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Watch out, San Diego Comic-Con. Your brother WonderCon has a new home, and apparently, some renewed movie and star power.
Moving south this year from San Francisco to Anaheim, WonderCon unspoiled its most impressive movie slate yet, playing host to summer 2012 blockbusters like "The Amazing Spider-Man," "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," "Snow White and the Huntsman," "Battleship" and "Prometheus," plus a host of other comic and genre-friendly fare looking to build buzz among fanboys and girls.
The rain-filled three-day convention attracted its fair share of celebs, too, with Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Emma Stone, Michael Fassbender, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill all presumably making the short drive down from Los Angeles.
"Prometheus." This was the panel of all panels to attend on Saturday. Director Ridley Scott, making his highly anticipated return to sci-fi, was joined by red-hot stars Charlize Theron (also on hand for "Snow White") and Michael Fassbender. Before screening the stunning new trailer, Scott discussed a possible sequel: "If we're lucky, maybe there'll be a second part to all of this." He followed that up, saying, "The film does leave you with some big, ongoing questions."
Scott also discussed why he shot the film entirely in 3-D; his background in filmmaking comes from visuals and he finds using CGI and computer animation helpful to progressing his creative process. "What I learned from this film, the more you animate digitally ... [the more] you can do anything want ... The challenge is "how original you're going to be.""
A crowd member asked Scott if it was difficult to return to a genre he built his life on early in his career. The answer: not at all. "We're damn lucky to be doing the profession that we do," he said. "I am relieved I'm still allowed to do it."
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"The Amazing Spider-Man." Director Marc Webb, producer Matthew Tolmach and star Emma Stone discussed differentiating this reboot from the previous trilogy, saying there will be more of a focus on Peter Parker's family. "I wanted to create a world that felt emotionally and physically grounded," Webb said.
Webb brought a five-minute clip from "Spider-Man," which had some unrendered effects (you can see the wires and green screen), but that didn't affect the crowd's warm response. There have been many naysayers regarding Spidey's reboot, but it's becoming obvious Webb and his team are beyond passionate about this project. This new footage (coming to interwebs soon?) will no doubt swing a lot of doubting heads the other way.
"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." A hilarious video from Tim Burton, a producer on the film, introduced the panel for this genre masher, before Seth Grahame-Smith (author and screenplay co-writer), Timur Bekmambetov (director) and Benjamin Walker (star) took the stage and introduced a meaty action clip.
When talking about Lincoln, Walker said he wanted to play someone who is "strong" and "makes compassionate decisions." Plus, he just wanted to "cut some heads off." Bekmambetov discussed the feature adaptation process, saying they wanted to "keep the tone and fun of book," but also wanted to bring something new and fresh for the book's fans, revealing that there is a central villain that was added for the film version.
"Battleship." Director Peter Berg and stars Brooklyn Decker and Alexander Skarsgård joined the WonderCon game to talk about this unlikely "adaptation."
"Frankly, it doesn't lend itself as the most logical thing to adapt into a film," said Berg, who brought a new trailer and two clips -- the first introducing Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), brother to Skarsgård's Stone, who clearly has his eyes on Decker's character (and why shouldn't he?), and the second giving us a nice juicy look at the movie's alien life forms, which appear to be ape-like E.T.s in full metal jackets.
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"Snow White and the Huntsman." Director Rubert Sanders was joined by stars Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart (who went at it a bit at last year's San Diego Comic-Con) for a look at this dark take on the classic fairytale, unveiling a five-minute clip full of knights shattering to pieces, mythical creatures and dwarfs.
When asked about her stunts, Stewart admitted she hurts herself a lot, and had a fear of riding horses because she shattered her wrists riding as a kid. Theron, meanwhile, won first f-bomb-dropping honors at the convention, when describing her character, Queen Ravenna: "Everyone has an idea of her, and there's something nice about f**king with that idea." When someone in the audience asked her how she played evil so well, Theron brought the house down: "That's because I'm a bitch ... Picasso had his blue period, this is my bitch period."
"Resident Evil: Regeneration." Writer/Director Paul W.S. Anderson took the stage to show a new teaser, which is a lot like the first one we saw back in January. "We wanted to make it the biggest and best 'Resident Evil,'" he exclaimed. "It's an epic movie."
Anderson's partner-in-crime (and life) Milla Jovovich joined soon after, and proved yet again that she loves herself a Con, screaming "MORTAL KOMBAT!!!" into the mic upon her arrival. Someone from the audience brought up the fact that she's the first female action hero to do five films in the same franchise. This note pumped up Jovovich as she talked about her character in the series, and how even though she's a complete badass, she still cannot get used to the world that's been overrun by zombies. A sequence of action-packed clips followed.
"Looper." This panel was another anticipated showcase, mostly because we haven't seen a thing about Rian Johnson's time travel movie. That changed with the presentation of the incredible first trailer, featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a time-leaping assassin contracted to take out an older version of himself (Bruce Willis).
The film is very noir-heavy and Johnson has made Gordon-Levitt almost unrecognizable by giving him a prosthetic nose. Johnson and Gordon-Levitt talked about their relationship (they first worked together on Johnson's first film, "Brick") and it's very clear they have built a solid friendship. Gordon-Levitt had profuse praise for the future legacy of his director, saying "They [moviegoers] will talk about him just as much as they do Chris [Nolan] and Steven [Spielberg]." We hope so.