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Comic-Con 2011 Preview: Movies

”Total Recall,” ”The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 1,” ”Underworld: Awakening,” and more

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The Raven
Starring John Cusack, Luke Evans
Directed By James McTeigue
The popular idea of Edgar Allan Poe is sort of the human equivalent of ”once upon a midnight dreary,” not the mid-1800s version of a rock star. In reality, he was both, and in fiction — specifically the upcoming alt-history thriller The Raven, in which the gothic author is menaced by a serial killer imitating his works — we finally get to see a bit of his charismatic side, says star John Cusack. While Poe’s existence was grim, marred by alcoholism and the early deaths of his wife, mother, and aunt, ”he had a wicked sense of humor,” the actor says. ”Even dealing with vengeance and the wrath of God in his writing, there’s a raw, raw honesty to him. You can almost hear Hunter S. Thompson in him sometimes.” Though The Raven is fantasy, turning the inventor of the detective story into an actual detective, Cusack aims to show some truth about the man. ”He was a mess, a wreck,” he says. ”But, you know, he was a genius.” (Relativity) March 9, 2012

Total Recall
Starring Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel
Directed By Len Wiseman
In a lot of ways, Total Recall was the perfect Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. It had bone-crunching carnage, cutting-edge special effects, a high-concept plot about the elusiveness of reality, and a three-breasted mutant hooker in a brothel on Mars. Why on earth would anybody bother to remake it? ”I had doubts about that myself,” says Colin Farrell, calling from a soundstage in Toronto, where he’s playing his version of Douglas Quaid in Sony’s $120 million readaptation of the classic Philip K. Dick science-fiction story, scheduled for release in summer 2012. ”I loved the original movie when I saw it when I was 14 or 15. I saw it again recently and it’s still such an enjoyable film. But some things look really dated and kitsch, like that Johnny Cab stuff. Its edge just doesn’t hold up anymore.”

Sony will be showing footage of the new Total Recall in Comic-Con’s biggest room, Hall H, on July 22, but here’s some of what we know about it now: It’ll have the same trippy premise as Schwarzenegger’s 1990 film — an ordinary guy mildly dissatisfied with his life decides to take a virtual vacation, only to discover that he’s actually a secret agent…unless, of course, it turns out that’s all part of his memory implant. But this movie also takes some major plot departures of its own. For starters, there’s no trip to Mars. Instead, Quaid stays on Earth, which a hundred years from now is split into two cultures: a polluted proletarian state called New Asia and a fascistic police state called United Britain. Also, according to Farrell, the tone will be much less jokey. ”There’s not as much tongue-in-cheek,” he says. ”Which is good, because I wouldn’t have the awkward comic timing to pull off what Arnold did in the original — and I mean that as a compliment. I just wouldn’t feel comfortable delivering lines like ‘Consider dat a divorce!’ ” (Sony) August 2012

Underworld: Awakenings
Starring Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealy, Charles Dance
Directed By Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein
Eight years into the Underworld series, Kate Beckinsale — who plays the deadly, latex-suited vampire Selene — still can’t quite grasp how she wound up with her own action figure. ”Before Underworld, I’d go on meetings and people would get this strong whiff of tea and crumpets whenever I came into the room,” she says. ”I was very nervous about doing the movie, because it was such a huge stretch for me — I smell the crumpets myself. The fact that it took off the way it did still takes me completely by surprise and makes my family laugh.” In the latest installment, Selene wakes up from a long hibernation to discover that vampires and their werewolf enemies, the Lycans, have been largely killed off by humans. ”They’ve been busted, basically,” Beckinsale says. ”The government has been wiping them out.” Emerging from her undead slumber, Selene also finds out that she has a long-lost teenage daughter (India Eisley). Having sat out the last Underworld film (2009’s prequel Rise of the Lycans), Beckinsale says it took a little adjustment to get back in the swing of things. ”It was weird putting on the costume again and remembering, ‘Oh, yes, this is how it feels to have a corset on for four months,”’ she says. ”I didn’t have quite so much ice cream as I normally would. But it does come back. You find yourself 20 feet up on a wire, going, ‘Yeah, I remember this.’ It’s like riding a bike.” Only with fangs, guns, and tons of blood. (Screen Gems) Jan. 20, 2012

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 1
Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Directed By Bill Condon
Bill Condon has never been to Comic-Con, nor has he ever seen for himself what can happen when Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner get in a room with thousands of screaming fans. ”It sounds insane! It sounds exciting,” he laughs. Comic-Con-bound Twihards can expect some never-before-seen clips from the highly anticipated penultimate chapter of The Twilight Saga — ”I’m trying to figure that out now,” says Condon. ”It’s a bit of a challenge ’cause we don’t want to give away the wedding dress, and some of the other big action scenes have wolves that won’t be ready in time” — in addition to a Q&A with the stars and the director. Fans will no doubt have plenty of questions: Breaking Dawn delves into much darker (and weirder) territory than previous outings, including Bella and Edward’s wedding, followed by a night of passion (cue flying feathers!) that results in Bella’s pregnancy with a half-vampire baby — not to mention a fantastically gruesome birth. Says Condon, ”What I’m really looking forward to is the experience of [screening the clips] with people who care so deeply about this.” (Summit) Nov. 18, 2011

