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Comic-Con 2013: Sony & Screen Gems Panel

sony_pictures_logo_288x288Sony Pictures had a big day on Friday at San Diego Comic Con this year, mainly due to the debut of footage from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the panel that went along with it (an article on that can be found HERE).  With that said, there were plenty of other exciting things going on with Sony and Screen Gems at Hall H that day, which included presentations from 3 of their other upcoming films:  Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (something I was personally really excited about), The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (a book series I know next to nothing about…sorry), and the debut of footage from the remake of RoboCop (hopefully not as dull as the Total Recall remake from a year prior).  The following post is all about what exactly went down at this packed presentation, along with some film photos, panel photos, and videos.  Take a look!

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The first presentation was from the upcoming animated sequel to the 2009 hit Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which has become one of my favorite animated films of the last decade.  Here is an official description of the panel below:

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 — You remember Sony Pictures Animation’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs — Flint Lockwood invented a machine that turned water into food, and it worked, but it also unleashed a dangerously delicious tsunami of food weather and Flint was forced to destroy it. Or so he thought…In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, the adventure and fun continue when Flint discovers that his old invention is still working and is now creating new food-animal hybrids — foodimals! Come join stars Anna Faris and Terry Crews along with directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn, to get a taste of this new animated movie from Sony Pictures Animation.

There is a lot of fun to be had when you put up the comedic sensibilities of the guys directing a Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movie on stage with people like Bill Hader, Anna Faris, and especially Terry Crews, who loves to entertain a crowd with his ginormous self and bouncing pectorals.  But even before these people all arrived on stage, the audience was treated to an introduction video of all the main cast getting ready to go to Comic Con.  This was really just an excuse to put several comedic actors into a funny video together, but it set the stage for what would follow.

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Once everyone did arrive on stage, which was not complete until Crews arrived, performing the aforementioned pectoral bouncing, things became more informative in regards to the movie, despite not letting up on the fun atmosphere that was shared by all.  As per usual, everyone began by explaining their role in the film and what was going to set the stage for the sequel.  A main topic of note was that this film will pick up literally 60 seconds after the original ended.  The other important topic was the fact that Terry Crews was present on stage.  For those familiar with the first film, Mr. T was responsible for the voice of the character Earl, the incredibly macho police officer (who loves his son Cal).  Crews is replacing Mr. T in this sequel, but Crews was happy to explain how he and his family love the original and that his own children told him that he better not mess this up, knowing that their father would be replacing this hilarious character from the first film.

Here is a little taste of the original Earl:

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Another big topic discussed was in regards to the main threat of the film: The Foodimals.  With this film picking up some time after the events of the first film, which left off with everyone leaving their island home, after mutated food had taken it over, the only natural thing that could have occurred is the evolution of the food into Foodimals (obviously).  There was a lot of discussion in regards to these creatures and their designs, complete with some slides of the various Foodimals created for the film (pictured at the bottom of this post).  Once this was all done being discussed, the group revealed some clips and an extended trailer, which featured a few scenes from earlier on in the film and a large look at what the group encounters, once arriving back at their Foodimal-infested hometown.  A trailer for the film can be found below.

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 Hits Theaters On September 27th, 2013

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I will do my best to explain the next panel, but just be advised that I am not familiar with the source material (just like Divergent).  I previously saw a panel for this upcoming film adaptation of the popular book series back at Wonder Con, but this panel had a little less time to really dig into what is in store for those who are curious.  Here is the official panel description:

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones — Set in contemporary New York City, a seemingly ordinary teenager, Clary Fray (Lily Collins), discovers she is the descendant of a line of Shadowhunters, a secret cadre of half-angel warriors locked in an ancient battle to protect our world from demons. After the disappearance of her mother (Lena Headey), Clary must join forces with a group of Shadowhunters, who introduce her to a dangerous alternate New York called Downworld, filled with demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and other deadly creatures. Based on the worldwide best-selling book series. Please join best- selling author, Cassandra Clare, along with the film’s director Harald Zwart and stars Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Godfrey Gao, Robert Sheehan and Kevin Zegers for a first look at exciting new footage and discussion of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.

