The first time I attended Comic-Con was the first time Twilight came to the massive geek gathering. I can still hear the shrieks, probably because I was in Hall H for the franchise’s final installment, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. This year’s panel began on a somber note, and there was a brief moment of silence for the Twilight fan who died on Tuesday. After the moment of silence, lead actors Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner were brought to the stage and met with the cheers they’ve always received at Comic-Con. The trio are joined by Mackenzie Foy, who plays Renesmee. Author Stephanie Meyer then takes the stage, making this her first Hall H appearance since the first movie. We then get a special video message from director Bill Condon, who’s currently in London working on the sound mix for Part 2. He tells the audience that the best way to start this panel is to pick up where Breaking Dawn – Part 1 left off. Hit the jump for my full recap of the panel.
The footage we’re shown picks up where Part 1 ended—with Bella opening her red vampire eyes. This opening sequence is largely about Bella discovering her powers. Bella awakens and instantly becomes aware of her heightened senses, which is depicted as extreme close-ups on what’s in the room, like condensation on a glass or the detail on a painting. Edward comes in the room, they embrace, and she hugs him a little too hard because she doesn’t realize her own strength. She asks to see Renesmee, but Edward reminds Bella that she needs to feed first. She agrees and they run outside at super speed to go hunting.
Bella and Edward are planning to kill a deer when the movie makes an awkward cut to a mountain climber at some random location. We then realize that Bella can smell the bleeding cut on the climber’s leg, and she rushes off towards his location. She scrambles up the mountain but then forces herself not to feed on the innocent human. Edward catches up with her and compliments her on showing restraint because even full born vampires have trouble resisting the smell of human blood.
Bella then rushes back to the deer and she’s about to pounce when she spots a mountain lion competing for her prey. The mountain lion leaps for the deer, but Bella lunges at the mountain lion, brings it down, and feasts on its jugular (I’m sad to report that the series’ track record with CGI is still shoddy. Watching CGI Bella wrestle a CGI mountain lion doesn’t look great).
After her kill, she and Edward happily walk back to the Cullens’ house. Jacob meets the couple outside, and he comments to Bella that he didn’t expect her to look so normal aside from her creepy eyes. He then tells her that she can’t go see her daughter until he’s certain that she won’t want to feed on Renesmee’s human blood. Her test is to see if she wants to feed on Jacob. She responds by joke-mocking Jacob’s “stink” that she can finally smell with her vampire senses. He laughs and seems more at peace. Jacob compliments Bella and Edward on looking good together, and then tells her to come inside and meet her daughter.
Moro then asks what we can expect to see from the characters in this film. Pattinson says Edward continues to be surprised by Bella even though they’re now the same creature, but the Edward discovers he has even less idea of what she’s capable of.
Lautner says Jacob finally has “a huge weight lifted off his shoulders” in the movie and the character is happier. He also comments on how Stewart did an impressive job of handling the transformation of her character into a different beast.
Foy, a newcomer to the series, says her favorite memory from the set was playing hand games, talking with the cast, and she thinks “that all of them are pretty cool.” The crowd awwws at her adorableness.
We then see a cute clip of the Cullens trying to teach Bella how to pass as human before she meets with Charlie (Billy Burke). They have to remind her to blink, slouch, move her shoulders to imitate breathing, and to control her super speed. This scene combined with the opener makes me think that there might be some more levity, or at least the kind of light-heartedness that made the first half of Part 1 entertaining to watch.
Then the rest of the Cullen clan comes out on stage Peter Facinelli, Elisabeth Reeser, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Ashley Greene, and Jackson Rathbone.
Moro then asks the actors what their favorite memory was from the years. Here are their answers:
Peter Facinelli: How the fans have supported the franchise, and getting to work with the rest of the cast. “It’s like taking a road trip with your family.”
Elisabeth Reeser: “The first movie was the most fun and wild and un-self-conscious.” She also liked a make-out scene with Facinelli that didn’t make the final cut in Twilight.
Nikki Reed: She says she can’t single out one event because she’s still close to it, but she says it’s been cool to see how she and her fellow cast members have grown over the years.
Greene: She also doesn’t know how to single out one event, and she says she’s found the incredible journey to be really amazing.
Rathbone: He enjoyed playing Jasper when the character was human and in the full Civil War regalia. But in terms of the production, he found it rewarding to be a part of something that struck a chord with so many people. “We have the greatest fans in the world. Hands down,” he says.
Most of the Q&A questions were forgettable (“Was it fun making the movie?” “Are you sad it’s going to be over?”) , but the best Q&A moment was an audience member says what piece of advice the cast could give to their character. Pattinson quickly replies, “Keep it in your pants!” I don’t have much love for Edward Cullen, but Pattinson is the tops.
After the Q&A, we get more actors who play vampires from the various clans including Mia Maestro, Maggie Grace, Angela Serafyan, Rami Malek, Noel Fisher, Marlane Barnes, Patrick Brennan, Lisa Howard, and Joe Anderson (there were others, but I couldn’t keep up with all their names and they didn’t have nameplates). These actors don’t even get a chance to speak, so it’s a bit of an anti-climactic finish, and the fans begin to exit before they’re told that they should go back and take their seats. Meyer then comes back on stage for a little “surprise” to show folks a few minutes from The Host. She then brings on writer-director Andrew Niccol and we then get a glimpse of some rough scenes from the film:
We first see Melanie Strider (Saoirse Ronan) trying to escape from the assimilated humans by throwing herself out a window, but the host, who calls herself “Wanderer”, takes Melanie over. Melanie was the leader of a pocket of resitance against the alien parasites, and Wanderer is asked to search Melanie’s memories. We’re then treated to some flashbacks that show how the aliens infected the humans, and how Melanie was trying to protect her little brother Jamie. Melanie’s voice screams inside Wanderer’s head to not reveal Jamie’s name, but the host does, and Melanie promises to hurt Wanderer any way she can.
We then cut forward to Melanie/Wanderer being captured and led into the mountains. We see her as a prisoner and the human survivors want to kill her, but one of the humans tries to protect her. A fight breaks out before it’s broken up by William Hurt’s character firing off a shotgun into the air.
The last scene is a chase sequence. Because no context was given to this scene, we only know that the seekers—marked by their shiny silver vehicles—are chasing a truck driven by two humans. There’s nothing special about the chase and it fell flat since we have no idea about why these characters are being chased. The best guess is that they don’t want to be assimilated and the last shot are the two guys in the truck, seeing that they’re outmanned and outgunned, preparing to ram a concrete barrier. The car speeds up and then the scene cuts to black.
These rough scenes gave a good idea of the plot to those who were unfamiliar with the story, but they didn’t do much to explain how Niccol’s take on the material will be unique or memorable. He’s a director with some visual flair, but it wasn’t really on display in these scenes. I wish we had seen more of Ronan, since she’s a tremendous actress, and this split-personality character seems like a good opportunity for her to give yet another excellent performance.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 opens November 16th.
The Host opens March 29, 2013.
To catch up on all of our Comic-Con 2012 coverage, click here.