Tag Archives: Alcatraz

WonderCon 2012, Part 2

Arno Axolotl gets skewered in support of HBO's Game of Thrones.

TV

There were a number of panels relating to TV programs. Prime-time series Person of Interest, Alcatraz, Once Upon a Time, and Community all had well attended presentations. Since WonderCon came before the Fall schedule was announced, there were few new shows in evidence. I didn’t see it, but I think there were some teasers from the new Arrow program that is replacing Smallville.

There were several panels devoted to TV animation. I was unable to get into the Adventure Time panel, the only presentation I missed due to the room being full. I did see the DC Nation panel that previewed clips from Green Lantern: The Animated Series and the second season of Young Justice, as well as some of the short-shorts that they are playing on Saturday mornings. Unfortunately, there was no real mention of the new Batman series or any other possible offerings that may be in development.

Alcatraz panel with stars Jorge Garcia, Sarah Jones, Parminder Nagra, Jonny Coyne, and Robert Forster, plus some of the writers and producers.

x
Movies

One of the more fun panels during the convention was a retrospective of the movies from 1982. With such science fiction and fantasy classics as Star Trek II, Blade Runner, E.T., Tron, Poltergeist, Conan, and The Thing, not to mention cult classics like Megaforce, the panelists had a good time reminiscing and joking about their favorites.

Damon Lindelof and Ridley Scott discuss Prometheus

There were a number of previews for this summer’s blockbusters. Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof were there in person to introduce the latest trailer for Prometheus. I still don’t really know what the movie will be like, but I expect an intelligent, thrilling adventure.

One of the highlights was the trailer for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Produced by Tim Burton and directed by Timur Bekmambetov, this looks to be a wild and exciting movie. Who knew Lincoln was such a bad-ass vampire killer!

Other previews included Battleship, which doesn’t look quite as lame as the first trailer made it look, but think it’s basically Transformers in sheep’s clothing—lots of explosions, but nonsensical. The preview for Snow White and the Huntsman looked interesting—certainly Snow White herself should be a strong female lead.

The weirdest preview was for a film called Sound of My Voice. They showed the first ten minutes of the film that introduced us to a cult based on a charismatic female time traveler (or perhaps a charismatic con artist). After the clip, two supposed members of the cult came on stage in a piece of performance art that I don’t think was well received. Finally, writer/director Zal Batmanglij and writer/lead actor Brit Marling came out to expound on the film a little. It is an ultra low-budget independent film that has been shown on the festival circuit to reasonable success. The film will be widely released in late April. I’m not sure I was wholly convinced to seek it out.

Rounding out the movie previews was a screening of the next DC animated film, Superman vs. The Elite, which comes out in June. I will have a full review later; the snapshot is that this is quite good. DC Animation consistently comes up with good to excellent features, something their live-action counterparts do not. They also teased Batman: The Dark Knight Returns with some short clips. It looked awesome. (Rumors are that the story will be split into two parts, which if true is a good sign that it will not be compromised from the graphic novel by Frank Miller.)

Alcatraz

Alcatraz (2012)
“Pilot” Written by Elizabeth Sarnoff & Steven Lilien & Bryan Wynbrandt; directed by Danny Cannon.
“Ernest Cobb” Written by Alison Balian; directed by Jack Bender.

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Sarah Jones plays Rebecca Madsen, a San Francisco police detective whose partner is killed when he falls off a roof while chasing a suspect, an almost shot for shot recreation of the opening of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Vertigo. While waiting to be reassigned a new partner, Madsen gets involved in a murder investigation that leads her to the abandoned prison island of Alcatraz.

She seeks out the assistance of an expert on Alcatraz, Dr. Diego Soto (Jorge Garcia), who also happens to own a comic book store. What they uncover seems impossible: the murderer’s fingerprint is from an Alcatraz inmate who supposedly died many years ago.

A mysterious federal agent named Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) detains the two investigators in a high-tech lair far below the rusting prison monument and grudgingly reveals that the inmate is somehow still alive. Long story short, all of the inmates and guards disappeared from the prison in 1963, just before the prison was scheduled to be decommissioned, and now they are slowly reappearing, one by one, to wreak havoc.

Madsen and Soto join Hauser’s task force, and the hunt for the men out of time begins. It is clear that Hauser, who had been a rookie guard at the time of the inmates’ disappearance, knows much more about what’s going on than he is telling Madsen and Soto. This is even more evident with Hauser’s assistant Lucy (Parminder Nagra) in a startling revelation at the end of “Ernest Cobb.”

Alcatraz was created by many of the same folks who gave us Lost, and in many ways this is Lost on a different island. It looks like each episode will be the prisoner recapture of the week, with plenty of mythology and mystery thrown in to keep the audience guessing. I suspect that the show would last about 5 minutes if Hauser just relaxed and let everyone in on the big secret, but perhaps even he doesn’t know as much as I assume.

The acting  and chemistry between the characters is fun to watch. Garcia, in particular, looks like he will bring the same comic sensibilities to Alcatraz that he brought to Lost.

With a bit of science fiction, a bit of mystery, and a bit of police procedural, Alcatraz kept me engaged. I am looking forward to continuing with this new Fox series.