Thursday, January 28, 2016

Fantastic Four (2015)

Well, this franchise certainly has a troubled past, seemingly always getting the short end of the stick, dating back to 1994 when Roger Corman, along with Constantin Films, attempted to bring these iconic Marvel Comics characters to life on screen for the first time.  Understandingly, these heroes aren't necessarily an easy bunch to renderan elastic man who can stretch his limbs or whole body at will, a girl who can turn invisible and form force fields, a guy who can burst into flames and fly, and a hulking monster made of stone.
The endeavor in 1994 was made in vain, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), with the studio only making the movie in order to retain the comic book movie adaptation rights, never intending for the film to see the light of day.  What's even sadder about this story is that the cast and crew were not privy to that knowledge and really thought this film was going to be released in theaters.  To this day, the film has not been released in any format, but bootlegs have been obtained by some and you can even get the film in parts on YouTubeI've seen some of these parts and the good.
Nearly a decade went by before 20th Century Fox acquired the rights to make a live action film and in 2005, a decent film was made.  It still missed the mark, being a little campy and didn't have the greatest special effects throughout the movie.  My biggest complaint was how The Thing was rendered, with Michael Chiklis in a made-up suit.  Although it looked great and believable, compared to the comic book character where it's supposed to be a monsterish creature nearly the same size as The Hulk, The Thing looked like a dwarf in that film.
In 2007, the film garnered a sequel which fared a bit better, especially with the inclusion of another Marvel comic book character, The Silver Surfer, but it didn't do much better in box office receipts than its predecessor.
20th Century Fox shelved any thought of a sequel or reboot for a few years until 2012, when a film was announced to be helmed by Josh Trank.  The director made a name for himself with the sleeper hit, Chronicle, and he seemed to have a good eye for this type of movie.  However, early on, Trank was quoted as saying he'd like to have Michael B. Jordan (who starred in Chronicle) play the role of Johnny Storm.  The comic book fan boys became enraged, taking to the internet to display their anger at having an African-American play the role.  Of course, I didn't care one way or the other, only hoped that the movie would be a hit.
As time went on, stories came to fruition about troubles on set, disagreements between Trank and the studio, news of reshoots needed, and, finally, a tweet from Trank (although quickly deleted...but not quickly enough) expressing his frustration in working with Fox.  Along with the negative reviews that started pouring in, I really had no intention of putting money down to watch it in the theater.
As the movie hit home media recently, I received 2015's Fantastic Four in the mail from Netflix and took a look for myself.
Per, here's the synopsis...
Four young outsiders teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe which alters their physical form in shocking ways.  The four must learn to harness their new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.
Before we get started, I've just got to say that there was one gripe I had when casting was announced:
Why bring in such young actors, or baby-faced performers, for a film about manly superheroes?  Miles Teller is good, but he looks like he's in high school.  Same thing goes for Jamie Bell.  If anything the 2005 film had right was the age range of these characters.  I know studios want to get the teens to see these films, but don't ostracize the 30- and 40-somethings like myself.
I digress...let's get back to discussing the film.
At the start of this film, I found it amusing and entertaining, especially introducing us to Reed Richards as a child (Owen Judge) and how he's always dismissed by his teachers simply because his intellect was way above theirs.  Reed's friendship with a young Ben Grimm (Evan Hannemann) was interesting and fit within this part of the film as Ben is equally as shunned by his bully of an older brother so the two friends understand each other.  Even when Reed and Ben are shown as friends when they are older (played by Miles Teller and Jamie Bell), it's still believable and can see a bit of chemistry between the two.  Teller definitely has an attention-grabbing appeal to him, making the audience understand him even though he's playing a genius, and gives the character likability, keeping us interested in his character arc.  Unfortunately, Jamie Bell's Ben Grimm is just there with nothing to do expect to literally be the one to toggle switches for Reed Richards.
