SDCC 2016: Doing the Con Without the Badge

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Admiring the Convention Center and all that was happening inside, while we tried to have fun outside of it

It was a sad day in November when my cousin and I failed to secure our SDCC badges during Pre-Reg. We felt even worse when we struck out again during Open Reg. Despite our bad luck, we decided to still head down to San Diego and partake in the off-site Con activities, with Nerd HQ being our main priority.

Even with our focus on Nerd HQ, if you’ve ever tried to get panel tickets for it, you know it’s almost as hard as getting actual Con badges. They go on sale and less than a minute later, they’re gone. Cousin and I couldn’t get tickets for the Zachary Levi panel, or Zac and Friends, or Orphan Black, and then somehow we FINALLY lucked out and got tickets for the Stephen Amell and Friends panel. So we set Friday as our day to wander downtown.

First on the agenda? Go see Star Trek Beyond. Yeah, we know, so much to do, so little time, but it’s Star Trek! During Comic-Con weekend! In San Diego! We weren’t gonna pass on that. So we went straight to Horton Plaza for the 10AM showing, and because everybody was busy doing actual Con stuff, we were maybe 2 of 10 people in that screening. For what it’s worth, it was a really fun and enjoyable action movie, with just the right amount of character building/drama to push it past some other mindless action movies.

Star Trek Beyond

Special postcard-size lithograph from the screening

After the movie, we had about two hours to check out all the stuff around the Convention Center, so we made our way down Gaslamp. Our objective was pretty much to get the Entertainment Weekly Comic-Con issue (because duh, Wonder Woman/Gal Gadot on the cover), which we knew wasn’t going to be difficult, and get whatever free stuff we could get our hands on. Free Zico coconut water? Thank you for the much needed hydration on a hot day in San Diego! I would’ve liked to check out the Suicide Squad Belle Rive set-up and the NBC stuff at Tin Fish, but there were some hella lines going on and limited time. Had we not gone to see the movie, I definitely would’ve hit up Camp Conival just to check out the Nerdist panels (mainly to see the always wonderful Dark Matter cast) but I didn’t feel the need to go otherwise. It was a quick run through the Petco Interactive Zone, which seemed a little lacking this year, though maybe it was just that there was nothing that particularly interested us. The FXhibition was just whatever for me, seeing as how the only two shows I watch on the network are The Americans and You’re the Worst, both of which are not Con shows, so didn’t care for it. Ditto with the Adult Swim.

I think it’s always fun to check out the yachts docked behind the Convention Center, mainly because celebs make their way through to do interviews. But unless you’ve got insider info somehow, you don’t know who will be coming at any given time. A couple of years ago we caught some of the cast of The Walking Dead walk by. This year, we stuck around for all of 2 minutes and nearly bumped into Stan Lee!

A highlight of our short time around the Center was Con-X, the Entertainment Weekly off-site. It was located in the Embarcadero Marina Park, so it was quite a bit of a walk from the Center, meaning it wasn’t that busy. It might’ve been a little busier had we gotten there when they were doing interviews, but at that moment there wasn’t anything. Anyways, the free stuff was obviously the best part. Free Krispy Kreme donut, with a side of Power Rangers swag (posters, lanyards, pins)? Why, thank you! Free water? Again, thanks for keeping us hydrated! Free ice cream? That one came with an asterisk of having to take a picture with the Scream Queens people (not the cast) and sharing on social media (an annoying re-occurance). Really, you’re gonna make me work for the ice cream? I don’t even like the show, I just want the damn ice cream. PASS. Free t-shirts though?! YES PLEASE! Except there was a sizable line-up that we didn’t have time for, so unfortunately we also had to pass on that. So a good amount of free food, drinks, and swag – hope EW brings this back next year!

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Then it was onward to NerdHQ for the panel! When they announced the Stephen and Friends panel, I immediately just assumed that more of the Arrow cast was going to be there, but then I thought “Wouldn’t they just call it an Arrow panel then?” I followed up that thought with “What if he brings Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist?!” which didn’t happen. Instead, the “and Friends” part of the panel consisted of Emily Bett Rickards (YAYYYY!!), Cody Rhodes fka Stardust (amusing but meh), Arthur Darville, and a surprise appearance from John Barrowman. I’m not gonna go into detail about the panel because you can just watch it, but needless to say, it was pretty fun. Stuck around NerdHQ for the rest of the afternoon after the panel, in hopes of catching some Smiles for Smiles, but nothing happened so that was it for us.

Needless to say, it was a whirlwind day. It’s true, there is SO much going on in the downtown area outside of the convention center that it will keep you busy. But just like everything else, it all comes down to personal preference – not to mention how willing you are to wait for something. I mean sure, SDCC (or any other Con for that matter) is lovingly nicknamed Line Con, but when you’ve got one day, or in our case a couple hours, you gotta pick your battles.

BUT WAIT! My cousin didn’t get a chance to meet up with her friend on Friday to deliver some stuff, so we managed to squeeze in one more hour on Saturday! As luck would have it, in that hour that we were back downtown, somewhat close to NerdHQ, they announced separate Smiles for Smiles with Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights) and Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley). One of my other cousins got a picture with Kumail, while I ran in to get one of the last pictures with Scott. Even if it was for only like 20 seconds, at least I can say I finally got to meet Scott (Jason Street/George Tucker, y’all!) Regardless, my limited SDCC turned out to be a success!

