Thursday , December 13 2018

‘Wonder Woman’, ‘Shazam’, ‘Aquaman’ delight fan-fest

Superheroes swoop into Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO, July 22, (Agencies): Warner Bros closed the final full day of the Comic-Con International fanfest on Saturday as the belle of the ball, bringing its roster of superheroes to take a bow in San Diego.

The studio took over the 6,500-seat main arena at the world’s largest celebration of fan culture for two star-studded hours, serving up tantalizing teasers for its DC Extended Universe series of comic-book movies.

With Disney-owned Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm both bowing out this year, it was Warner’s chance to shine and the studio obliged with a line-up of the world’s biggest stars, including Johnny Depp, Chris Pratt, Jude Law, Elizabeth Banks and Eddie Redmayne.

One of the most eagerly-awaited presentations of the week, it was a chance for WB to show it is back on track after poor reviews for its DC Extended Universe movies “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Suicide Squad” and “Justice League.”

The studio set out its stall with extensive looks at James Wan’s upcoming “Aquaman” and “Wonder Woman: 1984,” a follow-up to 2017’s “Wonder Woman,” the DCEU’s only unqualified success.

“The way we look at this is not a sequel, it’s a new chapter, it’s a new story,” said actress Gal Gadot, who was shown as Wonder Woman saving a young girl from gunmen in rough early footage.

Director Patty Jenkins described the era of the sequel — out in November next year — as “mankind at its best and worst.”

“We’re aware of things now that we weren’t in the 1980s,” she told the crowd. “There were some incredible and beautiful things in the 80s but at the same time… it’s us at our most extreme.”

The presentation also unveiled the first trailer for “Shazam!” — an altogether more light-hearted entry in the DC Universe starring Zachary Levi that is due out in April next year.

But the undoubted star of the show was “Aquaman,” which raised the roof as a shirtless Jason Momoa appeared onscreen in a new trailer as half-human, half-Atlantean hero Arthur Curry.

“You’re in armor or you’re half-naked in tattoos and it was a bad choice looking back to wear denim,” Momoa recalled of the production, which required him to be wet most days.

“They look like leather pants, but they’re not.”

Unveiled

There was a second preview for the Christmas release that unveiled Aquaman’s nemesis, Black Manta, as well as more underwater action, a rooftop chase and a final view of the Momoa in his superhero threads.

Warner’s first exclusive of the session gave Harry Potter fans a look at the legendary battle between Professor Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” which hits theaters on Nov 16.

Troubled star Johnny Depp was a surprise appearance onstage, missing “Aquaman” actress Amber Heard, his wife before last year’s acrimonious divorce, by less than an hour.

Depp plays Gellert Grindelwald, a casting that irked many since the actor has been dogged by controversy in his private life, including allegations of domestic abuse.

The mustachioed, platinum-haired A-lister didn’t take questions but came onstage in costume after the Q&A to rapturous applause, alongside Redmayne and newcomer Jude Law, making his Harry Potter debut as a young Albus Dumbledore.

Up next was “Lego Movie 2” with sit-com support actor turned in-demand megastar Chris Pratt, who plays Star-Lord in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies.

The actor laughed that he first accepted the role of Lego construction worker and planet-saver Emmet Brickowski in the 2014 original when he was still Andy on comedy series “Parks & Recreation.”

By the time he’d finished recording his voice part he was a Hollywood star and a Marvel superhero. “It was one of those moments when I thought, ‘Oh, I’m living in a computer simulation — this is the Matrix,” he joked.

If it’s not superheroes and wizards, it’s skyscraper-sized lizards, and a trailer from “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” drew loud gasps from the Comic-Conners.

Led by 14-year-old “Stranger Things” star Millie Bobby Brown, the footage showed a city collapsing as Godzilla and fellow giants King Ghidora, a three-headed dragon, the insect Mothra and the winged beast Rodan do battle.

Michael Dougherty’s movie is part of WB’s “MonsterVerse,” which launched with Gareth Edwards’s 2014 “Godzilla” and last year’s “Kong: Skull Island.”

“I’m still a kid playing with Godzilla toys. They’re just bigger more expensive Godzilla toys,” he said.

Warner Bros brought out all the stops Saturday at Comic-Con with an army of stars, surprises and new footage from films. Momoa, Gadot, Pratt, Depp and Nicole Kidman were just a few of the starry names to grace the stage of the comic book convention’s Hall H.

Momoa, who stars as Aquaman, seemed to be as excited as those in the 6,500-seat audience, if not more so. The actor was downright giddy speaking about the film, which is over five years in the making.

“My heart is big and open,” he said. “I’m really, really happy.”

Director James Wan, best known for his “Conjuring” films, introduced some new footage in two trailers from the origin story, which hits theaters in December.

“I wanted to create a superhero film that we’ve never quite seen before. I wanted our film to be more unique,” Wan said. “My movie plays more like a science fiction fantasy film than a traditional superhero movie.”

Warner Bros’ was the most-anticipated Hall H presentation of the convention, which this year was absent of many of the big names that attendees have come to expect, like Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm (“Star Wars”) and HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

The studio also has continued to have to prove its mettle with its DC Comics Universe, which has had its share of widely panned movies, like “Justice League.” The focus Saturday thus was not on Batman or Superman, but the new, the fresh and the proven-quantities, like “Wonder Woman,” which has been best-reviewed and most beloved of the new DC Universe.

