San Diego Comic Con, Part 1 – The Panels

Hot Nerd Girl and Geek Outlaw at it again

I promised detailed blogs about Comic Con and by golly, I aim to keep that promise. There’s just one problem. There’s waaaay too much for just one post. I tried. I’ve gone through approx. 1000 pictures (no joke) and narrowed them down to the best of the best and even then I was left with so many that I had to break it up.  So I’m splitting SDCC into 3 (or 4) blogs.  The first of which is the panels.

FRIDAY (Community, Legend of Korra, Firefly):

I’ve been to many conventions but this was my first time at the mothership aka Comic Con and boy, did I learn a lot about what to do/not to do (but that’s a whole ‘nuther post). I thought that because I live in San Diego County I could sleep at home and drive to SDCC each day.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I’m ridiculous.

Parking is a bitch so what you end up having to do is drive to a trolley station and take the trolley the rest of the way. They helpfully provide CC-specific trolleys to make it easy for you. One problem, the first one gets you to the Convention Center just after 7:00am. Waaaay too late if you want to get in line for one of the big panels *cough cough Firefly cough cough*

Daniel to the rescue!

Lucky for me and Geek Outlaw, our mutual fan (and now fave friend) Daniel, had planned to camp out and saved a spot for us in the Ballroom 20 line. I felt guilty about cutting in line for exactly 3 minutes at which point I saw everyone else doing the exact same thing and got over it.

I’m not gonna lie, I was there for Firefly and Firefly alone. But you have to sit on all of the panels before Firefly in order to have a seat for Firefly (they seriously need to figure out a better system) so I ended up sitting through the panels fro Community and Legend of Korra as well.

I wasn’t the only one.

The first panel of the day was Community. I find Community highly entertaining so I was more than happy to sit in on their panel. They did not disappoint. The cast and crew were hilarious and the film clips they put together for Comic Con were chock full of funny shenanigans. Chevy Chase and Donald Glover were noticeably absent. Which is too bad because LeVar Burton was there and they could have had an epic Troy/LeVar moment.

Cast and Crew of Community

The second panel of the day was Legend of Korra (I’d like to know who they had to bang to get the lucky spot between Community and Firefly). This panel was like Chinese water torture for my sister-in-law. She looked like she was either going to explode or throw up. Maybe both. Simultaneously. I had an advantage because I’ve seen a bit of Avatar: The Last Airbender. So I actually enjoyed the panel. It was notable in that I recognized two of the voice actors. Bud (David Faustino) from Married with Children and Janet Varney from The Selling (which I reviewed a while back because it’s directed/produced/starring our mutual friends from SFSU). It was also fun because they recorded the audience doing crowd voice work for a future episode. I’ll admit, it got me intrigued about checking out an episode or two of the cartoon. For those who are Korra fans, they did a preview of an upcoming episode by reading the script live while showing concept sketches of the episode. They also showed off future costume and character designs.

The cast and crew of The Legend of Korra

Hey! It’s the chick from Falling Skies!

Then came the panel we were there for, the 10 year Firefly reunion. It was epic. Truly epic. I felt like I was a part of history. The sheer volume of love being poured forth was incredibly intense. The actors and Joss all cried at some point. Most of the audience cried at some point. My mom cried through 90% of it. It was magical. I took video of parts of it but then I found this full length video and thought you would appreciate it more.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V85olh2aZ34]

Nathan Fillion was so overwhelmed that he totally missed a question that was directed at him and his costars had to answer for him.  They all said that Firefly was the best job they’d ever had. At one point they all blamed Summer Glau for something (which you’ll find hilarious if you’ve watched the extras on the DVD) and the look on her face was priceless. Gina Torres, Jewel StaiteMorena Baccarin, and Ron Glass were missing and their absence was felt deeply by everyone in the room. The most touching moment in an hour chock full of touching moments was when the last question was asked of Joss Whedon –  “what do the fans mean to you?”

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXiS0gV8cic]

It was the most beautiful “thank you” I’ve ever witnessed and I feel truly honored to have been there for it.

Tid bit excited!