As the story moves on and we see that Reed Richards has achieved his life's ambition of inventing a teleportation device, we're introduced to Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) and his daughter, Sue (Kate Mara), as they attend the science fair where Richards happens to be showing his invention.  Cathey as Dr. Storm seems well placed in this film, playing the serious and strong character that's needed here, not only as the father to Johnny and Sue, but also a father figure to the whole group.
Mara, on the other hand, doesn't seem like the right actress for Sue Storm.  I've always found her too brooding and introverted in other parts she's played and that's exactly how she'd portrayed her character here.  It really seems like she doesn't have any fun in this film-maybe it had a lot to do with the behind-the-scenes trouble of the shoot or maybe it was the overall direction she'd received-but I wish she could've added a little something extra to the role.
Now, for the controversial role of Johnny Storm, played by Michael B. Jordan, he wasn't bad at all and I actually wished he had more to do.  However, his performance was a far cry from the supposed Oscar-worthy role he played in Creed (I say supposed, because I haven't seen that film yet).  The special effects utilized to show his body in flames were done a bit better than the previous films, but we really don't get that sense of awe Chris Evans gave in the role a decade prior.
So, generally speaking, you know what the problem was with ALL the characters in this film?  They really didn't have much to do until the end of the story.  When Ben Grimm turns into The Thing, he just agonizes and pouts about his transformation (which, by the way, looks a bit better than the 2005 version since they use MoCap'd CGI to bring him to life-but why, for the love of Pete, doesn't he wear pants?)...but he seems to get over his predicament as he easily jumps into the secret operative job for the government.
And Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell), when he turns into "Dr. Doom," he basically shows up to
wreak havoc and decides to destroy Earth for no real reason that's discernible.  And that look they gave him here...ugh!  Why didn't they keep the classic iron mask look?  I'm waiting for the day we can see this character come to true apperception, complete with mask and a deep Vaderesque voice.  Hmmm...someday.
All in all, I wasn't satisfied with the characters' reactions when they come to the realization that they've changed...that's where the problem lies.  Each of the members transform into their heroic forms, they really don't do much with it, only learn about it and deal with it...separately.  Although the group comes together, it doesn't happen until the very end of the film.  That aspect of their lives should've happened in the second act, along with the threat of the storyVictor von Doom, a.k.a., "Dr. Doom."  Instead, he shows up angry, and then goes back to the alternate universe as he puts the wheels in motion for the destruction of Earth...and for these actions, he gives no reason whatsoever.
I think if this film wasn't interfered with by Fox and just let Josh Trank fulfill his vision, we might've had a nice film.  It just seems like some fine tuning was required...or maybe other scenes needed to be filmed...something's definitely missing.  It's really hard to put your finger on it. final "bit" on 2015's Fantastic Four?
Overall, I thought it was a good film...not as bad as some people are touting it.  I truly can't say I have any hatred towards it or have any reason to believe it warrants some of the really nasty reviews it had received from some outlets.  But studio interference is an obvious reason for what's wrong with this film, as it looks like Trank sort of gave up at some point during filming.  Some reviews described the film as having one big first act, no second act and a quick third act...I highly agree with that assessment because that's the best way I can describe this.  But it's not a total loss as the film is worth a look and really isn't that bad.  However, it'll leave you feeling something was missing...especially when there were a lot of scenes from the trailers that never made it to film.  If there's any saving grace to this is maybe Fox will just give up the rights and let Marvel insert these characters into their cinematic universe where they can fit seamlessly...I'm keeping my fingers crossed for that.
Well that's all I have to say about this's worth a watch and can be entertaining at times, but it
feels rushed at the end and you'll feel something was left out once the film ends.
Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Coming Attractions of 2016

