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Johnny Depp helps 'Alice in Wonderland' steal audience love from 'Tron,' 'Christmas Carol' at Disney 3D panel

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Alice-Wonderland-new_dlChristamas-Carol-new_lYou’ve never heard a room erupt until you’ve heard Hall H show Johnny Depp some love. As part of Disney’s 3D panel, moderated by comedian and Ratatouille star Patton Oswalt, Comic-Con rookie Tim Burton — “I haven’t been here since I was a student, when it was a few people and a slide show” — showed the trailer for Alice in Wonderland. But Burton didn’t bring anything else to show off. Except for his star. Depp walked on the stage, waved to the crowd, hugged Burton, and then walked off the stage. Three minutes of Depp, tops. And then we saw the trailer for the third time, because Oswalt liked it so much. Um, okay.

Let me be clear, though: Patton Oswalt may be the best moderator in the history of moderation, full of bon mots like: “Your parents are very glad you gave them the house for the weekend” and “I see all the hot young girls and the sensitive older men” waiting for New Moon. Here’s a rundown on the three movies discussed at the panel:

A Christmas Carol
Robert Zemeckis opened the show with a “Christmas Carol” presentation. “Not all movies should be in 3D,” he said, despite his last two films (Polar Express and Beowulf) being in that format. “[But] right now I’m dedicated to sending this art form into the world.”

Then Zemeckis expounded on the traditional problem with photo-realistic CG movies: dead eyes and the Uncanny Valley, the reason why CG doesn’t look real. According to Zemeckis, a mediocre actor or bad makeup are as illusion-shattering as bad CG. It’s a question of artistry not technology. He then showed a clip from Christmas Carol — the ghost of Marley first visiting Ebeneezer Scrooge (played by Jim Carrey, who takes on a total of eight roles in the flick). And it was lush and vibrant and harrowing and would’ve been stunning except for Carrey. There’s just something overly hammy that comes through, even with all the creepy ghost stuff.

Finally, Zemeckis answered some questions from the audience, one of which yielded this nugget, about a possible sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit: “I can neither confirm nor deny anything, but I can assure you that the 2D characters will remain 2D…should something ever happen down the road.”

Alice in Wonderland
The teaser trailer Burton showed was short but sweet: Depp looked impish as the mad hatter, and the combination of new-school digital and old school miniatures works great. Plus, MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” is the perfect song for that movie.

Burton was cordial but uncomfortable when dealing with the fans. To wit:

Fan: “I love all your movies.
Tim: “You’re one of the few!”

And then Johnny Depp came out and everything was over.

Tron Legacy
I felt a little bad for the Tron folks–Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, and Jeff Bridges, as well as the filmmakers–coming out after Depp. No amount of applause for Jeff Bridges could make him feel good after the legions shook the rafters for Captain Jack.

“It’s a story about a son’s search for his father,” said Bridges in the most insight-free plot description ever. What they showed, however, spoke volumes. A light-cycle chase at the foot of Flynn (Bridges) in his mountain-side fortress was phenomenal. SDCC ’08 attendees saw the same stuff, but this time it was rendered in 3-D. Positively bad-ass. Didn’t really care about this movie until I saw that. Now? I can’t wait.

addCredit(“John Bramley”)

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