brothers’ house. Expect a viral marketing campaign to get going soon as this particular invasion begins November 15.
5. The Avengers
Sure, seeing Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and the recently recast The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) was nothing short of awesome. But it doesn’t change what Joss Whedon echoed in his brief speech: how the heck are they going to pull this off? The film is about as ambitious as they come and while they certainly got everyone excited, it equally so raises the question of just how crazy Marvel might actually be. Nevertheless, The Avengers we shall see in May 2012.
4. Green Lantern
Of all the big 2011 superhero films that presented at Comic Con, the one that made me more interested in it than I already was was Green Lantern. Can’t say I know exactly why, but I think it has to do with the fact that I didn’t know all that much about the character and now I can see just how tough putting together a film that takes place on an intergalactic scale must have been for Martin Campbell, cast and crew. The footage at Comic Con definitely didn’t give fans quite what they wanted (the GL suit in action), but I think it’s because Lantern fans have high hopes for their hero, who is very much out of the traditional cannon of superheroes. When trailers for these summer films start to land this winter, Green Lantern might well be first on my wish list.
I’ve loved both of Greg Mottola’s previous films, Superbad and Adventureland, so I’m equally as excited for this next one-word title effort from the minds of British comic actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hott Fuzz). The footage from this story about two geeks traveling America after a trip to Comic Con who come across an Area 51 alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen). The footage indicated that Paul acts and sounds essentially just like Rogen, simply with a big alien head and alien eyes, so the comic interplay should be quite something. Paul lands on March 18.
2. Cowboys & Aliens
Which was cooler? Footage of Daniel Craig shooting down a spaceship in Old West or the announcement that Cowboys & Aliens would be shown in glorious 2-D? Jon Favreau’s upcoming film pleased on all ends. The Iron Man director said that he wanted to keep the look and feel of a classic Western with infused elements of sci-fi/horror along the lines of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. So much nicer than trying to combine both into some kind of crazy action/fantasy film. The footage more or less brought the Hall H crowd to their feet, only problem is that by Comic Con next year, the film will not have been released yet. We’ve got awhile to go.
1. Sucker Punch
A teaser hit the web yesterday (you can look for it here as part of tomorrow’s edition of Trailer Tracker) and between that and Comic Con where it debuted, the buzz has only gotten more intense for this new film from the mind of Zack Snyder. Not only has the Watchmen and 300 director made a film with a cast of badass young ladies, but he’s made an all out action fantasy that can only be seen and not described, though high-octane action video game is the easiest way to do so. The film is about a girl brought into a mental hospital whose only means of escape is via a fantasy world that consists of battling giant Samurai warriors, fire-breathing dragons and mechs with bunnies painted on their faces. Come March 25, we will get to see just how good of a filmmaker Snyder can be.