Comic Con: The Fox Panel - The Maze Runner, Hitman: Agent 47, Kingsman
Without any major franchise sequels to show off this year, Fox put out their slate of new films during their Hall H presentation, showing off LET'S BE COPS, HITMAN: AGENT 47, THE MAZE RUNNER, and KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE.
Based on the YA novel of the same name by James Dashner and directed by Wes Ball (RUIN short film). The panel brought out Ball, Dashner, and stars Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, and Will Poulter, who talked about their experiences making the film, with a total of three sequences and even a sequel tease. Here's the highlights.
- First sequence show was of O'Brien's character riding up the enclosed elevator to the very top of the maze. When the elevator opens, he's met with the other inhabitants, who regard him with animosity. O'Brien begins to run from them, tripping over himself and then looking up in a massive reveal shot that shows off the enclosed walls of The Maze. End Scene.
- An extended trailer was shown, which is similar to the first one, but gives it more of a "chase movie" feel. Very energetic and filled with a sense of urgency. For a YA adaptation it felt like something that was more akin to a monster/mystery sci-fi thriller than your typical romance flick inserted into a genre pic. Overall, it looked like something that could get over that hump of being something different, while still retaining the charm of a YA adaptation.
- Grievers sequence was shown in an effort to sell the creatures of the story. Very cool looking. Like a mechanical spider with robotic legs and chassis, but with a flesh torso and head. The head is almost like a fly with large eyes, but with a mouth filled with sharp, plentiful teeth. Almost like a Guillermo del Toro creation, but a bit more clumsy. Ultimately, a really cool-looking creature that has the potential to be badass if they allow it to exert it's true nastiness.
- Ball said he was influenced by ALIENS when crafting the overall look of the monstrous Grievers in the film and imagined them as a biomechanical Frankenstein.
- During fan questions, a fan asked O'Brien about his toughest scene to film and he mentioned the death of a major character, which immediately sent everyone into an uproar. O'Brian, realizing what he'd said (even though it's obviously in the book), lowered his head and said, "Oh, I'm going to get into so much trouble..."
- Lastly, Ball revealed a promo image for the potential sequel, called THE SCORCH TRIALS, which is based on the book sequel of the same name. Although not greenlit, it's where they plan to take the franchise if THE MAZE RUNNER is a success.
The animated flick from director Jorge Gutierrez and producer Guillermo del Toro showed quite a bit of footage, including an extended trailer. In addition to Gutierrez and del Toro, Christina Applegate, Channing Tatum, and Ron Perlman took to the stage and chatted about their characters and involvement in the film. Here's the highlights:
- Gutierrez related how the story for BOOK OF LIFE was partly inspired by the loss of one of his own friends and that the process of getting the film made has taken seven years. Using tequila and art to sway del Toro to his idea, they both worked to develop the project and bring it to (ahem) life.
- Contemporary music is used in the film, but with a latin flavor. Gutierrez was inspired by that type of music and wanted to implement it into the film.
- An extended trailer was shown for the film, which is most certainly a visual feast. It's like a Latin American inspired Tim Burton animated film. Will likely be great fun for the kids and even moreso for adults. Especially those on mind-altering substances.
- Channing Tatum said he was swayed to play the role because they told him he'd have a "great moustache."
- Parting thoughts: BOOK OF LIFE looks like a really solid animated flick with a lot of heart and passion put into it. Not a film that was made just for the sake of raking in some bucks from the kiddie crowd, but rather an original tale that will speak to young and old audiences alike. Definitely a cut above the rest in terms of animated fare.
Although I don't think anyone was really asking for it, the reboot of the videogame-to-film franchise HITMAN: AGENT 47 is coming regardless. Starring Rupert Friend (Homeland) as the titular character, the panel brought out co-star Zachary Quinto and Hannah Ware with a video message from Friend, who was busy filming Homeland, which led to the first-ever look at the film, directed by first-time director Aleksander Bach. Here's the footage rundown:
Footage opens with the back of Agent 47's head, barcode in place. He's chained up in an interrogation room with a sniper rifle pointed directly at him, two Marine's guarding his flanks and a shabby detective questioning him. After some back-and-forth that tries to spell out Agent 47's doomed state, he uses the WATCHMEN line of "I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with me..." but adding, "...and you just brought me my weapon." The action kicks in, with Agent 47 causing the detective to fire the weapon. He stands up, turns the chains towards the oncoming slow-mo bullet and breaks free, taking out the two Marines and the detective and escaping in one of the Marines' uniforms.
We see a series of action shots with cars, helicopters, and of course Agent 47 carrying his two nickel-plated .45's. There's a lot of slow motion mixed in with some well-shot action beats, including a car chase scene that ends with Agent 47 being cornered in a downtown city area. SWAT-type guys on rooftops fire rappeling ropes into Agent 47's car and slide down after him, leaving the assassin surrounded with bad guys closing in from all directions. We see him prep his .45's and he begins to go to work. Not much is seen of Quinto or co-star Hannah Ware, but there's a lot of kicking, punching, and slow mo shooting from the titular star, who carries himself in a much more down-to-business kind of way than we saw in the Timothy Olyphant version. Friend looks like a very different version of the character here, which isn't a bad thing. A series of action shots leads us out and flashes the title. END FOOTAGE.
Overall: This looks much better than expected, especially for something that had no blip on my radar at all. There's a lot of stylized action that reminded me of the kind of stuff you'd see in a videogame opening animatic and it seemed to fit the videogame adaptation genre well. Although it's not likely to change your life, it does have potential, well beyond what I thought would be straight-to-video fare.
