On the biggest day of WonderCon 2014, movie studios brought their A game and their most exciting new footage to show off from upcoming tentpole pictures. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” continued to tell of the struggle between apes and humans, new YA franchise hopeful made its presence known a la “The Maze Runner” and there was even the very first footage anywhere shown of Matthew Vaughn’s latest comic book adaptation, “Secret Service,” which came close to winning the day, but that title has to belong to Gareth Edwards’ “Godzilla.”
Here’s a rundown of everything we got to see…
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
All the promo materials on Matt Reeves’ sequel to Rupert Wyatt’s surprise hit “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” released to the public thus far have been teasing in nature and light on not only apes, but particularly ape/human interaction, but the extended clip Reeves and his cast (Keri Russell, Gary Oldman and Andy Serkis, reprising his mo-capped role as Ceasar) brought along to WonderCon rectified this big time. The extended promo reel gives a lot more exposition especially in regards to the relationship between humans and apes. Jason Clarke’s character seems to be the one working hardest to bridge the two worlds, while Russell, as a former nurse with the CDC, understands that it’s not the apes’ fault that things turned out the way it did. At points it seems as if peace between the two species might be possible, but as Reeves says at the panel, the end point of all this is Planet of the Apes, not Planet of the Humans and Apes. This is reiterated with a stinger at the end of the extended trailer-type clip, which hints at how things get darker and perhaps irreparable between the two species. Above all, like its predecessor, it seems like very human emotions will be at the heart of the sequel as well, and that’s a good thing.
The Maze Runner
Will “The Maze Runner” follow in the footsteps of “Divergent” and be successful enough to launch yet another YA franchise? The new footage director Wes Ball, author James Dashner and stars Dylan O’Brien and Will Poulter brought to WonderCon was undeniably impressive. Much more action oriented and light on romance, O’Brien commands the screen in his first big test as a potential blockbuster leading man, and does a lot (like, a lot) of running. It is, as he says, called “The Maze Runner.” A new trailer highlighted the action, while an extended clip showed it off even more impressively, featuring O’Brien and Ki Hong Lee investigating and them trying to survive a maze that comes alive and seeks to trap and kill them at every turn. It’s a scene, Ball says, that’s not in the book, but was clearly a good change for the screen, because it made for the most compelling look yet at the film.
“Secret Service” (without the “The”) made a surprise appearance at Fox’s presentation in the Arena, to the delight and somewhat confusion of the audience, some of whom clearly had never heard of the project before. But it didn’t matter that Matthew Vaughn cast completely unknown Taron Egerton as the lead, because in the film and in the first clip presented at the panel, the young rising star shared the screen with Colin Firth, who gets into the Liam-Neeson-action-genre in a big way, and all in a tux and with a cane to boot. The film is very stylized and very British, from its humor to its tone, and shared perhaps more in common with Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy than it did any of Vaughn’s previous comic book adaptations. Firth and Egerton – suave secret agent uncle and street thug nephew – share small talk over drinks, when they’re interrupted by some of Egerton’s unsavory acquaintances. Challenging the older man to a fight, the delinquents get themselves a thorough ass-kicking instead, and he employs all sorts of fancy gadgets in addition to impeccable fighting skills to defeat them. Oh yes, bullet-proof umbrellas are apparently a thing.
To say this extended look at “Godzilla” blew the roof off the Arena at WonderCon is putting it lightly, and it’s also the only footage that drew thunderous applause during and after. All those teases of parts of Godzilla’s tail, scales, back and briefly his face came to a head as the monster is shown in all his glory from head to toe. It’s worth the wait, but it’s only a satisfying payoff because of everything that comes before it. Edwards’ first film “Monsters” traded largely on mood and atmosphere and subtle hints of menace, and he uses the same technique on a much grander scale, to huge success in this new look at “Godzilla,” just about the biggest monster movie anyone can make. And the rumors are true, Godzilla is not the only monster to terrorize San Francisco in Edwards’ reboot. The new monster, named Muto, was also seen in full by the audience lucky enough to be in attendance at the panel. And the meeting between the two gigantic creatures is barely teased, but already off to an epic start. Just yet another reason to look forward to “Godzilla.”