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Comic-Con 2009 Highlights: Friday

July 24th, 2009 by Matt Sugarman Trailers Guy

Our reporters Matt and Jason reported back with the following highlights from the second full day of Comic-Con 2009.

The Book of Eli
In theaters January 15, 2010
This thriller follows Eli (Denzel Washington) as he makes a cross-country journey to protect a book that contains the secrets to saving the human race after an apocalypse. Co-starring Gary Oldman and Mila Kunis, the film has been characterized as a “post-apocalyptic western” — an interesting concept, but not necessarily the angle filmmakers (and brothers) Albert and Allen Hughes were aiming for.
The film is about survival: How something as simple as a clean water source can easily shift power in a decimated world, and how a human’s scavenger instinct takes over when struggling to make it, just like an animals’. Washington got big laughs when he mentioned “meat sandwiches,” which he didn’t further describe, but you can certainly use your imagination. The trailer looks slick, with plenty of action, hard looks and tough words to go around. This world sounds like a challenging place to survive, but it seems like Eli is up to the task.

A Nightmare on Elm Street
In theaters April 30, 2010
Just like Nightmare films made before this reimagining, Freddy is back to haunt the dreams of teenagers everywhere. This time, however, the razor glove, sweater and cap are donned by Jackie Earl Haley, (last seen as Rorschach in Watchmen). In the panel discussion, the original Freddy Krueger, Robert Englund, mentioned that Haley’s “performance makes Freddy who he is,” with Haley adding that putting on Freddy’s glove for the first time was “pretty freaky.”

Director Samuel Bayer told us that he wanted to create an Elm Street that could almost be believed, much like Christopher Nolan’s imagining of the world of Gotham, where the audience is able to suspend disbelief about superheroes that dress up and fly through the city. This version is a bit less hokey than the previous titles in the franchise, but will still contain a touch of the dark humor fans come to expect from the franchise.

Jonah Hex
In theaters August 6, 2010
Josh Brolin stars as Jonah Hex, a facially scarred, western anti-hero bent on revenge — and he dedicated a lot of himself to the role: It took more than three hours a day to fix his Harvey Dent/Two-Face-like makeup during the 46-day shoot. Playing his female sidekick is the always beautiful Megan Fox, who almost set off a stampede when she and Josh Brolin had an autograph signing at the Comic-Con convention. From all the buzz surrounding the teaser trailer shown at the panel earlier in the day, this film will undoubtedly be one of the big blockbusters next summer.

Sherlock Holmes
In theaters December 25, 2009
Robert Downey, Jr. takes a break from Stark Industries to play the well-known Sherlock Holmes this holiday season. (See an earlier Sherlock trailer here.) At his side will be Jude Law as Watson (unable to attend as he was “off playing Hamlet”) and Rachel McAdams, who plays a well-traveled lady of the night. In the director’s chair, Guy Ritchie (also not in attendance) added his own stamp to the movie, as you can see in the trailer.

Downey, Jr. charmed the crowd with stories from the set (he nicknamed Jude Law “Hotson,” short for “Hot Watson”) and said that, if the stories were right, in 20 years he would continue doing films for franchises he is already associated with, but likely would not be kick-starting any new ones. McAdams told us that she is, in fact, a girlie girl and loved the costuming for the film — with the exception of the corsets, which were made even tighter by the crew, who made her laugh while she dressed so they could pull even tighter.

Producer Joel Silver ended the press conference by sharing his enthusiasm for this take on the Sherlock Holmes franchise. On an unrelated note, Silver mentioned that the rumored He-Man movie, inspired by the classic cartoon was still in very early stages of discussion, and there was nothing concrete to share just yet.

The Box
In theaters October 30, 2009
Cameron Diaz took some time away from her usual comedy/romantic comedy fare for this thriller, which has a simple, effective plot device: a box. A mysterious stranger visits Diaz’s home while her husband (James Marsden, whom you may remember as Cyclops from the X-Men films) is at work, and makes her a very indecent proposal. If she pushes the button in this box, she’ll get $1 million dollars. The catch? Somewhere in the world, someone she doesn’t know will die, with no explanation of why. Oh, and she has 24 hours to decide, or the offer expires.

This film has morality at its core, and the cast had a great time debating the moral dilemmas that their characters face on a very compressed time frame. Marsden’s scientist character looks at the situation clinically, noting that the box is just a wooden box, and pressing the button inside couldn’t possibly kill anyone. Diaz told us that we push a button every day as we live our lives and go outside, eat the food we eat or make decisions that could be seemingly inconsequential. Hitting theaters right before Halloween, this movie looks to be a nice, thrilling break from the numerous slasher/horror films so common that time of year.

District 9
In theaters August 14, 2009
Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, District 9 certainly is not your average science fiction story: Its budget is likely just a little bit more that the craft services budget on a lot of big-name, sci-fi films out there. The film, we find out, was born out of the unfortunate shelving of the Halo film that Peter Jackson and Blomkamp were working on together. When the film was shelved, Jackson still wanted to work with Blomkamp, so the South African director (who has shot ads for Citroen, Adidas and Nike) set off to make this film. It was all kept under the radar, and the first time most folks may have heard or seen of the movie is the thought -provoking ad campaign on bus shelters and billboards across the country.

Set in South Africa, we quickly see the not-so-subtle ties to the cultural and racial issues that have dominated the history of that nation. Non-violent aliens, refugees from their own planet, landed on Earth 30 years ago and are set up in a settlement camp called District 9. Their weapons have awesome power but, because it requires alien DNA, the human race has not been able to make them work. A field agent gets infected with a virus that begins to mutate his DNA, and the manhunt, or, in this case, alien hunt, begins.

The response from everyone who’s seen the film (sadly I did not get into the very intimate screening on Thursday) has been fairly unanimous praise about what Blomkamp and crew have been able to do with such a limited budget. The focus on telling a unique, compelling science fiction story which touches on so many parts of the human condition seems to have worked out quite well.
Jackson also shared a little of what he is working on now:

  • Halo: The rights for the film have reverted back to Microsoft, and the corporation is deciding what it wants to do with the highly valuable franchise.
  • The Lovely Bones: Jackson’s next film debuts December 11, with a trailer set to hit in early August.
  • The Hobbit: The team is a few weeks away from submitting a first draft script to the studio.

Matt Sugarman, Hulu’s Trailer Guy, and Jason Nellis, Hulu’s Jack of All Trades

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