COMIC-CON: It all ends

Posted by · 5:34 pm · July 24th, 2011

Well, like I said. Another year, another Con.

For a convention I expected to be a bit more laid-back than usual, it sure was anything but. I guess I put that on myself by hustling back to LA for a concert and back down again to wrap things up, but even having covered just a sliver of the event (compared to the thorough coverage from outlets with multiple on-hand correspondents, who do it so well), boy am I glad it’s over.

If you’ve read the coverage then you know my extended thoughts, but here’s a recap nevertheless.

The highlight of the entire weekend was, for me, finally seeing Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive.” The film is an invigorating experience, an artful meditation that takes the most simplistic of narratives and turns it into a thorough character study.

The highlight of the actual convention experience was definitely Francis Ford Coppola, whose inspiring plea on behalf of progressive thinking in the cinema was just a delight. I got to thinking more and more how brave it is for an artist to open himself up like that, to show the gears inside the clock. Films are so much about revealing only the best, most pre-digested completeness of the experience, but for Coppola to put out such an exposing look at his new process was frankly touching.

Steven Spielberg’s first appearance at Comic-Con (with Peter Jackson in tow) was a good bit of buzz-fanning for “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.” (And FYI, I’ve added the audio of the press conference, as promised.) Spielberg was also on hand for the world premiere of Jon Favreau’s “Cowboys & Aliens,” which…

…is a train wreck. Some were embargoed from reviews, others weren’t, but I don’t want to wallow here. I’ll just blame lazy screenwriting from fad writers for a very hollow experience and a film that is painfully about nothing. I won’t get into it any further now, so don’t ask.

Comic-Con tends to serve as a breeding ground for buzz-building and establishing that “gotta see it” attitude. The movies that nailed that for me this year were both featured in the Fox panel: Rupert Wyatt’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and, most especially, Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus.” The latter can’t get here soon enough and I’d say the pump was nicely primed by the studio. (And the sizzle reel from “In Time” has been added to that post.)

And finally, seeing Rick Baker among his people for a reverential focus on his career was a great start to my Con. He even managed to get me a little interested in “Men in Black III,” which is a feat to say the least.

The showroom floor this year was, well, same as it ever was. Lots of things to catch the eye and make me want to deplete the checking account, but I was reserved. It’s an embarrassment of riches in there. But getting a glimpse of game play for the upcoming “Batman: Arkham City” was, by far, the biggest treat. That thing looks BEAUTIFUL.

The biggest take-away from the whole thing was, unfortunately, the bone-headed planning. When you’re turning away thousands at Ballroom 20 for “Game of Thrones” but barely filling Hall H for things that generate much less enthusiastic interest, IT’S TIME TO RETHINK IT. “Supernatural” filled the hall this morning, so take friggin’ note. Move some of this TV stuff over.

Do they do any pre-convention water-testing? Maybe they should. It would help gauge interest in this or that. The “Beavis and Butt-Head” thing, for instance, which was in tiny Room 6A, had a line snaking around the outside of the convention center. Naturally, I missed it. Same with the Legendary Pictures pre-production panel.

I know this is a massive event to plan, but really, the problems are too apparent to just ignore. I really hope someone gets wise and addresses it, because it’s becoming a bit of a joke. And when the thing people are talking about most after Comic-Con is numb-skull planning decisions, you have to admit you have a problem.

Anyway, that wraps it up. I hope you enjoyed the modest coverage, but I’m happy to be back. And before long, all eyes will be on the awards season. It’ll be here sooner than you think.

A handful of parting shots from San Diego:

[Photo: Kristopher Tapley]

→ 17 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

17 responses so far

  • 1 7-24-2011 at 5:54 pm

    The Dude said...

    The minute I heard that the “Cowboys and Aliens” reviews were embargoed (and until opening day, which is something usually reserved for awful horror movies), I had a feeling this was gonna turn out worse than many were hoping. At least your “Drive” experience was a lot better. Great reporting, as always, Kris.

  • 2 7-24-2011 at 6:19 pm

    James said...

    Gotta keep my expectations low for Drive.

    And this disappoints me to hear about Cowboys and Aliens. Sounds like a missed opportunity.

  • 3 7-24-2011 at 6:45 pm

    JJ1 said...

    Wasn’t the Hollywood Reporter very high on Cowboys and Aliens?

    I’m sorry it seems to be a train wreck, though. I had high hopes.

