Nicolas Cage was at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con today to promote his new action revenge movie, Drive Angry 3D. For those who are new to Drive Angry, here's a one line synopsis of the film: A vengeful father hunts down the people who brutally killed his daughter and kidnapped her baby.
Think of it as a supernatural version Taken, but with more guns, more blood, and, of course, 3D. Read on to see our thoughts on the panel and our first look at the adrenaline-charged footage.
The panel got started with a bang when moderator Drew McWeeny of HitFix introduced the footage. The lights dimmed, the audience donned their 3D glasses, and the screen filled with the image of a scarred Nicolas Cage holding a gun over a man.
The pair exchanged deliciously hammy dialogue before Cage blew up a car with a well-placed gunshot. Of course, this was but one of many cars that would blow up during the footage.
In the movie, Cage's character is an escapee from Hell. He's bloodthirsty as he seeks vengeance for his daughter and the footage did not shy away from showing the level of violence in the film. From what I can tell, Drive Angry earned its R-rating. It also didn't shy away from sexiness, showing the beautiful Amber Heard kicking ass in a pair of Daisy Duke shorts.
My favorite thing in the footage shown at the panel was the introduction of William Fichtner's character. Fichtner plays a man (demon?) sent from Hell to recapture Nicolas Cage. Fichtner's character may actually be the devil (I'm not entirely sure from the footage), but he certainly packs a punch. In one scene, for example, he puts a broken baseball bat through someone's shoulder.
Later, Nicolas Cage shows up with a gun called the God Killer (Fichtner: "How did you get the God Killer out?" Cage: "I walked in and took it.") which seems to be the only thing that can harm supernatural beings. When Cage shoots Fichtner with it, it only grazes his cheek, but it completely wrecks his car. Needless to say, it's a pretty powerful weapon.
Overall, I felt that the footage was pretty good. The movie was filmed in 3D, not converted in post-production, so it looked decent overall, though I still find overt 3D distracting to the viewing experience. Given that the movie is a throwback to late 1960s and early 1970s car chase/action films, the overly-stylized action and macho dialogue was appropriate. I don't know if Drive Angry will find a major audience, but it should appeal to genre fans (and anyone who likes to see Nic Cage snarl).
After the footage, McWeeny introduced Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, Bill Fichtner, and director Patrick Lussier. The panel Q& A was relatively short, so there isn't too much to report. One interesting nugget was how the film earned its title. Apparently, Lussier started work on the film around Groundhog's Day, which got him thinking about the Bill Murray movie. Lussier said he was reminded of the scene where Bill Murray tells the groundhog "Don't drive angry." He thought it would be funny to drop the don't and simply use "Drive Angry" as the title.
Nicolas Cage answered a question on why he took the role explaining that he likes characters who "raise more questions than answers." He said that his character is mysterious and has a way with the ladies.
Cage also remarked that he wanted to take on a film in 3D because of how it would challenge his acting and that he was comfortable with Lussier as a director because he's a "purist" when it comes to 3D filming.
Amber Heard talked about playing a tough female character and said that "those roles are rare," and that she was excited to be in a film where she could "throw some punches, shoot some guns and drive a ‘69 Charger along the way.”
Interestingly, Nicolas Cage did the majority of the stunt driving in the film. The stunt driving coordinator was the same person from Gone in 60 Seconds, so Cage was very comfortable behind the wheel. Cage did say he was happy driving fast, but he did get a little nervous when they put stunt women on the front of his car. Amber Heard chimed in that she was also on the hood of the car at certain points, meaning Nicolas Cage had to be extra careful.
Later, the panel took some questions from the audience, but most everything came back to Nicolas Cage explaining that he is eclectic and likes to star in eclectic movies. Altogether, it was an enjoyable panel, albeit short. To close things out, they showed the footage again. I still wasn't sold on it the second time, but I could see Drive Angry 3D growing on me.