Comic-Con Brings Screams and Dreams

comicon2Got ready for Comic-Con by eating nothing but Hot Pockets and drinking Red Bull and I can STILL fit into my Thor costume!

Gamers have ventured out of their mother’s basement and loaded the car for San Diego. Yes, it is Comic-Con time again and this year it busted open with caped superheroes as fans of Warner Bros’ “Batman v Superman” were treated to first-look sneak peeks of the film on Saturday.

The sexually challenged but eager audience at the convention, most of whom had camped out overnight to get into the 6,500-capacity hall, were treated to a 10-minute blooper reel of main actors of “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” messing up their lines and goofing around on set.

They were also given a first look at “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” out in theaters on Dec. 17, which saw a glimpse on the epic-scale battle that takes place in Middle Earth, based on the books by J.R.R. Tolkein.

Peter Jackson at Comic-Con 2012, San Diego“It’s always great when you can kill off some main characters,” said director Peter Jackson, a fan favorite at Comic Con. “You have the chance to do something powerful and emotional. We do get to kill a few of them this time around.”

“It’s not as comical as the first ‘Hobbit’ movie. It’s getting closer to the tone of ‘Lord of the Rings,'” he added.

Moderator and “Hobbit” superfan Stephen Colbert, dressed as a lake master from Tolkein’s fantasy world, joined many leading cast members on stage, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom and Andy Serkis. Actors Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage were absent however.

“I was just grateful to get in this one. I thought my time was over in Middle Earth,” Oscar-winning Blanchett said about reprising her role as elf queen Galadriel.

Jackson added “we do get to see Galadriel lose it a little in this movie … she gets to kick Sauron’s arse a little bit.”

Cumberbatch plays two characters in the film – the dragon Smaug and the Necromancer, an iteration of villain Sauron.

“One is made of something vulnerable and one seems to be born out of everything that’s evil and difficult to pin down and kill,” Cumberbatch said.

Serkis, who has been a pioneer in the motion capture world for developing visual effects techniques that helped capture the character of creature Gollum in the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” films, said the film “basically changed the course of my life with such magnitude.” He will next be in the upcoming “Star Wars” films, most likely in a motion capture role.

The other big highlight of the Warner Bros panel was the highly anticipated glimpse at “Man of Steel” sequel “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Director Zack Snyder showed a 30-second clip of Batman, played by Ben Affleck, flaring the bat signal into the sky, only to find the silhouette blocked by Superman, played by Henry Cavill.

Snyder brought Affleck, Cavill and Gal Godot, who plays Wonder Woman on stage, but did not reveal anymore about the plot of the film, due out in theaters in 2016.

Action, comedy, animation and dystopia made up an eclectic slate of upcoming films that 20th Century Fox presented at Comic Con on Friday, hoping to engage the convention’s avid fan base.

Channing Tatum, Christina Applegate, Ron Perlman lent some star power to the presentation, introducing clips from “The Book of Life,” an intricately designed animated film based around the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday.

“The Day of the Dead’ is very dear and near to my heart, I got married on that day because one of my best friends had passed away and I wanted him to be there and that was the day he would be,” director Jorge Gutierrez said.

Executive producer Guillermo Del Toro, a fan favorite at Comic Con, said he became involved with “The Book of Life” because he felt it “needed me,” describing it as “a gorgeous and magical movie.”

Tatum, who stars in his first leading animated role in “The Book of Life,” said “I jumped at it right away, it seemed so punk rock to do a film with this backdrop.”

The film features contemporary music from bands such as Radiohead and Mumford & Sons, not usually the music featured in animated films. Rapper Biz Markie came out on stage and performed “Just a Friend,” one of the songs featured in the film, spurring an impromptu dance party among the cast on stage.

“I grew up in Tijuana, so all the American music, I saw it go south and it became the soundtrack of my life,” he said. “‘Creep’ (by Radiohead) was one of the songs I grew up with.”

Laughs were provided by clips of comedies “Let’s Be Cops,” a goofy bromance with two men who pretend to be police, and “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” a comedy spinning a twist on the classic British spy genres defined by the James Bond franchise.

“Kingsman,” which stars Mark Hamill, Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson, is based on the comic of the same name and follows a young man recruited by an elite secret service agency.

One lucky audience member was selected to be flown to London to appear in one of the remaining scenes still to be shot before the film is released in October.

Other films showcased included “The Maze Runner,” based on James Dashner’s young adult book of the same name. The film follows a group of boys trapped in a dystopian land where the only way out is through a giant concrete maze.

“We think this could be a really cool saga to tell in multiple movies,” director Wes Ball said, asking the audience to spread the word to build buzz for a sequel.

Fans were treated to the first look of the film’s second trailer, and a clip that showed the film’s lead, Thomas (played by Dylan O’Brien), as he comes face to face with a deadly creature known as a Griever in the maze.

Laughter and death did battle on Friday at HBO’s “Game of Thrones” panel at Comic Con, one of the highlights of the annual gathering of entertainment enthusiasts, with the introduction of new characters to supplant the deceased for season five.

The event for the television hit kicked off with a humorous blooper reel of cast members messing up their lines or falling over while filming dramatic moments of season four, aptly taglined “All Men Must Die,” where many of the characters faced grueling challenges, and in some cases, gruesome deaths.

Game+Thrones+Panel+Comic+ConComic Con 2014

Stars including Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Pedro Pascal and Maisie Williams joined the HBO show’s creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and George R.R. Martin, the author of the book series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” on which the show is based.

Death was an inevitable part of the panel, given that the show has become known for killing off its major characters in each season, in gory and devastating manners. Williams, who plays fan favorite Arya Stark, said that death was an ongoing concern for her and her character.

“Some of us roughly know what happens in the books to our characters, but I know David and Dan (Weiss) have killed characters still alive in books and vice versa, so I just suck up to David and Dan,” the actress quipped.

“The key for the actors is to never ask for a raise,” Martin added with a laugh.

The fantasy drama set on fictional continents has become the most-watched show on Time Warner Inc’s cable network HBO, drawing an average gross audience of 18.4 million viewers over season four and growing a loyal fanbase.

The panel was handed over to fans, dressed up as “Game of Thrones” characters such as Jon Snow and Arya Stark, who asked the cast everything from filming in harsh conditions to male nudity. Harington skirted the latter issue with the hopes of not having “to get my kit off next season.”

Pascal, Rose Leslie and Rory McCann discussed their respective character deaths, and Martin talked about getting into the mindset of his characters.

“I’m quite different from the characters – I’ve never been an exiled princess, a dwarf or an 8-year-old girl, but the common humanity unites all these characters,” Martin said.

The show, which shoots in locations all over the world, is known for its explicit content and Benioff and Weiss said the controversial plotlines did cause them to lose a filming location on one occasion.

New characters introduced for season five, which will be traveling to Dorne, the city from which Prince Oberyn Martell hails, include Oberyn’s older brother Doran, played by Alexander Siddig, and Doran’s son Trystane, played by Toby Sebastian.

Nell Tiger Free will play Myrcella Baratheon, who is betrothed to Trystane, and Jonathan Pryce will play the pious beacon of hope High Sparrow, which the audience received with screams of excitement.

Top 5 Things I learned at this year at Comic Con 2014

1) Turns out, pounding a wooden stake through a vampire’s heart works even if the guy’s not a vampire.

2.) Odd how all the ‘intelligent life finding instruments’ are pointed away from earth…

3.) You can Freak out your neighbors. Name your wifi “FBI Surveillance Van”.

4. The best nicknames are usually the ones people don’t know they have.

5.) The best thing about telepathy is…I know, right?

LOU CEFFER

 

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