Thursday, August 13, 2015

Weighing in on the Fantastic Four...

If I see Bruce Wayne’s parents die one more time, I’m gonna choke somebody.  I mention this, before speaking to you about the disastrous Fantastic Four movie, to say that we don’t need another origin story.  Flaming dude, stretchy guy, invisible chick, Rock man… we know who they are, don’t need to see how they became that way.  Just get the movie started bro.  So while we are officially in retirement at the FCU, we do still watch movies, albeit with less frequency, but we had to come out briefly just to talk about what we saw with this movie, what seemed to go wrong, why it has performed so poorly and where they can go next.

For starters, as I have stated many times, I was a kid who loved comic books and I loved no comic book more than the Fantastic Four, so one could call me a FF purist or even an FF snob.  And also let me say that I didn’t think director Josh Trank’s FF film was terrible movie, not a good movie, but not a gawdawfully terrible one… and there are some really good things in it… but it is, without a shadow of a doubt, a terrible Fantastic Four movie. 

Let’s point out some things that keep this from being considered a ‘good’ movie.  The pacing is erratic, slow to build and then almost without warning the audience is thrust into wild action with almost no setup as to why any of this actually occurring.  There seem to be large chunks of this movie that are missing, not plot holes so much… just holes.  Gaps.  It is an origin movie that explains very little on how these kids got their powers, basically they were infected with ‘stuff’, and heck if I know how the invisible girl, who I didn’t think was anywhere near the stuff got her powers, plus there is little to no character setup for any of these future super heroes, and there is no path laid out for these characters from high school kids to world saviors.  But when you look at the length of this movie at under 100 minutes, considering that the first half of this movie consisted of watching Millennials watch computer monitors, it’s kind of clear that a lot was left on the cutting room floor in an attempt to tighten up and theoretically speed up the movie.

Now what makes this rendition of The First Family of Marvel Comics a terrible Fantastic Four movie?  Well… The Thing isn’t wearing any pants.  Let’s go ahead and start off with that.  That’s kind of uncomfortable and completely terrible.  Another thing that bothered us is that they are far too young.  I get it, this is the ‘Ultimate’ version of the Fantastic Four, and it is quite possible that those who are familiar with this version of the FF can say that the actors nailed these characters.  I’m going to go out on a limb, from the response, and say didn’t.  The tone is wrong as well.  There is something about Reed Richards having white haired temples that makes ame feel comfortable.  This is a movie that is too dark for its subjects, too violent, and I believe that somewhere between Tim Story’s brightly lit featherweight version and Josh Trank’s super downer version lies a proper Fantastic Four movie.  

Could this proper version be the Roger Corman produced, 1994 unreleased FF film?  Even though most of us have seen it?  Kind of.  That movie, which didn’t have near the budget to come anywhere close to pulling it off what it wanted to be, stayed true to the comic to a fault.  You see, hijacking a spaceship and dragging your hot girlfriend and her bratty baby brother along as crew members doesn’t work in 2015.  Or 1994.  Or even 1961 when we think about it.  So we understand where there has to be adjustments to the story simply to make it at least realistic in the unrealistic world it exists in.  But that old, fairly terrible movie did get the characters basically right, though some of the acting was suspect, and most importantly… it got Doctor Doom right.  We know Dr. Doom, right?  Brilliant, scarred in an accident, hates Reed Richards, does NOT have a thing for Sue Storm, uses adjectives like ‘clod’ and ‘dolt’, and wants to rule the world for the betterment of the world?  That guy.  And the armor never comes off.  Or the Green hoodie.  How hard is it to get this cat right?  Doom in the previous Fantastic Four movies was a dastardly villain, like Snidley Whiplash or Boris and Natasha.  Doom in the new movie was mentally blowing people’s heads up.  Seriously Doom?  What is up with that?  Doom, as we knew him, needs his genius to be admired, bowed down before, but in this movie Doom just wants to end everything.  Who is going to admire him now?  That’s not Dr. Doom.  And Doom has no super powers.  Just super arrogance, which is more than enough.

So who is to blame for what has happened here?  Our young director is certainly getting his deserved share as he was out of his depth, the pressure was too much, the budget was too high… but the execs at Fox are the ones we hold accountable.  Did they read the script before they greenlit this movie?  Apparently not, because one would think a thorough read through would’ve avoided allegedly taking the film away from Trank and ordering reshoots.  Marvel took Ant-Man away from Edgar Wright before he had a chance to shoot a single frame.  And this is Edgar Freaking Wright we’re talking about.  Who, upon hearing Marvel had released him from his Ant-Man duties, Fox should’ve just offered him the FF job.  Point being that Fox, with the X-men franchise, and all that stems from that, should have a much clearer vision for the movies they want to make, and judging by what we have gotten with this new FF film, and quite honestly how poor the continuity is in their X-men movies, they have no vision on what they want to do. 

Would an Ant-Man movie made by Edgar Wright been better than the Ant-Man movie we ended up getting?  Recognizing that I did enjoy that movie?  Probably… but his vision didn’t fit, so he was replaced.  Josh Trank should’ve been replaced.  There were some good things in his movie, and were it called something else, I think it might’ve been a successful movie.  Think about it, an original Super hero movie, with half the budget, some subtle tweaks to the characters powers and maybe tossing in one extra one to avoid any Fantastic Four conflict, and now we have something to we can work with.  It can be as dark as you want it to be.  We can have a black character with a white sister and people won’t go ape-shit, we can have a villain who mentally blows up people’s heads.  Now when this movie makes 25 mil on it’s opening weekend, folks are calling a ‘sleeper hit’ instead of a ‘colossal failure’, Josh Trank might still be in line to direct a Star Wars movie and certain Fox executives would still have their jobs.  And they still have the Fantastic Four license available to finally try and make a proper film.  But this is not what happened.

Now what do they do?  Let the license expire so it can revert back to Marvel?  Marvel pretty much has their slate mapped out so even if they did get it back, it would probably be decades before they even tried to make a Fantastic Four movie.  If they tried to make one.  They might not even want it back at this point.  Reboot it yet again?  I have envisioned a scenario where that could work, but Fox can’t be trusted to make it happen, so hell no.  I say they bull on ahead with the cast they’ve been given and the world that Trank has created and just make the sequel they had already announced.  The next movie and the next director has to be better, the actors they’ve hired are already under contract and they all are popular and talented, just cut the budget in half and make a Mole Man movie.  Or a Super Skrull movie.  There’s no shortage of villains to choose from, but let’s leave Galactus alone for now.   Expectations for this new movie will be so low, that when it turns out to be good, there will be dancing in the streets at Fox studios.

Will we ever get a decent Fantastic Four movie?  As a friend of mine likes to say, we might not be getting what we want, but maybe we are getting what we deserve.