Monday, August 10, 2015

Fantastic Four 2015 Review

There is a very good reason superheroes have always been popular.  They were fun.  Most kids (and many adults) read comic books because it made them smile.  It's a chance to escape the real world for a while, and imagine something... fantastic.  It's nice to read about someone unique, and maybe thinking of yourself in their place with amazing powers, helping save the world by defeating evildoers.

It is very clear that someone at Fox never got that concept when making the newest reboot of Fantastic Four.

And I can already hear you saying, "Hey Deeesher, please tell me we get to see another origin story!!"  Why yes, you clueless idiot, we get to spend half of the movie (two thirds?) learning how they get their powers.   But I'm sure if you're reading this blog, you already knew how it happened, because you have an interest in this kinda thing, and you're familiar with the comics.  Or maybe you saw one of a few different animated versions... or you saw the 2005 movie... or it's sequel.... or you saw the 1995 Roger Corman version.  Either way, we get to hear how all this happened... again! 

In the interest of full disclosure, this movie is based on the 2004 comic reboot of Fantastic Four, written by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar, so it is slightly different from the original idea.  The biggest difference, instead of going into space to get powers, they develop inter-dimensional travel.  And they're much younger.  Okay, even in the comic version, this bothered me.  Traditionally, Spider-man was young.  Reed Richards was an older guy.  But whatever.  

In the comic version, we see football player with a heart, Ben Grimm, eager to help protect young Reed Richards from bullies in school.  In the movie version, young Reed is picked on by students and teachers alike.  Young Ben has his own problems at home with his dysfunctional family.  And in one of the more painful moments in the film, we hear Ben's father shout, "It's clobberin' time!" before he beats up his kid.

Sadly, the painful writing decisions do not stop there.  I won't even discuss how a bunch of young kids (well, early twenties) break into a top secret government facility to do some secret experiments on some ginormous machine, without anyone noticing.  Nor will I discuss their disjointed story arc for Dr. Doom (Toby Kebbell).  

To me, the most uncomfortable part of this entire fiasco, was what happened immediately after they got their powers.  To be blunt, it was horrific, and nightmare-inducing.

For comparison, here is what happened in that 2004 comic, shortly after Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm got their powers (click on the pictures to see full sized and read their reactions).

Cute.  Light.  Confusing to the characters, but still fun and lighthearted enough to be enjoyed. 

In the movie, the government straps them down in isolated rooms, studying them as they scream in fear and agony.  Reed (Miles Teller) manages to escape, only to find his rocky friend, Ben (Jamie Bell), begging for his help in terror.  The music, the tone and atmosphere are so far away from the original concept of fun, it was difficult to endure watching.  Nothing about this is fun, or inspiring.  I imagine kids watching, clutching their mother figure tightly, crying, "Mom, I don't want to explore strange new worlds or ever get super powers!  I just want to be an accountant!"

And going from this uncomfortable sequence, we instantly get ONE YEAR LATER, and see them using their powers for government work.

So what happened?  The film has only been out a few days, and director Josh Trank has already started making excuses and blames the studio for not allowing him to do what he wanted.  He directed Chronicle, which I really loved!  And in Fantastic Four, in his defense, he didn't use much shaky cam and when there was action, you could follow it easily.  But everything else was just dark and lifeless.

The acting was... fine.  Nobody stood out.  Nobody was horrible.  They did their job.  And to be clear, making Sue Storm (Kate Mara) the white blonde adopted sister to black Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), seemed one more unnecessary plot point.  If they wanted to make the Storm family, including Sue, all black, that's great!  If they wanted to make Reed and Ben black, that's great too!  If they wanted to have an all female cast, that's fine as well!  To clarify, I have no problem if a black family wants to adopt a white daughter.  But wasn't there enough of a story to focus on, that you had to add this element too? 

Fantastic Four was created by Marvel Comics, but this was not a Marvel movie production.  This was made by Fox.  Marvel makes movies fun for fans.  They figured out the formula.  The proof is watching Avengers, or Captain America, or Iron Man, or Guardians of the Galaxy, or most recently Ant Man.  

Fox also made the 2005 version of Fantastic Four and it's sequel.  Some people didn't like them, but for me, they seemed enjoyable for the most part.  I preferred the 2007 sequel, Rise of the Silver Surfer more than the 2005 movie (even if their vision of Galactus was a bit... off). 

Maybe my opinion was skewed by Jessica Alba?  Well.... not that much.

Okay, maybe it was,