Given all of the Star Wars news that didn’t happen at Comic Con this year, I may as well put out an article that has to deal with another movie about Harrison Ford and a war in the stars, so here it is. Summit Entertainment had a presentation that occurred in a packed Hall H for their big, upcoming films Ender’s Game and Divergent. For those not familiar, both films are based on incredibly popular books, with Ender’s Game, in particular, being a highly regarded novel that has been a much anticipated film adaptation for quite some time. I was happy to be at this packed panel, even if I still don’t know what Divergent is yet, exactly (I’ll do some catching up at some point), because any time you put grumpy ol’ Ford in front of thousands of geeks, fun can surely occur. Read on to learn more about what went down at this presentation and to view some clips, movie pics, and panel photos.
So first off, here is the official description of the panel:
Summit Entertainment presents a special sneak peek at the highly anticipated film adaptation of the beloved, award-winning novel Enders Game. This is a must-see for fans, who will be shown all-new, exclusive footage and treated to a Q&A with stars Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, and Abigail Breslin, along with producer Roberto Orci (Star Trek Into Darkness) and director Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine). The panel will also feature the first footage ever seen of the futuristic thriller based on the #1 New York Times best-selling novel, Divergent. Cast and filmmakers will complete a Q&A sharing details of the project’s transition from book to film. Panelists will include novelist Veronica Roth, director Neil Burger, and cast members Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Maggie Q, Ansel Elgort, Mekhi Phifer, Ben Lamb, Ben Lloyd-Hughes and Christian Madsen.
So Divergent was the first film to be presented at this panel. Author Veronica Roth, director Neil Burger (The Illusionist, Limitless), actors Shailene Woodley (Tris), Theo James (Four), and many others all came out on stage and took their seats. There was some initial standard talk in regards to introducing everyone and explaining their role, but things got much more exciting once Neil Burger allowed the crowd to witness a mood-setting piece to set up what the film is going to look like.
Here’s where things get interesting, so bare with me, as I don’t really know the details of the story and can only describe the footage I saw. There are shots of two young women on a moving El Train in a future Chicago, watching others jumping out of it and onto the roofs of buildings. The two women (Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz) jump as well, landing on the roof of a building and ready to participate in some other activities. Next we have the girls and some guys gathered together on a roof, with the some kind of instructor asking someone to volunteer for jumping off of a building into a dark area below. Woodley volunteers, after an awkward silence, jumps off, falls over 20 stories, and lands safely in a net. She is greeted by a handsome man (Theo James) and is given the change to establish a new name for herself. She says her name is Tris. From there, people cheer, Tris is shown in a giant crowd surf, and more montage footage of living the life of hippie-parkour enthusiasts ensues. There is a brief glimpse of Kate Winslet’s character in the film, among others, and we get some bits that show how Tris is fearless. Tris is apparently happy to climb up ferris wheels and have knives thrown at her, as if she were in a magicians act. There are some hints at a nefarious plot as well, but this mostly established the Tris character. (They played this footage twice, by the way.)
I am sorry if that threw anyone through a loop, but that is what I saw. The footage was nicely shot and I am a fan of Neil Burger as a visual director, so there is promise in that department. There is a diverse enough cast present, as other stars including Maggie Q and Mekhi Phifer were present in the footage as well as on stage to hang out with the rest of the cast and audience. The only real issue I see is how the film does not seem to have a one sentence summary of what is going on. I am happy to entertain the arrival of a new film based on a popular novel, let alone one that features a strong cast and crew, which pits a strong female character at the center of the story. Still, while the premise of The Hunger Games is easy enough to spell out pretty quickly, despite having more going on in the actual narrative, it may be that I am too naive, but I am not sure why I should be excited about Divergent as of now, simply because I watched a five minute setup for a film that I still could not describe the plot of. Hopefully future information and the arrival of an actual trailer can really do something to put the film on my radar. With all of that said, there were plenty of excited fans in the crowd, which is not surprising, despite how left in the dark I feel in regards to the source material.
For those still unclear on what the film is about, here is a description:
Based on Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times best-selling novel, DIVERGENT is a thrilling action adventure set in a future world where people are divided into distinct factions based on their personalities. Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is warned she is “divergent” and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy to destroy all divergents, she must find out what makes being different so dangerous before it’s too late.
