Empire Big Screen – Day One Review

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Empire Big Screen (2011)


I’m now on my long break between sessions at Empire’s Big Screen so it’s a good time to report back on my thoughts so far.

First – the positives. The screening of ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ with a special video introduction by Andy Serkis was great. It was better than I had anticipated and a real joy to see. The motion capture and special effects by Weta were outstanding and represent a real jump forward in film technology. You will believe the Apes are real and you’ll feel their emotions.

The world exclusive preview scenes from ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ were fantastic and there was a real buzz in the room after each clip was shown. I predict this will be a critical and popular success in the UK. The cast is phenomenal – Gary Oldman, John Hurt and Benedict Cumberbatch were particularly impressive in the few minutes that we saw. It was great to hear from producer Robyn Slovo and screenwriter Peter Straughan on their experiences making the movie and working with John le Carre.

Universal and 20th Century Fox both presented showcases. Some upcoming films look great and I’m already making sure they are in my diary.

I’m especially excited by ‘The Raven’ – a thriller starring John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe, ‘In Time’ – a sci-fi drama that Fox insist will turn Justin Timberlake into a genuine leading man, and blatant Oscar-bait ‘The Debt’ starring Helen Mirren and Tom Wilkinson as former Mossad agents sent to track down Nazi war criminals.

My guilty pleasure of the day – I also like the look of Tower Heist starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. It looks brain-dead, stupid and really quite funny.

Now for the negatives. The organisation has been woeful. Sessions have started appallingly late and the (very patient) audiences have been left wondering what’s going on. People are telling me how disappointed they are with the logistics of the day. Hopefully these are teething problems and will be straightened out for Saturday and Sunday but Diamond Experience ticket holders want to know why they paid the extra ticket money.

The screens are manned mostly by volunteers who are lovely and trying their best to help, but they’ve clearly had no orientation or training and are as confused as the audiences.  The scheduling is horrendous and seems designed to ensure that everything interesting over-laps. Having the showcase sessions 15 minutes apart hasn’t worked as guests and presenters haven’t had time to get from one session to the next in time, and when they do get there they’re out of breath from the mad dash.

As a seasoned convention goer (and exhibitor) I’m really disappointed with the exhibition. Closed when the day began and with very few decent exhibitors. Mostly trailers and folk selling autographs and posters.

I have really enjoyed the sessions that I’ve attended and I’m still very much looking forward to the advance screening of Cowboys and Aliens tonight. However, Empire have missed a great opportunity to create an exciting event that filmgoers would love.

Previous and next posts in this series:<< Empire Big Screen Day has arrivedEmpire Big Screen – Day Two Review >>
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