It's not always easy to see a panel at Comic-Con. You've got to invest significant time - sometimes hours - to see what sometimes amounts to an hour-long advertisement. That's not to say you can't take in a panel and enjoy it, but the sheer number of people trying to attend, many of whom have the same interests as you do, can often make it nearly impossible to see more than a few each day.
It's because of this that I try my best to pick out one or two panels each day at Comic-Con that I really want to see more than any others. If I tried to see every panel that looked interesting, I'd spend all day jumping from line to line, probably missing out on most.
The Rotten Tomatoes panel, thought, affectionately titled "Your Opinion Sucks!", is one of those panels that is a must-see.
I didn't know too much about the panel until I saw Rotten Tomatoes EIC Matt Atchity walking on the convention floor during preview night. Matt is a great guy who I've had the fortune of seeing at the show for the past three years. I'll never understand why he recognizes me, but we were able to have a nice chat on Wednesday evening, during which he told me about the panel, which was to take place on Friday evening, after the convention had closed up shop for the night.
At around 7:00 on Friday, I made my way up to the second floor of the convention center and found the room in which the panel was to take place. I went in early and caught the tail end of the Zenescope panel (which was something). At 7:20, the room cleared and I took at seat at the front. I'm glad that I made it there early, because the room filled to capacity quickly with minutes to spare.
I honestly didn't know what to expect. The panel was described as "critics vs. fans", and Matt had mentioned that it had gotten a little rowdy in previous years. Panelists began to file in and I got a few pictures before it all started. The emcee for the evening was RT senior editor Grae Drake, dressed as Crow T. Robot from Mystery Science Theater 3000. To say that she is quick witted isn't doing her justice.
I grew up watching Leonard Maltin on Entertainment Tonight with my parents, so I was taken back when he came in. I had to get a picture to send to my mom. It was well received.
In many panels, the line for questions and answers fills up almost immediately. This panel offered something much different, though. Audience members were encouraged to discuss a movie and rate it as either "fresh" or "rotten". Then they had to justify their choice to a panel of professional movie critics. We were all given paddles with the icons on them and everyone in the room, panelist and audience member, could vote on whether or not they agreed with the speaker.
I jumped up and got in line pretty quickly. Above is a picture of me standing in line, apparently very pleased with myself.
In addition to Leonard Maltin and the Atchity/Drake team from RT, there were a number of other critics, including Alonso Duralde from The Wrap, Scott Mantz from Access Hollywood and Tiffany Smith from Fandango.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that it's probably the most fun I've had at a Comic-Con panel. The back-and-forth interaction between the audience and panel was spirited and exciting. It was one of the few panels I've seen where it seemed like everyone in the room was actually enjoying themselves.
I had a few people ahead of me in line, which moved quickly and dealt with a wide range of films and included some passionate debate and keen insight (a fan's review of Hancock changed the way I'll look at that movie forever). To give you a little context as to the below video, the two people directly ahead of me talked about the Transformers movies (the first in the series and then the third). They each provided some great setup for my entry into the discussion, which my wife happened to film, unbeknownst to me at the time:
I've apparently kept a lot of pent up frustration about the television show "Lost", and it was fun to let it out and tell my opinions to a large group of others. The reaction to the show was fairly mixed at the beginning, but I think that I at least got my point across to those who might disagree.
Completely unexpected (and very much appreciated) was Matt's mentioning of the Tick after my rant was over. I'm just glad I kept my composure and didn't totally freak out in front of a group of people, who all seemed genuinely excited that I was writing the book.
As the event let out (and we all went on to other events...pictures from which I'll post soon), I managed to get one more picture with some of the panel critics. What a fun time. The Rotten Tomatoes panel is on my permanent "do to" list as long as it has a forum at Comic-Con. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it.