We've seen a lot from this one already as it's only a few weeks away from release, but the new comedy from director Luke Greenfield (THE GIRL NEXT DOOR) starring Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr., Nina Dobrev, Rob Riggle, Keegan-Michael Key still had a few things up its sleeve to share. Wayans Jr., Dobrev, and Riggle took to the stage to talk about the film, which kicked off with a video message from Jake Johnson rocking a moustache and saying he couldn't be there because he was busy filming JURASSIC WORLD. Here's the highlights:
- An extended sizzle trailer was shown that had a lot of good bits in it, building on a lot of what we've already seen and with a bunch of gags we haven't. I won't spoil the shenanigans, but it looks like good, stupid fun all the way around, due largely in part to the chemistry between Johnson and Wayans. It's easy to buy them as friends making bad decisions. Could end up being a good comedy escape to finish out the summer.
- Riggle said that it was nice to play the "straight man" for once, as his character is an actual cop who is initially fooled by the faux cops.
- There was a lot of improv on set, including the sorority fight break up that we've seen in the trailer. The "that's what you get" line was improvised by the actress who slams Wayans Jr. into the glass table.
- Apparently, director Luke Greenfield got the idea for the film, because he actually did the same thing when he was younger; dressing as a cop to meet chicks, which eventually backfired and led to him being arrested.
Although this seemed to be the "big dog" on Fox's slate for the panel, I can't say that it swayed me one way or another. Writer Mark Millar came out to moderate the panel and brought out Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Sofia Boutella, and Taron Egerton, but kicked things off with a video message from director Matthew Vaughn and Mark Hamill, who has a small role in the film. Hamill talked about being busy filming a little indie film in the desert and revelaed his bearded look for the film (uncanny how he's at the Obi-Wan stage now). From there, they introduced the first clip from the film. Here's the rundown:
Clip opens with an aerial shot of a secluded mansion atop a snowy mountain peak, Henry Jackman's recognizeable music playing underneath. We cut to the inside where Mark Hamill is tied up on a chair, looking very "professor-esque" and obviously scared for his life. His captor tells him he has nothing to be afraid of and that his employer just wants to speak to him, etc. There are armed guards around the room and before you know it a smooth, ass-kicking secret agent is bursting into the room and killing off bad guys in particularly violent fashion (shooting them in the face, blood spatters, the works). He kills a guy that was bringing in a drink and then catches it. It seems like he's the badass savior and he's got a sense of arrogance to him, like an asshole James Bond. He tells Hamill's character that he's there to rescue him, just before smelling the alcohol in the glass and naming the year.
SLICE. The asshole Bond stops dead in his tracks and we see Sofia Boutella's character Gazelle standing behind him. She's missing both her legs below the knee and in place has blades for prosthetics, which she has obviously just used on the asshole Bond. His body separates into two parts and falls to the ground. Gazelle then proceeds to cover up each dead body with a towel or sheet and then answers a knock at the door. It's Samuel L. Jackson's character, looking like he was dressed by a stylish street thug. He walks in, talking with a lisp and sips the drink, while telling Hamill that he has nothing to be afraid of and that he wishes to form a partnership with him. END SIZZLE.
We were then treated to another clip, this time with Colin Firth as Agent Harry Hart and Taron Egerton as his nephew, Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin. Here's that lowdown:
The two are sitting in a pub with Firth drinking a pint of Guiness and reading Egerton the riot act about how he's wasting his potential. As he's rattling off the kid's offenses, a group of thugs enter the bar, looking to beat Egerton up for some reason or another. Firth tells the lads that he's had a pretty bad day and asks if they'd leave the two alone while he finishes his drink. Obviously, there's no reasoning with thugs and they tell Firth to leave, spewing out some very British insults, which cause him to pause as he prepares to exit. Firth instead locks the doors and turns to face them, uttering something about teaching them some respect.
The men charge and Firth dishes out some action badassery that we've never seen (or imagined) him dish out before on film. He manages the ass whipping gracefully and brutally, with some fun action shots that were very reminiscent of the energy that Vaughn captured in the first KICK ASS film. Heads smaching into bottle on the bar, lots of martial arts/James Bond inspired fisticuffs and a lot of gadgetry worked into his moves. At one point, Firth uses his umbrella as a bullet shield/tranquilizer gun and even shoots out a sleep agent from his watch at the bartender. It's all over the top, comic-book style action and with a lot of energy. It was a fun romp to see, especially with Firth as a badass and the most compelling thing shown for KINGSMAN: THE SECRETE SERVICE. END SCENE.
Final thoughts: Having read the comic this is based on and seeing the footage, it appears that this will be yet another serviceable entry in Millar's burgeoning movie franchise world. That said, none of it knocked my socks off in a way that screamed "Holy shit this is awesome." Thus far it looks like a flick I'll see, due largely to my knowledge of those involved (Vaughn particularly), but I have to wonder how the rest of the moviegoing world will see it. Kind of a tough sell, really, but they've got time to work on that.
And that's a wrap for Fox. No new or big announcements and a line-up that was fun, although not as epic as last year's X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST trailer. Strangely, the film I expected the least from (THE MAZE RUNNER) ended up being the most interesting of the group as it definitely stood out as something much more compelling than your standard fare YA movie-of-the-week franchise wannabe's. Hopefully, next year will bring more of that X-Factor.