7-25-03 Latest News

Xoanon @ 10:46 am EST

SAN DIEGO - We at TORn would be remiss if we didn't report on a few of the amazing events at the con. It is no secret that I, MrCere, am a serious comic book geek. Even if TORn and Tolkien didn't exist, I would be here walking the floor, waiting in lines, attending geek-intensive panels and ogling $5,000 issues of "Daredevil." I even thought about doing the credit card thing for all of about...15 seconds.

Still, the noise of Saturday is created by movies and with today's marriage of Hollywood's budgets and comic's characters, the excitement reaches fever pitch early in the day and never lets up. Literally minutes into Saturday thousands of fans were disappointed while thousands of others were seated and waiting for Halle Berry. We at TORn, while big...uh...supports of Berry's work were a bit too busy to even think of attending her "Gothika" preview. (Aintitcoolnews.com had a decent report which indicates she will not be doing an X3 and at another story there is even some great Tolkien related stuff as well - but watch the language.)

We did have some help bringing you some images and words of the New Line presentation (thanks New Line!) and while I planned to stay to watch "Hellboy" and "Van Helsing" there were reports to be typed and just plain stuff to do. I did linger long enough to watch the nervous Kate Beckinsale talk briefly about "Underworld." I need to report that yes, she IS the world's most beautiful woman. Berry finishes a close second. The panel moderator didn't like my question and wouldn't let me ask it so I left with better things to worry about.

So, all this "Hollywood South" as San Diego becomes on Saturday, while real fun, has a real dark side as well. This year in particular, there was a lot of chaos and a lot of unhappy folks. I had a brief chat with two of CC's higher-ups and they commented on the amazing growth of the Con. Last year about 65,000 people showed up and attendance was up more than 30 percent through Saturday. Con unofficially anticipated needing a new ballroom every two years. Suddenly they are needing two new ballrooms every one year. Despite the unbelievably big convention center, this Con has outgrown it. They must do something different with ticketing or line-waiting because people were furious this year amid all the disappointment and bad information. Some folks traveled from across great oceans to see a star and then are crushed when they cannot. Tales of folks crying at the TORn booth because they couldn't get into something are not fables.

Lost in the glitz are some of the very best things CC can offer. Ray Bradbury was on hand with friends and co-workers Forrest J. Ackerman and Julius Schwartz. I heard Bradbury and Schwartz last year talk about the early days of comics and sci-fi and it was warm, funny and captivating. This year I missed out but so did a lot of folks who were busy waiting in a foolish line. Too bad. Bradbury is a treasure that will not be around for ever but whose works will live long beyond "Laura Croft: Tomb Raider."

I did attend two after-hours events that I really want to mention for two reasons. One, they were amazing. Two, most readers who want to find these non-LOTR items have a decent chance to do so.

The first was a Thursday night event that might be of interest to TORnados: "The Star Wars Fan Film Awards." As the title suggests, these are fan-made films that take place in or mostly spoof the world that George Lucas created. Despite a TORn staffer's warning that they would all suck, I went anyway, alone (a geek among geeks) and had a hell of a time. These films were funny, sometimes looked professionally polished and were really better than I expected. Somewhere, someday they will be on line or in a DVD store. One of the winners, the 25-year-old "Hardware Wars" was available on its own on video in the '80s.

I can't wait for the day when our own fandom will produce similar bits of humor and cleverness in a film format. I do believe our fandom will stand the test of time and produce, approved or not, short bits of brilliance. Get to it fan boys and girls.

Anyway for those who wish to pursue this Star Wars thing further.

We were told before and after the program of films that we should stick around and watch a 30-minute stage production of all three of the original Star Wars trilogy. I couldn't think of anything less appealing but since I was alone anyway with no computer to type a TORn report on, just what else was I going to do? I could always walk out...right?

Brilliance. This show, three movies in 30 minutes, was brilliant! The cast of less than a dozen delivered the lines, physically played the parts and used minimalist props to deliver a show that I am convinced must tour around the country. Stormtroopers wore white bike helmets while Chewbacca switched to Darth Vader by pulling his black cape over his brown chest carpet and slipping on a pair of sunglasses. Main characters like Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Leia Skywalker mostly were one-character actors but there supporting cast switched roles lighting fast for lighting fast delivery of movie dialog. The plot moved briskly, the props use was fantastic and hilarious and all the classic lines and events were there including space battles.

Luke hanging from the bottom of Cloud City, the death of Vader and Yoda, Luke training on Dagobah and the death of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru were so funny I couldn't stop laughing. Jabba the Hut and Admiral Akbar and Han jumping on top of an actor-played Taun Tuan literally forced tears to jump and roll down my cheeks and I was far from alone. This troupe played in Los Angeles for several months and I am unsure of their future but if they tour or if you visit L.A. this is absolutely a cannot miss production. One supporting actor is a big TORn supporter. I hope she gets in touch with me and provides updates!

The second event that literally caused me to laugh tears was during "Spike & Mike's Sick And Twisted Animation Festival." The con enforced a no-under-18 rule but this was more tame than South Park to be sure.

Anyway, some of these short cartoons are funny while others are not. The audience is free to boo or applaud as they see fit and Spike and Mike take the show out on the road and tour around the country. I would recommend it most years for those who like such things but because of one little feature called "The Return Of Dr. Tran," the 2003 show is also a cannot miss.

The cartoon is actually a trailer for a non-existent movie and it starts out with a little chuckle. The humor builds gradually, joke after joke, but eventually, when it climaxed with some things I wouldn't dare spoil and of an adult nature, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. The rest of the festival's cartoons were ruined because Dr. Tran set a standard that cannot be approached. Overall, production values were much higher than usual and let me state again in case it wasn't clear: DO NOT MISS A CHANCE TO VIEW THE DR. TRAN CARTOON.

Okay, so the beauty of CC is that I missed a whole bunch of things I wanted to go to. While that is too bad for me, the wealth of available stuff is too good to miss. In addition to all of that, you get free TORn buttons. Has anybody spotted them on Ebay yet?