It has been one week since I experienced the assault on the senses that is San Diego Comic Con International. It was my second time at this amazing event. Entering Comic Con is like stepping from the black and white world of Kansas to the Technicolor world of Oz.
There is color everywhere- Bright banners with the Comic Con logo, brightly colored registration packets with a tote back big enough to make you feel like a lillipution- covered with a bright illustration depicting one of the many TV shows or movies put on display at the convention. There are the costumed attendees in their garish attire passing you by like flipping through the pages of a comic book. There are not just a few attendees but thousands about 130,000 to be exact-about a fifth of the population of San Diego in 1970 when Comic Con was founded. It is a city unto itself now, 44 years later.
Ballroom 20 was my first destination. There are large screens hanging from the ceiling with the Comic Con logo framing each screen and the sight and sound of it bright and loud like a movie theater. The capacity is about 2500. I watched pilots of new TV shows that will be airing in the fall-two sci-fi fantasy thrillers-Constantine and The Flash.
It seemed over before it began and it was time to journey back to where I would stay during the convention for a good night’s rest before the official first day of Comic con.
Following my agenda from the previous year, the next morning, I attended Masters of the Web a panel sponsored by AMC. The most notable member of the panel for me was Manu Bennett star of the Hobbit, and Arrow who actually waxed poetic about making the world a better place. Can we- the band of geeks and nerds take the battle of good and evil from our favorite stories and place it in the real world as we know it and fight for good over evil?
Like the superheroes in KickAss 2 who defeat the evil villains-can we defeat the villains of poverty, violence, injustice and hatred?(My expansion of this thought-not Manu’s)
I took a brief stroll through The EXPO with its explosion of sights and sounds and smells as every fantasy and sci-fi comic book, movie and TV show you could ever imagine are displayed in various forms. A brilliant world that expands the mile long length of the convention center with thousands of displays from a simple table with an artist signing comic books to a huge multi-media creation as big as a city block and a hundred feet tall with screens showing movie clips and large counters filled with actors.
Then it was on to Hall H. Hall H- the hallowed hall where the biggest movies with the biggest stars have their panels and previews and movie clips. SDCC attendees fight for one of the 6500 seats in this sanctuary of the screen. There are even larger screens than the ones in Ballroom 20 and a more sophisticated sound system to give you the true movie theater experience.
The first day there was no line because the featured production house was Dreamworks Animation-not a favorite of Comic Con attendees. I was there for the panel to follow which was The Giver a new movie based on a dystopic novel that was the forerunner of the current craze such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner.
Imagine my surprise as the Dreamworks panel was finishing to see John Malkovich and Benedict Cumberbatch promoting of all things Escape from Madagascar 4 to which they are lending their formidable voices.
That is the beauty of Comic Con-the unexpected gifts! It is like Christmas morning with every panel filled with unexpected surprises! The schedule gives you the name of the Movie Studio and sometimes the movie being promoted but you never really know what movies will be shown and what actors will be there.
The unexpected bonus for me of The Giver was the presence of Jeff Bridges AKA “the dude” as he was referred to by nearly every audience member who queried him (from his role in The Big Lebowski). It was interesting to learn that he was the visionary behind bringing this novel to the big screen. This process took over 20 years because there are some questionable storylines in the tale that were difficult to get past the censors. (Side note: changes were made to these scenes to get the movie made). I was not aware that this book was so controversial that it was banned from schools and libraries. Mr. Bridges believed in this story and persisted and finally his vision is a reality. I enjoyed hearing from the author Lois Lowry who is arguably a forerunner in libertarian thought and the current popularity of the dystopic genre of literature. According to Lois, her books are not designed to tell young people what to think but to challenge them to make their own conclusions.
The next panel was Paramount Pictures which treated us to a preview of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with a little history behind the saga. My takeaway from the panel is that the Turtles- like today’s police force needed to be militarized to survive in today’s world. Apparently, being a Ninja is not enough in 2014. My other takeaway- Megan Fox does not appear as plastic surgery deformed off screen. They must botox her up for filming or something. She is naturally luminous in the real world.
Next up was Hercules himself AKA Dwayne Johnson who surprised the crowd with a stroll through the audience before offering them a chance to be the first to see his new movie at the Gaslamp Regal Theater a few blocks from the convention center at 6 pm that evening. Wow his muscles are definitely not CGed!!!!
OK then there was another mind blowing fan moment for me- Interstellar with Matthew McConaughey and Director Christopher Nolan of The Dark Knight Fame made their first appearance at The Con. Wow- but thank you large security guard who got in Every one of my pics!!! Loved seeing the audience members tease Matthew and Mr. Nolan was soft spoken and articulate in his cool British way-not what you would imagine for such an iconic action film maker.
I meandered over to the Indigo Ballroom at the Bayside Hilton for an Unofficial Look at the Final Middle Earth Film to learn some film facts and get excited about the final installment of The Hobbit-Battle of the Five Armies.
I watched the sunset over beautiful San Diego as I left OZ on the Coaster Commuter train to end day one of SD Comic Con 2014. More in my next blog….