From what we hear, San Diego's Comic-Con used to be all about comic books and movies —what a strange, novel idea! While comic classics and big-screen adventures are still a major part of the convention, SDCC can now be viewed as a litmus test for television's growing popularity. In recent years, the infamous Hall H has been flooded with frantic fans flocking to see their favorite hits from the small screen, and 2012's convention will feature more shows than ever before. Hollywood.com will be on the floor for many of your favorite shows, bringing exclusive scoop and interviews from their hottest stars. But before we grab our badge and brave the crowds, let's run down what we already know from your favorite hits, and, more importantly, what we're dying to find out. MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
Dexter: At the end of season 6, fans were treated to the moment they'd been waiting for since the days of the Ice Truck Killer: Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) walked in on a kill. This. Changes. Everything.
What We Need To Know: To put it mildly, season 6 of Dexter was a disappointment. In fact, things haven't been quite the same since the phenomenal John Lithgow took his final bow. Having Deb in on the game (or battling Dexter) would certainly shake things up, but fans really need to know how they plan to keep things fresh for season 7. Showtime has been pretty mum about this season's new big bad, but we do know that newcomer Ray Stevenson will play a high-ranking member of an Easter European crime ring, with Katia Winter recurring as a Russian stripper. This high-power organized crime factor is new territory for Dexter, so we're keeping our fingers crossed for a quality trailer.
Community: Creator Dan Harmon was fired after a tumultuous season 3, and a series of leaked voicemails that exposed extreme personal and creative differences with Chevy Chase. David Guarascio and Moses Port (Happy Endings) will take the reins for season 4, while Chase has confirmed that he will definitely return for another year at Greendale. When we last left the study group, Jeff (Joel McHale) was searching for his father, while Troy (Donald Glover) became the "messiah" of Greendale's Air Conditioning Repair Annex.
What We Need To Know: How the new showrunners plan to handle the transition, and their plans for the tone of the show. Community is one of television's most unique treasures, and its devoted fans are fiercely loyal to Harmon. Guarascio, Port and the cast have been relatively quiet since Harmon's firing, so Comic Con will be their big debut. Expect plenty of scoop on the Community front, Human Beings.
The Walking Dead: They're everywhere! At the end of season 2, Andrea (Laurie Holden) was rescued by a hooded woman when she became separated from the rest of the besieged gang, who were forced to flee Herschel's (Scott Wilson) farm. It was soon revealed that this woman is none other than Michonne, a popular sword-wielding heroine from the comics. Meanwhile, the Grimes Gang were left reeling over the news that the virus that makes "walkers" is alive in all of them, so even a natural death would result in zombie rebirth. What We Need To Know: Michonne's casting has already been revealed — Treme's Danai Gurira will join the cast when the show resumes next fall, along with David Morrissey as a formidable villain known as The Governor. (Check em' out in the brand new poster!) But more importantly, we want to know how season 3 will look with new showrunner Glen Mazzara officially at the helm. Will he quicken the dull pace of season 2? The final 3 episodes of last season were a vast improvement over fall's poorly received Sophia snooze-fest, so we have high hopes for Dead's panel at this year's Con. Game of Thrones: Stannis (Stephen Dillane) is (maybe?) defeated! Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) lost his power over the realm! Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is a wildling! Theon (Alfie Allen) and Davos (Liam Cunningham) might be dead! So much happened in last month's finale that there aren't enough exclamation points in this world to encapsulate. We doubt the GoT crew will give away too much about season 3 since it's (unfortunately) eons away, but George R. R. Martin knows how to give a good panel. (Though it's pretty hard to adequately tease plot lines when everything already exists in a book.) What We Need To Know: They've already announced a bevy of characters that will join the cast for season 3 (which will be based on the third book in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Storm of Swords). We'll on the lookout for any casting announcements, or new exotic filming locations to expand upon the already vast world of Westeros. Also, since A Storm of Swords will be split into 2 seasons, we're curious to know where this one cuts off. Breaking Bad: The fifth season of AMC's groundbreaking drama premieres on the final night of 'Con (Sunday the 15th), so fans won't have to wait too long to see where Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul) ended up after last season's dramatic face off. (Get it?) What We Need To Know: Is Walt really capable of killing a child? After seeing that Lily of the Valley plant in his