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!

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