Monday, June 29, 2015

Fantastic Four (2015)

There seems to be a lot of hate heading toward the Fantastic Four, and for good reason. It's yet another shallow reboot attempt that's sole purpose is to keep ahold of a copyright. This time they take a crack at the Marvel Ultimate version of the FF story. We have to trudge through another long-winded origin story instead of dropping us off into the action. Director Josh Trank previously impressed me with his work on Chronicle. He needs to go back to that franchise and leave Fox to hoarding the unsold Fantastic Four paraphernalia. I bet the studio heads are all wondering why this one didn't work. I am guessing it’s because instead of letting talented people do what they do best they figured that as they are paying for it they need to have creative control as well.

I am going to list all of the good things about this film.

If we are going for the Ultimate look then the casting was spot on. A younger cast looks like they walked off a set of a CW series. Miles Teller does a great Reed Richards. Kate Mara and Michael B. Jordan bring the Storms to life quite well. Jamie Bell has a moody take on The Thing, dark but well played. The Doom is brought to life by Toby Kebbell and is dag-nasty evil in this telling of the fab four.

The set design was really wonderful. The other dimension and the labs look great. The costumes were basic but I think as an origin film they didn't need to get into the whole blue spandex thing, at least not yet.

and... that's it....the end of my list of what they hit the mark on.

There were other good performances with the Reg E. Cathy playing Dr. Storm, Johnny and Sue’s father. Even more impressive because they had to work with a completely flat and lifeless story. It takes too long to explain how Ben and Reed are friends when we can really just take it on faith that they are friends. That time could have been better spent.

The company Dr. Storm work for seems to be a front for a shadow organization. The dimensional portal that the team has made is up and working and the company seems bent on getting NASA Involved in doing jumps to another dimension. Before they hand over the machine the young intrepid scientists decide to go on a jump of their own. Things go drastically wrong, and Victor Von Doom gets left behind. The remaining three get spirited away to an Area 51 esque military base. Reed Richards escapes and starts to try and find a cure for the effects of the journey to the other dimension. Ben, Sue and Johnny are left behind and start working for the shadow group.

Like the earlier film the “heroes” are not doing anything heroic. They are only cleaning up their own mess. If they hadn't used the machine they wouldn't have created Doom. If they hadn't brought Doom back to try and save him, he wouldn't have created a wormhole that ate a town. When they finally put an end to Dr. Doom’s diabolical scheme, the government agency that was using them as black ops team is now sucking up to them. They are given a secluded high tech lab to run even more dubious experiments in. With all the damage these folks have done, I wouldn't be so quick to give them more ammunition. It’s easy to look heroic when you’re cleaning up a huge mess that you created. Come to think of it my son may be taking this tack when he is bragging about cleaning his room.

Doctor Doom is a very dark bad guy that has no care for human life. He goes through the military base exploding heads. His rationale being that humanity ruined this world and he can make his world a better one. I don't know if I am a fan of the eco-warrior vein they have him written in.

Josh Trank is better than this film. He has shown that given space to work he can do a very compelling hero movie. His first film was really strong storytelling despite the cliched “found footage” aspect.
 I get the feeling that he was brought in to breathe life into this franchise that is on its last legs. But instead of the studio heads giving him resources to do what he does best, he was hampered by the “Old Studio” formula where every executive thinks they should have creative control over things. They should have really just stepped back and let the talented people work.

What leads me to think that non-creative people had a hand in the downfall of this film? It could be the fact that the studio required a reshoot after Trank had finished the film.  Sue’s wig is a dead giveaway that time has passed and she has moved on to a new hairstyle. The pacing is completely off in the film. There was a huge uproar about the leaked information about the original Dr. Doom and the nerd sphere pressured the studio so they changed the story to fit the desires of the fandom.

You can tell by the way Fox Studios cranks out a Fantastic Four movie just before their rights to the material expires that they aren’t interested in making this a great franchise. They are just trying to keep the copyright and the subsequent merchandising revenue. In the long run it would be more profitable for them to sell the rights back to Marvel and have something to show for it instead of trying to fake their way through a story.

Some studios never learn.

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