Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2011 Comic-Con Pre-Show Thoughts

I'm going to share my thoughts on a few of the films/TV presentations that are scheduled to go down at San Diego Comic-Con this year. For the properties that are adaptations- I won't give much plot synopsis so sorry if that alienates anyone who reads this.

Abduction (September 23, 2011)
Director- John Singleton
Writer- Shawn Christensen
Starring- Taylor Lautner, Sigourney Weaver, Maria Bello, Lily Collins, Elisabeth Rohm, Alfred Molina, Michael Nyqvist, Jason Isaacs, Freema Agyeman
-The script was originally featured on the famous Black List and this does have an impressive cast. It's about a boy who finds out that his "parents" abducted him from another couple. That being said, can Lautner carry a film? Based on his performance in the Twilight series- one might think that would be a no. Yet I'm willing to give him a chance. Stewart was good in Adventureland and Pattinson was good in Remember Me and Water for Elephants (despite the quality of those films). I'm a little worried as Singleton hasn't had a directorial success... well since Boyz N the Hood. Hopefully he isn't just cashing a paycheck and the story will be as good as the action looks.

The Adventures of Tintin (December 23, 2011)
Director- Steven Spielberg
Writer- Joe Cornish, Steven Moffat, and Edgar Wright
Starring- Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Daniel Craig, Toby Jones, Mackenzie Crook, Cary Elwes
-A lot of questions are going on around this film. Can Spielberg (who, let's face it, has an unpredictably spotty record) make a good animated film that is also a family film? I mean, will this even be an entertaining family film? I'm not familiar with the comic book, but I wasn't too crazy about the wacky premise to this movie. The teasers that have been released look interesting and more intense as far as the tone of the story goes. I'm just worried this won't measure up both as an animated and family film. We'll have to see what kind of response it gets from Comic-Con.

Alcatraz (January 2012)
Creator- Steven Lilien, Elizabeth Sarnoff, and Bryan Wynbrandt
Season 1 Premiere Director- Danny Cannon
Starring- Sarah Jones, Jorge Garcia, Sam Neill, Parminder Nagra, Robert Forster, Santiago Cabrera, Jason Butler Harner
-A rookie SFPD officer (newcomer Jones) and an expert on Alcatraz (Garcia) uncover a secret about the prison's history- a chain of mysterious events are set off in this new science-fiction series from producer J.J. Abrams (Super 8). It is revealed that everyone (the guards, prisoners, etc.) mysteriously vanished out of thin air from Alcatraz so the prison closed. Yet today in 2012, the convicts have reappeared in the city of San Francisco and are causing havoc. Much has yet to be revealed about this series that is the prime allure for why I want to check it out.

Amazing Spider-Man (July 3, 21012)
Director- Marc Webb
Writer- Steve Kloves, Alvin Sargent, and James Vanderbilt
Starring- Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary, Irrfan Khan, Annie Parisse, Campbell Scott, Julianne Nicholson, C. Thomas Howell
-Spider-Man 3 was an interesting film. It did fantastic at the box office, but everyone from fans to studio executives realized that if they kept on the same path- they would feel fatigued. So despite Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire's success, it was decided to reboot the franchise (just as quick as the Hulk series was rebooted) and go for a more down-to-Earth style. Peter (Garfield) is younger, has web shooters, and his love interest is Gwen Stacy (Stone). Webb (500 Days of Summer) has decided to ground the film in the emotions that Peter feels towards having no parents and being raised by his aunt and uncle. This is a film that when they show it at the con, it can be made or unmade right there. It will really depend on how welcoming fans are willing to be to a new Spider-Man so quickly. After all, Christopher Nolan waited almost a decade before rebooting Batman.

Conan the Barbarian (August 19, 2011)
Director- Marcus Nispel
Writer- Thomas Dean Donnelly, Sean Hood, and Joshua Oppenheimer
Starring- Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan, Ron Perlman, Said Taghmaoui
-This should be interesting. I've been a huge fan of Momoa (Stargate: Atlantis, Game of Thrones), but Nispel (Friday the 13th, Pathfinder) has yet to make a movie I've liked... in fact he has taken good concepts and just shoved a ton of blood and gore and sex in our faces. I'm worried that I won't be able to find anything to attach to. Not to say the John Milius film was deep and complex, but the stories that Conan lore comes from have much to offer. I'll still probably end up seeing this in theaters.