Immortals
Starring Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Freida Pinto
Directed By Tarsem Singh
Although the sword-and-sandal epic is being billed as ”from the producers of 300,” don’t expect a replica of the 2007 blockbuster. ”If you liked 300, you’ll enjoy this,” says surrealist director Tarsem Singh (The Cell), ”but 300 is more of a comic-strip film, while this is a painting.” The big-budget action movie is loosely based on Greek mythology and the tale of Theseus. ”We just took the myth to tell the story we wanted to tell,” Singh explains. That story features Theseus (Henry Cavill) as a Men’s Health-worthy stonemason who, with a little help from Mount Olympus, recruits an army to battle the homicidal king Hyperion (Mickey Rourke). There will be blood — lots of 3-D blood. Or as Singh puts it: ”You’ll feel the violence.” (Relativity) Nov. 11, 2011

Abduction
Starring Taylor Lautner, Alfred Molina, Maria Bello, Sigourney Weaver
Directed By John Singleton
”It’s a movie for everyone,” Taylor Lautner promises of this thriller, in which he plays a high school senior who finds a picture of himself on a missing-persons website and sets out to learn his true identity. ”It’s not only got action, but it’s also a mystery with a lot of cool twists and turns, and romance, too.” This will be the 19-year-old’s third trip to Comic-Con, and the self-proclaimed superhero fan (”Iron Man is one of my favorite movies”) says he’d enjoy walking around the convention and checking out the other attractions — if he could. ”We’ve definitely talked and laughed about it: What if we put on a wig and prosthetics and went for it?” he laughs. ”But in the end, we’re too chicken.” (Lionsgate) Sept. 23, 2011

In Time
Starring Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde
Directed By Andrew Niccol
Writer-director Andrew Niccol serves up a sci-fi thriller set in a future where the aging gene has been turned off, enabling the wealthy to live forever while, to avoid overpopulation, the poor (including Justin Timberlake) are forced to work and hustle nonstop to buy themselves time. When Timberlake’s character is accused of murder, he is forced to go on the lam from a sinister police force called the Timekeepers. ”There’s a lot of running in this movie because people are literally running out of time,” Niccol says. ”I think Justin will be looked at in a totally different way after this film. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly have Justin Timberlake as an action hero.” (20th Century Fox) Oct. 28, 2011

The Adventures of Tintin
Starring Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig
Directed By Steven Spielberg
The boyish reporter Tintin loves a good mystery, and Steven Spielberg’s 3-D performance-capture take on this classic comics character (who enjoys a worldwide following, but less so in the U.S.) has been building one itself. Comic-Con will reveal how faithful Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson have been to the original Hergé comics and how much of the tale is new, while Jamie Bell, who stars as the intrepid title character, says those unfamiliar with Tintin need only know he’s a trouble seeker, not a troublemaker. ”His impetus is to solve problems and solve injustice,” Bell says. ”In a Sherlock Holmes way, he is obsessed by the story. That youthful, buoyant, jubilant energy comes from having something to chase.” (Paramount) Dec. 23, 2011

Warrior
Starring Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte
Directed By Gavin O’Connor
”It’s almost like a Rocky for 2011,” Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom) says of this movie about two estranged brothers — played by Edgerton and Tom Hardy (Inception) — who end up competing against each other in a mixed-martial-arts championship. ”Essentially there are two heroes about to collide in the same cage. And the beautiful thing is that you get to the point where you’re like, ‘I don’t know who will win this fight, and beyond that, on an emotional level, I don’t know who I want to win this fight.’ ” Edgerton says he’s looking forward to an upcoming screening of the film at Camp Pendleton. ”I reckon the soldiers are going to love it,” he predicts. But will there be tears as well as cheers? ”I tell you, if you don’t cry when you see this movie, I’m going to send you to someone because it means you are emotionally underdeveloped.” (Lionsgate) Sept. 9, 2011

Coming This Summer
Attack the Block
A gang of teenagers and their mugging victim join forces to fight aliens in this British comedy-horror movie. And the vibe may feel familiar to genre fans. ”We were careful not to be directly influenced, but it’s basically John Carpenter, Steven Spielberg, and Joe Dante, with a bit of Walter Hill,” says writer-director Joe Cornish. (Screen Gems) July 29, 2011

Conan the Barbarian
It’s been nearly three decades since the last Conan film, and producers are hoping star Jason Momoa’s redefined barbarian in this 3-D update directed by Marcus Nispel will reignite the franchise. ”I studied animals and a lot of samurai films,” says Momoa (Game of Thrones) about his preparation, which didn’t include watching Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Conan films. (Lionsgate) Aug. 19, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens
For the first time in Comic-Con history, a summer tentpole will premiere right smack in the middle of the convention. ”I owed it to the fans,” says Cowboys & Aliens director Jon Favreau, who picked San Diego for the debut of his genre-mashing action movie, starring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, as a thank-you for all the love conventioneers have given him in the past. (Universal) July 29, 2011

Fright Night
Having vampire Colin Farrell as a neighbor really…well, sucks. In a remake of the ’80s cult classic, Anton Yelchin (Star Trek) plays the kid who discovers the guy next door is a hellspawn who is literally sucking the life out of his friends. ”For a movie that’s pretty serious and gory, there’s a lot of camp to it, too,” Yelchin says. (DreamWorks) Aug. 19, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
The latest Apes incarnation is an origin story, set in the present, with James Franco as a scientist searching for an Alzheimer’s cure who stumbles onto a formula that boosts ape IQ. ”We didn’t go anywhere near the other sequels,” insists director Rupert Wyatt. ”It’s very much its own thing.” And don’t expect any rubber masks. All of the apes, including Caesar, leader of the revolt, were computer-generated. (Fox) Aug. 5, 2011

Written By Mandi Bierly, Anthony Breznican, Clark Collis, James Hibberd, Jeff Jensen, Lynette Rice, Dalton Ross, Josh Rottenberg, Dan Snierson, Tim Stack, Tanner Stransky, Benjamin Svetkey, Sara Vilkomerson, and John Young

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