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WonderCon 2017: Class Pilot Review, by David Bax

1 Apr

Before the opening titles of the new Doctor Who spinoff series, Class, a high school student has already been killed. Immediately after the titles, two fellow students remark that “everyone knows” how often teenagers at Coal Hill Academy go missing but “they just pretend” not to notice. For fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this will only be the first wolf whistle indicating that the two series have much in common. There are so many similarities, in fact, that in a later scene, a character comes right out and says that Coal Hill, which is a “beacon” for interdimensional baddies, is like the “Hellmouth.” Ultimately, the new show (or at least its pilot) mostly lives up to the challenge of such lofty comparisons. And it’s a whole lot bloodier than Buffy ever was, too.

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WonderCon 2017: Warner Brothers Panel, by Tyler Smith

1 Apr

Much of the Warner Brothers presentation here at WonderCon was exactly what one would expect. A moderator whose forced enthusiasm for all the films being discussed was borderline nauseating, an excited and forgiving audience, and clips and trailers of varying quality. I tend not to enjoy these large panels, because they are so focused on publicity. I don’t blame them; that’s what they’re meant to be. I just don’t have a great deal of patience for them.

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WonderCon 2017: Midnight, Texas Pilot Review, by Tyler Smith

1 Apr

To refer to Midnight, Texas as “Twin Peaks-lite” wouldn’t be particularly insightful. This isn’t because it’s unfair, but because  the comparison – and inevitable shortfall – is so obvious that to even use that as a shorthand could be considered lazy. Yes, the show is similar in structure and sensibility, but it definitely wants to be its own thing, rather than just a Twin Peaks clone. Unfortunately, the other elements of the show are also derived from other sources, such as the X-Men comics. By combining these elements – to make a show about a small town of supernaturally gifted people – the creators of Midnight, Texas try to distinguish themselves through tone and a unique Western setting, but the similarities to other properties are just too great and we can’t help but compare the show – unfavorably – to the countless other books, movies, and TV shows that came before.

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WonderCon 2017: The 18th Annual Animation Show of Shows, by David Bax

1 Apr

The Animation Show of Shows is an annual collection of notable recent short animated films from around the world. As my headline suggests, it’s been around for eighteen years and can be seen this week in theaters in Cary, NC, Toronto, Sandpoint, ID, Omaha and Littleton, CO. This year’s selection is top-notch, ranging from familiar studio fare from the likes of Pixar to an elemental and touching student film from Russia.

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WonderCon 2017: Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Review, by David Bax

31 Mar

At ten years and 29 movies, the animated DC comics universe predates both the Marvel and DC live-action ones that get so much press, for good and for ill. It’s an impressive body of work but, for casual fans like myself, it’s also an exceedingly daunting one. Sam Liu’s Teen Titans: The Judas Contract makes no attempt to ease that burden, often assuming an advanced level of familiarity with the subject matter and history on the part of its audience. Nevertheless, The Judas Contract is, like many of its predecessors, largely an enjoyable and action-packed experience.

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Hey, Watch This! Wondercon 2016

5 Apr

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David discusses the various TV-related things he saw at Wondercon!

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EPISODE 472: WONDERCON 2016

4 Apr

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David is joined by Terence Johnson and Matt Patterson to discuss Wondercon 2016.

 

Musical Notation: West Goes to Wondercon

1 Apr

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In this episode, West discusses his experiences at Wondercon 2016.

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WonderCon 2015: Blumhouse

4 Apr

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Blumhose started their super size panel of upcoming horror movies with a teaser for The Gallows. I hope there’s more to the film than what we saw, which is a pretty standard found-footage scenario of a girl crying into a camera followed by a jump scare. The panel that followed was mostly about the pitfalls of found-footage which, if you look just beneath the surface of the discussion, serves as a pretty good list of reasons not to make one. Talking about how difficult it is to believe that a person would keep holding a camera is not a good way to make me wanna see your movie.

For Unfriended, Blumhouse just showed the trailer, which is already playing in theaters. Sometimes there’s a con glow that makes things seem better than they really look. That didn’t happen here. If you don’t know, this one is the found footage Skype style movie. The one interesting bit that came from the panel was the revelation that there was one single 80-minute master take with pick-ups and inserts done separately. It could be a fascinating exercise to watch at least.

Next up was Insidious Chapter 3. I don’t know this series but the couple of clips shown were a refreshing change by not being found footage. And a humanoid creature with no hands, feet or face gave good creeps. In our current indie horror golden age, it’s nice to see at least someone keeping polished studio horror alive and interesting. Unlike a couple other movies I could name.

The panel ended with a teaser for Sinister 2 that was too brief to comment on.

WonderCon 2015: American Odyssey

4 Apr

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American Odyssey premieres tomorrow night on NBC. It’s no light Spring series, though. Rather, it’s the next in the line of post Homeland shows centering in on a woman in a military/government position. That’s how I would describe it, at least, if I were in the habit of being reductive or dismissive.

Actually, the pilot, which screened here at WonderCon today, sets up a smart and twisty conspiracy thriller, nested in the middle of which is a modern update of Homer’s epic poem. So far, there’s no one with one eye but the backbone concerns the attempts of a soldier, played by Anna Friel, to return home after her platoon was wiped out, possibly on the orders the American military and an American bank.

Friel’s Odelle is only one of the three characters who could be described as leads. Peter Facinelli plays a lawyer who works for thr aforementioned banks but whose curiosity and moral instincts lead to him investigating in his free time. Then we have a rich kid turned anti-capitalist activist whose connection to the rest of the story is more tenuous but which is intriguingly teased by the end of the pilot. There’s also a trio of villains played with assured and effective villainy by Treat Williams, Jay O. Sanders and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.

The pilot hints at a show that is confident in its story. There are a number of reveals and shocks but nothing that approaches overload or lily gilding. With a solid core of performances and an established sense of forward momentum, this could be one to keep an eye on.