WonderCon 2012: Screen Gems & Sony

To end the day in the third floor ballroom was the panel for Screen Gems and Sony. For their showcase, the films that were being shown and discussed were Resident Evil: Retribution, Looper and The Amazing Spider-Man, moderated by Geoff Boucher of the LA Times Hero Complex blog.

It is no surprise that for Resident Evil: Retribution, the film’s director Paul W.S. Anderson and star actress Milla Jovovich were on hand.  The audience was treated to not only the trailer, but an intense battle scene between the character of Alice and several zombies.  The action in the scene that was shown is over the top and clearly shot in such a way to exploit the film being in 3D.
After the footage was shown, both Milla and Paul walked on stage.  Paul talked about how the Resident Evil series of films have become the longest running and most numerous action movie franchise with a female lead.  When starting out as a filmmaker, Paul was told that not only did video game based movies not work, but female lead action flicks didn’t either.

For those of you who have seen the previous four films, Resident Evil: Retribution picks up right where the last movie ended and delivers on the epic battle that was promised and teased.  This story doesn’t just feature flashbacks, it also brings back old characters from the past films and video games.  Not only is Michelle Rodriguez back for this film, when shooting the first movie, she joked to Paul that he was going to regret having killed her off.  Even the video game characters such as Leon Kennedy will make an appearance.

This is the third film that Paul has shot in 3D and with the same crew.  He feels that they are one of the top crews shooting 3D in the world. With having shot the film in 3D, Milla with help from the stunt team, had to change the way they conducted the fighting.  The combat had to be more close up and realistic, even coming in contact with the stunt performers to come across as more realistic than ever before.  As far as locations go, the crew was able to get a complete lockdown of Red Square in Moscow for two nights.

Milla also said that there were several influences from her childhood that have drawn her to play female action characters such as She-Ra, Cheetara and most heavily because her father had always wanted and son and got her instead.  She and her dad would watch boxing and kung fu theatre, which played heavily into her liking the more action oriented roles.  Seeing edits of the film brings a flood of emotions to Milla and reminds her of making the first film.  Milla feels that at first she had to play the video games to learn the story and characters, now she is the character.

Next was Looper, a film that some people had heard of, but not too much about it was known.  Both writer/director Rian Johnson and star Joseph-Gordon Levitt were on hand for the discussion.  Rian got the germ of the idea for Looper , A time travel action film, after finishing his first feature film Brick which also starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Rian spoke of having written the script with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in mind for the lead.  Besides Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the film stars Paul Dano, Jeff Daniels, Emily Blunt and Bruce Willis.

WonderCon was the first place anywhere in the world that the trailer was shown.  As of now, the trailer is still unreleased and not even viewable on the internet. Being a time travel film, Looper  takes place both in present day and in the future. The justice system in the future is different because instead of being put in prison or executed, criminals are sent back in time, where upon arrival, a Looper is to kill them on the spot.  The Joseph Gordon-Levitt character is a Looper and when one of these such criminals appears for him to kill, who does it turn out to be, his future self, played by Bruce Willis. Does he kill his future self or let him go? That is what we’ll have to wait and see when the movie is released in September.

Rian reiterated that writing a time travel movie is no cakewalk. and equated the it to being an Iron Chef mystery ingredient.  His version of plot element of time travel needed to be streamlined so it would not take a large portion of the film to explain how it worked. Early on he enlisted help from Shane Carruth who was the director of the indie time travel movie Primer. This was to make sure that the use of time travel in Looper  made sense.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been a working actor for over 25 years and can’t believe that at this point in his career he is getting to work with directors such as Rian Johnson, Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg, comparing all three. These directors are making films for the love of directing and filmmaking and money is very much second to that.    Joseph Gordon-Levitt acts in movies because he loves doing it, plus he already made all of his money when he was on Third Rock from the Sun.

For Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this was the most transformative role he has played to date, not only because of the long hours of makeup but, having to act like Bruce Willis without impersonating or mimicking him. He hung out with Bruce and listen to his voice.  Joseph fixated on Bruce’s performance in Sin City to match a current performance and how he currently acts.  He wanted to feel like his and Bruce’s characters could be the same person, which they actually are.  Joe has created a character that you could believe is a younger Bruce Willis.  Of the movies that Joe will be in this year, he is most proud of his performance in Looper.

When asked about not having really done anything in the sci-fi genre, Joe jokingly said “I did play an alien on TV for six years.”  Rian said that sci-fi is not standalone, it is always paired with another genre.  For those wondering, Rian is directing another episode of Breaking Bad.

On hand to talk about The Amazing Spider-Man was director Marc Webb and producer Matthew Tolmach and actress Emma Stone.  The audience was treated to around eight minutes of footage, some of which lacked the final CG.  This was probably similar to, if not the same footage that many people from around the world saw in early February.

They are excited to not only use the Lizard as the villain, played by Rhys Ifans, but explore stories, mainly dealing with Peter Parker’s parents that were not used in the previous series of films. Some of the main differences are the telling of the Gwen Stacy saga as well as the inclusion of the character Flash Thompson.

Not having read comic books prior to this movie, Emma was only familiar with the characters out of the Sam Raimi trilogy of films.  Once she was cast she began to read the comics that involved Gwen to get a feel for who she was and how she might play her. Before the script was even written, Emma audition and thought she would be cast as Mary Jane.Emma talked about how Gwen is a character who falls in love with Peter Parker vs Mary Jane who is in love with Spider-Man.  Peter even tells Gwen that he is Spider-Man and she has to live in fear knowing that her father Captain Stacy is out to get Spider-Man.

Peter and Captain Stacy both have different ways of seeking justice, which puts them at odds with each other, ultimately causing Captain Stacy to want to capture Spider-Man.  In this film a catalyst for change in Peter becoming Spider-Man is not the loss of Uncle Ben, but how he deals with not having his parents.  Peter Parker is a very relatable character because he is just another kid with real world issues that can happen to anyone, making the Spider-Man side of Peter much more grounded.

For this presentation, it is clear that Resident Evil: Retribution is catering to those who have seen all the previous films and stuck with the series for over ten years.   Looper gave people not knowing anything about the film, just enough of a tease to get them very excited to want to see it.  The Amazing Spider-Man is out prove that this telling of the Spider-Man origin story will not only impress longtime fans of the character, but get many people who are new to the character excited to see this film.

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