WonderCon 2014: Feature Film Highlights Part II

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Unlike last year, this year’s WonderCon features a number of feature films. While it may not be “exclusive”, as these movies are going to be out in theaters pretty soon; and while the panels and exhibits have lower energy in general, it’s still entertaining to see extended trailers or additional footage and chat with select cast and crew.

Here are some more of the feature film highlights:


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”

P1110875-400In attendance: director Matt Reeves, stars Kerri Russell,Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis

The movie picks up 10 years after the events of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” By this time, intelligent apes rule the world, and we’re introduced to the inside of the ape world, where Caesar is the leader. Caesar is an egalitarian leader and he carries a quality of humanity due to his upbringing with a human family. As one might have guessed, humans have survived in this new ape world, and it’s the question of how the two species could co-exist. It’s a story about survival. A friend-or-foe scene, between a seemingly friendly ape, drinking with a couple of human buddies, left the crowd gasping in shock.

Director Matt Reeves promised a very immersive experience. He spoke about performance-capture scenes shot in the woods and in the rain with 3-D cameras.

The Maze Runner”

P1110901-400In attendance: author James Dahsner, director Wes Ball, stars Will Poulter, Dylan O’Brien

Author James Dashner was enthusiastic about the adaptation of his Young Adult dystopian fiction, noting how the movie matched his vision perfectly and how the filmmaker nailed the casting. The book was inspired by “Lord of the Flies,” “Ender’s Game” and TV show “Lost.” The trailer, which is available online, features the protagonists running for their lives to escape the maze, trying to avoid being crushed, trapped or swallowed by rising, falling or closing-in walls with the ground shifting or breaking apart. To the amusement of those in the audience, the actors noted that running wasn’t part of the audition. While the movie looks like it’s chock-full of special effects, director Wes Ball remarked that the biggest special effects were the emotional performance from the cast. The panel concluded the presentation by taking a “selfie,” an ever-growing trend, from the stage with the audience in the background.

X-Men: Days of Future Past”

P1110907-400In attendance: writer-producer Simon Kinberg

Writer-producer Simon Kinberg opened the panel by showing an extended sneak peek, a complete opening, intense fight scenes between relentless and superior Sentinels and various mutants. Fire and ice duels are shown prominently in the struggle.

Taking place in the past, 1970s shortly after the events of “X-Men: First Class,” and the future, where Sentinels are hunting mutants and humans alike, the movie features the largest number of mutants of any X-Men film yet. According to Kinberg, time travel was tricky in general and the team consulted with James Cameron (“Avatar”) to be sure that they would handle this aspect meticulously. To distinguish the two eras, he added that the past was filmed with a bright palette and future with a cool, darker shade.

Like “X-Men: First Class,” there’s a political element in the story. President Nixon makes a cameo and hints that the mutants might be behind the story of the missing tapes in the White House.

Photos by Nathalia Aryani.

Copyright (c) 2014. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: She can be reached at

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].

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