Well, folks, we've made it through 2015 and into a new year with new movies coming out that I'm very excited for, many of them being comic book adaptations.
So, I'd like to get my thoughts on some of these upcoming titles, based on their trailers and what I know about them...and of course, the ones that I find to be the most interesting.
1. Deadpool
So, the first one up is one that I'm actually pretty hyped about and think this is going to be a hit, possibly the best of the year (in my opinion).  The Ryan Reynolds-starred Deadpool is yet another comic book adaptation, based on a character who's loosely floated around the X-Men universe of comic books.
When February 12th rolls around, you can bet I'll be first in line to see this character come to life.  You may be saying, "No...Reynolds already brought him to the screen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine back in 2009" and I'd say you were half right.  See, the character was somewhat there at the beginning of that film with Reynolds mouthing off one-liners and hamming it up with his witty humor, but completely ruined at the climax when the filmmakers turned him into a mute amalgam of many mutants.  He didn't have his signature mask and costume, no funny comebacks or repartee; it was just a thorough fuck-up and misunderstanding who the character was supposed to be.
So, I guess we should be happy that 20th Century Fox has no idea how popular this character is and what a hot commodity the comic books are to fan boys who've read them.  Otherwise, this movie would've been slapped with a PG-13 rating, an insistence to have Hugh Jackman star alongside Reynolds, and include more mutants in the movie to make sure they make a ton of money selling a toy line to the kids out there.
What I've seen so far in the trailers are faithfulness to the comic book character who, in my opinion, reminds me of Ryan Reynolds every time I read an issue.  So, without a doubt, casting him as the title character is a great start.  The trailers are already showing us that constant humor, how Deadpool never shuts his mouth and constantly makes quips as he fights.  It's already showing us he's going to break the fourth wall, talking directly to the camera, but I'm not sure they're going as far as showing him knowing he's in a movie.
I give the trailer an A+, I give Reynolds major props for his promoting of the film, and I just can't wait for this film to be released.  Let's hope director, Tim Miller, doesn't let us down.
2. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Just in time, after the hype of Deadpool will be dying out and to satisfy all the DC Comics fans, we will get the sequel to Zack Snyder's Man of Steel on March 25th with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Warner Bros is getting much closer to what they've been wanting since Avengers did it in 2012, which is to get the Justice League of DC characters together for their counterpart of a superhero ensemble.  I'm hoping they do it right and don't mess this up because there's a lot at stake here.
If I'm calling out Deadpool as the one movie I'm excited about, I'd have to give BvS a close second.  Man of Steel was awesome and I'd loved what they did with that character.  Certainly, a lot of fans didn't like Snyder's approach in Zod and Superman's battle that left Metropolis in ruins, obviously killing quite a lot of people in their wake.  So seeing Superman (Henry Cavill) in the trailer, answering to that in the court scene, cut along the anger towards Superman we get from Batman (Ben Affleck), has me speculating and pondering where it'll go.
Recently, a newer trailer goes as far as to show that Doomsday is going to be brought into the mix, with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) helping in that battle.  It's definitely a great ending to that preview, showing all three of them stepping up together to aid each other to fight the threat.  I'm almost, if not equally, as hyped to see this one as I am Deadpool.
3. Captain America: Civil War
So far, I'm listing these films in the order that I'm enthusiastic about, but that'll change as we go along.  But for the most part, on May 6th, Captain America: Civil War is certainly the third most of what I'm excited for on this list.
Continuing on as Marvel Studios embark on the third phase of their films, this trailer appears to show the dark times the team is going to go through.  Not only is the exposition of the trailer telling us that the government wants to have all superheroes sign off on a new act that will have them answer to someone above them, but there is also issue with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) standing up for his friend, Bucky (Sebastian Stan), who is a wanted criminal for his crimes from the previous movie.
It's clear that Rogers and Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) are going to be on opposite sides as we see a lot of dark battles between friends and sides chosen that'll probably mean the end for some of these characters that we've grown to love.
What's exciting about this film, however, is that we're going to see the character of Spider-Man (Tom Holland) for the first time as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  I thought it certainly wouldn't happen, that Sony would NEVER sign off on such a deal (all we need is The Fantastic Four and the X-Men to join and we'll be set!), but they did and I'm ecstatic.
For the inclusion of Spider-Man in this film alone, I'm looking forward to seeing how he'll fit and how the continuing storyline goes for the Avengers as a whole.
4. X-Men: Apocalypse
So, wow...what is Fox going to do with an X-Men movie that is not going to feature Hugh Jackman as Wolverine?  Well...on May 27th, we'll find out.
