The final major movie-related panel that took place at WonderCon, in the main ballroom, on Saturday, March 17, 2012, was the presentation of a trio of films from Sony Pictures. This presentation included panels for Resident Evil: Retribution, Looper, and The Amazing Spider-Man. While two of the films listed will certainly spark a level of interest for many, the other film is definitely one to keep their eye on as well. Each panel provided a sneak peak at what is coming; some more extended looks than others, and the panel members involved all had a good time talking about the features they were a part of. There certainly seemed to be something for everyone at this panel. Read on to learn more about each film project and to see some trailers for them.
Official WonderCon panel description:
Sony: Resident Evil: Retribution, Looper, Amazing Spider-Man — In Resident Evil: Retribution, we learn more about Alice’s mysterious past as she continues to hunt those at The Umbrella Corporation responsible for the T-virus outbreak, a chase that takes her from Tokyo to New York, Washington, DC, and Moscow, culminating in a mind-blowing revelation that will force her to rethink everything she once thought to be true. Aided by newfound allies and familiar friends, Alice must fight to survive long enough to escape a hostile world on the brink of oblivion. The countdown has begun. Resident Evil: Retribution stars Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Sienna Guillory, Kevin Durand, Shawn Roberts, and Boris Kodjoe. Appearing in person is Alice herself, Milla Jovovich, who along with writer/director Paul W. S. Anderson will host a preview and discussion of the wildly successful film franchise based on the popular video game series Resident Evil and this highly anticipated fifth installment, Resident Evil: Retribution in state-of-the art 3D.
Looper—Joseph Gordon-Levitt and writer-director Rian Johnson come to WonderCon to give fans a first look at the futuristic action thriller Looper. And when we say, “First look,” we mean it! The panel will premiere the first footage anyone anywhere has seen from this movie. In Looper, time travel will be invented, but it will be illegal and only available on the black market. When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they send their target 30 years into the past, where a “looper”—a hired gun, like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)—is waiting to mop up. Joe is getting rich and life is good… until the day the mob decides to “close the loop,” sending back Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination. The film is written and directed by Rian Johnson and also stars Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, and Jeff Daniels. Ram Bergman and James D. Stern produce.
The Amazing Spider-Man—The Amazing Spider-Man is back on the big screen, shot in 3D for the first time, and will be swinging into your neighborhood on July 3, 2012. Director Marc Webb and star Emma Stone appear live at WonderCon to give you your Spidey fix! For the fans who haven’t seen it, here is your chance to see the eight minutes of footage that the filmmakers recently presented in a 13-city global launch event.
The first film presented was Resident Evil: Retribution. This is the fifth entry in the popular film franchise that started out as a video game adaptation. It once again stars Milla Jovovich in the lead role, as Alice, and brings back writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson, who directed the first film and the previous entry, Afterlife. Retribution picks up right where Afterlife left off, with Alice continuing to deal with the threat of the evil Umbrella Corporation, as she seeks to hunt those responsible for the T-Virus outbreak. The film will apparently go global, as it spans several countries, all over the world. Additionally, the film will also feature the reappearance of several characters from past entries in the series, including the return of Michelle Rodriguez and Oded Fehr.
To speak about the panel first, regardless of my own opinions about this franchise (which I could care less about), the audience reaction was generally high. Milla Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson (currently married) were present and spoke enthusiastically about the film and the series as a whole. Anderson in particular explained how specific rigs were designed for the 3D cameras used to shoot the film, in an effort to bring a more dynamic style to the cinematography, while incorporating the 3D effect. As some may remember, Afterlife was shot using “the latest 3D technology” and Anderson went on to make 2011’s The Three Musketeers in the same manner. For his third time working with this process, Anderson has said he and his crew were well versed in what was involved and is quite pleased with how well the filming went, given the complex equipment involved.
Jovovich was equally willing to share information about her experience with making the film. She talked about how thrilled she was to be part of an action series that features a strong female lead and felt quite aware of how far the character has come and what developments ‘Alice’ has gone through. I may not care much for this series, but the fact that Jovovich and the people involved still have a good time and a certain level of passion for being involved in this franchise is a nice thing to hear.
A couple other highlights of the panel included the mention of the return of Michelle Rodriguez, as both Jovovich and Anderson spoke about Rodriguez’s real life obsession with video games like Call of Duty and how she needed to be dragged away from the game controller, so she could hold an actual gun on set. Another highlight was Anderson’s mention of his Mortal Kombat film (my person favorite video game adaptation) and how he still has an appreciation and love for that movie. And finally, the question came up in regards to what other video game Anderson would love to make, which was answered with the suggestion of Donkey Kong, which could feature Jovovich in an ape outfit. Not a bad idea.
The clip from the film, which audiences were treated with, involved Alice alone in a brightly lit hallway, running away from zombies. Alice was carrying only a handgun and a flail (a chain with a mace on the end) and became forced to take out the zombies after her. What followed was a 5-minute action sequence, which saw Alice doing plenty of fancy fighting tricks involving her weapons and skilled jump/flip abilities. All of it was slick and presented in over-the-top 3D, basically fitting the exact tone that the Resident Evil film series has been achieving since day one. Fans of the series, especially those who loved Afterlife, should be plenty pleased with how things will play out.