Cowboys and Aliens (July 29, 2011)
Director- Jon Favreau
Writer- Mark Fergus, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Steve Oedekerk, Roberto Orci, and Hawk Ostby
Starring- Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Noah Ringer, Paul Dano, Keith Carradine, Adam Beach, Ana De La Reguera, Walton Goggins, David O'Hara
-Now I'm really looking forward to this. The concept is ridiculous- an alien invasion during the wild western frontier era. I didn't think much of it as the comic this is based on is quite poorly written. That being said, this only uses the concept of the comic book and has instead (based on the trailer) added a ton of different elements, plot points, and story arcs. This literally looks like Unforgiven plus an alien invasion and the pairing of James Bond and Indiana Jones with the beautiful Olivia Wilde thrown in is enough for me to want to buy a ticket.

Fringe (September 23, 2011)
Creator- J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci
Season 4 Premiere Director- Joe Chappelle
Starring- Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, Lance Reddick, Blair Brown, Jasika Nicole, Seth Gabel, John Noble
-Last season ended with a huge shocker, revealing that Peter (Jackson) had been wiped from existence right after he served his purpose. Why was this? Well the best science-fiction show on the air will hopefully drop some hints at SDCC. This show just gets better and better.

Immortals (November 11, 2011)
Director- Tarsem Singh
Writer- Charley Parlapanides and Vlas Parlapanides
Starring- Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto, Mickey Rourke, Kellan Lutz, Luke Evans, Isabel Lucas, Stephen Dorff, John Hurt, Alan Van Sprang
-This is an interesting film as it looks like a carbon-copy of 300 (and it is in fact from the same producers) yet despite how this is being advertised, it is from probably the greatest surrealist director since David Lynch- Tarsem Singh (The Fall). I trust in his vision so much that I'm quite excited to see his take on a mystical swords-and-sandals saga. Plus, Mickey Rourke is playing a villain, the beautiful Freida Pinto is the female lead, and this will be the first time Henry Cavill is in a lead role so hopefully that will help fans that are looking forward to Man of Steel, warm up to him as he has been cast as Superman in Zack Snyder's film.

In Time (October 28, 2011)
Director/Writer- Andrew Niccol
Starring- Amanda Seyfried, Justin Timberlake, Olivia Wilde, Matt Bomer, Cillian Murphy, Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Galecki, Vincent Kartheiser, Yaya DaCosta
-Niccol is a name that should be familiar to film buffs. He was the writer of The Truman Show and the writer/director of Gattaca and Lord of War. Hopefully his return to a high-concept film will be as successful as his directorial debut. This is basically a movie about a class-war in the future where a man (Timberlake) is framed for murder and must clear his name. Timberlake recently delivered a power-house performance in The Social Network and the female lead is played by Seyfried who is a very underrated actress. I have high-hopes for this despite having not seen a trailer.

Person of Interest (September 22, 2011)
Creator- Jonathan Nolan
Season 1 Premiere Director- David Semel
Starring- Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson, Taraji P. Henson
-An ex-CIA hitman (Caviezel) is tasked by a rich and reclusive technology scientist (Emerson) to help him stop crimes before they happen with the help of computer system that can pinpoint terrorists and their targets. The pilot of the series had such a high response that CBS went and placed the series in the Thursday slot that had been occupied by CSI for its eleven years. This series looks like it will have a lot of action courtesy of producer J.J. Abrams (Super 8) and Jonathan Nolan (co-writer of The Dark Knight). The trailer just really gives off this sense of two guys are badasses both in and out of the office.