2014's Days of Future Past was one of the best X-Men films to date and I find it hard that Bryan Singer will be able to top it.  With quite a few new cast members playing younger versions of the characters from the first three films, not to mention setting this film in the 80s, they're going to be fighting an uphill battle.
The trailer didn't really impress me, but we may be getting something else soon to really sell this film.  Maybe they'll hit it home with a Super Bowl spot...time will tell.
Don't get me wrong, I'll be putting my money down and watching this when it's released, but I'm doubting we'll get anything as impressive as the last entry.
5. Independence Day: Resurgence
Talk about a little too late!  It took them 20 years to get a sequel?!  And why isn't this being released on the Fourth of July weekend?  June 24th?  Really???!!!
I'm so far removed from this franchise, I can't even see myself going to watch this in the theater.  I mean, have you watched the original lately?  What was once a great and ahead-of-its-time sci-fi film is now a weighted down parody of an alien invasion flick.
So seeing this new trailer, I'm only reminded of the original because it doesn't seem any better or amazing than the two-decade-old previous film.
I doubt that I'll see this when it's released, but we'll see.  They just need to really wow me in a second trailer.
6. The Purge 3
Although it's slated as to be released on June 29th of this year, we've yet to see a trailer of even an official title of the third Purge film.
I'm just saying, if we DO get this movie in 2016, that I'm looking forward to it.  The first one was a good concept, which I think should've been written a bit better, but the sequel was awesome.  So if The Purge 3 does keep Frank Grillo in the cast, I think we'll have a good movie come June.
By the way, the movie poster that you see pictured is some fan-made art that I'd found online.  To date, no poster has been released yet. 
7. Star Trek Beyond
Now, I've never considered myself a Trekkie, always citing myself as a Star Wars fan boy over Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock's universe.  But something amazing happened when J.J. Abrams jumpstarted the franchise all over again back in 2009.  Maybe it was the cast members who perfectly gelled with one another or maybe it was the lens flare, but the two previous movies were so enjoyable that it's a no-brainer for me to plop down my money for Star Trek Beyond on July 22nd of this year.
So far, what they've shown us in the'm not impressed or wishing that time would speed up so that I can see this movie soon.  But, banking on what Abrams had done with the first two films, I'm sure he'll hit it out of the park with this sequel as well.
8. Suicide Squad
Probably the one film out of these ten releases I'm discussing is one for which I am not that excited.  Maybe it's because I'm not familiar with the comic book series, maybe I'm not a Will Smith fan, and maybe it seems like a silly concept...I really can't put my finger on it.
The good?
I like where Jared Leto went with the Joker and how he veered away from previous incarnations of the character.  He doesn't look like Nicholson's imagining or Ledger's rendering, but more like the badass punk rock version of the Joker.
In the first trailer we were treated to, we see that Batman makes an appearance in the film.  But whether it's a short cameo or a bigger part, we don't know.
The bad?
To me?  Everything else.  It all reminds me of an announcement Sony made a couple of years ago when they stated that they were going to have two more Spider-Man films and a Sinister Six film.  Now, the Sinister Six, in the comics, are a group of villains who go up against Spider-Man through a run of comics.  How would that have worked?  A film about all bad guys?  Thank goodness we'll never find out with that Sinister Six movie.  But that's what Suicide Squad reminds me of...hopefully, on August 5th, I'm proven wrong.
9. Doctor Strange
An interesting one...on November 4th of 2016, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to continue with a strange entry-Doctor Strange.
Since no trailer or plot has been given as of yet, I'm guessing we're just going to get an origin story of this character (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) and seeing how he fits into the whole thing.
Throughout all these Marvel films, gods, as well as talking animals and trees have been thrown into the mix as starring characters, I don't think there's anything they can introduce to the screen that'll cause you to suspend disbelief too much.
As with all the Marvel films so far, you'll find me in my seat in the theater waiting to see this one...I have faith in all that they've done and what they will do from here on out.
10. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Finally, the Star Wars franchise sounds like they're going to release an interesting prequel, going back to before the events of A New Hope, explaining how the rebels were able to obtain the plans to the dreaded Death Star.
Now, director Gareth Edwards, fresh from 2014's Godzilla is taking the franchise to a delicate area, where Lucas had failed himself back in 1999 through 2005.  But with the series in the hands of Disney, and the overall understanding that those previous prequels just did not work, I think we're going to get something special here.  As long as Edwards takes note of what Abrams had done with The Force Awakens, keeping things retro and having it being able to mesh with the 1977 movie at the conclusion, I think we're in for a treat.
Well, looks like 2016 is going to be another great year for films.  These are the ones I'm looking forward to the most and I'll make sure to go over them as they're released.
Thanks for reading and I'll be back for another review soon!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cop Car

