"Godzilla" and "Pacific Rim" promised decidedly grim visions of the future. Dystopian sci-fi like "Electric City" dominated the proceedings, from Stephenie Meyer's "The Host," starring Saoirse Ronan and Diane Kruger, which looked promising, as did Rian Johnson's time-travel flick "Looper" and Neill Blomkamp's "Elysium" (which recalled "Wall-E"), to the remake of "Total Recall," which at least promised action face-offs between husband and wife Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale. Tough women were everywhere, from Kristen Stewart as a vampire to Michelle Rodriguez and Milla Jovovich in the latest "Resident Evil" installment, "Retribution."
Big movies like Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" (which might be a trilogy) and Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel," showcased at the packed Warner Bros. panel were pre-sold; Marvel, too, was preaching to the converted. Kevin Feige was celebrating the success of "The Avengers" with a pump-up reel and Robert Downey, Jr., who made a grand entrance through the hall, taking a break halfway through shooting "Iron Man 3" (May 3, 2013) with Don Cheadle (whose relationship with Tony Stark expands), Jon Favreau (on set to impart grandfatherly wisdom), Gwenyth Paltrow, Rebecca Hall, Mia Hanson, Guy Pearce, and Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin in Wilmington, North Carolina with director Shane Black ("Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"), who co-writes with Brit Drew Peirce. The trick with Part Three, Black said, "is to make it seem part of something started but not concluded. It's the culmination of trilogy and not just a continuation. We're going back to the roots of this thing, to dig out the whole myth thing, why hero stories are doing so well, a straightforward return to myths."
Three other Marvel movies are in the works. "Game of Thrones" director Alan Taylor is prepping "Thor: The Dark World" (November 8, 2013) at Shepperton with the entire cast returning, plus Zack Levi. Next up on April 4, 2013 is "Captain America: the Winter Soldier," directed by the Russo brothers. And new news: on August 1 2014 comes "Guardians of the Galaxy," a Marvel comic from 1969 through 2008, including characters Star Lord, Drax the Destroyer, Gomorrah, and Rock the Raccoon. And Edgar Wright is still laboring on "Ant-Man," who "will kick your ass one inch at a time," he said.
While I was wowed by Tim Burton's stop-motion "Frankenweenie" (and accompanying exhibit), which looks like a welcome return to form, the response to Disney's presentation was muted. It remains to be seen if Sam Raimi's "Oz: The Great and Powerful" will prove as successful as producer Joe Roth's other fantasy adventure "Snow White and the Huntsman"; it looks expensive. And stars James Franco.
By Saturday night, after four days of fighting off crowds, we were happy to blow off the Entertainment Weekly party and hightail it back home.