Anne Marie here, surviving on pop tarts and coffee and delivering film news live(ish) from SDCC. This next bit covers two very different panels that were placed side-by-side: kid-friendly The Boxtrolls and blood-and-guts comic book noir Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.
The latest picture from the studio that brought us Coraline and ParaNorman is another stop-motion animation that made the chattering crowd of Hall H stop and stare. The trailer gave us everything we expect from Laika; a creative world, seamless animation, and humor. But they really got the audience's attention from a preview of a nearly wordless scene featuring the Boxtrolls searching through the garbage and playing with a trashed teddy bear. Have you ever heard 6,000 people "aww" at the same time? It's both loud and cute.
The panel assembled creators Travis Knight, Anthony Stacchi, and Graham Annable, along with voice talent Elle Fanning (bubbling over and wearing yellow eyeshadow), Isaac Hempstead, and Sir Ben Kingsley. The Boxtrolls is based on Here Be Giants, and has been 8 years in the making (as long as Coraline, as the head of Laika informed us). Stop-motion animation is hardcore! Knight and Stacchi described a bit of the time-consuming frame-by-frame process, which puts animators through a physical wringer, burned fingers handling lights, contorted bodies fitting in tiny sets, sliced hands handling puppets. Knight admitted the sets get destroyed too, as the man-sized cameras push through the doll-size set pieces. The sacrifices look worth it, though. The Boxtrolls looks utterly unique.
Sin City sequel after the jump...
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
It's been a decade since Robert Rodriguez's adaptation of Frank Miller's Sin City. Normally I'd think 10 years is a little too long for a sequel, but I just watched an entire hall lose its mind over the new Mad Max franchise. The original Sin City was one of the progenitors of our current age of the comic book movie, but it's still unique in that it's comic book style remains unabashedly stylized in a way no other movie has (successfully) copied. The preview footage shown of A Dame To Kill For's opening sequence and the teaser showed more of the same exaggerated noir style (and uncomfortable minority stereotypes).
Frank Miller got dragged into the convention hall with Robert Rodriguez, Rosario Dawson, Josh Brolin, and Jessica Alba. Miller remains fervently anti-Hollywood. He grumbled that he gave up screenwriting when he discovered screenplays "are fire hydrants circled by dogs" and later stated that he thought he'd created an un-film-able comic with Sin City. Rodriguez, though, is a Frank Miller überfan, and quickly asserted that he's not a Sin City director, he's a Frank Miller facilitator. Rosario Dawson agreed. Apparently Rodriguez likes to put Miller's sketches next to the monitor to make sure he's got it exactly right. That makes it sound like an expensive motion comic. Could be that, or it could be a more honest adaptation.
The digital filmmaking technologies --from greenscreen to CGI and more-- that made the first Sin City so alien and unique to audiences in 2004 is old hat by 2014. While that has meant more opportunities (Rodriguez gleefully told us that he wrote the score with the aid of his smartphone), it also means that Rodriguez and company can't rely on the newness or the oddness of it to draw people to the theater.
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