Entertainment & Events

Comic-Con 2017 Recap

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In contrast with last year with jam-packed interactive activities, talk shows, press lines, it’s more like ‘Comic-Con Lite’ for me this year – the lightest in nearly all the years I’ve been covering the convention.  The main reason is because of lack of programming in the feature film and TV pilot areas (outside of Hall H Saturday) and the lack of press conferences across the board.  I was also really sick, so I had to limit my attendance.

Here are the highlights: (thank goodness for an epic ‘Kingsman’ panel!)

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” (September 22, 2017)

In attendance: stars Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges

20th Century Fox pulled out all the stops.  The studio presented three lengthy footages of the upcoming sequel of the spy action, a panel full of stars, and plenty of booze to boot.  While everyone had a shot glass, Halle Berry chugged an entire pint of bourbon, to the cheers of her co-stars and audience.   There’s a good banter about Channing Tatum’s physical strength and Taron Egerton’s being asked again to hold his breath under water for one of the shots.  Attendees of the panel each received a bright orange Kingsman T-shirt with a faux tuxedo front and a fidget spinner.  The studio also converted Hard Rock Cafe into Kingsman Central, by providing free poppy burgers and whiskey cocktails for three nights of happy hour.

The first footage is out-of-this world!  Eggsy, now an agent with the British spy organization, faces off with a former agent recruit with a mechanical arm.  They go head-to-head inside of a speeding car, in the backseat, up on the roof, and in the trunk.  At one point, Eggsy is forced to lie on a dragged car door on the street.  Dodging pursuers, he dives the car into a lake, entering a secret lair.  No words can do justice to describe this incredible sequence.

The second took our sharply dressed Kingsman agent and his handler across pond to the good ol’ USA (Kentucky).  They have a fisticuff  in a wine cellar with an agent from the U.S. spy organization, Statesman.  That would be Tatum’s character, carrying a Southern accent and decked in a cowboy outfit.

The third showed a 1950s style neighborhood, a cover for a drug trade in the middle of a jungle.  Don’t mistake Julianne Moore’s character’s Stepford wife appearance; she’s evil and brutal.  Accompanied by two robot dogs, she tests a new recruit’s loyalty by having him take down one of her agents and shove him down to a meat grinder.  Take a wild guess on what kind of hamburger is being served to our new recruit…



“Deception” (ABC, premiere date TBD)

If you enjoyed “Now You See Me,” you’ll be in for a treat.  Instead of a two-hour movie, how about a little magic every week from the comfort of your home?  Cameron Black (Jack Cutmore-Scott), a magician down-on-his-luck, shows up at a crime scene after watching the news of an explosion and a disappearing plane on the ground.  He thinks it’s an elaborate bait done by an illusionist who might have framed his brother and wanted to get his attention.

Smart-alekcy, it’s quite a delight to see Cameron pulling off cool stunts, pursuing and trapping drug cartel leads through misdirection, disguise and escape scheme.  He’s got a sleight of hand with cards, knife-throwing, bullet-catching, kidnapping, car chase and secret getaway.  Saying more would be ruining the surprise.

They stunts may be implausible, but the show is meant to be an escapist.   It’s got potentials with elements of mirage, action, humor, and a hint of a future romance.  The trick (pun intended) would be to keep those tricks fresh episode after episode.  Let’s hope for some magic!


“Inhumans” (2-hour premier on IMAX, September 1; ABC, September 29)

In attendance: producers Jeph Loeb and Scott Buck; director Roel Reine; stars Anson Mount, Iwan Rheon, Serinda Swan, Ken Leung, Eme Ikwuakor, Isabelle Cornish, Mike Moh, Ellen Wonglom, Sonya Balmores

A first in TV history, the first two hours of the episodes will be initially released in IMAX theaters. The FX-heavy show (600 special effects in the first two episodes) tells a the story of a superpowered royal family, the arrival of Inhumans on Earth and their adjustment of living with humans in our planet.

Among the Marvel Inhumans are King Black Bolt (with a destructive voice whose whisper could level cities; therefore, he does not speak), Queen Medusa (with a prehensile red hair), the king’s brother Maximus (a ‘normal’ one without superpower but has the ambition of a king and ability to influence people), military leader Gorgon (with cattle-like hooves that can generate shockwaves), Black Bolt’s cousin and adviser Karnak (with the ability to see every possible angle and find fault in everything), Medusa’s younger sister Crystal (with the ability to control elements).  There’s also Lockjaw, a 2,000-pound bulldog with teleporting power.

