As part of New York Comic Con, The Madison Square Gardens Theater boasts a packed, and very enthusiastic crowd for Lionsgate’s “Power Rangers” and “John Wick: Chapter 2” panel. While both films release in rather rainy months — February and March, respectively — the palpable excitement in the room indicates that the traditionally slower months at the box office might not be so slow next year.
The moderator kicked off the panel with “Power Rangers,” introducing director Dead Israelite and stars Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, Ludi Lin, R.J. Cyler and Becky Gomez.
Israelite was given the first question, asked about his approach reimagining the property. He noted, “I grew up on Power Rangers…what was important to me was making a movie about growing up….always at the center of the approach was making these characters real, with real problems that people will find relatable.”
He continued, “I wanted to stay true to the franchise…we worked really hard to reimagine and reinvent it for a 2017 audience….there’s a lot of honor in that but certainly a lot of responsibility…we all put in 100% on this, and we really do hope that it resonates with you guys.”
Asked about their training, Scott joked, “[Gomez] trained too hard!”
Gomez said, “It was a lot on our bodies. One, the hours, and then physically the stunt doubles went out of their way to help us develop our fighting styles…to do a lot of our own stunts.”
Lin said, “We got…an amazing team of people to train with…it felt like superhero training, I felt like I was in there to prepare to save the world.”
Cyler joked about his favorite fighting move, “Really, I like to run away a lot…but I do like to work with my hands a lot, boxing…[the movie] makes it seem like I can fight — but I can’t!”
Asked to tease the Zords in the film, Montgomery said, “These Zords that make an appearance in the film are incredible. And working with the technology we did — like these flight simulator machines — was incredible.”
Israelite said he really wanted to make sure the actors were actually in the Zords controlling them — comparing it to “being in a roller coaster for hours,” and said they shot so much that they broke the record for dailies in three days. He said, “When you see the visual effects come together, they’re really a part of that world.”
Lin said, “I had the last scene of the film…and seeing the crew and everyone from my Zord it was incredible.”
Cyler joked, “These Zords don’t have airbags, y’all…I came out with a lot of bruises, even though I’m chocolatey.”
Gomez remarked, “I had a hard time with the Zords…Dean caught me praying in Spanish!”
Asked about working with Elizabeth Banks’ Rita Repulsa, Gomez said, “Incredible…that’s the only way to describe it…there are a lot of scenes just me, her and Dean…and it felt chill, we were just in sweatpants…and four hours later when [she got in costume] it wasn’t acting, it was genuine fear.”
A video message was then shown from Banks, in which she introduced the audience to a first look at the film — the teaser released earlier today. Israelite said he wanted to hold back on revealing the Zords and a lot of weapons in the first look, as to keep the anticipation going.
Closing out the “Power Rangers” segment of the panel, the moderator asked the cast to strike a classic “Power Rangers” pose together — and, of course, they did.
Moving on to “John Wick: Chapter 2,” the moderator introduced a featurette for the film that included stars Keanu Reeves, Common and Ian McShane, among others, along with the director, Chad Stahelski. It showed some behind the scenes shots from the sequel, boasting plenty of action.
Included in the following panel were Stahelski, screenwriter Derek Kolstad, producer Basil Iwanyk, and stars McShane, Common and, of course, Reeves.
Reeves remarked how nice it was that the film was an unexpected hit, saying, “We thought it was cool…[but] we had the opportunity to do [a sequel] because of you.” He said, “I really liked putting this suit back on, and getting to do what John Wick gets to do.”
Asked about the film’s impressive stunts, Stahelski teased, “We tried to choreograph the action sequences to show John is an unrelentlessly driven force of nature…and of course Mr. Reeves driving the hell out of his Mustang.”
McShane said of his character, “John Wick is his favorite assassin…a lot of stuff goes down in the second one, but I think Winston’s got a special affinity for John.” Asked to give a hint about his character, he joked, “He’s still in the hotel!”
Asked about coming into the franchise, Common said, “I was super excited to be a part of this John Wick movement…because when I saw the first one I thought, ‘That was some cool shit in there.'”
Common continued, “I love being in a scene with Keanu…He’s the champ.”
Stahelski revealed that the film takes place one week after the original, and has assassins going after Wick because of an old blood oath.
Iwanyk teased, “You guys will see what happens with the dog…I don’t know if Lionsgate said if we’re allowed to talk about it or not…but you guys will love it.”
Reeves then introduced a teaser trailer for the film — flat out touting, “[It rocks].”
The teaser started off with Wick walking around Rome with the context of a voiceover. He’s shopping for a suit and says he needs it for “tactical” reasons. We then get a bunch of shots of Wick doing badass things — shooting bad guys, recklessly driving cars, fighting thugs in a dark tunnel, throwing people against taxis — all to build to a climax: The reveal of Laurence Fishburne in the film. He says, fittingly, right at the end of the trailer, “The man, the myth, the legend, John Wick.” Of course, Fishburne’s presence in the movie is a big deal because that makes the sequel a “Matrix” reunion.
Directed by Dean Israelite and starring Dacre Montgomery as the Red Ranger, Naomi Scott as the Pink Ranger, Ludi Lin as the Black Ranger, R.J. Cyler as the Blue Ranger and Becky Gomez as the Yellow Ranger, “Power Rangers” hits theaters on March 24, 2017.
Directed by Chad Stahelski and starring Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Bridget Moynahan, Tom Sadowski, Lance Reddick, Common, Ruby Rose, Riccardo Scamarcio and Peter Stormare, “John Wick: Chapter Two” is scheduled to hit theaters on February 10, 2017.
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