Well, Comic-Con is done for another year. The San Diego Conference Center is currently getting a thorough hosing down, hungover cos-players have done their awkward walks of shame, and film press are returning to their various corners of the world longing, like ourselves, to watch and write about something difficult, European and subtitled.
While some studios skipped the four-day festival entirely, those who were there came out in force, with some of the biggest films of this year and next wowing the crowd, from Neill Blomkamp's "Elysium" to Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." But not everything went down a storm, with a few films disappointing, or at least underwhelming, in Hall H and elsewhere. So what film and studios had a good Comic-Con, and who left San Diego with their tails between their legs? Read on to find out, and you can find links to most of our coverage from the past week below as well. And many thanks to our roving reporters Jeff Otto and Todd Gilchrist for their San Diego coverage; we hope they’re sleeping it off as we speak.
Animation was pretty much a home-run across the board this year at Comic-Con. "Dark Shadows" may have been a bit of a wash-out, but Tim Burton seems to be back on form with "Frankenweenie," which looks like his most complete and emotional film for a while, and went down well with crowds. You can catch up with the special Comic-Con trailer here. Disney's other big animation of the year, video-game pic "Wreck-It Ralph," was just as popular, unveiling an impressive ten minutes of footage that gave the impression that the Mother Mouse might actually outdo Pixar this year (although we'd like to hear reactions from a crowd that wouldn't give a standing ovation to a Zangief cameo before we're completely sold). Focus and Laika's "ParaNorman" perhaps suffered a little from coming a day after "Frankenweenie," but still got a warm reception, and could be a very pleasant little August surprise.
With genre shows increasingly crossing over to the mainstream on TV ("The Walking Dead," "True Blood" and "Game Of Thrones" are pretty much the biggest shows on cable at this point), more and more small screen offerings moved into Hall H, and drew crowds that could rival even the biggest movies. Few revealed anything particularly scene-stealing, but it's enough for fans of these shows (and "The Big Bang Theory," and "Glee," and "Community," the latter of which gave a little hope that the new season might not be a disappointment following the departure of the show's creator Dan Harmon). And few moments all weekend seem to have been more emotional than Joss Whedon's reunion with the "Firefly" cast, even if breathless reports of a revival are misplaced. It's clearer than ever that genre fans can get their kicks on the small screen, although it remains to be seen if any of the shows that debuted pilots at San-Diego, including "Arrow," "Revolution" and "The Following," can amass enough fans to fill Hall H next year.
Since most stuff unspooling in San Diego is based on existing properties, displaying more original sci-fi fare can come across as a breath of fresh air, and Sony certainly landed a win with footage from September's "Looper" and March's "Elysium." The former, Rian Johnson's film, is starting to look like a real cross-over hit, with a series of increasingly confident trailers and
Coming to Comic-Con with a western with no fantastical elements is a fairly ballsy thing to do, but when that movie is directed by Quentin Tarantino, you know you're playing to the home crowd, and
No one hit Hall H harder than Warners, and this year along with frequent genre partners Legendary, they unveiled three major hitters with one little surprise in there too. "Pacific Rim" seemed to be the big crowd-pleaser, as crowd-favorite Guillermo Del Toro unveiling footage
Perhaps more of a victory lap than a major push, Marvel followed Warners with a strutting confidence that comes with having just made one of the most successful films in history, and seemed like they knew exactly what they were doing. "Iron Man 3" footage was, by all accounts,
Screening the complete film on Preview Night in order to get the buzz out early, "Dredd" went down pretty well with the comics crowd for whom it was made, with a faithful take on the character, and plenty of ultra-violent action to go with it. But is the film likely to follow "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" and "Cowboys & Aliens" into the curse of the Comic-Con premiere? Many reviews, including our own, expressed plenty of reservations about the film, and there are few signs of it escaping the geek ghetto, particularly as Lionsgate continue to market it exclusively at them. Selling the film to a wider audience is going to be necessary soon in order to let this stand up against other competition like "Gangster Squad" and "Looper" around the same time.
Disney had great success with its animation fare (see above), but impressions of the live-action was more mixed. You've likely seen
Sadly overshadowed by the death of Sylvester Stallone's son the day after, Sly got one of the biggest audience reactions of the weekend, appearing with Arnie, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews and Randy Couture. Schwarzenegger's appearance was a major crowd-pleaser, but it's a shame that the film seems to be such an afterthought, with a clip displaying in-jokey dialogue between Arnie, Sly and Bruce Willis. We suppose that there's an audience who'll see this regardless, but again, we wish they were pushing outside the base a little more. Still, the vintage poster was nice.
Sony might have been flying the flag for original sci-fi with "Looper" and "Elysium," but they were also pushing one of the more unoriginal films on display with their "Total Recall" remake. Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Bryan Cranston were all winning in their appearance, and our man on the ground didn't hate what was seen, but like many others, didn't think that the clips provided an overwhelming reason for its existence either; most viewers seemed to find that the film was close to the original, but stripped of the Verhoeven-ian touches — i.e. all the fun bits. The latest "Resident Evil" wasn't that much warmer received by the geek press, but at least that film's proven its built-in audience by now: time will tell if "Total Recall" can bring in fans.
While the director and cast didn't bother to show, Sony showed off one of their big summer 2013 hopes, "After Earth." In fairness, it may have been aimed more at building buzz for the extra materials like books that are going to spun off this thing,, but no one seemed particularly wowed by what was seen, as far as we can tell, and given that the film comes from director M. Night Shyamalan, who's steadily alienated fans and critics after "Lady In The Water," "The Happening" and "The Last Airbender," the film could have used more of a push than a half-hearted, dull viral video.
One has to admire the ambition of new distributor Open Road Films in booking out a Hall H slot to showcase their upcoming wares, clearly hoping that a slot before Warners and after "Django Unchained" would help them get the word out about their new offerings. But the first film, "End Of Watch," was a poor fit for the audience, being a cop movie, and few were won-over by the film's found-footage aesthetic. "Silent Hill 3D: Revelation" was on safer ground, but as a six-year-on sequel to a film that not many love, still had an uphill struggle, and the follow-up seems to mostly promise more of the same, with a younger cast. A low-wattage selection of guests — Michael Pena! Someone called Adelaide Clemens! — didn't help much, and we're not entirely sure why the company bothered in the first place.