Fant-4-Stic Review

FantasticFour2015

Okay, strap in for a rant. How fucking hard is it to get the Fantastic Four right? Like, seriously? They’re a family with superpowers who go on whacky space adventures. The Human Torch is always messing with the Thing. They have a flying car. The movie practically writes itself. And yet this is the FOURTH, COUNT IT, FOURTH fucking attempt at an FF movie that can only really be described as a hot mess. The first major problem, and the one that I knew would be an issue since the first teaser trailer, is the tone. This is your quintessential “gritty reboot”. Whereas the previous two movies were overly silly and cartoonish, here they overcorrect and the tone fails to mesh at all with the source material. Like, the entire first half of the movie is totally straight, and grounded, and realistic, and they go so far out of their way to make it feel like the real world, and then they’re like “oh yeah, this guy has fire powers now, because science”. It just doesn’t work, and completely fails to walk the line between realism and cheese that the best comicbook movies do.

The next thing that most critics are talking about it what feels like an incredibly out of place and tacked-on ending. And when I say it feels tacked on, I mean literally the studio watched a rough cut of the movie and said “we need a big dumb action movie ending” and so they went back and did reshoots and added the whole sequence. Not only has this been talked about in interviews and stuff, but you can tell it’s all reshoots because Kate Mara’s hair changes to a really obvious wig. Now, director Josh Trank has expressed on twitter that the movies’ poor reviews were due to studio interference, and when so many people have been pointing to that tacked on action ending, it seems like he has a point. But you know what? I think I actually agree with the studio on this. First off, let me say, I do love me a good slow moving science fiction movie. And I actually really enjoyed a lot of the first half of this movie, leading up to them getting their powers, because it did play like a slow moving sci-fi movie with some characters who actually felt like real people. But by the time we were about an hour, hour 15 minutes into the movie, I literally felt like yelling at the screen “SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR FUCKING POWERS!!!” Literally nobody does anything cool with their powers at any point in this movie. We see 20 minutes of Sue Storm practicing her forcefields on some cargo crates, there’s a single one minutes long scene where Mr. Fantastic beats up some military guys with his stretchy arms, the Human Torch just kept walking around on fire for no reason while not doing anything, and we hear all about the Thing going out on these crazy army missions and fighting all these dudes, but we never actually see it. By the time the big dumb ending rolled around I couldn’t wait to see anything even remotely resembling actual action. Then the big final fight is this: Doctor Doom is firing a big blue laser up into the sky, the Fantastic Four all run at him one at a time, and he throws them back with his vague green energy powers, then the Fantastic Four all run at him at the same time, and they manage knock him back into the big blue laser and he dies. Then the government agrees to fund their scientific research/superhero activities in exchange for nothing because of a vague threat from the Thing, they set up their base in a giant bunker in the middle of the forest which they call Central City, even though the FF’s headquarters has always been the Baxter Building in the heart of Manhattan, and Central City is where The Flash lives, then they’re like “what should we call the team” and then the Thing says something about how their new base is “Fantastic” and then Reeds like “Fantastic, eh? That gives me an idea…” and then the movie finally fucking ends. So Josh “I’m never getting another job with a major studio ever again” Trank can sit around all day and bitch about how he’s a great artist and the mean old studio ruined his vision of a “Cronenberg’s The Fly-esque body-horror movie”, but I say to him that you’re no Cronenberg, nobody wanted that from a Fantastic Four movie, you suck at directing action, and your previous movie Chronicle is a bunch of whiny self-indulgent bullcrap that’s found footage for no reason. And if the rumours of him showing up to set super high or sometimes not at all are accurate, then I’m not entirely convinced that they even could have finished the movie without all those extensive studio reshoots.