Resident Evil: Retribution opens September 14, 2012. Check out the latest trailer below:
The next presentation was for the film Looper. Looper is the new science-fiction film from writer/director Rian Johnson, who previously made the con artist film, The Brothers Bloom, and more notably Brick, a fantastic and stylized neo-noir, set in the realm of a high school. Johnson was pretty tight-lipped about the actual plot of Looper, but the basic premise was made clear enough: An assassin (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works for a mob in the year 2042 and kills people who are sent back in time, from the year 2072. He recognizes one victim (Bruce Willis) as an older version of himself and hesitates, resulting in the escape of his older self. Looper may not have been on the radar of many, before this presentation, but even with the lack of anything more than a glimpse at the trailer, I think many were much more excited.
The audience only got to see a trailer for the film, which will not be released until April, but it certainly gave the impression of a clever science fiction film that benefited from having an intriguing premise, a great look to the film as a whole, and a strong cast, which also features Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo, and Garret Dillahunt. I am not going to go the lengths of saying that this is the Inception of 2012, but I do like to gravitate towards what I think are smart science fiction films that also work as solid action flicks. Plus, given that this is a time travel film, I always love when films develop their various rules associated for the way they handle time travel (it should be noted that Shane Carruth, of Primer fame, was involved as a consultant for the film).
The panel was equally entertaining as well. Director Rian Johnson and star Joseph Gordon-Levitt were present and the two are obviously very good friends at this point. Having worked on Brick together and now together again for Looper, the two were very comfortable addressing each other and the audience with little teases about what is to come, when the film arrives in theaters. Gordon-Levitt was noticeably happy, but humble, to not only be a part of Looper, but also The Dark Knight Rises and Spielberg’s Lincoln, which the audience was more than aware of, as they continued to ask questions regarding how comfortable he was in going from a successful TV series (3rd Rock From the Sun) to smaller, independent features, to big budget blockbusters. Johnson was also quite good at addressing the audience. Given that he has more of a cult audience at this point, it was fun to see his sense of humor do enough to warm the crowd to him and the film (hopefully convincing many to check out his past film, if they had not already seen them), while also keeping the discussion informative. Fun piece of information to have learned – a lot of effort was put into making Gordon-Levitt have the appearance of a young Bruce Willis.
Looper opens on September 28, 2012 and has a webpage anyone can check out, located HERE
I really wish a trailer was available to post (and maybe I’ll do so as an update or as a follow-up, once it becomes available), but for now, here is a trailer for Johnson’s first film – Brick:
The final portion of Sony’s WonderCon presentation was devoted to The Amazing Spider-Man. As everyone is probably aware, the web-head returns to the big screen this July, but with a few changes. The film is being directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) and features a new cast headlined by Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. The film will also feature Welsh actor Rhys Ifans as Dr. Kurt Connors aka The Lizard. The Amazing Spider-Man will serve as a reintroduction to the character, touting the tagline of “The untold story”, as it features storylines previously unseen in the film (and actually seems to be incorporating a lot from the Ultimate Spider-Man comic universe). And lastly, the film has been shot in 3D (the audience was treated to seeing the latest trailer in this format as well).
The panel for this film consisted of Emma Stone, Marc Webb, and producer Matt Tomach, who were all very pleased to be able to present footage from the film. None of the footage was actually new, however, as it was the same 8-minute sizzle reel that played about a month ago, during a global launch for the film. That said, the best thing I can say about what was shown is that it does a better job at truly showing off the tone of the film than I think the trailers have done thus far. I do like the trailers in terms of seeing them portray a large-scale, spectacle film, based around Spider-Man, but what hasn’t been seen so much is how solid the character work looks to be. From the footage shown, there is a real sense of strong chemistry between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy that feels very appropriate, as does the way Peter Parker seems to be acting in general. More footage of the Lizard was also seen here, which looks fine enough, even if it is completely CG, but I am still hoping Ifans will do good enough justice to the Dr. Connors character in human form, as he is a very good actor. Of course, I’m mainly happy that we finally have Parker’s homemade web shooters, as opposed to organic ones, but that’s just the comic geek in me speaking out.
The actual panel was another enjoyable one. People certainly get a complete package when they get to deal with Emma Stone, as she is rather stunning, very personable, and a quick wit when addressing fans. Marc Webb and Matt Tolmach also had some fun in taking the stage, thinking it would be cool to wear their 3D glasses, only to give up on that pretty quickly and addressing it head on. Following the footage, the group was happy to participate in a Q&A, which did not lead to gaining a whole lot of depth about the film, especially as the majority of the questions were fans that simply wanted to ask cute questions for Emma Stone to answer. Still, I think there was enough enthusiasm from the crowd to certainly suggest that people were pretty excited about seeing this new take on Spider-Man.
The Amazing Spider-Man swings into theaters on July 3, 2012. The latest trailer is posted below: