2007: a Comic-Con Odyssey

Or, How I learned to stop worrying and love sleep deprivation, huge crowds and wonderful toys

And then there's Grendel, played by Crispin Glover, working with director Robert Zemeckis for the first time since Back to the Future. Picture a giant Gollum, only he's got scales and is a zombie, plus his head is slightly Glover-shaped. There's an implication in what we saw that Hrothgar is Grendel's father, which I don't remember from the old story, but I never read the uncut original, so maybe.

We were shown the entire second reel. It opens with Grendel's arm getting ripped off and blood pouring over the camera's point-of-view. Beowulf is naked, his dick only just obscured. He is hailed as a hero, but meanwhile, the dying Grendel goes home to Mama, who appears to be a giant fish-demon (though she's not fully glimpsed). In a language that sounds like Old English, he tells his mom, before shriveling and dying, that Beowulf did this to him.

In the night, we see things through what must be Mama Grendel's eyes, flying in through the skylight of the great hall. Meanwhile, Beowulf has a bad dream about the queen, who demands, "Enter me and give me a son!" before getting freaky-evil-looking, and of course Beowulf jerks upward and awakens at this point, to see bodies hanging from the ceiling.

Once he figures out the deal, Beowulf sets off to face Big Bad Mama by himself. He enters her lair, and she shows up . . . but as a naked Angelina Jolie. Yup, naked. The Lara Croft ponytail moves like a serpent's tail. A tiny bit of dripping gold liquid obscures her nipples. Then she approaches Beowulf, and . . .

Look, we can't beat about the bush on this (no pun intended, she's smooth below the waist): She masturbates his sword until it dissolves into a thick liquid. Allegedly, this movie is aiming for a PG-13, but I do not see how. This will make teenage boys grow hair. Remember, it's gonna be in 3-D IMAX.

As for the rest of the movie—how is animation an advantage? Twofold: One, Ray Winstone as Beowulf. Two, it's easier to do cool 3-D stuff in CG animation.

However, it's a bit like Robert Rodriguez was with digital cinema—one gets the sense Zemeckis thinks this technology is a bit better than it actually is. This is an early cut, though. Who knows if there will ever be a market for actual porn in 3-D IMAX, so this may be as close as it "comes" for a while.

You know what sucks, though? McFarlane is doing the toys, and their Mama Grendel figure is the fish-demon version. Not naked Jolie.

A posed photo of us press folk staring at the screen would end up making its way into the pages of USA Today.

*     *     *

Sometimes the B-level stars who have autograph booths can misbehave.

Upstairs at the convention center is an area called the Sails Pavilion. In the morning, it serves as a holding pen for people waiting to enter the exhibit hall. During the day, several "celebrities" such as "wrestling superstar Virgil" have autograph booths there.

Part of the pavilion is roped off for an art show (no photos allowed). You can only enter this part through a couple of doors.

Posted on said doors is the following warning: "This is access to nowhere but the art show. If you try to use this as a pass-through, you will be turned back—even if you're Sam Jones."

So the star of 1980's Flash Gordon has been trying to break the rules?

"Security! Flash Gordon approaching!"

"Vhat do you mean . . . Flash . . . Gordon . . . approaching?"

*     *     *

Random observation No. 1: Cans of Coke are $2.50 in the convention center. Just a regular 12-ounce can.

Random observation No. 2: It seems as though every movie being promoted here is opening next May. That can't be right, can it? A new Narnia film is promised every May for the next six years.

On Sunday, the last day, I found the toys I was looking for.

When the announcer over the P.A. system said there were five minutes left till closing, I walked next door to the Marriott bar and had some drinks. It was practically empty. And there wasn't any food.

The guy next to me at the bar was on a trip down the coast with his wife. He had planned this adventure with no idea what he would be finding himself in the middle of.

I wished him well. He admired my 18-inch talking Hannibal Lecter figure.

Time now for both of us to go home.


lythompson@ocweekly.com

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