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Comic-Con 2011 Recap: The Winners and Losers of Hall H

Now that another Comic-Con has passed leaving us battered and fatigued, it’s time to look back on the panels that set up shop inside Hall H. The good news is that there was more good to behold this year, though whenever things got tedious, the crowd turned restless and pondered what other awesome panels they were missing. Let’s take a look at the highs and lows of Hall H this year…

The Winners:
Twilight: Breaking Dawn: Part 1While it may not be the traditional fanboy movie, Twi-hards turned out in force, and to say the place was packed is an understatement : When the doors opened to Hall H on Thursday morning, about 5,000 seats were available for over 7,000 fans. This goes without saying, but every clip and every shot of a shirtless Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner was met with shrieks of delirium. With Bill Condon’s direction, this latest Twilight movie looks like the best of the bunch, although that isn’t saying much, is it?
Sony Pictures Panel – Sony was one of the few studios willing to roll the dice inside Hall H with some high-end properties and they came away with strong buzz. You can read the full Sony recap here, but suffice to say, the crowd was buzzing from clips from The Amazing Spiderman, 30 Minutes or Less, Total Recall and, yes, even Ghost Rider 2. The panel proved that if you get a nice mix of solid properties to present, the Hall H crowd will show their appreciation. And the surprise appearance of Andrew Garfield delivering a passionate speech pre-Spiderman panel got the crowd pumped up.

Knights of BadassdomIn retrospect, hosting a panel centered in the world of live-action role players at a convention where people dress up as their favorite heroes and villains was a smart move by IndieVest. A packed Hall H cheered and laughed at the footage shown from this comedy starring Ryan Kwanten, Summer Glau and Peter Dinklage. Check out the trailer which premiered inside Hall H to loud applause.

Snow White and the Huntsman - This panel really could have gone either way, considering no actual footage had been shot yet. With the presence of curious Twilight/Kristen Stewart fans packing the massive room, Universal managed to pull ahead in the Snow White race after Relativity’s Tarsem Singh’s (Immortals, 300) version debuted a single photo of Lily Collins as Snow White. Universal not only presented a Rupert Sanders sizzle reel, but we got a first look at the concept art for the dwarves, Sam Claflin’s Prince, Chris Hemsworth as The Huntsman, Charlize Theron’s Queen and Stewart’s Snow White. And on top of all that, Hall H got to view a short concept trailer featuring stand-in actors that gave us a taste of the grandeur and scope of Sanders’ movie. Time will tell if the buzz created from this Comic-Con weekend will carry over to box office success, but Huntsman certainly made a strong appearance.
HaywireSpeaking of Relativity, their panel was a tale of two sides. On the one side, there was the mind-numbingly tedious Raven panel that included a generic trailer invoking the tone of Seven mixed with Edgar Allen Poe. On the other (winning) side, there was the Haywire panel, featuring director Steven Soderbergh, MMA fighter Gina Carano making her Comic-Con debut and Channing Tatum. The crowd ate up the footage and during Q&A one audience member pretty much voiced the thought of many in the crowd, saying, “It’s nice to finally get a female action hero who you can believe is capable of kicking [butt].” Watch the trailer that premiered Friday in Hall H below.

Immortals If there was an “on-the-fence” category, this movie would fall into the top spot. While the 3D visuals and action sequences look impressive, there is much to be desired as far as the actual story is concerned. Director Tarsem Singh even said, “Most directors start by conceiving a plot and character, I don’t work that way. I start with an image and then proceed to build my movie from there.” That should be a red flag that translates to, “This movie may not have a great story, but we’re gonna wow you to pieces with our camera work and CGI.” Overall though, if you liked 300, you’ll love Immortals. Grab the popcorn and get ready to watch the heads roll November 11th.
DriveEasily the best trailer and quite possibly one of the better clips that appeared on the giant screen inside Hall H. The panel consisted of a melding of Guillermo del Toro’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive. Guy Pearce sat with del Toro while Carey Mulligan and Ron Perlman were seated next to Refn. Since pictures speak a thousand words, there may be no limit to the number of adjectives and adverbs moving pictures can convey. Check out the red-band trailer that had Hall H buzzing, courtesy of IGN.



The Losers:
The Raven As mentioned above, Relativity’s panel was split, response-wise. Instead of rolling out a pre-screening panel for Cowboys & Aliens or bringing the cast for The Change-Up or House at the End of the Street which stars Hunger GamesJennifer Lawrence, they brought out John Cusack, Luke Evans and Alice Eve to promo a movie that 95% of the Hall H crowd has surely forgotten by now. Surely they could have mustered up a few people from the compilation film Movie 43 that stars (deep breath) Emma Stone (who was already there for Spider-Man), Kristen Bell, Chloe Moretz, Elizabeth Banks, Hugh Jackman, Gerard Butler, Josh Duhamel, Anna Faris, Kate Winslet, Leslie Bibb, Jason Sudeikis, Naomi Watts, Kate Bosworth, Uma Thurman…the list is seemingly endless. Oh well, there’s always next year.
Dorothy of Oz The epitome of a “Death Panel.” Summertime Entertainment trotted out Patrick Stewart for his Comic-Con debut, much to the crowd’s delight. They even sang Happy Birthday to the man, led by Megan Hilty who joined him on stage. Missing from the panel though were leads Lea Michele, Hugh Dancy, Kelsey Grammar and Martin Short, who could have livened this panel up considerably. Also missing was the note in the Comic-Con program that mentioned that this was an animated musical, something that caught a lot of people off-guard and had them heading to the exits after the first clip screened. The only bright side to this panel was that it was an hour long (though it felt much longer) and was preceded by the always entertaining Kevin Smith.
20th Century Fox Panel – Overall, the Fox presentation left much to be desired. That’s not to say the presentation didn’t have its moments including first footage from Prometheus, Ridley Scott receiving a huge ovation while appearing via satellite from Iceland and LOST writer Damon Lindelof doing a great job at moderating the panel. But when the panel concluded, all we got was that Prometheus was a dark 3D sci-fi flick shot on a grand scale, Charlize Theron looks great as she closes in on her 36th birthday, Scott will never shoot anything without 3D ever again, Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried were visibly nervous making their Comic-Con debut, and a bunch of clips from Rise of the Planet of the Apes that pounded into our heads how awesome the CGI and Andy Serkis’ acting is. It would have been nice if Fox presented something from The Three Stooges movie (if for no other reason, to hear the fanboys lose their minds with Sofia Vergara on stage). The good news is that their 2012 slate of films looks promising, including action flick Protection and hopefully, fingers crossed, The Wolverine?
Fright Night - If you thought this was a remake that nobody really cared about, Hall H pretty much confirmed it for you. In the dearth of vampire properties that descended upon San Diego, including Twilight and True Blood, Dreamworks’ Fright Night presentation pretty much fell on deaf ears. The 3D isn’t all that impressive and the crowd barely managed to bring their hands together following each clip. Maybe this was just an issue with scheduling, as Fright Night preceded the highly anticipated Sony panel. But even if that were the case, Sony featured Total Recall as one of their presentations, which included Underworld director Len Wiseman and one of the sexiest, badass vampires in movie history, Kate Beckinsale. Not to mention Colin Farrell was on that panel as well. Fright Night hits theaters August 19 and the bargain bin by Christmas.
So there you have it. Did we leave any panels out? Did you make it over to Hall H? Comment below with some of your favorite panels and what you thought could have been better.
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Next Article by Derrick Deane

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