Crimson Peak, Warcraft highlight Legendary's SDCC panel

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Jul 27, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT (Updated)

Sure, Legendary made news with Godzilla and King Kong today, but the company's Comic-Con panel offered a few other treats.

With the announcement that Godzilla 2 was a go (now with more monsters!) and that King Kong was going to return to the screen in 2016's Skull Island, you would think that was enough in itself. But Legendary also previewed several more features, starting with Guillermo Del Toro's Crimson Peak.

The man himself came out to introduce a trailer for the movie, saying that Crimson Peak was offered to him by Universal (which now is home to Legendary) and that its combination of Gothic sensibility and "great beauty" made it the perfect vehicle for him to return to the kind of horror movie he did early in his career, like Cronos and The Devil's Backbone.

And boy, was he right: The trailer showed off what looks like an absolutely gorgeous movie, filmed with deep, rich colors and lush Gothic details. The trailer pushed the concept of the house itself being a living entity -- which Hiddleston hints at in his narration -- and the house itself, a full three-story set that was constructed on a soundstage in Toronto, is not just stunning to look at but positively reeks with menace and dread.

There was also a heavily romantic side to the footage and plenty of Victorian costuming and settings -- along with the movie's title emerging out of a vat of blood and a blackened, ghostly hand clutching someone's shoulder in the last shot.

I'm a longtime del Toro fan and, even feeling like his recent movies have been uneven, this trailer got me totally excited and intrigued for Crimson Peak.

Ever the trickster, del Toro spent his last minutes onstage asking fans to vocally show their support for (a) Hellboy 3 and (b) At the Mountains of Madness. If the response was anything to go by, Universal and Legendary should be gearing up for those now.

Legendary also previewed Blackhat, a cyber-thriller from the great director Michael Mann, whose list of films includes Manhunter, The Last of the Mohicans, Heat, The Insider, Collateral and Miami Vice, among others. The movie stars Chris Hemsworth as an imprisoned black-hat hacker who is freed in exchange for helping the government or the FBI or someone (it's really not clear) track down a cyber-terrorist. 

Movies based around computers are always a hard sell, since it's not very exciting to film someone sitting at a desktop tapping away. Mann seems to realize that, and despite saying in the brief discussion of the film (for which he also brought out the strapping Hemsworth) that he did a ton of research on cyber-crime, the trailer we saw (first time the public has seen anything from this, by the way) had a heavy emphasis on action, with a lot of running and chasing involving Hemsworth and others.

The movie is a rather surprise choice for the geek-heavy Legendary slate, but it was followed up by something much more in the company's wheelhouse: the premiere of a new trailer for the videogame adaptation Warcraft.

I have to tell you this: I know nothing about Warcraft and have never played the game, and I also know that most movies made from videogames tend to be disappointments both for fans of the games and regular viewers. I don't know if Warcraft will break that streak, but at the very least it looks like a real movie.

The teaser, introduced by director Duncan Jones (Source Code), featured an astounding array of eye-catching and colorful imagery, including a vault full of ornate weapons, a storm-tossed countryside and a massive throne. But it also featured an earnest and sad conversation between a human and an orc (the two opposing forces in the story) in which they reflected on fatherhood, of all things, and what they've sacrificed to protect their king and their people, respectively.

Jones is a smart filmmaker, and it seems he wantes to imbue Warcraft with meaning beyond just getting to the highest level you can while playing. But that doesn't mean he's skimping on the action. The footage in the teaser (which really was fairly brief) featured all kinds of craziness, including people shooting light beams out of their hands, humans and orcs engaged in brutal combat, and even a human diving to the ground on a giant eagle-like bird to do battle with an equally tremendous orc. 

Jones said in his brief comments that the trick of adapting the 20-year-old videogame to the screen was making it "accessible to everyone," adding, "We really want to make this an origin story. We want to show how the world of Azeroth falls into conflict between orcs and humans." The theme of war and its costs is not something you find in every videogame adaptation, but Jones might be savvy enough to see the potential in the subject matter.

Filming wrapped two months ago, but there's nearly two years of post-production ahead, with Jones saying, "It's like trying to make Avatar and The Lord of the Rings at the same time." Admittedly, the footage was striking and piqued my interest a little, but as a non-gamer I still had trouble getting excited about it. What about you? Are you looking forward to Warcraft?