Last weekend San Francisco played host to WonderCon 2010 – Northern California’s version of Comic-Con. The three-day event featured celebrity signings, exclusive sneak previews, panel discussions, educational classes, demos, artist meet and greets, and boxes upon boxes of old comics for sale. The highlight of the event is the Saturday evening masquerade – a costume competition.
Chrystie and I attended WonderCon on Saturday, with the most amount of interesting events taking place that day. The doors opened at 10:00 and we got there early thinking we’d get a jump on all the cool swag. Sadly there must have been a thousand people in front of us all herded like cattle into different roped off lines to avoid a stampede when it opened.
The bag of swag we got when we entered was filled with only one thing – the program booklet. Perhaps I missed all the goodies, but the only free stuff I got from the event was an Iron Man 2 poster, some Kick-Ass movie bumper stickers and a shot of energy drink. The Penny Arcade Expo really spoiled me I guess, as I was very disappointed to see every booth gladly taking money, but none giving out so much as a pin. It would seem that video game companies have a much larger advertising budget than sci-fi, comic book, and animation companies. After scouring for goodies, Chrystie and I turned our focus to the sneak-previews, panel discussions, and celebrities.
We attended a screening of Happy Town, a new ABC show airing at the end of April. The show is set in a small town where several unsolved kidnappings have the townsfolk fearing a man they call The Magicman, and a recent brutal murder has the town on edge. The creators said the show is influenced by Twin Peaks and Stephen King novels, and I would say the episode we saw could have been right out of a King book. After the screening they brought out several of the cast members, including M.C. Gainey of Lost, for discussion. The season is set for 8 episodes, and while it didnt quite draw me in, I can see it catching on, however it wont be able to fill the shoes of Lost.
The next previews we saw were for The Prince of Persia movie coming out. They showed us two clips, the first – a major battle scene in which the main character acquires the dagger containing the sands of time, and the second – when he first discovers how the dagger can turn back time. The use of the dagger was a visually impressive scene – the user’s body turns into sand while he watches the events that had just unfolded play out in reverse, then he enters his body at a previous moment. Jerry Bruckheimer, Jake Gyllenhaal, director Mike Newell, and the video game creator Jordan Mechner were on hand to answer questions, which were mostly “Jake, you’re so awesome, can you smile at me so I can die happy?”
Next up were previews of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” – another Disney/Bruckheimer endeavor. On hand were Bruckheimer again, Nicholas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Teresa Palmer and director Jon Turteltaub. The live-action movie is supposedly heavily influenced by Fantasia, and revolves around Cage being a powerful sorcerer and Baruchel being his replacement. The movie didn’t seem like a winner, but they shot themselves in the foot as soon as they chose Cage for the lead.
After that was the Toy Story 3 panel. They brought out John Ratzenberger who talked about being part of the Pixar team from 15 years, and then showed us some scenes from the movie, pretty much only what you see in the preview. Then they picked audience members to do the voices for the characters in a scene. It took people a moment to figure out that the “random” audience members just so happened to be people who voiced the characters in the movie: Kristen Schaal, Jeff Garlin, and a stand in for Timothy Dalton. They read for the scene and then sat down for the panel discussion.
The last panel we saw was for Resident Evil: Afterlife. They showed us some very brief clips from the film, which had no shame at all when it came to showing off its 3-D gimmicks and Matrix-style slow-mo. Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, and writer/director Paul Anderson came out for the discussion where Milla and Ali talked about how they liked playing with big guns and the audience members asked them how it felt to be so awesome.