Hopefully that descriptions sets things up better than I can, but the rest of the panel was entertaining enough.  The members listed all came out on stage and explained what their role or character was all about, humoring the various Q&A questions that came from the crowd.  The most notable aspect of all of this was the fact that the author, Cassandra Clare, is apparently a very interactive person online, as she spends plenty of time both writing her books and involving herself on various social media sites to keep up with the fans.  Clare also explained that she was heavily involved in the production of the film, which included sitting in on the casting process, as her approval mattered a lot for the filmmakers involved.  That seems like an interesting tidbit, as I am sure fans will be very happy to know that even where the film may likely diverge from the source material, they can have the comfort of knowing that the series’ author had a say in how everything panned out in the adaptation from book to screen.

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As the panel neared its end, an extended clip from the film was shown, depicting an attack on Lena Headey’s character in the film (I take it that she is the supposed mother of the main character), while lead actress Lily Collins discusses the nature of her new found abilities with Jamie Campbell Bower’s character.  Getting back to that important part: Headey vs. attackers, regardless of how interested I am in checking out this film, Headey was shown to be pretty bad ass, as she dispatched a number of foes with frying pans and refrigerator doors.  I am not sure what age the books skew towards, but the action felt pretty violent and visceral.  Things became even more complicated once Collins’ character arrived back home to find her home wrecked and a dog turning into some kind of crazy beast creature that looked like something out of Resident Evil.  This led to another creative scene where Collins’ character used some innovation to set a trap and quickly hide, before blowing up the creature.  This did not last very long, as the creature was soon back to pulling itself together, only to be followed by Collins’ character to be saved at the last minute by Jamie Campbell Bower, who I can only assume is some kind of demon slayer.

I hope fans of the series know what I am referring to, but for everyone else, it was some decent looking footage that one can only hope is backed up by a cool story and characters, given that popular fantasy novels for teens being adapted into novels are pretty common these days.  Regardless, if it delivers it delivers.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones arrives in theaters on August 21st, 2013.
Check out the latest trailer below:

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The last panel, before Spider-Man took stage was for RoboCop, the upcoming reboot of the classic, ultra-violent, Paul Verhoeven film.  Here is the official panel description:

RoboCop — In RoboCop, the year is 2028 and multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. Overseas, their drones have been used by the military for years — and it’s meant billions for OmniCorp’s bottom line. Now OmniCorp wants to bring their controversial technology to the home front, and they see a golden opportunity to do it. When Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) –  a loving husband, father and good cop doing his best to stem the tide of crime and corruption in Detroit — is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer. OmniCorp envisions a RoboCop in every city and even more billions for their shareholders, but they never counted on one thing: there is still a man inside the machine pursuing justice. Join stars Joel Kinnaman, Abbie Cornish, and Samuel L. Jackson along with director José Padilha for insight into this eagerly awaited movie.

To be upfront about this, I am really skeptical about RoboCop.  I will get to the footage, which showed some promise, but after the presentation of Total Recall a couple years ago and the movie that came out of that, I do not have a lot of faith in these remakes of Verhoeven films.  Something that was lacking in Total Recall was the twisted satirical aspects that made for a lot of dark humor in the film (not to mention the lack of any ambiguity, which is what makes the heart of the premise of Total Recall beat to begin with).  I cannot say that I am completely writing off RoboCop, as I don’t really know if they are eschewing the satirical element that the original film brought, but I also can’t say that I have high hopes either, especially after viewing the panel (not to mention the PG-13 rating that will most likely be given to the film).

