Instead of doing studio panels this year I was a bit disappointed to find that each studio (or perhaps Con) broke the panels down to focus on 1-2 movies by that studio. That being said, I did enjoy the panel for Fox’s The Day the Earth Stood Still and Max Payne.
I do not think that Keanu Reeves is a phenomenal actor; however, he is a smart actor in the sense that he picks roles that work for his personality and when used by a strong director can give a great performance. That being said he was a blast at the panel because people kept asking him complex questions that poor Keanu had no chance of answering. Jennifer Connelly is a shy actress as well, but still was able to deliver great articulate answers. I don’t know much about the people behind the film, but they have obviously thought out how to remake this film while not pissing off the lovers of the original. I cannot wait to see what the final product is.
I know nothing about Max Payne, and really didn’t enjoy the footage all that much, but I was greatly excited to see Mark Wahlberg in person. You could tell the crowd went nuts just for him, and he did remark that a response like that made him understand why musicians did reunion tours; however, I could have lived without hearing the phrase that the crowds response made him “all warm in the pants” referring to his Marky Mark days.
One of the biggest surprises of the weekend was right after Max Payne. The moderator came out and announced that there was a special guest just arrived – Hugh Jackman with Wolverine footage. Not only was the man completely cool and humble thanking his fans for giving him a career, but the creator of Wolverine was in the audience and he jumped off stage to go shake his hand. On top of that we saw the footage/trailer for Wolverine and it was damn cool but one thing stood out. We get Gambit in this movie!
The Summit Entertainment panel was entertaining but I in no way am looking forward to their slate of upcoming releases. First there is Push, which could be slightly interesting in concept, but from hearing the director speak I don’t think they have their sci-fi mythology figured out. It’s a film about people with psychic abilities who have been manipulated by the government since experiments that began with the Nazi’s in WWII. The footage was not that spectacular and the director Paul McGuigan was not that smart. He talked about how he shot his effects very low-fi as they tried to do everything on location (he meant practical effects yet used a sound term), and was upset that when they blew up fish tanks that he wasn’t allowed to blow them up with the fish in them… Brilliant man I tell you.
They also have Knowing which might be interesting despite my heebie-jeebie factor regarding Nicholas Cage. It’s about a kid that 50 years ago created a numeric cipher that foretold all the major disasters up to a few years in our future…the footage was actually decent and I enjoyed it. But why Nick Cage? Sorry, that’s my personal thing.
Finally, they had the Twilight portion of their panel. I am a fan of the Twilight book series, and I know I’m not in its prime target audience, but like the Harry Potter books I think they work for many age levels…but I was not a fan of Con being invaded by thousands of screaming teen girls who had nothing intelligent to say to the panel. If Catherine Hardwicke and Summit were smart this would have been an opportunity for them to prove that this is an intelligent film and team that transcends teen mania; instead, it was a ton of screaming teenagers talking about how hot the actors and characters are and the cast and director couldn’t form an intelligent sentence to save their lives. The only two people I had respect for on the panel were Rachelle Lefevre and Edi Gathegi who were able to speak in a clam, collected, and intelligent manner about the project and the production. I would cast Rachelle based on seeing her there.
I was saddened by the fact that Hardwicke is the only female director that I've ever seen on a panel at Con and she did nothing to help the credibility of female directors.