Directed by Neil Burger from a script by Vanessa Taylor. Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher are producing the project via their Red Wagon Entertainment banner along with Pouya Shahbazian. Red Wagon’s Rachel Shane is executive producing.
The film will be released domestically on March 21, 2014
Here are some photos from the film:
The next panel was for Ender’s Game, which (to be honest) is the panel I was excited to see. I am a huge fan of the original novel by Orson Scott Card (Card was de-invited to Comic Con, following the publicity regarding his personal views and stances on certain topics) and was excited to see what new look I would be able to have with the film. As the panel began, director Gavin Hood was first to come on stage and he was really excited to be at Comic Con. The best thing about this was that since he was the director responsible for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it would be easy to not have a lot of regard for him, as far as the geek audience is concerned (the man won an Oscar for his film Tsotsi, which is great, but that doesn’t matter with a Hall H crowd), yet Hood was such a positive presence and excited to talk about Ender’s Game, setting up a positive energy on stage, which was enough to have audiences entertained by his presence. Once coming out, he immediately launched into the new footage, which was basically a new trailer, possibly a bit extended for the audience at Comic Con.
I cannot say there is a whole lot of difference between the new trailer and the old, but it takes more time to set up what is at stake and what is going on. Aliens attacked earth, young humans are being trained and utilized to direct battles, and we get lots of Harrison Ford grumbling orders and exposition, while cool-looking alien space battles occur. There glimpses of the battle school and fleet attacks that occur, which is all pretty cool to see realized on screen. I can say that the effects looked really good, better than the initial trailer even, which I would not call bad, but not exactly something to be super excited about. This new trailer showed a lot more promise for what could be the biggest film of the fall that doesn’t have ‘Hunger Games‘ in its title. Maybe my only issue as of now has to do with how much we see versus the unknown context of certain scenes. Having read the book, I know how certain things play out, but I can’t tell how spoiled we may have been by what was seen in the trailers (I’m hoping I am just guessing ahead).
Once the footage ended (and there’s a good chance this could have happened before we watched it, but c’mon, I’m trying my best here), Hood introduced the rest of the panel, which included producer Roberto Orci and stars Asa Butterfield (Ender), Hailee Steinfeld (Petra), and Harrison Ford (Colonel Graff). I will just state the obvious and note that Harrison Ford entering a room equals ginormous reaction from the crowd, including moderator Chris Hardwick. Once again, everyone did their best to address their roles in the film, with Ford even correcting a statement of Graff being a mentor and instead explaining that he is much more of a manipulator.
Not much to not as far as the Q&A goes in terms of informative information about the film, but two interesting things happened, one more comedic that another. First, a question was brought up in regards to Orson Scott Card, which had Orci basically explaining that Card is not representing any of the views that everyone involved with the film has. This was presented in a much more sincere way that I am describing, but it was a neat thing to see addressed and met with big applause from the audience.
The other occurrence has to do with Harrison Ford. Ford is of course known for being a bit of a grump when it comes to fan interaction, but I have to say, he’s a really adorable curmudgeon. Harrison Ford doesn’t care for silly questions regarding Star Wars and Indiana Jones, so his matter-of-fact attitude is hilarious to see unfold on stage to the point of me having to really wonder how “in” on the joke of his attitude at conventions he really must be. Regardless, Ford was a delight on stage, making the entire audience laugh and cheer at his presence, along with the rest of the film’s presentation.
For those unclear on what the film is about, here is a description:
Based on the best-selling, award winning novel, ENDER’S GAME is an epic adventure directed by Gavin Hood starring Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, with Abigail Breslin and Harrison Ford. In the near future, a hostile alien race has attacked Earth. In preparation for the next attack, the humans begin training only the best students to find their future leader. Ender Wiggin, a shy, but strategically brilliant young man is pulled out of his school to join the elite. Arriving at Battle School, Ender quickly and easily masters the training, distinguishing himself and winning respect amongst his peers. He is soon ordained as the military’s next great hope and is charged to lead his fellow soldiers into an epic battle that will determine the future of Earth and save the human race.
The film will be released domestically on November 1, 2013