Fantastic Lemonade

So…I was not a fan of the the latest stab f the Fantastic Four.  And I was not alone.  But Jamie Broadnax, whose writing I respect and enjoy, has voiced an appreciation of the film.

This challenged me to think about the film a bit harder.  Specifically, are there things I did like?  Things that I could appreciate even if they did not work?

There things I liked.  For instance, Franklin Storm.  I liked him.  He radiated a general kindness and his interactions with Johnny and Sue were welcome additions.  It’s frustrating he kind of fades away until he is needed for the “Big Emotional Motivation” towards the end.

johnny_stormI did like Johnny Storm in general.  The specifics frustrate me…Johnny as a free spirited risk taker works better for me than “Angry Risk Taker”.  Michael B. Jordan manages to still infuse some charm into the role.

I like the cast in general.  All the actors are proven talent, so the issue was never performance.  The actors did their best with questionable material.  Dr. Doom especially suffers there.  Nothing about his early behavior suggests what he will become.  There is an offhanded comment about whether the world should be saved…but once everyone gets their powers, Doom is lost and nobody seems to care.  Once he reappears he hates the world and wants to destroy…because.

The use of powers, especially by Reed, were pretty effective.

I liked the inter-dimensional travel part of the plot.  The use of science in general.  The early suggestions of Sc-Fi Adventure would have been a great path to go.  This was clearly borrowed from the Ultimate Fantastic Four comics.  I think this works well.

Leaping from there, I think would have benefited the film to have a different villain.  Victor Von Doom should have been there, but more as a scientific foil for Reed.  It might have been a good idea to borrow from the comics, unbeknownst to the rest of the crew, Doom alters their coordinates, resulting in the tragedy that gives them all powers.  And Sue would be there with them.  Not sitting back at a computer terminal.

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Instead, a different villain.  An obvious choice would have been Annihilus.  The discovery of an alternate dimension is not one way.  Save Doom for a later film in the franchise.

reed_richardsAnd then there is the whole deal of Reed running away.  Yeah, it gives Ben his motivation for anger towards Reed.  But it felt like getting rid of Reed was more because they did not know what to do with him.  The idea that Reed sees Ben in his rock form and simply runs away…just does not gel.  It would have made more sense to show Reed working with Franklin and Sue Storm with the goal of getting everybody back to normal.  The big conflict with the military regarding the attempts to turn Ben and Johnny into weapons.

There are all sorts of ways this film could have gone to be better.  A brighter color pallet for instance.  More humor.  More heroics.

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And for Pete’s sake…give Ben Grimm some pants.

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Blahtastic (Fantastic Four, 2015)

fantastic-four-2015-posterTruthfully, the Fantastic Four reboot is exactly what I would expect from someone behind Chronicle.  Chronicle was a good film, but it was tonally dark, focused on the breakdown of family bonds and friendship.  It was dark and sad.  None of these are really good tones for the Fantastic Four.

Josh Trank has already tried disowning the movie, but the problem is?  It sure looks like the kind of movie I would expect from him.  The film has a color treatment to suck out any and all vibrancy. It is a serious and un-cheery affair.  Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) is not a carefree adventure loving guy…now he is and aggressive, unhappy street racer.

Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) is…a guy?  Sue Storm (Kate Mara) is awkward socially, so is Reed (Mile Teller) and so is Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell).  There is nothing that makes the characters easy to tell apart…and little to see a spark of heroism.

The film takes forever to get to the pivotal accident that gives everyone their powers.  And then the film gets real boring.  Doctor Doom is terribly dull, and lacks any visual identity.  Sure, he has a green cloak.  But He looks like a generic villain, like they forgot to finish the character design in the pre-production stage.

dr_doomThe film lacks any joy of discovery with the characters, and focuses on the darkest take of their getting powers.  They do not have code names in the film.  Everybody refers to the as Subjects.  Johnny’s digs at Ben are simply mean, lacking the playful spirit (Captured so well by Chris Evans) of the character in the comics.

This is a dull film, that misses why people love these characters in the first place.  I wish it had been a disaster, because that might have been interesting to watch.

And there is just something about the Thing not wearing pants that just looks weird.

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