But I’m not done yet. Here, in no particular order, is a bunch of other shit that pissed me right off: The whole goddamn movie was about Reed Richards, and how he felt guilty about turning his best friend into a rock monster. Now while that is definitely a big part of team dynamic, we got no goddamn characterization from anybody else. The only thing we find out about Sue Storm is that she’s “good with patterns?”, whatever the fuck that means, and I can’t even remember a single memorable thing that the Human Torch said. No good one liners, no back and forth between him and the Thing. It’s called the Fantastic Four, not whiny scientist kid: the movie. In fact, we got almost no interaction between the team at all. I think the final battle sequence was actually the first time they were even all in the same room together. The entire point of the Fantastic Four is how they interact as a team and a family, and it’s literally completely missing from this movie. Next, their suits help them control their powers now. Like the Human Torch has to turn a little thing on his suit to flame on and off, he can’t even do it on his own. And at one point Reeds suit breaks, and he can’t un-stretch himself, but then he can, cause willpower. And fucking Tim Blake Nelson was originally cast as the Mole Man, but in the actual movie he’s just some military douche who fucking dies for no reason. Which is also the second time he got screwed out of being a classic comicbook villain, because if you remember The Incredible Hulk (which no one does), they totally set him up to be The Leader at the end and then never followed through with it. Then there’s the part where we see Ben Grimm as a little kid, and his older brother is beating him up, and he says “it’s clobberin’ time”. Like, really? We’re so far into the realm of dark and gritty-ness that the Thing’s classic catchphrase is used by an abusive family member as opposed to something he yells in battle? And then there’s the part where Victor Von Doom is being really morbid about something, and then Susan actually says “jeez, Doctor Doom over here”. Which not only is really stupid and forced and a total groaner, but actually doesn’t make sense. Because see originally in this movie they were gonna call him “Victor Domishcev”, or something, because Von Doom is a ridiculous comicbook name, so you can kind of see how that joke would have made sense, cause it’s like the first time anyone’s called him that. But then they went back and re-dubbed all the dialogue so that his name actually was Von Doom, but then they left that joke in. So she’s all “Doctor Doom over here” like that’s something she’s calling him because he was talking about doom and shit, but like, that’s his actual name. You’re just calling him his real name. That doesn’t make sense.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of Doctor Doom, let me point out that this is the SECOND onscreen version of the character that is A) not the dictator of his own country, B) does not wear any high tech armour, and C) has no magical or mystical abilities. Instead, this time he’s an angry teenager with vague green energy powers in a melted plastic face mask. Like, it looks so fucking stupid. It really does. Google it or something. But the explanation for it doesn’t even make any sense. Like they say that his spacesuit like fused with his body, but the spacesuit helmet was like a big helmet thing, with a little face whole, but then after the accident his face is like a perfectly carved out face shape, made of plastic, like over his real face? And also it’s all like rocky and glowing green in parts. Ugh, I can’t even. How do you fuck up Marvel’s most fearsome and badass villain this badly, let alone do it fucking TWICE? And speaking of things that are stupid and made of rock, the fucking Thing, man. First off, the CGI is bad and his voice is all wrong. God help me, I would have preferred Michael Chiklis in the rubber suit. But man, what really bums me out is that he walks around with no pants and you can see that he has no dick. Like, that sucks, right? I mean, I always imagined he had some sort of orange, rocky penis, but now we’re being forced to see that he’s a weird sexless genital-less thing with just a weird flat pubic mound. Like turning into an orange rock monster is one thing, but losing your dick? It’s just sad, and weird, and I can’t help but think about it every time I look at him. How does he go to the bathroom? Does he still have sexual urges? If he ends up getting together with Alisha Masters, how could they possibly have any sort of sex? Does he still identify as male? Do they ever talk about how fucked up it is that he lost his genitals? Goddamnit, I just wanna watch the Thing punch stuff and have cool catchphrases, I don’t want to have to think about his junk, or lack thereof. WHY THE FUCK COULDN’T THEY JUST GIVE HIM PANTS SO I WOULDN’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT IT???!!!! LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE OTHER FANTASTIC FOUR ANYTHING HAS DONE THAT FOR THE LAST 50 YEARS!!!!

So yes, this movie is a complete fucking mess, and is possibly even worse than the 2005 one? I don’t know, it’s hard to say, that movie’s pretty awful. I think the second one is a little better. Maybe the low budget Roger Corman one from the 90’s is the best one. It’s certainly the most fun to watch. But anyway, here are the few things I did like about this movie: the cast was pretty solid. I mean it’s hard to tell what their chemistry as a group is like since we don’t see it at all, but they’re all good actors who fit their characters well. The first 40 minutes or so, before they got their powers, was kind of interesting, and I actually thought the origin itself was handled pretty well, even though it was the version from the Ultimate comics and not the original one. There was also one scene right after they got their powers where Reed Richards is lying in a hospital bed all stretched out and he has to pull himself back together, and that was a pretty cool kind of creepy effect. Yep, that’s it. I guess better luck next time?

Overall Rating: blechh/10

Thoughts on the X-Men/Fantastic Four Crossover Movie: Time Travel, Dark Phoenix, and Universe Building