Smiles for Smiles

So SDCC without the badge was fine, but just for the day. I guess if we had spent more than one day then we probably could’ve done more of the other stuff that required us standing in line for a long time. But honestly, being so close to the Convention Center and not being able to go inside was kinda brutal. I mean with all the panels and not getting to see some of my faves again? Harsh. I missed the final SDCC panel for Orphan Black (I’m certain I’ll still be able to see them at one of the Toronto cons at least). Missed DC TV, Agents of SHIELD, Luke Cage. I missed getting the chance to see my Nikita people again – Shane West for Salem, and even Maggie Q came back this year promoting Designated Survivor! I MISSED SEEING ANNA KENDRICK AND JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE (there for the Trolls portion of the Dreamworks panel)! I’m not entirely sure I’d want to put myself through that again if I don’t get badges again next time. It’s one thing to suffer serious FOMO when you’re at home, but when you’re so close to the action and not at the same time? I don’t think my fangirl heart can take it.

DVD Review: 10 Years

10 Years

I am so incredibly happy that I finally get to write about 10 Years. I had the pleasure of seeing this movie back in September 2011, when it made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and I instantly fell in love with it. The movie succeeded in getting distribution at the festival, so I waited rather impatiently for the chance to see it a second time, and now that it has been released on DVD, I finally get to watch and enjoy the movie over and over again.

10 Years is a film written and directed by Jamie Linden, who previously wrote the screenplays for We Are Marshall and Dear John. The movie is about the lives of high school friends and what they discover about each other when they come together for their high school reunion. The ensemble cast is comprised of a wonderful group of this generation’s actors, including Channing Tatum (who also serves as a producer on the film), Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Scott Porter, Justin Long, Rosario Dawson, Max Minghella, Kate Mara, Oscar Isaac, Chris Pratt, Ari Graynor, Brian Geraghty, Lynn Collins, Aaron Yoo, Aubrey Plaza, and Anthony Mackie.

Cast of 10 Years at TIFF 2011 premiere (L-R: Brian Geraghty, Lynn Collins, Kate Mara, Ari Graynor, Aaron Yoo, Oscar Isaac, Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Scott Porter, Kelly Noonan, Max Minghella, Justin Long, writer/director Jamie Linden)

Cast of 10 Years at TIFF 2011 premiere (L-R: Brian Geraghty, Lynn Collins, Kate Mara, Ari Graynor, Aaron Yoo, Oscar Isaac, Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Scott Porter, Kelly Noonan, Max Minghella, Justin Long, writer/director Jamie Linden)

The premise of a high school reunion isn’t anything revelatory or new. What Linden has done is actually make an ensemble character drama that just so happens to take place at a high school reunion. The movie takes on the questions that come up when you’re well in your 20s and are faced with an event like a reunion (How much have I changed since high school? Am I living the life I want? Am I happy with who I am with? What happened to “the one that got away”? Is life what you expected it to be?) The answers are delivered with varying degrees of insecurity and self-actualization that is expected of anybody in this situation, as well as an abundance of charm and heart.

One of the best things about the movie is that, despite the fact that they assembled an all-star cast, when you watch it, you feel like you know these people and not in the way that you’re watching actors in a movie. It happens a lot of times when movies are made with the full intention of casting a lot of actors that you get taken out of the movie and are too busy reveling in so-and-so’s presence, rather than focusing on their characters (looking at you Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and What to Expect…) With 10 Years, even with instances like Scott Porter’s character being named Scott Porter, you don’t feel like you’re just watching a bunch of actors on screen. It makes you feel like you were attending your own high school reunion and that you were friends with these people. There’s a realness to it that carries on throughout the movie, where you also get the sense that the cast are actually friends in real life, not just put together for filmmaking purposes.

10 Years is a great movie to watch, no matter what kind of mood you’re in. It’s the very definition of a dramedy – a drama with comedic elements to balance it out. It’s too bad the movie didn’t get a wider release in theaters, with proper marketing, because with this cast alone, it could have been a decent hit at the box office. That aside, it is out there and available for everyone to see now, so I sincerely encourage you to give this movie a try; you won’t be disappointed.

Save This Show!: Hart of Dixie (The CW)

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In the fourth installment of this series of blog posts, I wanted to put the spotlight on The CW’s “Hart of Dixie,” starring Rachel Bilson, Scott Porter, Wilson Bethel, Jaime King, and Cress Williams. Despite the reunion of Rachel with “The O.C” creator Josh Schwartz, Hart of Dixie hasn’t quite caught on. One could say that it’s not a “splashy” show like some of the others on the network (ex. The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl).

I’m not going to rave about the writing like I did with Nikita and Fringe, because that’s like apples and oranges. Hart of Dixie harks back to the old WB days, with its focus being on character drama. No vampires, witches, supernatural beings, rich people and their ridiculous drama, just people with standard TV problems. It’s a simple show that sometimes get lost in the hoopla of other shows.

I’ve got a friend who said she tried to watch the show but everything looked fake about it. I get what she was saying, sort of. For one thing, I know for a fact that they do film the show on the Warner Brothers lot (Rammer Jammer gave it away), instead of some actual small town. The actors’ accents might be a little exaggerated, but I’m not from the South so what do I know? And apparently, people still can’t get over the fact that Rachel Bilson does not look believable as a doctor. To me at least, I feel like you can get over those things. Suspension of disbelief for 42 minutes isn’t going to kill you. If you can get past those things, you’ll see that the show has a lot of charm to it, which really is the biggest selling point of the show. The men of the show have charm in spades, fully taking on the phrase “Southern Charm.” And if you loved Rachel Bilson on “The O.C.” there’s no reason not to like her here.

“Hart of Dixie” isn’t necessarily appointment television, but it’s a show that puts a smile on your face. It’s a wonderful mix of drama and comedy, which I’ve only found done well on some of the cable shows. For a network comparison, I can only really think of “Glee.” And while I like “Glee” I’ve found that it occasionally tries too hard to be funny and serious. With Dixie, it’s just very light-hearted and it’s certainly not a bad way to end off your Monday nights.