SDCC 2011: Relativity Media: Haywire and The Raven

It was easily going to be a difficult task to follow a panel that featured Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson in Hall H on Friday, at San Diego Comic Con, but the folks at Relativity Media attempted to do so anyway.  While not quite blowing anyone out of the water, this panel contained exciting previews for a new spy thriller, Haywire, from director Stephen Soderbergh and a horror mystery, The Raven, from director James McTeigue.  The directors and stars were available for each film and at least managed to strike up some interest and present some cool footage from these upcoming features.

First up was Haywire and this was a fittingly apt description provided by Comic Con concerning the film:

Haywire — An electrifying tale of espionage and betrayal. A female covert ops specialist who works in the deadly world of international operatives strikes back after discovering she’s been double-crossed by someone close to her in the agency. Mixed martial arts superstar Gina Carano makes her feature film — and Comic-Con — debut, starring and performing her own high-adrenaline stunts. Also appearing on the panel is director Stephen Soderbergh and co-star Channing Tatum.

The panel began by introducing director Stephen Soderbergh and stars – Gina Carano and Channing Tatum.  It was interesting to see Stephen Soderbergh present at Comic Con, as he and his penchant for making mostly art house films (mixed with the occasional blockbuster – Ocean’s Eleven) would not seem to gel with the atmosphere, yet he was certainly game to be a part of the experience, as were the other members of the cast.  Soderbergh spoke about the film, which was written by Lem Dobbs, who had written a previous Soderbergh film, The Limey.  It is a spy thriller, as the above description suggests, and features a great cast in addition to MMA fighter Gina Carano.  The cast includes Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, and Bill “Game Over Man” Paxton.  Following some brief introductions, we were treated to the trailer for the film, which can be found below:

After the trailer, Soderbergh, Carano, and Tatum talked more about the approach to making the film.  The most notable point was how Soderbergh wanted to treat the fights and action in the film as realistic as possible.  He is no fan of fights that go way overlong, when a real fight would last no more than a few minutes, when it comes to trained fighters.  With that in mind, Gina Carano and Channing Tatum spoke of the careful choreography of the fights that take place in the film; along with how effective the safety pads were (only so much).  Following this discussion, a clip of the film was shown, which featured a brutal fight between Carano and Fassbender’s characters, who engage in a kick ass hotel room fight scene.  After this footage, Soderbergh explained how a particular take, used in the film, is one where Fassbender accidently looked directly at a vase that was to be smashed in his face during the scene.

As far as the film goes, I found the trailer and the clip shown to speak well for the film.  It feels like Soderbergh’s take on a Bourne or Taken-like film, and given that I am constantly impressed in the different approaches that Soderbergh takes as a filmmaker, I am looking forward to its release this upcoming January.

Finally, before moving onto the next film, I must point out one question that was asked during the Q&A.  It has previously been made news that Stephen Soderbergh plans to retire from directing in the very near future.  A question related to this was asked of him, which lead to Soderbergh revealing that this is not exactly the case and apparently it was during a (slightly inebriated) conversation with Matt Damon, which led to him stating this as a possibility.  Soderbergh then humorously compared Damon to a 14-year-old girl, as he was the one who started talking up this possibility to the press.  It made me happy to hear this, as I am always excited when it comes to seeing a new Soderbergh film hit theaters.

Next up is The Raven and Comic Con provided this description for the film:

The Raven — The film is a gritty thriller in which Edgar Allan Poe joins forces with a young Baltimore detective to hunt down a mad serial killer who’s using Poe’s own works as the basis for a string of brutal murders. Raven stars John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe, Luke Evans, and Alice Eve and is directed by James McTeigue.

Given the type of film this is, it felt much more Comic Con appropriate to have a murder mystery starring John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe, which is directed by the man who gave us V for Vendetta, be presented.  Director James McTeigue, along with cast members John Cusack, Alice Eve, and Luke Evans were all present at this panel, which started off by providing an early look at the film.  As the film does not arrive until March 2012, this footage was unfortunately exclusive to Con, but what I can say is that the film looks to be very R-rated and promising in the vein of films like Sleepy Hollow and Se7en to an extent.

After the footage, the panel continued with talk about the development of this screenplay and how it is linked to the mysterious circumstances involving the death of Edgar Allan Poe.  The film takes place during the last week of Poe’s life, so it will be interesting to see how this film plays out in that regard, possibly having some fun with the uncertain facts.  The cast and crew also had the chance to shed some light on the production, which took place in Siberia and thoughts on Poe as an author.  As far as the production goes, Alice Eve made a notable statement by pointing out that her character is a hostage for much of the film and explained how she was buried alive (in the film), which had her being forced to be covered with “clean dirt” for most of the days on that particular set.  Concerning Poe, Cusack had a lot of fun talking up Poe as the godfather of Goth and explaining his process in becoming that character.

Director James McTeigue has previously directed V for Vendetta and Ninja Assassin, both of which featured the presence of the Wachowski Brothers and producer Joel Silver.  This is a bit of a move away from that style of filmmaking, so it will be interesting to see how McTeigue manages to handle this period/mystery/horror feature.  The premise is intriguing enough and I like the cast, so I am anticipating this early spring 2012 release.


Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic 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.

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