San Diego Comic-Con. Hype machine ad-infinitum. It sits proudly alongside the Super-Bowl weekend as the ad-mans favourite time to launch the internet in to a tizzy. While it’s very easy to be cynical about such cynical posturing (and anyone who read my Twitter feed last night knows just how cynical things got from this end), it’s difficult to face such all out passion for the movies with a negative slant. Or is it?
My greatest difficulty with the whole Comic-Con thing is how fleeting and temporary the whole thing is. No better was this ADHD-hyperbole approach to film appreciation summed up than during Warner Bros. panel, in which the film studio introduced the world to three of it’s great hopes for 2013: Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim, Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla and Zack Snyder’s Superman adaptation, The Man Of Steel. The reaction to the first two films in particular amounted to little more than fervent declarations of “OMG PACIFIC RIM IS THE BEST THING EVER!” followed up by similar summations passed over Edwards’ film that technically cancelled out the earlier judgment calls for the three-minute older film. Scott Weinberg, the hype-rejecting veteran online film critic summed it up best with a tweet – “So wait. The Godzilla teaser was better than the Pacific Rim footage, which was literally the best thing ever. We’ll need science for this.”
Elsewhere The Man Of Steel is being lauded for being a more sombre and thoughtful take (aka dark ala Batman) on the Superman mythos, which is funnily enough the same reason for which the Bryan Singer-directed Superman Returns was criticised, and this whole reboot thing deemed necessary. Snyder has a fractured relationship with geek culture at the best of times. While I’m actually quite the fan (his Watchmen withstanding), his are films which play well in three minute chunks of shock and awe-some to bleating crowds of hype-fans, yet are received very differently out in the real world. Sucker Punch, Snyder’s previous outing at Comic-Con is a fantastic centrepiece for the “Comic-Con Story” actually, in that its a work rapturously received in Hall H, yet struggles with almost every audience both critically and commercially when screened in full on general release. Many of the same people whoopin’ and a’ hollerin’ at 6-minutes of footage were the very same mocking and ridiculing the film online on weekend of release.
That the assembled masses and assorted gossip website representatives can so warmly re-embrace a filmmaker so keenly is bewildering, but alas, the status of Snyder as the prodigal son of San Diego is nowhere near the downright baffling manner in which the likes of Paul WS Anderson and Len Wiseman are received at such occasions. Anderson was rolling out the 33rd instalment to his completely maligned Resident Evil series, while Wiseman made the unfortunate faux-pax of declaring his Total Recall remake to be the first science-fiction film to present a world that grows vertically as opposed to outward (Metropolis waves hello Len, while Minority Report smiles awkwardly). How these guys go without being lynched by those so ordinarily unkind towards them on the message boards and social networks of the internet superhighway is actually quite mystifying. One can’t help but be reminded of Michael Bay’s claims that the third film in his Transformers series would be great, after acknowledging that it’s predecessor was “crap”. These guys aren’t embracing geek-culture, they’re exploiting it, and taking advantage of people willing to queue up and whoop and cheer for three minutes of cleverly edited footage.
Adam Batty – Editor-In-ChiefFurther reading - Simon Kinnear rejects Comic-Con. Transformers 2 was “crap”, says Michael Bay.
Also…My entry for last weeks IndieWire Critics Survey on the one film I’ve seen more than any other.