Extended sneak peeks show an Inhuman being hunted by armed soldiers in the Hawaiian jungle,  a tense dinner sequence depicting conflict between Black Bolt and Maximus (with Medusa interpreting Black Bolt’s sign language), a brotherly betrayal and a military coup, a confrontation between Medusa (and her hair-raising power) and Maximus, Karnak’s mental fighting prowess, and Black Bolt’s being transported into Earth.  A human named Louise has been exposed to a substance that alters the Inhuman gene.  The substance appears on Earth, alarming the king, who then sends his cousin Triton to investigate, save Inhumans and bring them back.

The showrunner talked about having relatable characters who happen to have superpowers.  These Inhumans, who have depended on superpowers all their lives, may find that having them are not always helpful to solve problems.

While the show didn’t grab me from the start like the CW superhero shows, to be fair, I would have to see the pilot to make an informed opinion.  “Inhumans” will be on my fall roster.


Miscellaneous TV Shows & Panels

Syfy brought in several minutes of trailer of “Krytpton” and a mini panel (showrunners Cameron Welsh and Damian Kindler, and star Cameron Cuffe).  The show reimagines the backstory of Superman’s grandfather in his home planet before its destruction 200 years before the events in the “Man of Steel” movie.  The House of El rises up against tyranny and is thrown into the bottom of society.  The story involves time travel from the present time and a conspiracy to prevent Superman’s legacy from happening.  It is a story about sacrifice and triumph.  Adam Strange and Hawkwoman will appear on the show.   Villain will include Brainiac.

Time-travel show “Timeless“(NBC) made history this past spring when it was cancelled and brought back three days later after fans fiercely made their collective voice known in social media.  A very grateful panel, creators (Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan) and stars (Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter, Malcolm Barrett and Goran Visnjic) showed up to show their appreciation and answer questions from fans (plot, character arcs, favorite scenes such as time period and costumes), including their indescribable reactions to the show cancellation and return.   Spencer was especially vocal in her gratitude.  The creators  promised to deliver a comeback in January 2018.

I don’t watch fantasy police procedural dramedy “Lucifer” (Fox), so I left shortly after the panel (which featured stars such as Tom Ellis and Tricia Helfer) started.  From the footage and audience’s reaction, the show looks like devilish fun and has quite a bit of following.

NBC had a pilot and a full panel with “Midnight, Texas” novel author and cast (François Arnaud, Dylan Bruce, Parisa Fitz-Henley, Arielle Kebbel, Sarah Ramos, Peter Mensah, Yul Vazquez, Jason Lewis), stumping for the summer horror offering.  If you like horror and supernatural, you may want to check it out.


While I didn’t explore much this year, I partially attended an intriguing presentation of the “State of the Iron Man Tech,” attended by Gravity Founder, Richard Browning and stuntwoman Zoe Bells (“Iron Man,” “Inglorious Bastards”), showing onscreen the invention and experiment of a real exosuit.  Unfortunately, due to a time conflict, I wasn’t able to attend the press-only session for a private demonstration of the suit.

Far from making Iron Man a reality, it shows that it’s possible to have a wearable, flying suit (although it’s more like hovering for now).  Although it does take a quite a bit of practice, and a rigorous training regimen, in order to be able to operate the suit.  It’s a combination of high tech and peak physicality.  You can view Browning’s demonstration on Youtube here.

Inside of the exhibit halls, I visited the “Alien Covenant” attraction.  Visitors were invited into a a chamber to undergo ‘Colonist Certification Test’ to determine their suitability for the next colonization mission.  A cosplayer, acting like a synthetic greeted participants and warned that the images depicted onscreen might be too graphic for the younger ones.  Sirens blared and screen after screen depicted grotesque alien attacks on humans.  Finally, a live person behind the door crying out for help, but she wasn’t able to get out, leaving blood splatters behind.  Participants received a set of collectible pins.  Creatively speaking, having an interactive component and a personalized ID badge or photo inside the chamber would have been neat.

Among notable exhibits were Justice League’s Batmobile, Thor: Ragnarok’s costumes and headpiece, Ghost in the Shell’s silicon shell, It’s yellow raincoat and red balloon.

Here’s to Comic-Con 2018!





Copyright (c) 2017.  Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven (sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at indotransserv@gmail.com.

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic (rottentomatoes.com/critic/nathalia-aryani). She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven (sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].

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