Wonder con landed on San Francisco with a bang, filled with so much entertainment goodness that the fire marshall had to stop letting people in Saturday Afternoon.

SUPERMAN RETURNS

Superman Returns. The biggest movie of the year.

Bryan Singer comes out, shows us the San Diego comic con footage and just talks/answers questions. Highlights include:

- Superman's ability to fly was done using every technique in the book: CG, stunt man, wires, blue screened actor.

- He doesn't know about future villians in future movies, but he said the Superman Returns video game is very elaborate.

- His only "work" with John Williams was when they talked briefly about possibly scoring X-men 1

- He wishes he could have worked on X-men 3, but could only do one or the other. "If I could split myself in half, I would've done both...I don't know if I'll goto the [X-men 3] premiere, but I'd see it with a bunch of friends at midnight."

At this point, Superman comes on stage. Though his name is credited as Brandon Routh and he's wearing a T-shirt that says "Breckenridge" on it, he's still Superman. The purging of information continued:

- Lois Lane is up for a Pulitzer

- Superman Returns was more daunting and longer than X1 and X2, some reasons being it was shot so far from home (Australia) and focused on just one character.

- Sequels? Singer has "intentions to move it forward in the back of my mind"

- This movie is "a merge between Superman 2 and Superman 3."

- On Lex Luthor: "Lex in this film is definitely more villainous. There's a darker sense of him and all that he is." But, he will still retain some sly humor despite growing more sadistic after so many years in prison.

- Why give Lois a kid? Because that is the only unmovable obstacle for Superman.

Though it's always cool to see creative minds talk about their process, there wasn't a lot of new substance to justify a long panel. This being one of the larger comic/movie conventions before the movie's June 30th release, I was hoping to see action! Any action! Saving a cat from a tree! Helping an old lady cross the street! Something! Anything!

Afterwards was a press-only panel with Singer and Routh. Click here for more Superman with Bryan Singer!

PIXAR

It's the 20th Anniversary of the world's most successful production company! To celebrate, a panel of Pixar people came out, showed a "best of Pixar" montage and talked about...stuff. Despite being in the closest possible seat in the entire auditorium, it was hard to hear them over the chatting and snoring of over 3,000 audience members as these guys, though probably some of the best creative minds on the planet, could not retain anybody's interest. 30 or so minutes of them talking pretty much amounted to this: Cars took 5 years to make. There are no humans in the movie. It's hard to animate automobiles, as we relate to organic movements, something that is not natural in the activity of a giant metal vehicle.

Eventually, we were given what we all came to see: Stuff about the movie.

The story goes like this: Lighting Mcqueen (Owen Wilson) is a rookie race car prodigy in a world dominated by talking cars. On his way to "The Super Bowl" of this world's racing events, unknown events lead him to the dying middle-of-knowhere town of Radiator Springs.

Here's what we saw:

Clip 1:

Lighting Mcqueen is being punished for accidently tearing up a main road with a statue. His sentence? He has to drag a giant, faceless asphalt-laying vehicle named Bessie and slowly repair the damage. We're introduced to the wacky community of Radiator Springs, a happy place which consists of Italian cars running a shoe store (aka tires), a hippy van who brews his own organic food (aka alternative fuel) and a fire truck who loves horticulture.

The town is colorful and clever (the buildings resemble road cones and car parts), but we realize Raditor Springs is a dying economy when two outsiders drive in asking for directions and are bombarded with desperate offers to buy stuff.

Clip 2:

The intro to the movie starts out right in the middle of a big race. Not too much to talk about here. It was just a big, colorful action scene where Lighting McQueen was swerving through traffic and going head to head with the competition.

The clips showed a great range of possible emotion in the cars and a nice blend of photorealism (ie the various areas of reflection on all the shiney talking objects) blended with cartoon style.

To top everything off, the audience was treated to Pixar's Oscar nominated short "One Man Band" in which two street musicians (both sporting contraptions of various instruments) fight for a little girl's wishing well coin. It's cute.