SATURDAY (Spotlight on J. Michael Straczynski, Roddenberry Presents):

Saturday was the day I cosplayed as Thor. Which was awesome but awful at the same time. It was my first time cosplaying at a convention and I underestimated the amount of time it would take to get ready. As a result I got to Comic Con about…ohhhhh….5 hours later than I’d intended and missed a bunch of the morning panels I’d wanted to check out. I’m a little jealous that Geek Outlaw got to sit it on the Powerful Women, Simpsons, Futurama, Once Upon a Time, and Peter Cullen panels but meh, what are you gonna do?

(Be sure to check out Geek Outlaw‘s blog if you want to get the dish on those panels I just mentioned!)

No matter, I had something uber awesome to look forward to. I was scheduled to interview Rod Roddenberry after his 3:00pm panel.

As a result I caught the Joe Straczynski panel right beforehand. The best part of that panel? One guy complained that a Joe comic had kept him up on a school night so Joe reached into his wallet and gave the guy a $20 refund.  It was quite hilarious.

The Roddenberry panel was a whole ‘nuther level of awesomesauce but I’m saving all of the Roddenberry stuff for its own post later this week. So stay tuned for that!

SUNDAY (Fringe, Supernatural, Doctor Who):

I was supposed to cosplay on Sunday as well but my experience on Saturday convinced me that it was a terrible idea so I reverted back to an HNG t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. Comfort and timeliness will always, always win out for me. I am nothing if not practical.

Morgan to the rescue!

The one panel that I was determined to see was Doctor Who. I lurv me some Doctor. Again, thanks to the trolley schedule, we were pretty much screwed but miraculously, another HNG/GO fan came to our rescue. Morgan camped out and let us join him in line for Hall H. Seriously. Best. Fans. Ever. I’ve promised myself that I will plan this better and do my own camping out next year.

Immediately upon walking into Hall H we were handed Fringe fedoras a la The Observers  (fun fact, while I was in New York I saw Evita on Broadway starring Michael Cerveris as Peron and he was AH-mazing)

Fringe was the first panel of the day and after mentioning their brushes with cancellation, there was a very lovely moment when at least half the audience held up pictures of white tulips. I’ll admit that I got a little verklempt.

Despite the best efforts of the audience (and some teasing from Joshua Jackson), the Fringe cast and crew revealed no secrets about the upcoming final season.

It was kind of a kick to see the actors smile and laugh. There was one especially funny moment when Anna Torv said she “was coming…” and then paused in her sentence. The audience started laughing.

Then Joshua Jackson got it and started laughing.

Then the rest of the cast got it and started laughing.

Then Anna got it and was completely mortified.

It then became a running joke throughout the rest of the panel. I feel for you Anna, that is totally something that would happen to me. The mood quickly shifted when the cast were asked what their favorite scene was that they were not in. Cue the waterworks! Anna Torv,  Jasika Nicole, and Lance Reddick all teared up when describing memorable and beautiful scenes from the show.

And then shifted back again just as quickly when the best audience questioners ever took the floor. I can’t even remember what their question was, I was too busy laughing at their deadpan Observer impression. Seriously, they never broke character once and the girl in the back right had the most amazingly creepy buggy-eyed thing going on..

It was an all around awesome panel and made me want to run home and catch up on my Fringe episodes on Netflix.

Next up was Supernatural, a show I’ve never had time to get into. Seriously, I wish that I didn’t have to sleep, I would be more than happy to fill 100% of my time watching every awesomely nerdy show there is. I have some friends that are obsessed with this show and have been trying to get me to watch it for years. They were very jealous that I got to see this panel. The running joke here was that “anything is possible” was used to answer at least half of the questions they were asked.

I may not know much about the show but I do know about Mark Sheppard and I was SUPER excited to see him. I’m pretty sure that he’s contractually obligated to only appear in TV shows/movies that are nerd-worthy.

I never really thought that Jared Padalecki was that cute but I must admit, he’s pretty damn good-looking in real life. He and Jensen Ackles win major brownie points for their gag reel antics.

Then came the panel that I was really there for, Doctor Who. Or should I say “Doctor WHOOO???” Seeing these people in real life is kind of a surreal experience. I usually only get star struck by Star Trek actors but I was totally star struck by these guys. I literally sat on the edge on my seat the entire time. And that’s only partly because the girl in front of me was so tall she most likely plays in the WNBA.

First of all, let me just say how incredibly gorgeous Karen Gillan is. Seriously. I didn’t think she could get any prettier than she is on TV but she can! I’ve seen it with my own two eyes! Just stunning.

