Dispatches from LA Comic Con 2018

Written by Fiona Underhill

I went to some really interesting panels at LA Comic Con, covering a wide range of topics, all of which were supremely geeky, so therefore right up my street. I really noticed this year (after last attending the Con in 2016), that every single panel made reference to politics and the wider society which we live in. The zombie panel talked about their function throughout history and whether we still ‘need’ them today, the Superman panel was about how he is a symbol of hope, the Harry Potter panel was about using that universe as therapy, which is something I can very much relate to. Of course, the #MeToo movement was also referenced many times as well. So, it was a surprisingly emotional weekend!

Women in Horror Esther Goodstein, Kathleen Behun, Jessica Sonneborn, Jessica Cameron, Ivet Corvea
Jason Blum has recently come under fire for stating that; “There are not a lot of female directors period, and even less who are inclined to do horror.” Of course the women of this panel were very much here to refute that.
– Sonneborn and Corvea were in Bloody Bloody Bible Camp (2012)
– Sonneborn has Holidays of Horror coming up – an anthology series, each based on a different American holiday eg. Thanksgiving, 4th of July, Hanukkah
– Behun has The Maple House coming up
– Goodstein produced The Black Room (2017, now available on Netflix)
– Cameron directed An Ending (2018) and Mania (2015)

 

I am no Man: The Women of Middle-Earth TheOneRing.net
The focus of this panel was to highlight the lesser-known women of Middle Earth, who could be a large part of the new LOTR TV show which will be coming to Amazon, which will reportedly focus on a young Aragorn, at least to begin with. The hope is that it could feature Gilraen, Aragorn’s mother who was a widow who went to great lengths to protect her son. It could also feature Arwen’s mother Celebrian, to whom Elrond had to prove his worth by becoming a ring-bearer and building Rivendell. Following in the tradition of formidable mothers, Bilbo was said to have got his sense of adventure from his mother, Belladonna Took.

Another prominent female character is Luthien, who not only subverts the ‘damsel-in-distress’ trope by being a self-rescuing ‘princess’, but she also rescues the man she loves. Lúthien forced Sauron to give ownership of the tower to her. She freed the prisoners, among them Beren. She also heals Beren and sings a song which subdues the Dark Lord Morgoth. Tolkein and his wife Edith have the words ‘Beren and Luthien’ on their joint grave, indicating that Tolkein believed his wife ‘rescued’ him. There is also Varda Elbereth who ‘kindled the stars’ (created the universe) and Yavanna The Valar – who is a ‘Mother Earth’ type figure.

 

Superman 80th Anniversary Panel Tony Kim, Jason Inman, Jace Milam and Alfred Day
This was the best panel of the weekend for me. Despite unfortunately being an all-male panel, there was a lot of emphasis on Lois and the fact that it’s her 80th Anniversary too. There was love for The New Adventures of Superman (known as Lois & Clark in the US) which is my favourite Superman property and Superman – The Animated Series, which is underrated. There was discussion of where DC has/is going wrong with Superman and where it could potentially go in the future, all of which I strongly agreed with. I even got a bit emotional when the panel was talking about what Superman should symbolise “truth, justice and the American way” and the fact that these values have lost their meaning in larger society, not just in popular culture. Superman is meant to be inspiring, is meant to be the best reflection of ourselves – he believes in us even when we don’t believe in him. Wonder Woman got it right by creating a hopeful, likeable character who still had humour and was still cool. Why can’t that happen with Supes?

 

Star Thieves – check out the trailer on insta @StarThieves
I can across this completely by accident, but I’m glad that I did. It’s a 20 minute short Sci-Fi film featuring a cast completely made up of people of colour. It is going to be turned into a feature length film – so keep an eye out for that.

 

Other panels which I attended:
Everything you wanted to know about zombies but were afraid to askClarke Wolfe etc
The Psychology of Harry Potter
The Original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW)
Batman 80th Anniversary Panel Kyle Higgins and Chris Burnham
Wonder Women Filmmakers: Insight from Women in the World of Filmmaking – Jenn Page, Joanna Ke, Cheri Gaulke, Sonja Mereu, Emily McGregor, Allison Vanore, America Young
The Chimaera Project http://www.chimaeraproject.org

JUMPCUT’s Favourites: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Year: 2001
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Billy Boyd, Andy Serkis, John Rhys-Davies, Hugo Weaving, Liv Tyler, Dominic Monaghan

Written by Jo Craig

As a restless ten-year-old, shuffling around the toy section at Woolworths had become an unspoken talent among youngsters, able to sail from aisle to aisle while barely glancing at the shelves and somehow gather that there were no new gadgets to impress. That was until an oval, green box with a black, hooded figure inside caught my eye, and I stopped and asked my Aunt who tolerated my shuffling, “What’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’?”

