Welcome to FrockTalk, the web’s only costume-based movie review site. The goal of Frocktalk is to shed light on the magnificent artistry of costume design in motion pictures. Reviews on this site are written by working costume designers in the entertainment industry – people who know, better than anyone, what it takes to make it all happen. The focus of FrockTalk is not to comment on the big flashy costume dramas, but to call attention to the seemingly ordinary costume design work in film that silently and persuasively moves the audience toward understanding the characters. Costume design for motion pictures is an art form that deserves more recognition than it usually gets. Fancy, pretty costumes do not always equal effective, appropriate costumes. The art of the costume is in letting the audience know who the character is, before the actor even has a chance to open his mouth. Read on, and enjoy. ** CAUTION: ALL REVIEWS CONTAIN SPOILERS! **

Comic Con: Day Two (Star Wars Day)

The Dark Lord and his minion.

The Dark Lord and his minion.

Today at Comic Con was Star Wars day. It is intense, fanboy heaven, however you don’t have to be well versed in Star Wars lore to enjoy the spectacle.  I have seen all six movies, some of them several times, but I don’t know a Zygerrian from a Zelosian.   I arrived at Comic Con this morning with two children who have never seen the film, mind you.  That didn’t stop the older one from developing a deep and profound connection with Darth Vader, a preoccupation that started a year ago, possibly from last year’s exposure to Star Wars day at Comic Con.  If these kids can enjoy Star Wars day without ever having seen the movie, imagine what Star Wars day is like for fans.

The thing about going to Comic Con with kids is that most of them (certainly under the age of five years) can’t do more than two or three hours without blowing a gasket.  It is sensory overload, wall-to-wall people, it’s noisy, and it is hard to move around.  We had Darth Vader (4 ½ years old) walking around on foot, and we had Buzz Lightyear (2 years old) in a very small stroller.  This is the way to do it.

To infinity, and Comic Con!

To infinity, and Comic Con!

If you have a child who is in any way interested in costumes, let them (or even encourage them to) dress up for Comic Con.  Darth Vader requested his costume a month ago from his favorite costume designer (me) and Buzz Lightyear made up his mind this morning that he would rather not be Spiderman or Young Anakin Skywalker, but Buzz Lightyear instead.

Buzz Lightyear

Buzz Lightyear

We took the train, and both boys, I mean, SUPERSTARS, were in costume the entire way.  When we crossed the street to the convention center, we saw the ultimate vision:  a real live, fully costumed Darth Vader, standing by a tree, as if he knew we were coming.  This guy must have been 6’ 3” tall and 250 pounds – his size was impressive.  But look at the “family portrait” aspect of our Vader duo.

Darth Vader and Darth Vader

Darth Vader and Darth Vader

The thing is, everyone around us started snapping pictures as well, some people even taking video of the meeting of the two Vaders.  There were “oohs” and “aahs” and “that’s so cute!” cries from all around.  I sensed a big smile under the Mini Vader’s mask.

Some young Jedis walked by and instinctively wanted to pose with the Dark Lord.

We were barely inside the convention center when Siths started creeping out from the woodwork, wanting to pose for pictures with Mini Darth.  There were two rows of people taking pictures of this Sith/Vader combination.  It was like being on the red carpet at a premiere.

The Dark Side of the Force is strong with these two.

The Dark Side of the Force is strong with these two.

We are not sure who this guy (below) is, some kind of Samurai Vader or Dark Side samurai?  I have asked my most educated Star Wars colleagues and they are stumped.  If you have any ideas, please let me know who this character is.

Darth summoned some of his Clone Troopers for this photograph.  After the pictures were taken, one of the Clone Troopers said, “Master, I believe someone left you in the dryer too long.”

Smart-mouthed Clone Troopers

Smart-mouthed Clone Troopers

We went next to a booth where busts of the Dark Lord himself were for sale.  Sensing a shift in the force, Mini Darth took a seat for some much-needed contemplation.

