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Report From New York Comic Con

Judging by the scale and attendance of the fourth annual NYCC, this east coast cousin to San Diego's event is becoming a solid contender in its own right. Previews of major movies like Watchmen and Terminator: Salvation? Check. Sneaks of video games like X-Men Origins: Wolverine? Check. Sexy babes decked out for the fanboys? Check.

Saturday’s main event kicked off with a triple knockout of previews: the first 18 minutes of Watchmen, the first 5 minutes of Friday The 13th, and an 8-minute trailer for Terminator: Salvation.

It was clear from the audience’s super-elated response to Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons (who joked about DC Comics turning him down at a comic convention back in the ‘80s) and the sneak peek he showed that fans loved what they saw of Zack Snyder’s adaptation of the most famous graphic novel of all time. The colorful, high energy sequences, particularly the opening assassination of one of the superheroes, befit the story, and a later sequence where the dysfunctional Rorschach defends himself in prison also played well.

I asked him if he thought whether or not comic author Alan Moore would like Watchmen.“The movie versions [of his comics] have not done him justice. He’s made his money but doesn’t want to play ball anymore,” he said. “On the other hand, I think they’re making a really good movie. I’m just sad that Alan’s had a bad experience, and I’m sorry he can’t share in the excitement of this.” I get it, but from the looks of it, hopefully this movie will finally win Moore over.

Friday the 13th
This preview got the audience’s blood flowing as a hooded Jason (an homage to Part II) quickly slew four campers, one via a nasty assault through a bathroom floor. This is a leaner, meaner, faster Jason, killing brutally to a clanging soundtrack prevalent in modern horror movies. Will it revive the franchise? We’ll know this Friday, the 13th!

When producer Brad Fuller and co-stars Jared Padalecki and new “Jason” Derek Mears – introduced as the “nicest, unpsycho, hockey-mask wearing, machete-donning guy” – fielded questions, one fan happily remarked that this was the first Jason installment in a long time where he did not laugh at the kills.

“This is the first time that they’re actually putting a face behind the mask for Jason, which is pretty cool,” Mears told me, saying he felt like he was on an episode of "Entourage." “I’m really blown away by the producers because they’re touting it in every interview they do. It’s really flattering.”

Terminator: Salvation
Director McG clearly knows how to work a crowd. The director asked for the audience’s approval of star Christian Bale, and got it in the form of deafening cheers, and went on to criticize the leak of the infamous audio of star Bale chewing out the film’s DP. He even called Bale on his cell, only to speak with Bale’s wife Sibi, so he made the audience cheer for her husband. She told them, “Thank you, everybody, and I hope you enjoy the movie.”

The 8-minute reel was action-packed with human-versus-robot action, and the famous line “Come with me if you want to live” popped up. Some of the footage had a Road Warrior vibe, and Connor utters a very telling line: “This is not the future my mother told me about.” I suspect the whole time-travel Terminator thing changed that, and I’m intrigued to see how.

The latest film from Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City), who addressed the audience via pretaped video, Knowing revolves around a 50-year-old time capsule unearthed at a school that contains a piece of paper with a numerical code mapping out the great disasters of the last 50 years, plus more to come. Nicolas Cage is the schoolteacher who must deal with this knowledge. Two amazing sequences were shown, one involving an airline disaster with an impressively long, uncut moving shot following Cage into the flaming wreckage, and the other a quite visceral subway crash .

The Hurt Locker
This gritty, realistic looking film from underrated director Kathryn Bigelow (Near Dark, Strange Days), about a bomb disposal unit in Iraq, is tentatively due out in August. After a tense 10-minute clip, star Jeremy Renner stressed that it’s “not an Iraq war movie. Zero politics. It’s not pro-war or anti-war. They’re doing a job that just happens to be in Iraq.” Lucky him, he got to wear a 100-pound suit in 125-degree weather while on set.

Astro Boy
Some concept art and film images were revealed from this animated film, inspired by the famous Japanese manga and anime, including shots of Astro Boy’s arm cannons, rocket boots, and yes, butt cannons, along with a glimpse of floating Metro City and Astro Boy’s greatest nemesis, The Peacekeeper, a good robot gone rogue. The one sequence previewed featured Astro Boy seemingly plummeting to his death, only to learn that he can fly. So far, so good.

Let’s hope the movies live up to the hype. My money’s definitely on Watchmen and Knowing. Yours?

Bryan Reesman is a lifelong comic book fan who eagerly dove into the $1 horror comic bins at NYCC 2009.

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