We’re back in San Diego for another year of the amazing, stupendous Comic Convention grand-daddy of them all — San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC or #SDCC2014).  This year so far, I’ve minimized my time on the floor and spent it in seats as much as possible… So, up to this point we have limited Cosplay photos which is admittedly a bummer for me.  I think many of the costumes are great and like to discuss the process and inspiration behind them… We’ll try to get to more of that later in the week.

For now, I want to talk about Preview night and the panels in Hall H.

Preview #1 – The Flash

This story starts much the same as many others in super hero land – a freak accident gives Barry Allen super powers (think Fantastic 4, Spider-Man, Hulk).  He’s young.  He’s a crime scene investigator assistant with a blog that focuses on the possibility of meta humans (my term).  In wacky a coincidence, there’s also a bad guy with super powers who just happened to get them during the same freak accident.  During the show, we learn that the accident may have generated many more of this super powered citizens in the show’s hometown, Central City.

The good stuff – I spent a good while reading Flash comics as a kid and was really stoked when I saw there was going to be a TV series based on the character… but that was the first time around (starring John Wesley Shipp).  I watched the first few and don’t remember what happened after that.  So, seeing this one coming up I wondered how they would pull off the character without the corniness of the first try.  The special effects were mostly spot on but still the view where he’s running at super speed … where the back ground is flashing by but he’s in regular run mode just strikes me as odd.  I don’t know how else they would do it but it just does not fully work for me.  All the other effects were just fine.  The character is likeable (played by Grant Gustin) and it seems they can do several different and interesting things with the story as they have it laid out.   The wide potential distribution of the powers reminds me a bit of George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards series and can lead to a lot of creative story lines. I loved that they had the original Flash, Mr. Shipp, cast as the father of Barry Allan and really liked the Arrow tie in. All good stuff that creates a cohesive DC universe on the network.

The bad – again, the corny running special effect.  It’s on the CW… I have to give this network more of a chance since they are creating shows that are in my wheelhouse.

Bottom line on the Flash – Looks promising.

iZombie – Can’t say much on this – the preview / pilot was canceled due to cast changes.

Teen Titans G0 – not clear on why they played this one since this is an existing program.  I was a bit sour on having to sit through the show but it turned out to generate a couple laughs.  I liked the original Teen Titans but this one was admittedly entertaining.

Constantine – While the subject matter was much darker than The Flash, I enjoyed this one a bit more.  The subject matter is interesting and the main character (John Constantine played by Matt Ryan) has some good one-liners and an attitude.  In this pilot, Constantine pulls himself out of a mental institution where he admitted himself to save the daughter of a friend who is being stalked by some major demon.  Again, the story is wide open and there was a cool Dr. Fate crossover/prop shown a couple times.  I’m interested to see the additional background color they give to the characters and where the writers go with both Constantine and the angels who are trying to take action on their own.  Definitely looks promising as well.

— After the showing of Constantine the folks in Ballroom 2o replayed the Flash pilot since iZombie was MIA.  I walked the floor only briefly and it was PACKED with folks trying for preview-night and comic-con exclusives. —

DAY 1 –

A bit unclear on how things would go with the new Toucan tracker bracelets, I was resigned to viewing the line for Hall H and then bailing out if it was too long.  I rode the trolley in and arrived about 7:15 am to find a VERY SHORT LINE.  Given that Thursday is a bit less crazy than Friday, I’m still a bit worried about tomorrow but even the Thursday line was much better than anticipated.  So, nice job so far, SDCC.

Previews/Panels

Dreamworks’ Home – Appears to be a very cute animated movie starring the voices of Rihanna, Jim Parsons, Steve Martin and great DreamWorks animation wherein an alien race is looking for a new home and they settle on Earth.  We must have some primo real estate since that seems to happen so often in the movies.  The director Tim Johnson and actor Jim Parsons were on hand and seem genuinely excited about the project.  The plot did not strike me as terribly compelling but I’m sure it will end up on the list of movies to see with my kids.  I like all the actors and enjoy the animation but I did not walk away gung ho about seeing the film.

Penguins of Madagascar – Thumbs up.  I laughed out loud at the footage several times and would really like to take myself and my kids to see this one.  It was very funny and it was fantastic to see John Malkovich and Benedict Cumberbatch interacting on the panel together.  They were both quite entertaining in different ways.  One of the audience questions was – “what villain would you most like to play?” Malkovich answered, after a lengthy pause, “Lois Lane.”  Cumberbatch replied, “Batman” – while neither were villains, I walked away thinking that Malkovich was being intentionally funny/odd whereas Cumberbatch may not have heard the whole question.  There was a lot of discussion about the method of acting required when working as just a voice vs. using their “whole body” and both commented on how they hadn’t even met until this week – so the tough part was not being able to play off other actors and not sure where to take certain suggestions or ad lib script changes.  Bottom line – Looks like a lot of fun.

Paramount

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Have been a fan of the half-shell heroes from the start.  After meeting Mr. Eastman last year I think I became an even bigger fan because of his awesome attitude toward fans.  He was great and he continued his appreciation today as he was introduced at the TMNT panel.  The film itself – well my notes basically tell the tale –  “Exciting.  Over the top.  Funny.” We viewed a couple action sequences that were just nuts, spectacular.  I wanted to see the whole story, right away.

Other thoughts, I really like seeing the turtles as a bit more muscular and tough.  These turtles seemed a bit more gritty than the old toons and that seems to fit better with ninjas from the sewer.  Will Arnett and Megan Fox were on hand to answer questions and interact with the fans.  Nice to hear the were both fans before the file, especially Megan.   This is on the ‘to do’ list for sure.

More coming tomorrow!