Scannain @ MovieFest: Day 1

On September 8th and 9th Scannain had the great privilege to be present at the second annual Movie Fest held in Cineworld, Dublin. This two day event featured 6 Irish premieres and offered Irish movie fans their first glimpses at the upcoming slates from all of the big film producers and distributors. What follows is an experience of day one…

What we saw: Day One: Movies:
Paranorman – A fantastic start to the festival. ParaNorman tells the story of a young boy with an unusual gift…he can see and  talk to dead people. This gift sees him cast aside by his schoolmates, his family and the town at general, until he is called upon to use this gift to stop an evil curse and save his town. A very warm and funny comedy horror, with the focus very much on kids. Like all good zombie films it has a very moral core and the kids as heroes aspect works well as a change of pace for this genre. The animation is of the highest quality and the affection towards Amblin films and classic horror gives a nice nostalgic tone. The music by Jon Brion (Eternal Sunshine) is evocative of matinee drive-in films and underpins the human and fantasy elements equally well.

The film was introduced by director Chris Butler who did a Q&A session after the film with Spin 103.8’s Gordon Hayden. Butler was an engaging presence and very knowledgeable on his film, his genre and the state of the movie business in general.

Stitches – Very much a change of pace from the earlier lighter ParaNorman, Stitches is a comedy horror for fans of Brain Dead and The Evil Dead. The film tells the story of a clown who after suffering a horrific (accidental) death at the hands of a group of kids returns 6 years later to wreak his revenge. British comedian Ross Noble stars in this Irish production and his unhinged clown is easily the best thing in the film. The supporting cast are fine but unspectacular but the true highlight for horror fans are the sheer number of inventive death-scenes that pepper the film and put the Final Destination series to shame. Not for everyone but horror aficionados will love it.

Stitches was introduced by Noble and director Conor McMahon (Dead Meat) who stayed for a Q&A session after. McMahon was very quite with Noble coming across as a very likable guy and offering tons of anecdotes and stories about the making of the film.

Pitch Perfect (Mystery Movie #1) – The first surprise film of the festival divided the audience almost immediately. Some walked out but those that stayed enjoyed a surprisingly well-crafted if predictable musical-comedy with great performances and catchy musical numbers. Pitch Perfect follows Beca, a wannabe recod-producer who is forced to join a college all-girls singing group at the behest of her lecturer father. he wants her to have the college experience, she wants him to let her move to LA, this is the compromise. Soon she finds that she’s enjoying herself as The Bellas try and make their way to the all-collegiate final in New York. Anna Kendrick as Beca is magnificent here, the musical numbers are expertly performed and choreographed and while there’s a cheesiness the performances all-round ground the film with some believability. Rebel Wilson, John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks bring brilliant comedy into play which raises this above the Glee/High School Musical knock-off that it could have been.

What we saw: Day One: Footage:

Iron Man 3 – The MovieFest audience was treated to an extended intro sequence for Marvel’s third Iron Man outing featuring Tony Stark trying on the new Mark XLVII armour for the first time, which was shown at Comic-Con and no-where else so far. This was very entertaining and a nice segue-way to the trailer that followed.
Wreck-It Ralph – We were also shown a number of clips from Disney’s new animated feature Wreck-It Ralph. Each highlighted the exceptionally strong animation and humour of the film. These went down a storm with this particular audience.
Life of Pi – Two full scenes from 20th Century Fox’s Life of Pi from acclaimed director Ang Lee were shown The first featuring the Pi and his family on-board the ship to America, and the second showing Pi and a Bengal tiger onboard a lifeboat struggling to adapt to their situation. Despite not being fully finished the footage impressed with superb CGI and 3D effects.

What we saw: Day One: Trailers

Iron Man 3 – Previously unseen full-length trailer for this highly anticipated movie. Gave a good feel of Shane Black’s overall theme, as expected much darker than Jon Favreau’s, and offered telling glimpses of Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin and his destructive ways.

Wreck-It Ralph – Previously released theatrical trailer. Very well received by the audience.

Monsters University – Previously released teaser trailer. Introduced by John Goodman and Billy Crystal. Well received.

Frankenweenie – Previously released extended feature trailer. Well received.

Finding Nemo 3D – Previously released theatrical trailer. The audience enjoyed this despite familiarity with the film.

OZ The Great and Powerful – Previously released theatrical trailer. Introduced by Michelle Williams.

Tinkerbell And The Secret Of The Wings – Previously released theatrical trailer. Not well received by this audience.

Celeste and Jesse Forever – Previously released theatrical trailer. Well received despite issue with the end title card being cut off, prompting confusion over the name of the film.

Epic – Previously released theatrical trailer. Well received.

A Good Day To Die Hard – Sizzle reel trailer. Disappointingly featured no footage. The audience felt let down by this.

The Sessions – Previously released theatrical trailer. Well received.

Ruby Sparks – Previously released theatrical trailer. Very well received.

Life of Pi – Previously released theatrical trailer. Very well received and great intro for the footage that followed.

Overall Day One was a very strong mix of previously seen and new clips and footage. ParaNorman was the big winner, with Pitch Perfect surprising or confounding people. Organisationally the staff of MovieFest and Cineworld did a fine job dealing with the crowd, the seat-jumpers and keeping everything running smoothly.