SDCC 09: Hunter’s Thoughts on Thursday’s 3D Presentations in Hall H – TRON, FINAL DESTINATION, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, ALICE IN WONDERLAND

     July 24, 2009


Comic-Con is on like Donkey Kong. After waiting in a massive line full of “Twilight” fans in Burger King hats, and then sitting in Hall-H for an extra hour, things are finally getting started.

Read on for minute-by-minute coverage of Hall-H’s 3D presentations including “A Christmas Carol”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Tron Legacy”, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”, “The Hole”, and “The Final Destination”.  Also, please forgive any typos or grammar mistakes as I wrote this train-of-thought and trying to keep pace with the action on stage.  Finally, if you want to read Matt’s thoughts on the Disney 3D Presentation, click here.

And on with the 3D after the jump…

OswaltZemeckis.jpg11:25 Patton Oswalt is here, immediately makes fun of bloggers and geeks. Good stuff. People seem to know who Patton is, which is vaguely surprising. There are a few twilight jokes too.


11:28 Robert Zemeckis is up first.

“As wonderful as the older versions were in their day, if you read the novel it’s very trippy and very visual and very cinematic and now we finally have the tools to pulls off what Dickens originally intended”

On the uncanny valley:

“the uncanny valley is a term that was coined for robots…I don’t think it was ever intended to be used for cinema because cinema is all illusion, I mean, I see a lot of uncanny valley in your sort of every day movie, you know, when you have a mediocre actor”

Oswalt: HEY!

“And prosthetics, which is the only tool we’ve had until digital cinema to create a creature or whatever. The uncanny valley is a technique, so lets not strangle the baby in the crib just because it’s not perfect…When people started painting with oils a lot of painters painted people with closed eyes, or looking down until somebody like Rembrandt came along and figured it out…We’ve learned how to paint the highlights of the eyes an we’ve developed the technology to capture the movements of the retina perfectly.”

11:45: they show footage. The sequence begins with the text “Marley was dead: to begin with… (The book’s great first sentence).

The first image is a longing shot of Marley’s corpse with gold coins over his eyes. It’s really not the first thing that comes to mind when you think, “Disney film”. Scrooge signs the death certificate and steals the coins.

Later, at home, we see the ghost of Marley visit Scrooge and warn him about the terrors of the afterlife for those who act as he did, and Scrooge does. The exposition is tempered by Marley struggling to keep his jaw properly hinged.

Next we were shown brief glimpses of all of the primary characters, Christmas past, present, and future as well as some really wacky, gothic, images.

The 3D still feels gimmicky. Lots of the shots are composed with objects awkwardly placed in the foreground but the animation itself is nuanced and the eye movements do indeed look great.

There is one shot of Scrooge falling through the clouds that looks better than any 3D I have ever seen.

11:50: question time! Lots of Q’s about Carrey’s career and why he was chosen as Scrooge (and SEVEN other characters).

One fan asked, “Are you ever going to make a sequel to roger rabbit?”

“I can neither confirm, nor deny. But, what I can say is that, the 2D characters would remain 2D and would not be dimensionalized. But that wouldn’t preclude anything from being 3D…if I were to do anything with it.”

Later, Oswalt joked, “Will you ever have Marty McFly fight Beowulf?


DeppBurton.jpg11:56 TIM BURTON. He hasn’t been here since he was a student in the 1970s.

Oswalt: “I can’t believe that asked me to ask this but…what attracted you to Alice in Wonderland?”

Burtton: “it’s a gritty, realistic setting”

On the look of the Mad Hatter: “We scalped carrot top and took his hair.”

THE CHESHIRE CAT: wow…terrifying. Big, furry, and full of sharp shark-like teeth.

Burton on the motion capture process: “We didn’t use much motion capture, just pure animation and then inserted the actors in interesting ways.”

12:01: Footage, Crazy, fast cuts, colorful, showing off all the characters in motion. The Queen looks insane and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb looks even more shocking. The trailer is set to MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” which is a poor fit. I hope it’s temp music.

Depp’s mannerisms are very Jack Sparrow-esque, with a British accent.

There is a shot of Alice shrinking and her dress folding over her that looks cool. I have no idea how they did that effect.

Key quote, Alice: “But that’s impossible!” Mad Hatter: “Only if you think it is.”

Oswalt’s reaction: “I have always wanted to try PCP, thank you!”