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Still, let’s keep this thing going, because I did watch it and will happily eat crow if the movie proves to be good.  The panel began with news footage.  Ok, so that doesn’t sound too exiting, but this footage was being presented by a news personality in the form of Samuel L. Jackson.  We basically got an idea of the world, based on what Jackson’s character was showing, before moving to some on the ground coverage of a group of ED-209s moving through a very downtrodden looking city.  We are given the idea that the ED-209s are patrolling the area and identify threats based on the impression of whether or not people have weapons.  Things soon go all to hell as a group of rebellious soldiers start attacking the ED-209s, leading to a lot of explosive action, that includes people with bombs strapped to them jumping on the ED-209s and is concluded by a small boy holding something that resembles a weapon and one of the ED-209s on the verge of taking him out.  The camera man in this scene, as it cuts back to being news footage, is then forced to turn the camera off, which is the end of this initial footage.

I can say that this footage was more promising than the actual footage showing RoboCop, as it certainly played darker, with less dark humor, than the original film, but it still seem to have the semblance of social commentary at its core, which could bode well for the film overall.  It also helps that a giant hole going from one end of the earth to the other does not seem to be an idea this film is going for (if you don’t get that Total Recall remake reference, don’t worry about it, you are one of many who did not see that film).

Once the footage ended, the panelists took stage, which included the people listed above, as well as one of the best Batmans, Michael Keaton, who I completely forgot was in this movie until he took stage to roaring applause.  Given that we now had both Batman and Nick Fury on stage together, I can’t say that this was not a panel that did not suddenly get better in my eyes, regardless of what would follow.  The group discussed the film, who each person was playing, and how this update would be differing from the original film.  Of the interesting things to have learned about the film, one notable aspect was the fact that in this new version, Alex Murphy will not die, before becoming RoboCop.  He will be badly wounded, which leads to him being saved and having various parts of him amputated and reconfigured to adjust to living the life of a cyborg police officer.

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Getting to the extended trailer shown, the footage left me a bit mixed on what to expect from the film, but at least it sets everything up and shows off some of the action.  We get the idea that the future society that these people are living in, the use of robotics has become more prevalent and Michael Keaton’s character, Raymond Sellars, is interested in taking it further.  We meet Murphy and his family, see him as a nice guy, before watching him get too close to an explosive that goes off inside of his car.  Murphy is taken in to be operated on and we see him emerge as RoboCop.  The new suit is seen in full.  It is black and the helmet is much different than the original iteration.  That said, there appears to be glimpses of multiple suits, so maybe RoboCop will have some Tony Stark-like suit switching going on in the film.  We see some of RoboCop in action, both in training simulators and for reals, as he takes to stopping some crime in a professional manner.  Murphy is also shown to have to deal with the mental stress of his own mind battling against his programming that is trying to cut out his own humanity.  Also, glimpses of Gary Oldman as the doctor that works on Murphy were very welcome, as a little Oldman goes a long way for me.  The footage concludes with Murphy saying to a perp, “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.”

I can say that it was fun to hear that classic line, but at the same time, I can’t shake the feeling that the footage looked pretty generic.  Hopefully the actual movie has deeper ideas than what was suggested in the footage, but with that said, from a visual standpoint, the movie looked pretty awesome.  While I have reservations about the main suit that Murphy is donning throughout (especially the helmet), the look of the ED-209s, the society, and some of the action on display was confident enough to suggest that director Jose Padilha is comfortable enough to be stepping up from his Elite Squad films and into big budget territory.  We’ll see.

 RoboCop opens on February 7, 2014, hopefully a trailer will arrive sometime soon for all to see.

Feel free to check out some of the panel conversion below (thanks go to Clevver Movies for the clip):

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Keep checking in with Why So Blu for Comic Con updates and more!

Panel Photos:

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

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RoboCop

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Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS3.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

3 Responses to “Comic-Con 2013: Sony & Screen Gems Panel”


  1. Sean Ferguson

    Cool Aaron. I was still in line while this was going on so it’s good to catch up on what I missed. I’m still worried about Robocop even though it’s got Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson. I hope they kept the same dark humor the original had.

  2. Brian White

    Loving all this coverage that I missed! Thank you!

  3. Andrew Devlin@Olympus Pen

    Hai Aaron, I love all these screens. Thanks for sharing!!!!