backyard, it would certainly seem so. Was Saul in on the scheme? Also, getting rid of Gus leaves plenty of room for a new big bad — but will this season's opposition be a brand new face, or has Walt himself become the show's main antagonist? We expect Cranston and co. to touch on all of these issues and more, so be sure to check back for updates! Once Upon A Time: The first season's finale brought good news and bad news. In the "good" column, residents of the cursed Storybrooke, Maine regained their memories when Emma (Jennifer Morrison) finally broke the evil spell. However, fans were left with a cliffhanger when Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) seemingly went ahead and cast another one. It looks like magic has finally made its way to "our" world, but what this means for our favorite characters is yet to be seen. What We Need To Know: Well, besides more details about the latest curse, we'd like to see what the newly cast Mulan and Sleeping Beauty will be up to. Jamie Chung (who will now and forever be known as the girl from The Real World: San Diego) and The Tudors' Sarah Bolger have officially joined the roster, but the Once-lers have kept mum about their role in Storybrooke. We're hoping for some overall badassery from Chung (and not only to make up for Sucker Punch). The Vampire Diaries: In the final moments of May's third season finale, TVD fans were shocked when Elena (Nina Dobrev) died, only to re-emgerge minutes later as a bona fide creature of the night. Also, Klaus is somehow occupying Tyler's (Michael Trevino) body. What We Need To Know: We're not sure if anything can beat Caroline's (Candice Accola) hilarious-slash-heartbreaking season 2 transformation, but we're curious to see producer Julie Plec and co. try. Also — if Klaus is occupying Tyler's body, what does that mean for his soul? And how the heck does Trevino plan to pull off the conniving Brit Joseph Morgan? True Blood: Since we're right smack in the middle of the season, the True Blood gang might not have too much to give away. But after an intense make-out session between Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Alcide (Joe Manganiello), fans will be chomping at the bit for any details on Sookie's love... quadrangle? What We Need To Know: How they plan to proceed without showrunner Alan Ball leading the way. The show just got picked up for another season, which will be its first with co-executive producer Mark Hudis at the helm. Does he have any plans for a change of direction? Fringe: Fringe's final season will debut this fall (tear), and after a madcap season 4 that included a special flash-forward to a dystopian 2036, Peter (Joshua Jackson), Olivia (Anna Torv) and Walter (John Noble) experienced some sort of happily ever after when they saved our universe and learned that Olivia was pregnant. However, this pregnancy fits perfectly with the grim future presented in the flash-forward, where Peter and Olivia's daughter tries to survive a world run by evil Observers, and Olivia is supposedly dead. What We Need To Know: According to Noble, Fringe's final go-round will take place almost exclusively in 2036, where the original Fringe team (plus Peter and Olivia's daughter, Etta) are wanted insurgents. Using the Observers as final-season villains is a huge plot shift, because we always thought September was our dearest friend. Does this mean the Observers were behind everything all along (even September)? Will we ever see the alternate universe (and our beloved Lincoln Lee) again? Are peacoats still in style in 2036? In case you couldn't tell, we're pretty excited for the Fringe panel. Please excuse the impending exclamation points. Sons of Anarchy: Season 4 of SoA ended on a major bang: Jax (Charlie Hunnam) finally learned that Clay (Ron Perlman) killed his father (and tried to kill Tara), but now he has to keep the old bastard alive. Agents in the CIA-backed Galindo cartel are using the Sons as their drug and weapon runners for their deal with the Irish Kings, who will only deal with Clay. Galindo will crush the now Jax-led Sons if their Irish investigation fails, so Jax will need to try his darndest to keep internal issues at bay. To make matters worse, Tig (Kim Coates) ran over the daughter of the most infamous drug kingpin in Oakland. What We Need To Know: We learned on Lost that Harold Perrineau will do anything for his kin. So when we heard the news that Perrineau had joined the cast as Damon Pope, the famous gangster/father of the woman run over by Tig, we were thrilled. ANY news on his character, and upcoming gang drama for the Sons, is necessary. Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna More:
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In 117 AD the famed Ninth Legion of the Roman army inexplicably disappeared. Through the centuries many legends pertaining to the missing squadron have unfurled. Some claim that the harsh elements of northern Britain brought them to their doom while more extraordinary stories suggest that supernatural forces laid waste to the soldiers. Writer-director Neil Marshall sought to set the record straight about the lost faction of fearless Romans with his new film Centurion but his audience receives much more mutilation than explanation.