I personally haven’t liked a Tim Burton movie since Mars Attacks! (which was an interesting failure), but I cannot wait to see this one. Between this, and A Christmas Carol, literate stoners are going to be all over Disney for the next year.

12:05: Q&A

First Q is from a guy sweating heavily. He loves Burton but has no question. People laugh at his fluster.

12:07 The movie contains story from both Alice and Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass as well as sequences of the Jabberwocky poem.

12:09 Burton didn’t Marry Helen Bonham Carter?

12:09: Someone asked if Burton wanted to make a Harry Potter movie…even though those films are all spoken for. Wow, no one has a good question for Tim Burton?

12:10 Johnny Depp is here. Someone just had an aneurism from their screaming.

12:12: Johnny is just…here…not doing anything. Not answering questions. He’s just…here.


TronPanel.jpg12:15: Tr2n is now called, “Tron Legacy” no idea if there is a colon in the title or not.

12:18: Tron legacy just finished principal photography.

12:20: Jeff Bridges, Oliva Wilde, the director, Tron 1’s director, and Sean Bailey are present.

12:20: there is some concept art…Tron now looks like Blade Runner at a Daft Punk concert.

12:21 Disc Wars is back. 16 people play all at once. The boards keep changing and recombining as different competitors win and lose.

12:22 “Loop kicking” martial arts footage of a guy jumping in ways that look almost physically impossible. The film will apparently feature this stuff heavily. It’s sort of like the wow-factor of Parkour without the stupid factor of Parkour.

12:23: Light Runner a 4×4 variant of a Light Cycle. It seems like this movie is very much based in examining the ways in which a digital world would constantly update itself.

Tron 1 director: “this team right here pulled the disc from the stone”

12:27: footage

12:30 the footage looks more like a film noir or a horror film than a “cyber western”. It shows Flynn’s son returning to Flynn’s Arcade where he discovers a secret passage behind the Tron Light Cycle arcade game.

The shot composition is actually quite appealing. I saw Tron once, when I was like 10, and it didn’t do much for me, but this makes me wanna see Tron Legacy.

12:35: MORE footage. Same as last year, but in 3D now. AMAZING. Not as eye opening as the first Matrix footage, but in the range.

12:36…I was being coy before with my Daft Punk joke, but it turns out that they ARE doing the score.

12:37 wow, the Tron fans actually have, like, real questions.

12: 38 Daft Punk will be doing shows to promote the movie.

12:39: fan says “the dude abides” Bridge’s smile is a mile wide.

Patton: “Can I pitch tron 3 real quick? ‘The Big Le-Tron-sky’ here’s the tagline, ‘this time, the bums win”


Disney is going to have a hell of a year. Though I wonder what a thick haze of marijuana smoke will do to the 3d projection process.

cloudy_with_a_chance_of_meatballs_movie_image.jpgCLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS

1:00 New Trailer. It looks badass. Some very clever visual gags including one about an unexpected and original escape from a 1000 foot fall.

People are not excited for this movie, but I am. Clone High USA was one of the best TV series I have ever seen and the tone of the movie seems similar.


1:05: the trailer (premiere?) some good atmospheric stuff, but it’s a bit over the top. Too much stuff flying at the screen. I don’t really know what the movie is supposed to be based upon this clip. It’s very William Castle, but I don’t know that that is a good thing.


for some reason the guy doing video of the fans asking questions keeps putting the fans in Dutch angles and doing trombone shots. I have no idea why.

1:11 this is super awkward. No one is asking any questions. Luckily, they have another clip.

1:12 the full scene is sorta cool. There were 2 scenes. One showed a girl trapped in a bathroom with a bleeding little girl, the other showed a little boy stuck in a basement with a creepy, Poltergeist styled doll. The footage went over well with the Twilight crowd, and it’s frankly made for them.


1:23: A super R-rated trailer. Very gory, very vile, very fun. Weirdly, it seems like they’re repeating gags from previous films. Instead of a bus, a wheel hits one girl in the face. Instead of a pipe going through the face, a pipe goes through the chest. There is also a redux of the nail gun gag from part 3. Still, it looks like way more fun than anything H2 has thus far shown.

This is also William Castle inspired, however, it plays much better than The Hole.


Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs looks like a lot of fun, even if it is clearly as deep as a thimble. The Hole remains an unknown quantity, though Joe Dante’s stock has fallen with the geek faithful since no one had a question for him. The Final Destination is gonna be ridiculously gory unless they just showed us all of the kills.

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