Oliver Stone low-key wowed at Comic-Con
Kevin Winter/ Albert L. Ortega/ Daniel Knighton/ Getty Images
Yesterday was the first full day of Comic-Con, and one of the “bigger” movie panels was for Oliver Stone’s Snowden. If you read my preview, you know I think the distributor is wasting their time and money on a Hall H presentation. But to be fair, Oliver Stone showed up with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, and Zachary Quinto, and by all accounts the panel was pretty fun and the footage from the movie went over well, too. Critics who have seen the movie are praising it, so Snowden is building some good buzz. It costs a lot of money to present in Hall H and there’s no appreciable box office benefit to it, but at least they’re winning the word of mouth game.
They elected to release the new trailer yesterday, too, so we can get a look at Snowden, after it was delayed from its original Christmas Day 2015 release date. This is basically rebooting the marketing campaign for the movie, which will now come out in September. It looks good enough. I’m not bowled over, but it does look like a slick thriller, with the trailer driving home the divide between “hero” and “traitor”. JGL is effectively sincere and upset as Edward Snowden, and Rhys Ifans is appropriately creepy as a Big Brother-type intelligence chief. Stone’s last couple movies—Savages and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps—were outright awful, and Snowden looks to be, at the very least, better than those movies.
Someone asked Stone about Pokemon GO during the Q&A, and he was not down with Pikachu. He called the data-mining behind apps such as Pokemon GO “surveillance capitalism”, and it’s true that Pokemon GO is creepily invasive—it accesses way more metadata than it actually needs. I like the game, but I was SO glad they released the update that lets us block it from some aspects of our phones. Pokemon doesn’t need to be in my email. Given that most of the world is chucking its privacy in order to catch Pokemon, Snowden is even more relevant than it was had it stuck to its original release plan. And Oliver Stone, cinema’s favorite cranky professor, is going to make sure we’re all afraid of our phones.