The clips showed a great range of possible emotion in the Cars and a nice blend of photorealism (ie the various areas of reflection on all the shiney talking objects) and cartoon style.

To top everything off, the audience was treated to Pixar's Oscar nominated short "One Man Band" in which two street musicians (both sporting contraptions of various instruments) fight for a little girl's wishing well coin. It's cute.

SILENT HILL

Writer Roger Avary has a mind for violence. Mix that with one of the scariest video game experiences ever and give it the visual flair of Christophe Gans and you have what seems to be the best bet on horror of 2006. We saw some curiosity inducing clips from Omen 666 earlier in the day (such as every house in the city being covered in homemade crucifixes), but it did not compare to the surprise we got in the Silent Hill clip.

Rose (Radha Mitchell) is running up the stairs to a large church as a group of people covered in black veils are all desperatly rushing to get inside. A woman falls down as the whole world goes from a foggy, ash covered city to a dark, rust infected world. A humanoid figure with a giant metal triangle for a head walks up, grabs the lady on the stairs and tears her clothes off. Bam. Already an R-rating. But it doesn't end there. HE GRABS HER CHEST AND TEARS HER BOOBS OFF! With it comes the majority of her skin. The momentum of such an act shoots blood and flesh right at the camera. All the gore hits the doors of the church, making red chunky stuff gush through the cracks of the doorframe. AWESOME.

That was it. No panel, no questions. Just one clip. Short, simple and effective.

KEVIN SMITH ON DIRECTING STAR WARS TV, CLERKS 2 & FLETCH

A staple to any large convention is Kevin Smith talking about stuff and responding to awkward fans who end up getting a hilarious, soul crushing verbal beat-down. This time was no different. Most notably, his jokes ran the gauntlet of gay references to the first 2 X-men flicks. "Brokeback Mutant" was a popular comparison to what Smith calls a subtext that's "gayer than hell." His unique blend of standup comedy and clever responses went out for a little over an hour and a half, capping it all off with a look into Clerks 2.

Clip 1:

The first was Randal (Jeff Anderson), taking his retail talents to Mooby's fast food joint. He argues with a coworker and a customer about Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Basically lots of miscellaneous comic satire ranting on why Hobbits are gay. Once again, Kevin Smith is one of the few people who can make something so pointless so damn entertaining.

Clip 2:

Clip #2 was Jay and Silent Bob hanging out in front of a wall and spoofing the dickless dance from Silence of the Lambs.

In the way of movie news, he clarified this:

Fletch isn't gonna happen. Harvey Weinstein wants Zazk Braff, Smith only wants Jason Lee. If the success of My Name is Earl won't get Lee in the door, nothing will.

Rumors of Smith directing the Star Wars TV show were dropped, although he did say "wait and see." When I interviewed Lucasfilm rep Steve Sansweet later on, he also verified that nobody has been chosen to direct the Star Wars TV show.

See more from that interview, CLICK HERE

FRANK MILLER

In a very educational panel, artist/director Frank Miller dropped a lot of philosophy on what he thinks of the superhero world. In reguards to Batman: "He's a dick!"

Amidst all that education, and the constant use of the word "dick," Miller announced his next project will be a political satire called HOLY TERROR, BATMAN! A story where the caped crusader kicks the bejeebas out of the Al Quada.

On the movie front, he stated "I love movies, it's Hollywood I can't stand!" alluring to the fact that he will continue directing. One project being Sin City 2, which will involve "A Dame To Kill For" plus a new story revolving around Nancy dealing with Hartigan's suicide.

In addition to Sin City, "I am involved in a hard boiled movie. Yah, I wanna direct more movies." But when is all this gonna happen? As said by Miller, "We might start shooting as soon as May. "

Miller also brought up 300, a Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead) film based off of a his graphic novel. Principal photography has finished and they're looking at a 2007 release date due to all the visual effects.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.