Panel Report: Sherlock Holmes, Jonah Hex, Wild Things, Book Of Eli and more...
Posted on Friday July 24, 2009, 18:30 by Nick de Semlyen in Comic-Con Diaries
Day 2 of Comic-Con and time for Warner Bros to unveil their wares in the cavernous Hall H. First up was Spike Jonze’s much talked-about Where The Wild Thing Are. In a short video, Maurice Sendak and Spike Jonze talk about turning the classic children’s book into a movie. “There will be controversy about this,” promises Sendak. “It feels dangerous, in a great way.” He extolls Jonze’s vision, which retains the edginess of the book while bringing real emotion, and says that various filmmakers approached him over the past 18 years, but only the Being John Malkovich director managed to win him over.
Jonze wasn’t able to make it to the Con, but child star Max Records, who plays Max, was on hand to introduce three extended clips. In the first, Max gets guided around the monsters’ exotic island by Carol (James Gandolfini). “You’re the kingdom of this world,” says Carol. “Everything you see is yours. Except that hole – that’s Iris’. But everything else is yours. Except for that rock – that’s not yours. And that stick.” He adds, “I want you to be king forever, Max.” “Definitely.” Then they’re suddenly in a vast desert vista. “This part of your kingdom’s not so good,” says Carol. “One day this whole island is going to be dust, and I don’t even know what comes after dust.” Max tells Carol that the sun is going to die; then they turn around to see a giant dog shuffling past on top of a dune. “Don’t feed it,” warns Carol. “It’ll just follow you around.” Coming at the end of a philosophical conversation, it’s a surreal and hilarious beat that hints as to the abstract tone of Jonze’s movie.
The next clip saw the Wild Things piling on top of Max back in the woods, with the boy having his first conversation with the gentle KW (Lauren Ambrose). “Did you eat your family?” she asks. “No, I just bit one of them, that’s all,” Max replies. “Biters aren’t so bad. Eaters are the ones I just can’t stand.” Then the monsters and their new king go to sleep, all huddled up in a big heap, in dreamy daylight. In the final clip, the creatures work together to build a fortress at Max’s behest, knocking down towering trees, jumping up and down to loosen rocks and — in a final, lovely touch — planting dozens of tiny orange flowers on top of the fortress’ roof. It’s cartoonish, bizarre and dazzling – and the Wild Things look amazing, their eyes full of emotion and their furry bodies looking extremely cuddly. We can’t wait to see this.
Next up was a rather rowdy and very fun Book Of Eli panel.We got a first look at the movie’s teaser trailer, with Denzel Washington dispensing post-apocalyptic badassery, beating up a bar’s worth of scuzzy malingers and kicking in a door rather dramatically. Directors Albert and Allen Hughes introduced the movie’s stars, Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman and Mila Kunis, with Oldman getting the loudest cheers from the 6,000 geeks in the room — “Gary, you rule!” shouted one bloke near the front, making the erstwhile Jim Gordon blush a little. “Eli is on a mission and he has a singular focus,” says Albert Hughes of the film’s plot, “and Gary wants what he has.” It’s Oldman’s first Comic-Con – “I’ve been trying to get here for 10 years,” he laughs — and he’s stoked about his latest villain. “My character, Carnegie, wants this book rather badly. With it, he can guide, control and manipulate.” “It’s a comic book,” quips Washington, before saying, “About three days in, I realised I was playing the wrong part!” The audience Q&A kept the madness coming, with a man who looked like he’d jumped out of the Sabotage music video giving Kunis his hotel room number — “See you in a hour,” she replied — then another question prompting Oldman and Washington to claim they had sex with each other regularly on set. The panel finished with Oldman claiming that Batman 3 will shoot next year – “You didn’t hear it from me,” he whispered.