The moderator of the panel was one of my nerd crushes, Chris Hardwick (not Wil Wheaton as some mistakenly believed) and he was nerding out just as much as the rest of us. He even brought his sonic screwdriver.  There was a bit of good-natured ribbing between him and Matt Smith. Apparently they ran into each other the night before at a party and this happened:

Oops! Chris blamed it on his pointy face.

The best audience question came from a little girl dressed up as a Dalek. She wanted to know what button, screen or object on the TARDIS was their favorite. The cast took this question very seriously and even admitted to stealing a few of their favorites (a pair of binoculars for Karen). Matt’s favorite is the main lever he yanks all the time. The little girl walked away but Matt Smith called her back and asked her if she had a favorite button, screen or object on the TARDIS. She looked at him very pointedly, said “NO” and walked away again. The whole room was laughing so hard I think we all peed ourselves a little.

They were also asked what they find annoying about each other. Matt said that Karen picks her lip, Karen said that Matt shakes his head and they both agreed that Arthur Darvill goes into “dad mode.”

Having seen the Firefly and Doctor Who panels, I can now die a happy nerd.

Stay tuned for more posts about Comic Con 2012 including the Roddenberry interview I mentioned and all of the awesome costumes!

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter reviewed

Let me start off by emphasizing how much I loved the book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. Fun, adventurous, perfectly intertwined with historical fact. It was truly brilliant and inspired.

Now let me emphasize how much I didn’t like this movie. I almost can’t believe the script was written by my beloved SGS.  I’m kind of at a loss to be perfectly honest.  I saw this with someone who has not read the book. He went in with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised that he enjoyed it as much as he did. I went in with high expectations and was sorely disappointed.

Warning: I spoil the shit out of both the book and the movie so stop reading here if you don’t want to know what happens.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34x6m-ahGIo]

They skipped the beginning of the book. The introduction in which the transcriber (Seth Grahame-Smith uses his own name here which is awesome) of Abraham Lincoln’s journals describes how much this project has cost him but why it was all worth it. For me it’s like leaving Daniel out of Interview with the Vampire. It’s just not the same.

The entire first third of the book details Abe’s childhood. His relationship with his parents and his sisters, his unstable upbringing, his mother teaching him to read and write and nurturing his love of learning, his illiterate father keeping him on a tight leash and forcing him to work for him for years, hearing the story of how his grandfather was killed, etc etc.  The movie breezed through all of that in about 5 minutes and left out at least 95% of it.  His dad (Joseph Mawle aka Benjen Stark from Game of Thrones) practically came across as a great dad, which he arguably was not.

The movie had a very strange, ethereal feel to it, like it was filmed through a filter that made everything slightly fuzzy and off kilter. I would like to know if any of the sets were real or if they filmed the entire movie in front of a green screen a la 300 and Sin City. The special effects were kind of weird but kind of beautiful at the same time. I felt like I was watching a video game half the time. Especially during the horse stampede scene.

Hi Ho Silver!

Speaking of the horse stampede scene… Up until this point Abe’s fighting skills are relatively realistic (like they are in the book) but when I watched him flip and ride a horse he’d just been pummeled with I literally laughed out loud. When he started running across the backs of running horses and then fell down a cliff and emerged unscathed I threw my hands in the air. Abe’s a tall, scrawny human, not a Goddamn mutant cyborg.

That’s not to say that every fight scene was completely ridiculous. The party fight scene was spectacularly badass. It was filmed in that same slow-fast-slow-motion you’ve seen before but this time with some epic axe swinging.  The train fight falls somewhere in the middle of the unbelievability scale. It was pretty awesome and definitely demonstrated the power of teamwork.

What? The bridge is on fire? Do you think we should get off the train?

Speaking of the train scene… I felt like I was watching The Little Engine That Could. Seeing the train climb up the burning remnants of the bridge I couldn’t help but chant “I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!” in my head over and over again. This entire sequence was obviously supposed to replace the Jefferson Davis burning house scene in the book.

The guy who plays Abe (Benjamin Walker) happens to be married to Meryl Streep’s daughter in real life.  Wow.  That’s got to be simultaneously awesome and hugely intimidating. No pressure on the acting front there Benji.  Aside from the fact that he has ginormous earlobes (surely those weren’t prosthetics like his nose…right?) he did ok.  Playing someone like Abraham Lincoln has got to be difficult.  He always looked so stoic in his pictures.  How do you interpret that?  I can’t fault him in his attempt. He demonstrated some very impressive axe wielding skills. At 6’3” he has the height. Unfortunately, so do a lot of other men these days. Abe never looked freakishly tall next to, well, anyone.

