TOMORROWLAND Comic-Con Panel Recap: George Clooney Makes First Comic-Con Appearance; Unveils Action-Packed Clip Loaded with Lasers and Robots

     October 9, 2014

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We may be a little light on movies at New York Comic-Con this year, but Walt Disney Studios decided to go big by unveiling some never-before-seen material from Tomorrowland.  At first, we thought it was huge that we got to see the film’s brand new teaser trailer, but mere minutes after screening it at the Javits Center, the promo hit the web.  That couldn’t be right.  There had to be more, right?  Sure enough, Disney delivered.

You know how you only see that super short snippet of George Clooney in the teaser?  Clooney made his very first Comic-Con appearance at the Tomorrowland panel to give us more footage featuring his character.  Hit the jump for my Tomorrowland Comic-Con recap.

tomorrowland-posterThe event began with director Brad Bird and producer Damon Lindelof, but soon thereafter, stars Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie and Raffey Cassidy joined them on stage.  Here’s what went down during the Q&A with the moderator:

  • Lindelof once thought that the idea of turning a theme park ride into a movie was ridiculous, but then Pirates of the Caribbean pulled it off.  He also recalled thinking, “I don’t know what it would be about, but if there was a movie called Tomorrowland, I would go and see that movie.”
  • Early on, Lindelof recruited Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly to do some research about the history of Tomorrowland and specifically Walt Disney as a futurist, and he ultimately came across a box with loads of interesting things in it like a laserdisc, a map and an Amazing Stories magazine from the 1920s.  They don’t know who put it there or why, but they said to themselves, “Who cares where it came from?  Let’s make up a story about this.”
  • While developing the movie, Bird and Lindelof kept Close Encounters of the Third Kind in mind, especially the idea of “seeing something and being inspired by it.”
  • After showing the teaser trailer, Bird and Lindelof summed up the plot by explaining that Robertson’s character, Casey, finds this pin that allows her to see this place.  She’s not entirely sure that she even saw it, but she wants to know more and she’s going to need help in order to find it.
  • As for how she even gets that pin, Lindelof teased, “We’ll come to find that she’s been given the pin by another character named Athena, but we will not be talking at all about who she is.”
  • Speaking of Athena, when asked if she plays a good character or a bad character in the film, Cassidy replied, “She’s not the bad character.  She’s a good character because she’s helping and caring for people.  But I wouldn’t say she’s very good.  She’s not the most thoughtful of people’s feeling sometimes.”
  • Laurie recalled first meeting with Bird and Lindelof and being taken by “an attitude, a way of thinking about life, and specifically about the future, that simply had never occurred to me.”  He continued, “I did leave thinking these guys are onto something really exceptional here, something incredibly powerful and uplifting.”
  • When the panelists were asked about working with Clooney, Laurie had some fun picking on him while he wasn’t there, and then that’s when things got crazy.  Laurie joked, “I’m glad he’s actually not present at the moment because it frees me up to say one or two things.”  Shortly after, Clooney walked out and the crowd erupted.
  • This is Clooney’s very first Comic-Con.  He joked, “I think since my Batman, I was disinvited to Comic-Con.”  He continued, “I met Adam West back there and I was like, ‘Hey!  Sorry,’” and, “‘Sorry about the nipples on the suit.’”
  • A popular topic of conversation was the scale of the film.  Even Clooney noted that Tomorrowland was “larger than most things I’ve ever been on.”
  • Before wrapping up, Clooney turned to Lindelof and Bird and said, “Really, that’s all they’re gonna see?  Really?”  He added, “I’m so barely in the teaser … you know, I mean, everyone’s saying, I’m a big star.”  And then of course, that led into the unveiling of a clip loaded with material featuring Clooney’s character.