A highly explosive cocktail of blood sweat and steel the film centers on Michael Fassbender’s Quintus Dias the stoic soldier for whom the film is titled and a captive of the savage Picts who have thwarted Roman subjugation for decades with effective guerrilla tactics. Quintus manages to escape the Picts’ village and regroup with the Ninth Legion led by the brave General Virilus (Dominic West) which happens to be on its way to finally end the devastation at the behest of a pushy Roman governor. Like every failed attempt at conquest the Roman forces are demolished. Quintus manages to survive yet again (cue eye-roll) along with a small group of battered warriors who end up on the run through treacherous terrain trying to stay a step ahead of Etain (Olga Kurylenko) a feared Pict huntress whose only joy in life comes from spilling Roman blood.
Like the movie’s breakneck production pace the story moves incredibly quickly leaving little time for the plot to be fully fleshed out (there’s not much of it anyway). The film would have benefitted from some more character development especially with the supporting cast because it is intended to be an ensemble piece but as each soldier got picked off I began to realize how insignificant most of them were to the narrative. As with all chase films though it’s the thrill of the hunt that keeps you engaged and Centurion delivers in that sense.
Fans of Marshall’s previous films The Descent and Doomsday will be drawn to Centurion’s similarly sadistic depiction of violence which is in no short order. Squeamish moviegoers will likely spend at least half of the movie’s 97-minute runtime with their eyes clenched as heroes and villains hack away at heads and limbs vividly illustrating the less-than-civilized age in which the film is set. Had previous entries into the swords-and-sandals genre like Braveheart and Gladiator not shown audiences and filmmakers alike that blood and story can be successfully balanced Centurion would’ve fared better but the director’s preference of gore over plot points kept me from ever being able to take it seriously.
Marshall’s mind is like an encyclopedia of genre conventions and he puts this knowledge to good use in terms of the movie’s technical components conforming to the visual style that we’ve come to expect from this period. If it’s growth that you’re hoping for don’t expect to find much; the only sign of it that the filmmaker demonstrates is in his at-times surprisingly poetic dialogue which describes the repulsive details of war and gives its deliverer Quintus much-needed depth. Credit is also due to a handful of the actors (namely Fassbender West and Kurylenko) who braved health-hazardous conditions to get the film made and take the on-screen chaos in stride no matter how absurd it gets.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Set in a seaside English town in the '80s this small heartfelt tale centers on the relationship between Edward a 10-year-old boy whose parents run a retirement home and Clarence an aging magician and recent widower who is one of the new residents. Lonely and curious Edward has a habit of befriending the old folks only to search for their ghosts after they die. When Clarence comes in both learn new life lessons as the older one comes to terms with his past while the younger boy finds reason for optimism as he faces the future.
WHO’S IN IT?
Michael Caine is wonderful in a startling character role in which the 76-year-old movie icon allows himself to look older drawn and beaten in parts of the film. Although the career of the two-time Oscar winner has been full of memorable performances ranging from Alfie in 1966 to The Dark Knight last year it’s this kind of realistic and moving portrayal that has marked the best of his work. and he’s never been better than in this memorable portrait of a forgotten magician who still manages to discover a couple of new tricks late in life. Matching him every step of the way is the engaging Bill Milner (Son of Rambow) who manages to go toe-to-toe with a screen legend without coming off as a too precocious of a child actor. He’s haunting and extremely natural in a pivotal three-dimensional role that never seems forced. Helping matters immensely is a great ensemble of splendid British stars who play the other residents including the great Rosemary Harris Leslie Phillips Sylvia Syms and Peter Vaughan.
Director John Crowley (Boy A Intermission) wisely lets his actors off the leash to create a chemistry that makes the modest story work its own kind of movie magic. Reminiscent in certain ways of the kind of British kitchen-sink dramas popular in the '60s Crowley resists any opportunity to let directorial flash overwhelm this poignant character-driven tale thereby letting it thrive on its own terms.
With such a superlative cast of British-acting royalty in the supporting roles you almost wish there were a few more scenes showcasing these characters in the film’s trim 91-minute running time.
Clarence rallies his talents to put on a magic show for the home’s residents. Caine pulls this off seamlessly and the sequence is pure delight.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
This quaint film won’t lose anything on TV screens and may be hard to find in wide release so take the opportunity to see it any way you can.