Dominic Cooper (aka Howard Stark in Captain America) was given the role I was most interested in seeing, that of Henry Sturges.  Well they certainly frakked that up.  Dominic Cooper was fine, charming even, but they felt the need to change his entire history.  Why??  They could easily have kept it the same and inserted the new characters created for the movie.  The story of his vampiric conversion is 10 million times more interesting in the book and could have taken up the exact same amount of time onscreen. Fail. Also, doesn’t he tell Abe straight away that he’s a vampire? In the movie Abe stumbles across Henry feeding on a rapist and gets his panties all twisted in a bunch. Abe’s a smart guy but apparently he never figured out the whole sunglasses thing. Henry wins the award for the fastest vampire transformation ever. It took, what? 60 seconds?

I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out where I’d seen Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson) before. Then it hit me that he is one of the creepy brothers on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia!  That made me really happy.  In the book Lincoln and Speed are roommates. This (literal) closeness results in a unique lifelong friendship that few, if any, other people shared with Abraham. In the movie it seemed like Speed lived somewhere else and Abe lived above the shop alone. That made me really sad. The whole thing with him betraying but not betraying and his fate on the train was so far off from the book that I have no idea what to say about it.

Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie) was a character created for the movie. I wasn’t a fan of many of the new characters but I was fine with Will.  It was a little cheesy how he came back as an adult and was suddenly all BFF with Abe. It’s like they split the Joshua Speed character in two and gave half the part to Will Johnson. The way better half. I’m not really sure why they felt the need to do that (Token from South Park might) but I dig Mackie and I thought he did a good job.

Mary (Mary Elizabeth Winstead from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) finds out the truth? Huh? Again, not in the book. The first time Abe tells her he’s a vampire hunter is during a picnic. She laughs at him and chides him with an “I thought you were an honest man, Abe!” Hahaha, oh Mary, I see what you did there! Years later she finds his not-at-all-hidden journal and reads it. She gets really angry and screams that he lied to her when actually he did tell her the truth way back when. Ugh. Women.  For some strange reason they decided Willie should be an only child despite the fact that Abe and Mary had two other sons. The whole idea of Mary taking action and leading silver-carrying freed slaves to Gettysburg was completely absurd. If you’ve ever read anything about Mary Todd (including the book on which this movie was based) you’d know that she would become completely incapacitated by her grief. She didn’t even attend funerals. Now, that being said, I liked badass Fake Movie Mary way more than Real Historical Mary. Shooting her kid’s toy sword into his killer’s forehead? Yes please!  By the way, how did she even know that the toy sword was involved??

I couldn’t find a picture of Tudyk as Stephen Douglas but I thought this picture was an adequate alternative

Wash! As Stephen A. Douglas! I got so excited when I saw Alan Tudyk that I actually yelped. I couldn’t wait to see more! Then they completely ignored his character. *le sigh* Don’t feel too bad Alan, they didn’t even mention Edgar Allan Poe or William Seward.

Jack Barts’ (Marton Csokas aka Celeborn in Lord of the Rings) role was seriously expanded and he was missing his missing arm. We also acquired a 5000-year-old vampire named Adam (Rufus Sewell) and his sister Vadoma (Victoria’s Secret super model Erin Wasson). If I remember the book correctly, there is never a clear vampire leader. Ugh. There were so many things that frustrated me about the vampires. Vampires disappearing? Vamps can’t kill their own kind?? Why no black eyes? Why do they have them turning into weird alien predator vampires?

They skipped the end of the book. The theatre and John Wilkes Booth and the fate of Abe and the hint of what became of another motivational leader. I know that not everyone likes the last few pages of the book but I do and I missed it. Throwing some random bloke in at end was not satisfying for me. I think you can only truly appreciate this movie for what it is if you haven’t read the book and it shouldn’t be that way. I loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the last six Harry Potter films despite the fact that they made major modifications to the story.  It can be done well.  In this case it wasn’t.

Such a bummer.

1.5 out of 5 Sci-Fives!

one point five out of five sci-fives