Remembering that introduction vividly, as well as my super-cool Mum letting me skip school on December 19th, 2001 to view a true spectacle that was ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’, becoming one of the first films I recall being deliriously giddy at the faint mention of it. Combined with two sequels, ‘The Two Towers’ and ‘The Return of the King’, Peter Jackson’s vision of J.R.R. Tolkien’s written masterpiece has stood the test of time against modern, CGI enthused films and was the first motion picture that ignited my burning love for the movies.

In summary, ‘Fellowship’ acquaints us with fearless Hobbits, Frodo (Elijah Wood) and the most beloved TLOTR character Sam (Sean Astin), embarking on their journey to destroy the one ring and its ruler, the Dark Lord Sauron (Sala Baker). Travelling across Middle-Earth through villages, elven realms, mines and mountains, Frodo, Sam and their selected eight companions, fellow Hobbits Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan), Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellen), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) and Boromir (Sean Bean) (not forgetting Bill the trusted steed), combine their efforts as “The Fellowship of the Ring” and battle the evil that stands in their way.  

As a kid, ‘TFOTR’ was made unique by my failure to recognise the cast as actors, as I was still ignorant towards the concept of “acting”. This misconception insisted each role was the real deal, and that movies were some sort of a found footage experience where in some parallel universe Elves, Men and Orcs really were at war. Ah, to be young again. Viggo Mortensen who played my treasured Aragorn has now become a favoured actor who I admire in alternative roles but his portrayal of Strider, the Ranger of the North remains undefeated. With a tremendous amount of production piled into all three movies, ‘Fellowship’ relies on prosthetics and set pieces with a modest amount of CGI to construct its magical world, creating a more intimate experience that the sequels lost to grandeur. The beautiful score (that embarrassingly became my homework music), scenery and props all contributed to an eagerness to explore the outdoors and make flimsy weapons out of deformed sticks and tin foil.

The amount of graft and ingenuity that went into creating Middle-Earth and its inhabitants, winning four Oscars (seventeen for the entire trilogy) for Original Score, Makeup, Cinematography and Visual Effects, has a great deal to say about ‘The Hobbit’; a prequel trilogy that only won the Sci-Fi Tech Award and to this day makes a sixteen-year-old adventure look a thousand “po-ta-toes” better. Each component that brought TLOTR into visual existence created wonder throughout my late childhood and instilled a nostalgic release that triggered every time that tin whistle sang out The Shire theme.

Although the trilogy as a whole is phenomenal, ‘Fellowship’ will always remain my preferred instalment as it showcased film on a scale the world had never seen before, inviting us into a fantasy we were desperate to see more of and of course, the horseback Ringwraiths were badass. A film I could replay and recite until the end of my days and still manage to catch an extra cameo of Peter Jackson, ‘TFOTR’ will remain my ‘go-to’ movie of a lifetime that paved the way for my aspiring career and invoked a passion for exquisite cinema that I am forever grateful for.

Why We Need Star Trek In A Star Wars World

Written by Gillian Finklea

Going to see the latest installment in the ‘Star Trek’ series has become a weird ritual for me, that I look forward to more with each passing movie. It’s a fictional universe I have no deep relationship with, having never watched the many television versions or any of the movies made before J.J. Abrams rekindled the franchise. Truth be told, my favorite ‘Star Trek’ movie is probably ‘Galaxy Quest’. And yet, I am actually giddy each time a new movie comes out, because this new ‘Star Trek’ series is wonderful and is only getting better. It is a compelling and fun exploration of what our relationship to space could be in the future, along with excellent characters and exciting action set-pieces. However, my happiness is dashed when I realise that very few will ever experience ‘Star Trek’ in this sense — because of a little juggernaut called ‘Star Wars’.

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Fans v Critics: Dawn Of Hypocrisy

Written by Chris Winterbottom

A great chasm has opened between critics and film fans. Upon the release of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’, critics gave the film a monumental kicking whereas fans seemed to be a lot more forgiving. With the release of ‘Suicide Squad’, audiences and critics were split once again. The cracks have re-emerged and the debate about the use of critics and fan-boy (and fan-girl) reactions is back at the forefront. Why is this? Why are there such differences of opinion when it comes to films? In particular, those films in which there is already a huge built-in fan base. From the outset, I want to make it clear that I have not seen ‘Suicide Squad’, so this article is not to pass judgement on the film, but to raise questions about the (almost) extreme reactions of those who are connected with it.

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