There’ve been a few new flicks I’ve seen, with one or two that have fallen into the independent range of production, and Cop Car falls into that category. When I'd first seen the trailer, it seemed like a good concept and that it'd be an enjoyable and thrilling movie. I've always been a fan of Kevin Bacon and I do love it when he plays a villain, so I decided to place this one on Netflix and wait for it too arrive.

To synopsize, Travis (James Freedson-Jackson ) and Harrison (Hays Wellford)two mischievous friends wandering the open farm lands of their small town come across an abandoned police cruiser in a tree-covered clearing. Finding the keys, the two boys decide to take the car for a drive while having fun with all the equipment and firearms left behind. The vehicle’s owner, Sheriff Kretzer (Kevin bacon), returns to the area where he parked his cruiser and finds it missing. As we soon find out, the sheriff isn’t all that respectable and needs to find his vehicle before his true nature is exposed.

The cast is relatively small as it mainly stars the two children and Bacon, but the plot is an interesting
concept. Although I feel that most children wouldn’t do such a thing as to freely take a vehicleespecially a police carthat has been left with the doors unlocked and keys sitting inside, it does seem plausible as the two boys exhibited tendencies to be more on the delinquent side. For instance, they appeared to be miles from their homes without any adult supervision, even discussing their travel to be over a day’s walk. Still, I felt that we really don’t get much of a backstory on these two besides the quick exposition from them when another character asks about their guardians.

Kevin Bacon plays the backwoods hick sheriff perfectly, complete with mustache and southern drawl. Even though we really don’t get to see how everything led up to the clearing, we see enough to know he’s a dirty cop and has a secondary life of corruption.

The first thing I’d noticed when the film started was how it appeared to be a movie set in the late 70s or early 80s. The clothing the boys wore and the soundtrack gave me that impression and I thought that was interesting until we see Bacon using a modern cell phone throughout the flick. But that won’t take you out of the film or make it any less enjoyable. However, as I had mentioned the music, I really didn’t care for the soundtrack themes and thought it had a bit too much of synthesizer, which is why I felt it was supposed to be set in the 80s.

Over all, it’s a forgetful film, which is a shame because the story had the potential to be something better. I think that maybe if they had made the kids in their teens and gave them more interaction between themselves and Bacon’s sheriff character, perhaps it would’ve given the plot a bit more tension. Throughout most of the first half, the kids were actually oblivious to their position, having fun joy riding and trying to use items they’d found in the car. My thinking is that if they knew what they had gotten themselves into and had a bit of back-and-forth with Bacon through the CB, we’d have more of a pressure-filled thriller.

As a whole, Cop Car will keep you interested just to see what comes of the kids not to mention Kevin Bacon’s dilemma as the corrupt sheriff that can’t afford to have these kids turn up with his cruiser, leading all to know what he was doing in that clearing in the first place. So you come away feeling that it was ninety minutes of your life that you won’t get back, but more like an interesting flick that just missed the mark.

So, my final "bit" on Cop Car?

The pros? The two boys, James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Wellford, play their parts a bit reserved but are believable as a couple of misguided preteens. You can accept that they decided to go on a bit of an adventure, leaving their home with only the clothes on their back with a single beef jerky stick to share between them. The only aspect I can’t get over is their decision to take the cop car (which, I might add, didn’t seem to be too far away from Bacon’s character…how did he not hear the car roar to life and drive off?). So, I really can’t recommend this film, but I won’t sit here and tell you not to see it. If you have an hour and a half to yourself, where you’re not doing anything and would like to sit and watch a halfway decent movie, rent Cop Car and have at it.

Thanks for reading and I’ll try to get back here in a timely manner to give my thoughts on another flick.