The Raven (March 9, 2012)
Director- James McTeigue
Writer- Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare
Starring- John Cusack, Alice Eve, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Luke Evans, Kevin McNally, M. Emmet Walsh
-This sounds quite interesting as it is both high-concept while still feeling like it will be a gritty experience. The film is about Edgar Allan Poe (Cusack) who is brought in to help a police investigation when a serial killer is basing his murders off of the works of Poe's prose. I'm worried that this might be a flop as I don't have much faith in any of the talent involved, but it would be nice to see something like this succeed. Cusack has said that although the film is obviously not historically accurate, he still did research on Poe's life, which is somewhat reflected in the movie's plot. Who knows? This could at the very least end up being a good performance from Cusack and I haven't really liked him in a movie for a while.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (August 5, 2011)
Director- Rupert Wyatt
Writer- Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver
Starring- James Franco, Freida Pinto, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, Tyler Labine, David Hewlett
-The first trailer, for this modern Planet of the Apes prequel, had me laughing. It seemed like a lame idea of an action movie. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood because when more trailers showed up, I warmed up to the idea that the cure for Alzheimer's leads to apes taking over the planet. The acting looks superb and the story of Caesar seems so tragic. As if to say that this is what happens when we as a species are cruel and Wyatt (The Escapist) seems very well aware of how to convey that with these excellent looking special effects.

Terra Nova (September 26, 2011)
Creator- Kelly Marcel and Craig Silverstein
Season 1 Premiere Director- Alex Graves
Starring- Jason O'Mara, Stephen Lang
-Everyone is a little concerned about this. This series was supposed to launch in January of 2011, then pushed to May, and now to September. Supposedly this is one of the most expensive television series ever undertaken and the story does in fact reflect the need for a huge budget. In the future, the Earth has been polluted so time travel is created and citizens of Earth go back to the time of the dinosaurs to try out a new way of life. The series will most likely only have a first season of thirteen episodes meaning that it will conclude in December 2011 only to return in September 2012. This is a risky gambit, but look at the talent- O'Mara (Life on Mars) and Lang (Avatar) as the protagonist and antagonist respectively and the army of producers includes Steven Spielberg, Peter Chernin, Brannon Braga, and Jon Cassar. Hopefully this will deliver on the scale that FOX is hoping for.

Total Recall (August 3, 2012)
Director- Len Wiseman
Writer- Mark Bomback, James Vanderbilt, and Kurt Wimmer
Starring- Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston, Jessica Biel, Bill Nighy, John Cho, Ethan Hawke, Bokeem Woodbine
-This is one of those remakes/re-imagining type of things. Similar to how say the Coen brothers handled True Grit- this version of Total Recall is more in line with Philip K. Dick's story with a few memorable elements from the first film. It takes place on Earth and will have much less of the one-liners that Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered in the previous film version. This could be trouble for fans. I would think that most would expect something that pays tribute to the first film and not something that goes in a different direction (I personally don't care that much for the original, so I'm happy to see this kind of remake). Hopefully by having Farrell and Cranston as the hero and villain respectively will lead to me having an emotional involvement in the film.

The Walking Dead (October 2011)
Creator- Frank Darabont
Season 2 Premiere Director- Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Starring- Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Calies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus, Irone Singleton
-The series returns for a thirteen episode season where we find out that the explosion that went off in the Season 1 finale will attract a ton of zombies to the survivors' location. The characters try to get as far away from the city as possible and run into a farm where they plan to live and work alongside the family that owns it and perhaps give them a reprieve from the horror they've been facing. We will be introduced to the mysterious character of Michonne, but the rumor is that we won't meet the famous Governor who will most likely either show up in the Season 2 finale or Season 3.

Warrior (September 9, 2011)
Director- Gavin O'Connor
Writer- Cliff Dorfman, Gavin O'Connor, and Anthony Tambakis
Starring- Nick Nolte, Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Morrison, Noah Emmerich, Kevin Dunn
-Despite the trailer for this MMA film, a lot of the more intimate details still aren't known about this film. I mean, imagine if you end up rooting for both characters and you aren't sure who you want to win. O'Connor (Miracle) is a good enough writer/director to really get one involved in the story and with up-and-coming stars like Hardy and Edgerton going head-to-head, I'm really looking forward to this. Not even for the concept itself, but the emotion that the storyline implies will exist.

2012 has a bunch of other films coming that will have Comic-Con-type fans excited (and some of these have a presence at the convention, but little is known about them) so I'll just list them here- The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit Part I, The Avengers, Man of Steel, Prometheus, Bond 23, The Lone Ranger, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Hunger Games, Wrath of the Titans, Jack the Giant Killer, Snow White, Snow White and the Huntsman, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

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