Our Hall H coverage begins with the DreamWorks Animation panel. I’ve stated my issues with DreamWorks Animation films in my reviews of their recent movies, but I’m always open to being surprised, and what they had to show today was encouraging. They started off with Home, which is about a race of aliens, the Boov, who invade Earth, and follows Boov social pariah Oh (Jim Parsons) and his unlikely friend, a human named Tip (Rihanna).
Hit the jump for my Home Comic-Con panel recap.
Craig Ferguson (who voices Gobber in the How to Train Your Dragon franchise) moderated the DreamWorks Animation panel, and it was inspired choice to get him to do it. At times it felt like an impromptu version of his talk show. He opened with the joke that Comic-Con is “the weekend all domestic cats dread.” He followed with a few more jokes, pointed out the notes that were given to him for “surprise” moments (always happy to pull back the curtain), and then we launched into the Home presentation by showing off the trailer. You can see it here:
After the footage, they brought on Parsons and director Tim Johnson.
- Parsons came on board 2 ½ years ago after being sent a photo of the character, and his friends thought he would be a good voice for it. He also noted that Katzenberg knows quickly if an actor is right or wrong for a part. Ferguson replied with mock-bitterness that he had to audition for How to Train Your Dragon.
- “Animators are the greatest excuse makers for your performance in the world,” says Parsons since they can adjust to match what the actor is doing, and it’s a symbiotic relationship since actors aren’t 100% sure what’s happening outside of the recording booth.
- Parsons says that doing animation is like working in a vacuum, and he only did one session with Rihanna and only two with Steve Martin (who voices the antagonist and Boov Leader, Captain Smek. Says Johnson helps paint the scene and therefore guides the performance.
- Johnson says a good animator can get 3 to 5 seconds of animation done in a week (for those of you wondering why animated movies take so long to make).
Johnson sets up the scene by saying that at this point, the Boov have taken over the world, and done what someone would do if they moved into a new apartment—redecorating, renaming, etc. The Boov have gathered in Paris, and Tip and Op have snuck into “The Great Antennae” (i.e. the Eiffel Tower), which is now floating in the sky.
In the scene, Oh and Captain Smeg have a back-and-forth over Smeg refusing to believe that Oh will stop making mistakes (he’s a pariah because he’s screwed up so many times in the past and his name comes from the groan he elicists from his fellow Boov), so they have to “erase” him (they’re aiming laser guns, so I assume that means kill). All of the fellow Boov are about to close in, but then Tip manages to turn the tables by getting a gravity sphere and turning the Eiffel Tower upside down. The Boov start tumbling off and a chase scene ensues.
I won’t go beat-by-beat, but what really caught my eye about the scene was how bright and colorful the movie looks. Johnson seems to have really embraced the sci-fi premise and how it allows him to come up with delightful designs. For example, the chase happens with spaceships that are like little bubble pods and they’re steered by a red orb that kind of looks like a kickball. As they race around Paris, we can see that the Boov have altered it by creating neat floating spheres of statues and cars and other objects. It gives the environment a nice bridge between the alien and the familiar.
If I only have one complaint, it’s that the humor is spotty. It’s still mostly cute, and I think Smek will get a lot of laughs, but after this presentation, I was dazzled by the visuals, and at the very least, I think Home offers a setting and a premise that’s more exciting than some of the studio’s recent efforts (How to Train Your Dragon excluded). However, there’s still plenty left to do. Home opens in 3D on March 27, 2015.
Click here to catch up on all of our Comic-Con 2014 coverage thus far.