With the recent announcement that New Line Cinema and IGN would be presenting a Lord of the Rings "featurette" at Comic-Con, Jonathan, Cline and I decided to take a one day jaunt down to San Diego to see what it was all about... Lemme fill you in on all the info!
Before all 3000 of us rabid LOTR fans jostled into the convention room at 2:30, we decided to go to some of the other prior panels, one with Movie Website webmasters (guys like Harry from Aint It Cool News, Pat from Coming Attractions, and Nick from CHUD), one with Bryan Singer and Tom De Santo from the X-Men movie (where they showed a little outtake comedy clip that had Spiderman in it, a clip that will hopefully be on the DVD!), and one with Chris Carter, the creator of The X-files (wherein Brian Thompson--whom many of you know as the Alien Bounty Hunter--made a surprise appearance as he bantered hilariously with Chris Carter)...
Finally the event we came for was nearing. But we immediately had to wait through 15 minutes of footage from New Line Cineman's upcoming movie The Cell (which looks like nothing I've ever seen, with perhaps the exception of Gothic by Ken Russell). So at last, after all of our patience viewing The Cell and the short panel discussion thereafter, the time was upon us...
In total, New Line presented approximately 6 minutes of footage. Jonathan and I tend to think that this footage was released for an event in New Zealand prior to today's showing because of the dates at the end of the trailer--instead of "December 2001", it read "Holiday 2001"... a term we Americans don't use to refer to the Christmas/Holiday season.
Alas, the footage contained 95% of what I've seen before. Now most of you have not seen the extra footage that was covered in this unless you have seen the Showest footage. I'm working from my notes so bear with me if I miss anything... This footage contains more images of the Orcs and other nasties. We also saw something up in a tree this time which was new that was not in the Showest footage. Also included in this footage was longer and more detailed images from the paintings of John Howe and Alan Lee. We noted images from WarCraft III and Final Fantasy (when they refer to LOTR as the inspiration for the Fantasy genre), while missing were images from Star Wars and Led Zeppelin that were in the Showest footage. It also contained an extended quote from John Howe about how he wanted the world to appear "lived in."
We also got to see more footage of each of the main actors. The elves have slightly pointed ears. While I was happy with them, I don't think elves had pointed ears... though their ears somehow did seem appropriate.
The footage also included a detailed description of Massive, the software developed by Peter Jackson's WetaFX to do the battles.
It contained a line by Boromir about saying something along the lines of "isn’t it a wonder how so much fear and suffering could be brought about a thing so small as this Ring."
There were We have several nice sweeping shots of the fellowship along the rim of a cliff with waters to their back. I assume that this is right before Moria. Also new to the footage was a shot of Gandalf walking alone up a slope high in the mountain snows.
Another scene that was included was the extended shots of the Nazgul. This is still the best presentation of this material.
We also got to see extended footage of the attack on Weathertop and some footage of Sam looking at what appears to be a Nazgul. Another new scene is a shot of Hobbiton bustling around. We also get a chance to see Sam pick up his daughter. I don’t know how they are going to change this point in the story, but I expect them to move up his marriage and the birth of his first daughter to before the fellowship sets off. This has several advantages, I think. The first is that we get to see that Sam is actually in danger of losing something that he holds most dear, and we don't get the worrisome and unwarranted homosexual overtones of his character later in the book. Each of the scenes are only half a second or so, so it was hard to place them and explain them.
Finally there are new images of many of the Characters in costume. I know some will complain about the ears on the elves and maybe some will complain about hair colors, but all in all, I'd have to say everyone looks the part. Having seen all this, though, I still think that the best presentation of the material we saw today was in the trailer we all downloaded on the net.
In addition to this "featurette," New Line Cinema also brought 3 large poster sized images from Lord of the Rings unseen by public eyes that will probably end up being Lobby Cards or Posters of some type. The first was an image of Saruman in the ‘throne room’ of Orthanc--a great representation of what I picture Orthanc to be. As Tolkien describes the tower as being made of one piece of stone, Jackson obviously indicated the same in his design--everything seems to be made of one piece of obsidian! The floor has been polished and etched with what looks like an 8 pointed star as one would see on a compass pointing to the 8 main directions. Saruman is in the picture and he seems to be examining the wall.
The next image is of Aragorn standing with his sword drawn covered in black blood. This one is definitely publicity shot material! Women will swoon... Men will stagger... My guess is that this image will be used to promote the movie to a, ahem, certain audience. :-)
The final image is an image of Gandalf in a cart in Hobbiton. Nothing new or amazing here other than Sir Ian McKellen looking great as Gandalf, which is amazing to behold by itself.
Finally when all was said and done Sir Ian McKellen himself made a surprise appearance and spoke briefly to the audience. He said it was amazing to see everyone and he would tell the people back in New Zealand our (zealous and raucous) response to what we saw. "It is challenging and humbling to play characters where the audience knows more about the character then anyone else working on the movie," he said. May I say, if he is as good in Gandalf's boots as he was in Magneto's shoes, I will be one happy guy.