Clip

tomorrowland-britt-robertsonThe footage begins with a shot of a dirt road from above.  When we come in closer, the camera focuses on a mailbox that says Walker on it.  Casey approaches and we get a quick glimpse of a security camera as she walks up to a secluded, somewhat rundown looking two-story farmhouse.  She knocks on the door.  Clooney’s character shouts from inside, “Go away!”  She replies, “My name’s Casey.  You’re Frank, right?  Frank Walker?”  She asks him to take her “there.”  When Frank asks where, Casey yells, “The place I saw when I touched this,” and holds up the pin from the teaser trailer.  Frank isn’t having it and Casey is blown back off the porch by something Frank triggers.

When she’s a good distance away from the door, Frank struts outside in a pair of dirty work boots, khakis and a flannel shirt.  Casey begs him to take her “there” because she feels like she’s supposed to go, but he tells her, “You are not supposed to do anything.”  He proceeds to tell her that she’s been manipulated to feel like she’s part of something incredible, but that she’s not.  He goes back inside, but Casey isn’t giving up just yet.

Cut to a shot of Casey in the rain, trying to huddle under the tiny overhang sheltering the area right in front of Frank’s door.  That’s when we go inside and find Frank in a room with a number of monitors in it.  All of a sudden, an alarm sounds.  He checks a monitor and spots something burning in his yard.  Frank storms outside with a souped up fire extinguisher and puts out the blaze by turning it into a giant block of ice.  Before he can get back inside, Casey’s already locked him out.

Casey watches Frank on a monitor while he yells and bangs on the door.  She decides to give him a taste of his own medicine, using that same weapon to hurl him off his porch.  Casey begins snooping around, checking out what Frank’s busy watching on his monitors – riot footage, destruction, news reports.  All of a sudden, in the background, the stairs start to rise up.  It’s a secret entrance.  Frank is back inside!  She spits out question after question, but before he can answer a single one or try to kick her out, the alarm sounds again.  Someone’s there and according to Frank, this person followed Casey here.

tomorrowland-teaser-screengrab-george-clooneyA man in a black uniform is on the monitor accusing Frank of “harboring a fugitive” and threatening that if he does not comply, he’ll be “extinguished.”  That’s when he turns to Casey and asks, “Who are you, kid?”  But there’s no time for small talk now.  The house is ambushed by not one, but many armed soldiers/officers.

One enters and Frank nails him with a taser-like weapon.  Another officer runs right into one of Frank’s booby-traps, a hidden laser, and it saws his head right off, revealing that these aren’t human officers or soldiers at all; they’re robots.  There’s a good deal of running around until Casey and Frank finally make their way back to the monitor room.  Another robot tries to follow them, but falls through a trap door in the floor before he can get to them.  Another one attacks from behind.  Frank wrestles with him until Casey spots some sort of electrified circular device and sticks it over the robot’s head.  As she does, the top half of the robot’s body disappears.  That’s when Frank slices off its hand.

From there, the action moves upstairs.  There are red lasers, tasers and explosions.  Another one of Frank’s traps kicks in and, all of a sudden, a robot flies into the wall as though it’s been magnetized.  Casey and Frank move into what looks to be a boy’s bedroom to take on another robot.  Casey gives him a couple of good whacks with a baseball bat, literally bashing his face in and even when he’s down, she continues to hit him over and over again until the moment earns a solid laugh.

Frank then rushes Casey into the bathroom and insists that she get in the bathtub with him.  He pulls out a remote, presses some buttons and that’s when the floor opens up underneath, a shield-like shell closes over the bathtub and then the whole thing shoots right up, out of the house and into the sky.

I don’t really know what I was expecting considering we’ve known little to nothing about the project until today, but this definitely wasn’t it.  However, I liked it.  The banter between Robertson and Clooney is amusing and the action rocks an incredible amount of detail and some original flare.  As tacky as it sounds, it looks as though this one could be an entertaining family-friendly romp.  Sure, there was a beheading, but the fact that it was a robot still keeps it wholesome enough, right?

Tomorrowland is set to hit theaters on May 22, 2015.

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