It’s why, with 20 weeks of filming left to go, “Wonder Woman 1984” star Gadot and director Jenkins took a break from their Washington DC shoot to tease brief footage from the highly anticipated follow-up to the groundbreaking superhero film.

The clip showed Diana Prince saving a young girl from some bad guys in their Miami Vice-finest in a very ’80s-looking mall.

Chris Pine also joined Gadot and Jenkins on stage, but all stayed mum about how and why his character Steve Trevor is back considering his fate in the first movie (and that he looks to be the same age as he was in 1917).

Jenkins said his presence is a “very important part” of the movie and that audiences will have to see it in November 2019 to find out.

She did explain why she set the movie in the 1980s.

Introduce

Another audience-pleaser was “Shazam!” and Levi was on hand to introduce the first trailer for the DC superhero film, or “Big” with superpowers. The origin story shows how a bullied 14-year-old kid becomes the superhero (and a fully-grown man) after a fateful ride on the subway. It comes out in April.

“There are very few characters who are just stoked to have their powers,” Levi said. “Since I still am waiting to wake up one morning and fly, to do that, I just got to be me. I got to be a genuine part of myself … I love that there’s still an optimism in him.”

“Maybe now more than ever we need heroes like that, who care about people,” Levi added.

The sequel will feature a few winks to Pratt’s real life and career, including a character named Rex Dangervest, who counts “raptor trainer” as one of his many jobs.

Pratt’s comment about the impact of “Guardians of the Galaxy” on his life was his only mention of the franchise on stage, which came just one day after writer and director James Gunn was fired from the third installment over past tweets. The actor pulled out of planned press line interviews following the news.

In addition to showing the trailer for “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” many of the stars of “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” like Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Zoe Kravitz and Ezra Miller (sporting a “Super Mario Bros.” Toadette costume) turned out to talk about their sequel as well.

“Everything is at stake, really,” Law said of the film that comes out Nov 16. “The depths and darkness in this story are the darkest that this world has plumbed before.”

Other topics discussed included Law’s “hot Dumbledore,” and what they’d use Harry Potter magic for. Not missing a beat, Kravitz said, “Impeach Trump.”

A legion of pop culture devotees were packing up their graphic novels, nursing hangovers and folding away superhero costumes for another year on Saturday as San Diego Comic-Con began winding down.

Here are the key takeaways from the 2018 edition of the four-day fan fest that attracts 130,000 attendees to the southern California coast every July.

‘Doctor Who’ gets girl power: A British cultural institution that has spread to more than 60 countries, “Doctor Who” unveiled its new cast, including the first extended glimpse of Jodie Whittaker’s debut as the first female Time Lord.

A 40-second trailer demonstrated that the 55-year-old show about a time-and-space traveling alien is going for something of a rebirth.

Fans were treated to exciting new worlds, new companions for The Doctor and an updated version of her trusty weapon of choice, the sonic screwdriver.

‘Breaking Bad’ at 10: Yes, it really has been a decade since one of the best-reviewed shows in TV history changed the game, so the cast of “Breaking Bad” got together to reminisce about a show that really was as good as you remember.

The series, which aired across the world from January 2008 through September 2013, told the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a high school science teacher who responds to a terminal cancer diagnosis by turning into a powerful druglord.

Cranston, a quick script-absorber, revealed he frequently used to trick co-star Aaron Paul into believing his character was about to die, while showrunner Vince Gilligan left the door open for a “Breaking Bad” movie.

The elephant in the room: TV Land’s biggest open secret was officially confirmed when Andrew Lincoln, star of AMC’s mega-hit zombie apocalypse show “The Walking Dead” informed the Comic-Con faithful that nine seasons of getting harassed by the dead was enough.

“I love this show. It means everything to me. I love the people who make this show. I promise not to cry. I’ve done enough crying on screen,” Lincoln promised.

The star is said to be looking to break into movies, but will presumably be avoiding the genre popularised by the late (and presumably peacefully resting) “Night of the Living Dead” director George A. Romero.

What about the movies?: In a reflection of the shift in the balance of power towards television, Hollywood’s “Big Six” movie studios didn’t cover themselves in glory this year — except for Warner Bros.

Disney, which owns Comic-Con fan favorite Marvel Studios, didn’t show up at all, even though this is an off-year for its own biennial “D23” convention.

Between them, Fox, Universal, Paramount and Sony staged presentations for just six live-action movies in the convention’s iconic Hall H arena — three sequels, two spin-offs and a movie that has already had its theatrical run.

Most of these films will generate excitement and a fortune at the box office but they hardly say “innovation.”

Warner Bros, on the other hand, pulled out all the stops for “Scare Diego,” winning plaudits from critics for its upcoming slate of horror from its New Line Cinema division, and brought the house down at a two-hour presentation of many of its upcoming mainstream releases.

The numbers: A four-day pass to Comic-Con ranks second among the most coveted live entertainment event ($1,165) behind the Superbowl (starting at $3,667), according to online ticket marketplace Vivid Seats.

There were more than 820,000 tweets about Comic-Con in the week leading up to the event. “Deadpool” got the most movie mentions, ahead of “Thor,” “Aquaman,” “Avengers” and “Star Wars.”

The most tweeted-about TV show was NBC canceled “Timeless,” which wasn’t even at Comic-Con, followed by “Supernatural,” “The Walking Dead,” “Doctor Who” and finally “Riverdale.”

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