The screams continued as we got our first glimpse of Platinum Dunes’ reboot of A Nightmare On Elm Street. The trailer started with a young Freddie Krueger being chased by a mob of adults – who have presumably just found out about his kiddie-fiddling – into an abandoned building. As they set fire to the building, Krueger is engulfed in flames; screaming, he rips open his jacket to reveal the iconic green-and-red stripey sweater. Then it’s business as usual, with a bunch of pretty teens being terrorised by the fedora’d madman. There are shots of his claw-hand being scraped unpleasantly against metal, kicking off sparks, a girl being yanked off her bed onto the ceiling and some close-ups of Jackie Earl Haley in his gruey make-up. Horror-remake factory Platinum Dunes has a somewhat dodgy history when it comes to their output, but this looks like it could be actual fun. “Freddie’s one of the world’s most iconic characters, and to get to play him right after playing Rorschach is amazing,” says Haley, who in response to a particularly geeky audience question about who would win in a fight between Rorschach and Freddie came down on the side of the preternatural paedo.
Richard Kelly then hit the stage with Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, the stars of his forthcoming thriller, The Box, in which a married couple are given a box and told that if they press the red button on its top, two things will happen: someone they don’t know will die and they will receive a million dollars in cash. They rolled footage that showed us some stuff from the film we haven’t seen before – Frank Langella’s creepy digital make-up (a big chunk of his face is missing, Two-Face-style) and James Marsden encountering some trippy liquid portals that look like they’re straight out of Donnie Darko. Diaz got most of the attention from the audience – one man asked for her hand in marriage, then the Sabotage guy from earlier came to the mic with some fake jizz attached to his ear, Something About Mary style. Finally, Kelly revealed that he’d brought the actual box along and got an audience member up to push the button. If there are any fatalities at Comic-Con later today, we’ll know who’s responsible.
Josh Brolin is one of our favourite actors around, and we can’t wait to see what he does with the lead role of supernatural Western Jonah Hex, an adaptation of the batshit-crazy comic book about a hideously scarred gunslinger. Judging by the extended teaser that’s showcased, it’s going to be badass. There’s a raunchy sex scene with Megan Fox’s “twisted love interest”, a horse with twin machine-guns mounted on its flanks, an exploding locomotive, a bit where a raven comes out of Hex’s mouth, John Malkovich with a fright wig and an ice-cool scene (which Empire witnessed on-set with our own eyes a few months back) where the hero flings a tomahawk into a baddie’s forehead, then quips, “I cut my face shaving – what happened to you?” Brolin, Megan Fox and Michael Fassbender joined director Jimmy Hayward on stage to take questions – and, in the case of Brolin, provoke calls of “Hey, you guys!” In customary Hall H fashion, things quickly got sleazy and weird, with various men proceeding to propisition Fox. One guy with a shoulder-mounted camera asks Fox to star in a sex tape with him, Sabotage man asks if she could pretend to be attracted to him, and a third wonders if she likes “contact sports”. She looked uncomfortable, but handled it gracefully. Brolin, on the other hand, seemed to relish the weirder questions, going as far as to invite one fan onto his private jet later in the day.
The biggest cheers of the morning were saved for Robert Downey Jr, who slinked on stage just as Megan Fox left it. “This is so fun – I love you guys so much,” he grinned at the screaming hordes. He then rapped on the merits of his forthcoming Sherlock Holmes, a monologue punctuated by shrieks, before signalling for the unspooling of an extended trailer. Guy Ritchie’s vision for the rebooting of Holmes is going to take some getting used to for those used to the deerstalker and pipe – it looks like we’ll get a series of punch-ups complete with 300-style slo-mo, plus a harbour-set climax with an out-of-control CGI anchor — but it got a feverish response from this crowd, so the kids are going to love it. Joel Silver, Rachel McAdams and Downey Jr.’s producer-wife Susan came out to join the star for a quick panel. “We worked our asses off,” says Downey. “We worked really hard, which is why we’re so proud.” “Robert is so ripped in this film,” giggles McAdams. Downey deadpans, “I don’t want to scare anyone, but I could windmill through the lot of you right now.” His one weakness? Girls. “Whenever we were doing a fight scene, Guy would say, ‘Why don’t you kick him in the nuts? We haven’t done that for about ten days…’”