Marital bliss was almost destroyed before Armageddon started, with Film Nerd insisting on getting in line by 6.30am for a 9am start, meaning we were up at an absurdly early hour. Bride of Film Nerd was rightly upset that when we arrived at this time, only three other attendees were present. People started to slowly arrive though, and we made some friends in the queue, as we have previously discovered is quite normal for an event like this. Yes, the number of people attending was much less than we had observed at Supanova last year, and the cosplay was not as prominent, but as this is the first time the event has been in Sydney, this is perhaps less than surprising.
When we did get in after our long wait, the event was overall quite enjoyable, especially as it was extremely well organised. All stars had scheduled photo times, the panels all ran smoothly, and the separation of the main stage from the comic/anime stage meant there was no sound interference between stages, and the provided guide was very well detailed. So in this sense, it was a much better event than Supanova. Where it was a little disappointing are perhaps in areas that the event coordinators could not be blamed. As mentioned earlier, there was not as much cosplay to fascinate you as you walked around the Dome, whereas at Supanova it was sensory overload with not being able to turn around without seeing a costume. There were also far fewer commercial stands available, which I suspect is partially due to the fact the event is new. If the amount of people attending, and the number of stalls increases for next year, this event may indeed be formidable competition for Supanova.
I have posted cosplay photos below, and discussions of celebrity panels will follow.
Renee O’Connor and Hudson Leick
The first celebrity guest panel I observed, though only partially, was that of Renee O’Connor and Hudson Leick. The reason I only saw the beginning is one of those tough choices at an event like this between the panel and a guest photo opportunity (in this case with John Rhys-Davies, see below). What I did see started with a preview of the type of films Renee (Gabrielle from Xena) is making now. It did not immediately strike gold with me, but there were good comic moments in it. As for the question time, Hudson proved to have quite the sense of humour, for instance threatening to take her clothes off unless the crowd gave a more vocal response (clearly resulting in a vocal response). It was starting to get in-depth by the time I left, so further commentary would better be left to other attendees of the event.
David Anders, whom I am most familiar with as Sark from Alias, clearly one of the younger guests present at not yet 30, was a bit shy to start but as the panel progressed he got more relaxed and was quite entertaining. As with the best panels, he shared anecdotes, and let the fans into his world. I even got a question in myself, enquiring whether his interest in sci-fi and his previous work with J.J. Abrams may result in a role in a future Star Trek feature. Though nothing of the sort seems to have been discussed, it seems he is far from against the idea, especially getting the chance to act alongside former Heroes co-star Zachary Quinto.
As far as I am aware, Karen does not often hit the convention circuit, so from that perspective it was a real treat to be able to go and hear her talk. She shared some moments from her career, obviously a huge focus being on Indiana Jones’ Marion Ravenwood. She came across as very sweet and genuine, and fielded a question of how poor the last Indiana Jones film not only with diplomacy, but very satisfyingly as well. That said, of the panels I saw it was not always quite as interesting as others, though I am still glad I went.
Meeting John Rhys-Davies in the photo session was a real treat for all of us. If it looks like we were all laughing, that would be because we were. You see, John was tickling us just as the photo was taken, a tickle which Urban Fantasist returned, so we got an early dose of his sense of humour and frankly the photo benefited from it!!
Follow this by his panel, and that was truly something else. The audience held on to his every word. He covered many topics, including topics outside acting, and almost every time he finished a thought there was applause around the room. He was very candid, and not always selecting stories that painted him in the best light. He even addressed the fact he was considered the “grumpy” one on set of Lord of the Rings, but given the pain he appeared to be in at the time, I don’t think anyone could blame him. I could dedicate a whole extra post to the interesting things he had to say. I was taping it, but sadly my battery died. All I know is that it was the first time I really could have listened to a panel for another whole hour!! In his concluding comments though he was very generous in his heartfelt thanks for the Australian support for our New Zealand neighbours in this time of need. It was very touching.
This was another fantastic panel, and though not at the John Rhys-Davies level, when you consider this man is 70 years old, that is absolutely forgivable. He was also candid and self-deprecating about his career. A lot of people left mid panel, which he noted, and which disappointed me as I thought it was very rude. Hearing him speak, you remember more and more films he has been in with roles of various impact. His stories from on set with Aliens and Terminator however were perhaps the most interesting. He seems like a really nice guy, and I was delighted to see him, and even managed to get a few pics before my camera died.
The panels in the end were all very good that I saw. They had two major advantages over Supanova from last year. The first I touched on earlier, inj that the stages were separated, meaning that one could focus on the guest and not the cosplay parade 5 metres away. The other, as you may tell from above, is that they encouraged photography during panels, and did not comment on my videoing elements of the panels, despite the fact I was standing right next to the official videographer. In the end, Armageddon was a well oiled machine leading to a fun day. With more exhibitors, bigger guests, and a greater crowd, this could really become something great on the Sydney geek calendar!