Saturday was the big day at WonderCon, as far as the big studio films were concerned, as the Anaheim Convention Center’s Arena had a back-to-back-to-back-to-etc. lineup of movie studios showing off some of their upcoming big action/sci-fi movies. The morning kicked off with Warner Brothers, who were proud to show off new footage from Edge of Tomorrow starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, Into The Storm 3D featuring The Hobbit’s Richard Armitage, and lastly Godzilla, which looks like it could prove to be either one of the biggest films of this summer or at least the one with the biggest creature(s) involved. Read on to learn more about this presentation.
Edge of Tomorrow
The panel opened with Edge of Tomorrow. This is the film based on a Japanese light novel, which essentially inserts Tom Cruise into a Groundhog’s Day-like situation, set in a world akin to Starship Troopers. For what it’s worth, I have been enjoying what I have seen from this movie since 2013’s Comic Con and the film continues to look strong, based on the new trailer that was scene here. The film was directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and of course Swingers) and also stars Emily Blunt, and Bill Paxton, who was on hand to talk about his experiences on the film and his career in general.
Given that Bill Paxton has not only had a strong career as a character actor and occasional leading man during the past few decades, but also been a fan-favorite for many geek and film nerd properties (Aliens, The Terminator, Weird Science), he was warmly received by the crowd and was happy to pander, delivering lines like, “Game over man!” and so on. Once the crowd settled, Paxton did go into the film and its production from his perspective.
A lot of the basic details were talked about, including the making of the film in London, at the same lot that the Harry Potter films filmed in. Paxton talked about the heavy mech suits that he and the rest of the cast would wear. Tom Cruise, as energetic as he seems to be, was apparently very happy to push the rest of the cast to stick with it and stay in the suits for long hours. There was also some talk of Emily Blunt, who was apparently in amazing shape for this film and led to Paxton citing how much he enjoyed that Edge of Tomorrow was, “as much a gal’s action movie as it was for the guys.”
A lot of focus eventually started to revolve around Paxton’s career in general, which was fun to hear him talk about. In particular, he did get asked a question by a fan regarding whether or not he would be directing another movie anytime soon, which he plans to do in the near future. As a big fan of Frailty, I was very happy to hear that Paxton would be tackling another film from the same author, The Bottoms, which he seemed pretty excited about. Overall it was a fun panel for Paxton fans more than those looking forward to Edge of Tomorrow specifically, but I remained intrigued by the upcoming film.
Edge of Tomorrow hits theaters on June 6, 2014, which happens to be the anniversary of D-Day, an event that the film’s opening tries to evoke.
Into The Storm
Next up was the presentation for Into the Storm, a 3D disaster film from the director of Final Destination 5 (the best of the series, next to the original). Director Steven Quale appeared on stage to present an extended look at the film, before, the other panelists arrived. While I have embedded the trailer below, you get the same general idea from this footage, with the added knowledge that the film has a lot of handheld camera work being used to evoke a certain “in the moment” kind of feel. It is not to be confused with a “found footage” format, but the film definitely wants to achieve a more up close feeling of individuals in the middle of a huge storm.
After the footage, Quale introduced multiple stars from the film onto the stage, including Richard Armitage, Jeremy Sumpter, Arlen Escarpeta, and Max Deacon. Armitage received the majority of the attention, but collectively the group answered various questions about the film, which at the very least has some visual interest going for it. There were plenty of moments of destruction to see, fire tornadoes, massive wind storms, and other such things to cause plenty of visual mayhem. Unfortunately the issue lies in how happy you are to go along with the premise.
The idea is to put viewers into the “fun”‘ of a storm, but you really have to look away from the fact that lives are being ruined by these events happening to ordinary people. That’s a bit harsh, but the other issues is how out of place the characters and the visual effects seem to be in relation to each other. While everyone may be getting very wet and blown away by wind machines, it never looks like they are in any danger, especially given their proximity to the destructive weather events taking place. That said, it is just a movie, a slick-looking disaster movie no less, so it could at least be fun. I do like how the film has wisely been set in a fictional town, so hopefully the film will feel just as harmless as its intentions are, while exhilarating in terms of the action on screen.
Into The Storm opens in theaters on August 8, 2014
Next up is Godzilla. I have been writing about Godzilla for a couple years at this point and I am pretty happy that the next post I make about the famed lizard will more than likely be a review of the film itself, as we are very close to its May 16th release date. With that said, director Gareth Edwards was on had to present the film and what a fun presentation it was. Before anything got started, we got to have another look at the latest trailer, which does a great job of setting the stage and tone, without giving too much of anything away. Once the trailer ended, Edwards was plenty excited to answer questions and explain what Godzilla meant to him and how he has approached this film. A key part of his explanation had to do with what kind of film this was and how that differed from the 1998 Godzilla. Basically, while he wants this film to be played as serious in the eyes of the characters in the film, there is no reason it should not be a fun and exciting film to watch as an audience member, which is exactly how I have taken what I have seen so far.
Moving on, Gareth Edwards was also happy to talk about finding the right way to construct a creature as large as Godzilla and how to handle a character as massive as it is. Beyond the obvious heavy use of CG to bring it to life, he discussed the nature of its 3D design and joked that Bryan Cranston did all of the motion capture work on the creature. Edwards was also happy to talk about the efforts given to hint at the true form of the creature, rather than give it all away, which concluded with him stating that Warner Brothers and Legendary are the ones who have been creating the marketing for Godzilla every step of the way. Given that I have been a big fan of how this film has been shown to audiences so far, in terms of trailers, posters, etc., I would agree with Edwards that they have done a bang up job, given that I desperately want to see the movie, even if it ends up not being as good as I am hoping.
Before getting to the next clip that was shown to us, Edwards did address a few questions in regards to the themes of the film and working on a film with such a large scope. In terms of the themes, while Edwards was happy to acknowledge how much respect he had for the original Gojira and the fact that it is a comment on the bombings in Japan and the nuclear age, Godzilla has some of that along with being a film about man versus nature. He did not want to spoil anything, but with that thought in mind, he wanted to be sure we knew that while man is involved in the story of this film, there is a reason for Godzilla’s existence and what he is being challenged by, beyond the military attempting to fight back. With the fighting in mind, when discussing how Edwards has gone from a low budget film (Monsters) to a giant film like Godzilla, he stated, “you sh*t yourself and dive in,” which basically means you do what you can. He elaborated by stating how he felt there was something he believed he could explore in a film like this and was very happy to have the chance to do so.
Following all the questions, an extended clip from Godzilla was shown, which featured some unfinished effects, but gave us a sizable look at what to expect from the more action-heavy portions of the film. The sequence shown takes place in Hawaii. We watch a large group of people at a beach realize the water is quickly leaving the shore, indicating something is coming. Sirens go off, people begin to evacuate the area and we then realize Godzilla is coming. Some military forces on hand begin shooting at it, but it is of no use. Power begins to go out in various areas, people are running for cover, and then we see the ocean, which has battleships being heavily rocked about as the massive creature begins to emerge from the sea. Cut to the airport, where Aaron Taylor Johnson’s character, among others, sits in a powered down monorail. Once the power returns the big reveal is another monster, not Godzilla, that is attacking the airport. It rips apart the monorail and knocks away helicopters firing upon it. As we see a long shot of a helicopter’s explosion causing the destruction of other planes on the tarmac, we then see a foot step down. It is Godzilla, who is then revealed in full glory, before unleashing his trademark growl. It was an awesome entrance for the legendary creature, which resulted in a massive cheer from the entire audience.
Godzilla opens in theaters on May 16, 2014