A few days ago I detailed the fan reaction and panel interviews for a couple of little movies called Kick-Ass, Eclipse and Inception at last weekend's Wondercon comic convention in San Francisco. Read on for a recap of Resident Evil: Afterlife, The Losers, The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. (Plus, check out photos from the convention.)
Resident Evil: Afterlife
"I promise you, this movie is going to be sick! Sick, sick, sick!" Milla Jovovich assured the audience from her seat at the panel next to a radiant Ali Larter. Both reprise their roles as Alice and Claire Redfield, respectively, and were joined by director Paul W.S. Anderson (who happens to be Milla's husband, btw).
Everyone, make a note: this is the movie since Avatar to use James Cameron's groundbreaking 3D camera technology, and we all know how great that looked. Picture that technology used not to enhance big blue people or a strange planet's flora and fauna, but these two women kicking ass, flying at zombies with swords drawn, backflipping as bombs go off behind them, and falling thousands of feet a second off a building. Yeah, that's right--awesome. The trailer is in 2D, but you get the idea. It was one of the most exciting previews I saw at Wondercon. Anderson had this to say about the 3D: "Cameron's technology reinvented cinema. I wanted to film it actually in 3D, not run it through post-production. Movies filmed in 3D look so much better." Thank god. He also revealed he'll be using the same technology to film his Three Musketeers movie.
Jovovich, on reprising her role: "It's such an honor. It doesn't happen that often with women, especially coming back for a fourth time. It's amazing. I have lots of zombie nightmares now, I'm constantly being chased by those crazy people, they've been in my life so long now."
Joked Larter: "One of the hazards is when they zombies get a little too into it!" She went on to discuss her character and training. "We're the ones who protect the boys! We tried to do most of the stunts ourselves, it's part of the fun of making movies like this. A gun I used, a type of Italian baretta, was the first time it ever had been used in an American movie. I'm just thrilled to be back, and it's all due to you guys [gestures to the audience]. Thank you so much."
Another shoot-'em-up based on a comic book (Vertigo), The Losers has an ensemble cast playing a group of black ops CIA agents trying to find out who has put out a hit on them. The long trailer shown sort of reminded me of Watchmen without the serious sci-fi element, but with a lot of action, explosions and intrigue. Maybe because it stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who appears in a steamy fight/sex scene with Zoe Saldana at the start of the trailer. "The fight was a turn-on...for the characters," Dean Morgan winked at the audience.
Saldana described her character, Aisha: "She's like a little lethal weapon. She has secrets. You don't know if she's helping or betraying the group. Jeffrey wears a suit; I don't wear much [audience catcalls]. And then, there are guns."
Dean Morgan: "I still have bruises from her. She did all her own stunts."
Hiding behind a baseball cap was Chris Evans, who stars as the group's techie: "He was a fun guy to play. And then, there are guns." The audience was told they couldn't ask any Captain America questions, which got profoundly booed.
Saldana was the only woman of the group, but it didn't faze her. "I feel very comfortable around men [more catcalls]. We had chemistry acting--and drinking!" she laughed. "There's a resiliance I have, or maybe I just like pain. I like to challenge myself, like this one scene, I'm carrying a bazooka 50 feet in the air--and I'm afraid of heights."
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Okay, I was a complete skeptic about this movie. I didn't know much about it going in, but figured it would be some cheeseball Disney movie with relatively lame special effects, put out for the kiddies.
I was wrong.
A few minutes of the young sorcerer Dave were shown, where he learns his powers, and I admit, I was hooked. It looks wayyy better than I expected. What we saw was this: 10-year-old Dave accidentally finds himself in an old antiquities shop, where this creepy guy with long hair (Nic Cage as the sorcerer Balthazar) emerges and shows him a ring that looks like a dragon. It comes to life when the boy puts it on, revealing he is Balthazar's long-awaited apprentice. He shows the stunned kid the basics, and leaves him for a minute warning, "Don't touch anything." Nobody ever heeds that warning, and the boy knocks over a wooden thing out of which crawl thousands of beetles that turn (Mummy-like) into the evil Horvath (Alfred Molina). Balthazar comes back, the two get in a fight, and disappear as Balthazar promises the boy he'll find him. The acting's fun, the story grabs you, and the effects aren't bad.
"Obviously, we're not doing a cartoon for two hours of a mop," joked director Jon Turteltaub.
Cage was suffering from a bout of laryngitis and sounded a bit like Froggy. "All my characters have a glint of madness," he joked.
A second clip showed Dave (Jay Baruchel), now 20 and a physics nerd at NYU, in the bathroom being accosted by Horvath and his assistant. As the two are about to take Dave out for good, Balthazar reappears and the beat-downs begin. Everyone gets thrown into a mirror, across the room into the concrete walls, bashed into toilet stalls, and pretty much ass-whupped. Both clips got huge applause from the audience, which was probably as surprised as I was.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
This was actually the first feature film presentation of the day, with star Jake Gyllenhaal (I think every girl in the place screamed) and Jerry Bruckheimer. The clips we saw were kind of "meh" -- fans of the video game (and Gyllenhaal) will like it, no doubt, but it is almost totally CG and makes no bones about that.
Jake was clearly beefed up and either spray-tanned or baked by the 120-degree heat during the Morocco shoot. "What's it like getting all tan and...grrrrrrr?" asked one female admirer, to which he promptly turned red. "What's your name?" he asked, smiling. "You're pretty," she answered as the audience erupted.
One clip showed the prince and princess fighting over the mysterious dagger she's been entrusted to watch over. Turns out it can transport whoever holds it back in time, demonstrated by lots of CG swirling golden light special effects. When asked where he would travel in time if he could, he answered, "You know I have issues with time travel. Mmm, I'd go back to my birth." "That's weird," said Bruckheimer as the audience laughed.
For the stunt scenes, Gyllenhaal did learn free-running (that running and leaping off walls technique), starting out with strict gymnastics instruction. "The prince has a wry sense of humor. You have to, when you're fighting people with snakes coming off their arms. He's a strong fighter and likes to jump off things and fight with swords. And he likes princesses."