  • 4 7-24-2011 at 6:50 pm

    Maxim said...

    Where was Ron Howard and Brian Grazer in relation to Cowboys & Aliens? I mean, they actually produced the thing. I guess Ron must still be smarting over the Dark Tower situation. Oh well.

    I will see the film though, and will aim for opening weekend. I must see for myself how good it really is.

    And I think I’m more interested in Men in Black 3 then I was in the first sequel. The production history behind it is too fascinating. I must see if they actually manage to make a movie out of it.

  • 5 7-24-2011 at 6:54 pm

    Maxim said...

    Yeah, JJ1 I just checked that Hollywood Reporter review and it comes pretty close to being a rave.

    I guess what’s a mess to some is a source of delight to others. Here I must admit for having a soft spot in my heart for Wild Wild West. The movie is a mess but there are parts of it that I kind of love.

  • 6 7-24-2011 at 7:05 pm

    N8 said...

    I am STOKED for Arkham City. Wake me up on October 18th.

  • 7 7-24-2011 at 7:24 pm

    Andrej said...

    Those Batman comics. Holy crap.

    Great to know there’s plenty stuff to get excited for, though … how awful could Cowboys & Aliens be? It’s cowboys AND aliens, you just can’t miss that shot so badly!

    Maybe it’ll be worth watching ironically or something. I’ll hold on until a few more reviewers weight in.

  • 8 7-24-2011 at 7:32 pm

    Jack Weil said...

    Kris: Great pics- the Detective #27 comic has me thinking.

    Let’s you, me, and a few regular posters go in on the $600,000 one. We’ll break it down and ultimately own like 1/60th of the thing.

    You did get that dealer’s business card, right? : )

    Honestly, that’s pretty incredible some guy has two copies of it in decent condition. I was under the impression there were only a handful of decently graded DET. #27s in the world. Crazy.

  • 9 7-24-2011 at 7:33 pm

    Jack Weil said...

    What are Batfans stoked more for on Oct. 18th:

    Batman Year One DVD or Arkham City?

  • 10 7-24-2011 at 8:22 pm

    Brock Landers said...

    “The minute I heard that the “Cowboys and Aliens” reviews were embargoed (and until opening day, which is something usually reserved for awful horror movies)”

    It is not embargoed until opening day. Reviews are already starting to come in and most of them are quite positive. Variety and THR both gave it raves. Twitter reactions were also positive, with only a few people being truly disappointed.

  • 11 7-24-2011 at 8:46 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Brock: They tried to enforce an embargo. But naturally, it didn’t hold, given that this was a public screening.

    Twitter reactions came from fans probably feeling lucky just to be in the room. Smart move on Universal’s part to start buzz for a film rumored to be in trouble.

  • 12 7-24-2011 at 8:59 pm

    James said...

    This sucks. And I thought Favreau and everyone involved were hitting the right notes and this was gonna be something special this summer. Oh well. Maybe I’ll still enjoy it.

  • 13 7-24-2011 at 11:28 pm

    pascal le duff said...

    DRIVE is so riveting, turning what could have been predictable with a different director and other actors. Here, it’s a delightful tribute to genre cinema, from the 80ies but not only, with great characters. And I believe Ryan Gosling, if nominated, will be for this one. He is amazing as a hero with no name. As for ‘ Cowboys ‘, well how can you take seriously a movie where a bunch of 30 cowboys remain being 30 although they keep getting wiped out…

  • 14 7-25-2011 at 10:03 am

    Kyle said...

    Batman Year One is very good…probably the best DC animated film yet (which isn’t saying alot as most of them are rather ho-hum in my estimation)…but stellar voice cast + extreme
    faithfulness to the source material (one of the top 5 things DC has put out) works for me. It’ll be a day one purchase for me though I’m more excited for Arkham City just to answer your question.

  • 15 7-25-2011 at 10:30 am

    JJ1 said...

    Cowboys and Aliens may be a train wreck. It’s never looked particularly good to me.

    And yet, as mentioned, Variety, Hollywood Reporter, & Emmanel Levy are all somewhat or majorly high on it.

    ?? This one may puzzle me.

  • 16 7-26-2011 at 6:04 pm

    Zac said...

    I wish I could have been there just for the chance of seeing Charlize Theron and Yvonne Strahovski in person.

    Once I heard that reviews for Cowboys and Aliens were embargoed, I figured the word on it wasn’t good and so far, the reviews seem to indicate so.