Vader then saw these two from across the floor.  He chased after them, lightsaber in hand, until they stopped, hypnotized by his charisma and presence.  These two are Prince Nuada and Princess Nuala from Hellboy II.  Different universe, perhaps, but they still recognize Mini Vader as their leader.

Stretching his Imperial leadership even further, our Mini Vader makes a quick prisoner of this Klingon from Star Trek.

And then, suddenly, all of his minions started to appear.  First, Mini Vader schools this Storm Trooper for not clearing a better path for him through the heavy crowd.

Then, Vader asks these Mandalorians to help clear the way for his Royal Darkness to walk the Comic Con floor.

Mini Vader enlists the help of Buzz Lightyear to capture an R2 unit to hold for ransom during Comic Con.

Buzz Lightyear slips away to look for new parts for his costume at the Mattel booth.

Meanwhile, Mini Vader has come together with some slave girls and a prisoner (I am sure you can tell me who this is) in an attempt to take over Comic Con.

Mini Vader with (among others) a Mara Jade (behind Vader) and a Zam Wessel bounty hunter (in purple)

At this point, Vader is desperate, so he even asks for some Jedi help.

Vader attempts to defend Buzz Lightyear from this fearsome unibrowed creature with very long arms.

And in the end, Mini Vader finds solace, comfort, and a snuggly hand to hold in this Storm Trooper.  The end.

The Dark Lord and his minion.

The Dark Lord and his minion.

I then attended the Design Process for Film and Television panel discussion, hosted by the Costume Designers Guild and the Art Directors Guild.  There was just not enough time to introduce, show a body of work, and ask a few questions of each illustrator.  This panel could have gone on for three or more hours.  Included in the panel were: Robin Richesson (CDG, Iron Man), Phillip Boutte, Jr. (CDG, Jonah Hex), Christian Cordella (CDG, GI Joe), Brian Valenzuela (CDG, Star Trek 2009), Dawn Brown (ADG, Star Trek 2009), James Rothwell (ADG, Iron Man 2), and Josh Nizzi (ADG, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen).

Each illustrator had a powerpoint presentation showcasing their work, and wow, it was all beautiful.  We got to see lots of concept work from Iron Man, Star Trek 2009, and Transformers.  It was really cool.  It’s just that, with so many people on a panel, there is never going to be enough time for fans to ask very many questions of the panelists.

Which is why there is an autograph table set up for afterwards.  There were some cool giveaways at the table, but nothing like the Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog t-shirts from yesterday.  That gets my vote for coolest giveaway thus far at the costume/design tables.

L-R: James Rothwell, Josh Nizzi, Dawn Brown, Robin Richesson, Phillip Boutte, Jr., Brian Valenzuela, and Christian Cordella

L-R: James Rothwell, Josh Nizzi, Dawn Brown, Robin Richesson, Phillip Boutte, Jr., Brian Valenzuela, and Christian Cordella

I must tell you, I am a tad exhausted from all of this Comic Con stuff.  The exhibition floor is packed, so you have to muscle your way through it.  Most people who are walking the floor are stunned mullets, thunderstruck by cool visuals at every turn.  There is no “flow”, walking the floor.  You have to bust a move if you want to get anywhere.

And let’s talk about the fact that there are like 25,000 sweaty bodies in there during the hottest days of the summer.  What do you think it smells like?  I feel like I should wear put some Vapo-Rub under my nose, like they do at the morgue.  Maybe if I wore a set of coroners’ scrubs, no one would even notice the difference.  I will consider it.

Tomorrow is a big, big day.  We have the CDG film designers’ panel, which should be very interesting.  There is also the Masquerade at night – it’s going to be nuts, and it’s going to go late, this is for sure.   I am going to turn in early to prepare for the mayhem.  More tomorrow! (or maybe Sunday, if it goes really late!)

— KMB

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