Comic Con 2011: Live Blogging The Prometheus And Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes Panel
This afternoon 20th Century Fox will be making one of the biggest presentations yet in Hall H, giving the world our first look at Ridley Scott's next film Prometheus in addition to new scenes from this summer's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I've been here in Hall H all day typing and I'm not about to quit now-- read below for a liveblog of all the doings at the Fox panel!
3:37 Damon Lindelof, the writer of Prometheus, is also moderating the panel, which seems like a conflict of interest. He thanks everyone for not going to the Game of Thrones panel-- given that I actually see empty seats in here, I imagine this is the less crowded room.
3:39 He describes how he came to work with Ridley Scott on the project, and says the $64,000 question of "Is this an Alien prequel?" was the start of the process. And he's about to show footage!
3:40 Footage! They show a surprising amount of scenes from the film, though they're intercut with Scott talking about the film, so nothing feels cohesive and there's no real sense of plot. The telling quote in Scott's monologue is that Prometheus contains "DNA of the original Alien. That's as far as it goes. Everything else is completely different." But DNA, as we know, is pretty important, and all the visuals of Prometheus-- the design of the spaceship, the people in suits with giant protective glass bubbles around their heads, and team of people terrified in space-- looks a hell of a lot like Alien. That DNA seems to be having a strong, strong impact.
3:43 Charlize Theron comes to the stage. "You seem to be doing naked pushups" Lindelof tells her about the footage. "I know how to sell a movie," Theron responds.
3:45 Theron talks a little about her character, who she describes as "a suit, very cold and frigid." Scott directed her to be standing in corners and looking very suspicious, but apparently in the third act "you strip her from her skin and see what her bones are about." Metaphorically, that is.
3:48 A Google map shows us exactly how far away Ridley Scott is shooting the movie in Iceland-- "this is high-tech shit," Lindelof explains. But as a surprise, Scott is with us via video satellite! He says he feels like Richard Attenborough, talking to us standing in front of what looks like a geyser in Iceland.
3:50 Scott repeats what he said about the "DNA" of the original Alien but drops an interesting tease: "In the last few minutes of the movie you'll actually understand what I"m talking about." That seems to link up with what we've been hearing about the movie being a prequel and leading up to the events of Alien. It still doesn't explain why the movie seems both visually and narratively inspired by Alien, but that's probably a question that won't be answered until we've seen more of the movie.
3:52 Ominously, Scott says "I'll never work without 3D again, even for small dialogue scenes." Add another director to the James Cameron column of the 3D debate.
3:54 Lindelof, ever the voice of the fan, asks Scott about rumors that there are robots in this movie. "That may be true," Scott responds vaguely. No, he really isn't telling us more than that.
3:55 Lindelof asks Scott what might be the most important question of the panel: "Are you a replicant, and if not, why did you put origami shit in my chair?" Scott doesn't give a straight answer, so you might want to send a Blade Runner after him just to get to the bottom of this.
3:56 Noomi Rapace joins Scott standing out there by the Iceland geyser. Talking about the physical difficulties of shooting she says "I just came back from space like two days ago," and claims, not that convincingly, "I look like shit today" thanks to all the bruises and cuts she's gotten while filming.
4:00 Moving on to Andrew Niccol, the director of In Time, the thriller starring Amanda Seyfried and Justin Timberlake. They talk about the concept of the movie for a while, a future in which the unit of currency isn't money, but time. Timberlake's character comes into possession of a whole lot of time and has to go on the run, and winds up taking Seyfried's character hostage to protect himself.
4:05 They show what looks like an extended trailer for the movie, and though it boasts a pretty elaborate sci-fi premise, it looks like a more traditional modern-day gritty thriller. There are little flashes of advanced technology given that this movie is set in the late 21st century, but for the most part it looks pretty simple and stripped-down, which makes it even more of an intriguing sci-fi idea.
4:08 Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried take the stage, and suddenly it's a little awkward, because Lindelof isn't the funniest guy onstage anymore. Lindelof compares the relationship between Timberlake's character, on the run, and Cillian Murphy's investigator to the cat-and-mouse chase between Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive. Timberlake promises "a really great interrogation scene" between the two of them.
4:16 And seemingly in no time, Timberlake and Seyfried are already gone. I admit, I was kind of looking forward to the awkward audience questions that Justin Timberlake was going to get.
4:18 Lindelof walks off the stage and a piece of footage from the "20th Century Fox research library" plays with no introduction, showing a group of African soldiers handing a rifle to an ape with dire consequences. Yes, it's time for Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
4:19 Director Rupert Wyatt takes the stage and explains that telling the story of Planet of the Apes from the point of view of the exploited apes, while filming with actual apes, would have been a little too ironic. Thus the partnership with WETA and Andy Serkis was born.
4:20 When Wyatt actually says "Andy Serkis" the audience applauds-- diligent Lord of the Rings fans here.
4:22 A brief behind-the-scenes clip shows Serkis's performance put side by side with the final animation of Caesar. As always, his work is impressive, and the technology in making the apes still seems to be the studio's major selling point for this movie.
4:23 For the record, no one has mentioned the name of the actual human star of this movie-- James Franco.
4:24 Serkis talking about his choice to play another ape, getting into the character of Caesar. "Performance capture is not a genre. Performance capture is a tool, and it's a tool that enables actors to transport and transform themselves into anything."
4:25 OK, Serkis finally mentions Franco. There's a smattering of applause in the audience.
4:30 They show a full clip from the film, a sequence that's been featured in the trailer, in which Caesar comes to the defense of John Lithgow's Alzheimers-afflicted character by violently attacking a neighbor. 4:35 A second clip depicts what looks like the beginning of the ape revolution, with Caesar busting out of his ape sanctuary and helping the rest of the apes there follow suit. What I haven't really thought about in the run-up to this movie is that the ape stuff is all going to happen without dialogue-- you rely so much on Serkis's facial expressions, and a lot of other animated apes, to depict feelings and thoughts and action and everything else. Even more than the remarkable effects, that lack of dialogue really seems to be setting Apes apart.
4:38 An audience member asks Serkis about returning to work on The Hobbit, and he says they've shot 60 days and have 200 days left to go. Maybe it's just a full day in Hall H talking, but that sounds exhausting.
4:41 Serkis is introducing what he describes as a sizzle reel of the "tumultuous third act" of the movie. Those apes, they rise!
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