Pilot-ing to the Stars: San Diego Comic-Con 2014 (Preview Night + Day One)

cc1Once a year, the perpetual youth of America turns its attention towards San Diego for the city’s annual Comic Convention. It’s the premiere event for vapid, commercialized entertainment that saps like you and me can’t help but gobble up. And for the third year in a row (my sixth following the Con), I once again plant myself firmly behind my computer screen to bring you, dear reader, all the news, announcements, and coverage you look for in a WordPress blog, with added commentary to boot.

This year I’d debated presenting my coverage via voice-over or video. However, I didn’t quite crack the formula for such content in time for the Con, so I opted for the traditional, written format. Next year perhaps.

To start, get in the mood by glimpsing the show floor on Preview Night here:

 

We begin with Wednesday’s Preview Night, which saw WB TV screening a pair of upcoming pilots, CW’s The Flash and NBC’s Constantine. Both have already leaked online, and despite my tweet earlier in the month…I caved and watched both mere weeks later.

The Flash centers on Barry Allen (Grant Gustin)’s origins as a perpetually late, yet hopeful CSI-turned speedster following a lab accident. Along the way, Barry’s unrequited love (Candace Patton) and others get entangled with a bout against Weather Wizard (Chad Rook). Gustin makes for a solid everyman, and his interaction with both his adoptive and birth fathers (Jesse L. Martin and John Wesley Shipp, respectively) are deep and heartfelt. I can say it’s definitely another CW show, with its soapy romantic dynamic and all manner of pandering teen-friendly content (Iris Allen makes reference to twerking…never thought I’d have to type that, but there you go). It is also a rather ordinary origin story; Weather Wizard proves a very one-dimensional bank-robbing villain. I’m also not a big fan of the series basing itself on Geoff Johns’ comic book retcon, wherein Barry’s mother is murdered by Reverse Flash. Can’t Barry just be a good person at heart? Why does every superhero these days have to have their parents killed before they can don a cape and cowl? All the same, the pilot’s speed effects are well-done, its supporting cast interesting enough, and its flaws minor. Arrow’s pilot bore similar flaws and that show has certainly come into its own. Here’s looking forward to Flash doing the same in the fall.

Constantine centers on the self-proclaimed Master of the Dark Arts (Matt Ryan) meeting another young magic-wielder (Lucy Hale) to combat dark forces, and put himself on a quest to redeem his soul after condemning a girl to Hell. I’ve barely touched Constantine comics and avoided the Keanu Reeves movie like the plague, yet I really liked NBC’s pilot. Sight unseen, I already long for more smoking and fouler language, sorely missed attributes of network television, yet the series compensates with some smart storytelling and strong production value. Matt Ryan gets a quick handle on the character as well, standing as the pilot’s standout casting choice. I would’ve liked the character to be a bit more of a hard-ass and less easy to read, perhaps peeling away the layers of his character until the climax when he’s most vulnerable, yet his arc suffices. The pilot does try to cram far too much into one episode as well, bearing the weight of several plot threads, character arcs, and exposition. I’m looking forward to less expository and more witty, snarky, amused follow-up episodes this Fall. And hopefully, as already teased, further DC characters like Swamp Thing will make an appearance.

Thursday proved a busy day for me. I had every intention of following (and truthfully, making fun of) the Sony panel, which featured such inspired future classics such as the Jack Black-starring Goosebumps and the Adam Sandler-starring Pixels. Much to my dismay, I did not make the liveblogging festivites, and consequently, nor did I care to read back on them. Either way, for the following and all future posts, a special thanks to ComingSoon.net for liveblogging said events.

Paramount’s panel had far more going on, though still not a lot I’d care to comment on. A trailer for the second theatrical Spongebob movie played with Tom Kenny in attendance. Despite growing up and loving the show as a kid, I hated the first movie, even back in 2005. There’s just something about that character that doesn’t work in a Hollywood-ized, theatrical setting. Next came Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a film being produced by Michael Bay and directed by the Wrath of the Titans and Battle: Los Angeles guy. Pass. Hot Tub Time Machine 2? Pass. The panel did feature a brief appearance by Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson promoting a screening of Hercules. Fans chanted “Shazam!” to him in light of the wrestler-turned-actor’s recent hints that he’s attached for a role in a Captain Marvel movie, as he has been for years. Johnson wouldn’t confirm, but let’s be honest, the secret’s kinda out.

Finally there was Interstellar, featuring appearances by director Christopher Nolan and undeserved Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey. The film, which its star described as Nolan’s “most ambitious yet,” will follow McConaughey’s character being forced to leave his children to travel to another galaxy. Nolan discussed how the film will tap into the zeitgeist, that in years past, every kid wanted to be an astronaut and travel into space. Not so much in recent years, as we’ve been preoccupied with predominantly domestic matters. Still very much looking forward to this one.

Highlight here, thanks to BleedingCool:

That’s all for today, check back tomorrow for more!

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