Sunday, 16 August 2009

Movie-con: Day 2

The second day at Movie-con II was rather different from the first, although it started the same! Namely, with a visit from Robert Downey Jr, who was back with us to show a making-of doc, then a few scenes from Iron Man 2, which looks both darker and funnier than the first film - and much bigger too.

Next up was a series of trailers from Icon, none of which I'd seen before: Pandorum looks like a dark Alien-like sci-fi horror; Richard Kelly's The Box, with Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, looks like a promising Twilight Zone-like morality play; a choppy and too-detailed trailer of The Road is a little worrying, as it seems to feature some unnecessarily massive effects work; and the Blair Witch-like Paranormal Activity looks like the kind of movie that will give everyone nightmares.

Following this was an extended trailer for 9, the Tim Burton/Timur Bekmambetov animation that looks a bit like an action freak-out version of Wall-E. We also had a second scene from The Twilight Saga: New Moon, this one featuring Robert Pattinson's rock-hard abs in a gratuitous shirt-removal scene that looked like it was set in Italy. Then they had another screening, of Greg Mottola's Adventureland, which I'd already seen, so I went outside in the sunshine for a couple of hours.

After lunch it was time for Kim Newman's Quiz, which was utterly fiendish (the tie-break was listing Steven Spielberg's entire filmography as director). Of 60 questions, I got 29 right. But I came up with 25 of Spielberg's 28 UK-released films. Moving right along, we had a colourful, vivid and utterly bonkers trailer for Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo. And then Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal came on-stage to introduce a 12-minute sequence from The Hurt Locker and hold a lively and entertaining Q&A.

Next up were Paul King and Simon Barnaby on stage to introduce three clips from their new film Bunny & the Bull, which is a British indie that owes a lot to the look of Michel Gondry films. Their Q&A was dry and very funny, but also gave a terrific glimpse into independent filmmaking in the UK. After the announcement of the quiz winners and the awarding of some pretty decent prizes, writer-turned-director Stuart Hazeldine took the stage to talk about his new film Exam, a British horror movie set in one room. He also showed us a 5-minute clip.

And now it was time for Disney's 3D presentation: a behind-the-scenes doc and a few scenes from Robert Zemekis' A Christmas Carol; the Toy Story 3 teaser trailer that we've all seen already; the Alice in Wonderland trailer we've seen before (but not in 3D); a 7-minute sequence from Up; and a pretty fabulous-looking sequence from Tron Legacy, or TR2N as it's written on screen, featuring Jeff Bridges and a ripping light cycle chase.

The final slot was saved for 3D footage from James Cameron's Avatar, which he introduced by a special video message. There were about 4 minutes from the film - two scenes: one of soldiers in a meeting room and then a vividly colourful action scene in a jungle with a blue-skinned and tailed Sigourney Weaver battling a hammerhead dinosaur thing, then a similarly blued Sam Worthington being chased by a vicious rubbery catlike monster. Knowing that they're screening 16 minutes of the film on Friday made this feel a bit disappointing. And ending the day with what was essentially a series of trailers was a let-down after promised new footage from movies like Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland. But overall, Movie-con II was terrific good fun, packed with great surprises and, in just two days, as many Q&As as you'd get at a full film festival.

Evening screenings were popular too - I'd already seen Inglourious Basterds and The Hurt Locker, but I stayed to watch Judd Apatow's terrifically well-written and played but way overlong Funny People, which was introduced by Jonah Hill, who gave a hilarious Q&A before the film. And I definitely hope there's a Movie-con III next summer.

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