Best: Stephen Colbert, Benedict Cumberbatch and Cate Blanchett save final “Hobbit” panel
Frankly, it didn’t work for everyone, but as someone who was quite bored by the first two “Hobbit” films and their respective Comic-Con panels, the hour long goodbye for “Battle of the Five Armies” was a joy. It featured Stephen Colbert as a surprise moderator (the audience yelled “Stephen! Stephen! Stephen!” just like on the show) and featured Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Andy Serkis (oh, right and Peter Jackson and other cast members). Anyone who followed the last Oscar season knows Blanchett is at her peak in winning over a room and she was simply marvelously candid here. Cumberbatch didn’t get the spotlight that he found with “Penguins of Madagascar,” but he brought a bunch of laughs and swoons. And Serkis? The man had a whole Gollum bit ready for Colbert and it was perfectly hilarious. Colbert is a huge Middle Earth fan and he combined his knowledge with humor to great effect. Jackson was also smart in bringing along a gag reel combining bits from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy with “The Hobbit” that simply killed. Sure, it probably went 10 minutes too long, but Blanchett and Cumberbatch sitting next to each other chatting for an hour? That was heaven for me.
- Gregory Ellwood
Best: “Penguins of Madagascar”
Benedict Cumberbatch did a knock-up job of flirting with the entire audience during the “Penguins of Madagascar” panel, but the charm was only compounded by the fact that this spinoff of the popular “Madagascar” franchise looks super funny. The Penguins have always had a knack for undercover “work,” now expanding their universe into a high-tech realm, into other countries, introduce an whole new team of operatives and turn John Malkovich into an evil talking octopus… well, you’ve got yourself a deal, Skipper.
- Katie Hasty