For the the first time in three days I find myself at my desk and not in the O2 flanked by my friends and colleagues waiting for the onslaught of dozen montages of future films to blind my senses while I liveblog events like a man possessed.
Instead we’re taking a moment to reflect on some of the panels we couldn’t report on live and give our reaction to what we saw. All of the liveblogs we posted during the events, which include the emotional return of The Muppets, Guy Ritchie introducing some new footage from Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, a closer look at Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus and Disney’s unveiling of two key scenes from John Carter, can be found in the posts here – just click on each panel and read the live blog we carried out.
Unfortunately security was a touch heavy handed and inconsistent and during some of the panels we were asked to close up laptops which brought a halt to our live blogging so here’s our reaction from the Sony panel in which we saw extended looks of Arthur Christmas and Aardman’s Pirates flick.
Writer Peter Baynham came on stage looking pleased as punch to finally be able to show some of the film off. What we saw of Arthur Christmas were certainly more enticing than the trailers and showed off what Baynham had in mind when he told the assembled Big Screen audience that when the thought hit him to explain exactly how Father Christmas delivered all the presents in one night – how the elves and the Christmas family lineage works into the mythology. There’s a huge operation which goes on every Christmas featuring thousands of ninja like Elves deliver presents with furious precision. Like a team of generous assassins who silently give presents instead of death – there’s even a child scanner to decipher the naughtiness/niceness percentage – think Christmas: Impossible and you’re there.
There were a dozen sight gags on offer as the clip played out and though a hole of logic so vast Santa’s girth could easily fit through appeared in the clip it looked like charming stuff – visually a little like The Incredibles but there’s plenty of talent behind the camera and the voices to give this one a distinctive flavour.
If the Arthur Christmas footage looked polished to Pixarian heights then Aardman’s traditional stop motion extravaganza The Pirates! In an adventure with Scientists looked even better. We got to see the trailer and a few clips already online but we were led through the cast of characters one by one with a very short clip introducing each beginning with Hugh Grant’s Pirate Captain and Martin Freeman as the first mate being almost completely outshone by Imelda Staunton’s roaring monarch in the shape of Queen Victoria and the legend that is Brian Blessed appearing as the Pirate King (dressed as Elvis naturally). So great was the response to Blessed’s name and subsequent short scene that played out prompted Peter Lord to tell us how the walls of the recording booth shook as the Pirate King boomed out his lines. Can’t wait to see him in action.
We were then treated to a sizzle reel which contained many behind the scenes elements which showed off the staggering set designs which leaves you with a new appreciation of the work which goes into a production on this scale and in this medium. Lord was very keen to point out the tangible nature of the film and this is evident in the new footage we saw. Huge set pieces with cannonballs splintering the sides of ships and golden rooms filled with coins – the character moments with Grant and Freeman give a good impression of Gideon Defoe’s adaptation of his own book.