So Bryan Singer has talked about the possibility of a Fantastic Four/X-men teamup movie. A lot of people online have been bitching about how they would have to use time travel to get the current casts together. I actually think this kind of works, because if we’re continuing to move forward with this new younger cast from X-Men: Apocalypse, it would be considerably less convoluted if they just time jumped everyone to the present rather than continuing to set them in the past until eventually they catch up with the time period of the original X-Men movies. And it’s not like that kind of thing is unheard of. In fact, recently in the comics, the original teenage X-Men have been brought forward in time and are now living in the present. You could totally do the same thing on screen, especially since time travel already exist in this universe. This way we can also see a return of some of the younger characters like Kitty Pryde and Iceman, who you can’t put in movies set in the 80s. Anyway, for the plot of the actual FF/X-Men crossover (assuming that the new FF does well enough for this to actually happen, and that it’s good enough that we actually want to see these two casts meet), I think they should do the Dark Phoenix saga. I mean, it’s arguably the most iconic X-Men storyline of all time, and they totally botched it the first time. But now they have a new young Jean Grey and a totally rebooted timeline, and if you think about it it’s totally perfect. In the comics the Phoenix Force is a cosmic entity, and the Fantastic Four do nothing if not deal with cosmic entities. But beyond that, the thing really lacking from X-Men: The Last Stand’s take on the Phoenix was that it never really felt all that big. She was like a pawn of Magneto, and they said she was a “class 5 mutant”, and I guess she disintegrated a few dudes, but the Phoenix should feel like an epic world-ending force of destruction. Having it threaten the whole world to the point where the X-Men and FF have to team up to deal with it is the perfect way to establish that. And if we are going to see the Phoenix again, they have to do something different with it, and adding the FF to the mix is the perfect way to do that, too. Now, I don’t necessarily want to see a large interconnected Fantastic Four/X-Men universe from Fox, but it’s clear that it’s going to happen either way, so we might as well talk about it. And considering the recent hot streak of X-Men movies, and not yet having seen the new Fantastic Four, I’m kind of cautiously optimistic about the whole thing. I mean with Marvel’s light, witty, no real stakes feel, and DC’s dark, depressing grit, the fox universe might be a good realistic middle ground of massive comicbook franchise, and I will say that the three Bryan Singer X-Men are more interesting films than most of the MCU. Assuming everything goes well, a crossover movie with X-Men and the Fantastic Four dealing with the Dark Phoenix could be like the first major event movie in this new universe. Hell, you could even throw Deadpool in there for comic relief. This is probably way father in the future than anyone at fox has even thought about, and comicbook movies will probably hit their breaking point and fall out of popularity before any of this comes to fruition, but if it is going to happen, I think that’s the way you do it. And I for one would see the shit out of that movie, especially if you put Singer in the director’s chair.

Ant Man Review

So I haven’t written a review in kind of a while. There have actually been a lot of movies I have some stuff to say about, like Tomorrowland and Jurassic World. The honest truth is that I’ve just gotten sort of lazy about this, and I don’t know how long I’ll keep doing this at all. But there’s a new marvel movie out, and if there’s one thing I never have a shortage of, it’s things to say about a new marvel movie. Now I want to make one thing perfectly clear right off the bat: I enjoyed this movie. It was fun, it was interesting, it was very funny, and at no point was I bored. It was well worth the price of admission and I’ll probably enjoy many rewatches of it. But here’s the thing about marvel; this is the twelfth movie in their cinematic universe. It would be naive to think at this point that they don’t have a pretty solid formula for pumping out fun, enjoyable comicbook movies that appeal to everyone and make as much money as possible. And I almost feel like a dick complaining about these movies, because as a comicbook fan, the fact that we even have a fun, enjoyable movie about a character like Ant-Man is like mind-blowingly awesome. But the truth is that as their formula for printing money has become more and more refined, these marvel movies have become more and more devoid of personality. I mean if you go back and watch the Sam Raimi Spider-Mans, or the Bryan Singer X-Mens, or even the first Iron Man, they feel like real movies. There’s a style, there’s a tone. You can feel the vision and creative influence of a director. Compare any of those movies to Ant-Man, or Guardians of the Galaxy, or any goddamn Thor movie, and there’s just such a contrast. These later movie feel mass produced, corporate. There’s something fake about them. And yes, a lot of superhero movies made at that time under those conditions were terrible. For every Spider-Man 2, there was a Fantastic Four. For every X-Men: United, there was an Ang Lee Hulk. For every Blade II, there was a Blade 1 and 3. And the way that marvel makes movies nowadays, they can pretty much guarantee that no movie will ever be legitimately bad. But they’ve also created a system with no risk. And without that, even though all their movies will be good, none of them will ever be spectacular. And that’s just a shame. My personal favourite superhero movie of all time is the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie, and I know that’s a controversial opinion. And as a die hard fan of comicbook Spidey, I recognize the changes to the character and the mythos that could bug other fans. But what I love about that movie is that you can tell that Sam Raimi has a specific vision of what he wants the story to be, and seeing the character through his eyes is a unique and wonderful spin on the classic version. I’m convinced that no marvel movie released now will ever feel like that. Instead they’ll all just be homogenous, indistinguishable chapters in a larger unfolding story, full of fun moments and endearing characterization, and cool nerdy shit happening. And that’s basically what comicbooks are, so as a huge fan of the medium, I’m going to enjoy it every step of the way. But I guess I’m just saying that there’s a part of me that misses the time when superhero movies were a big deal, and were actually interesting. And I guess this point could apply to a lot of recent marvel movies, but the reason it really hit me with Ant-Man is that this was so nearly an unique director driven movie. Edgar Wright developed this movie for eight years, and was canned right before shooting started because of creative differences between him and the studio. Now, Edgar Wright had actually been working on this movie since before Iron Man was even being made, because he was legitimately passionate about the character. And if you know anything about Edgar Wright, you know he would have made an insanely unique and memorable movie. Imagine this movie done in the visual comedy style of Shaun of the Dead. It would have been amazing. But instead marvel fired him because, I believe the sticking point was that Wright didn’t want the Falcon cameo in the movie. You got one pointless shoved in fight with another Avenger in exchange for the creative vision of an amazing director. So instead they hired some no-name with enough previous credits on his resume to prove himself capable, but without enough of a reputation to argue with anything marvel said, and put out a cookie cutter predictable enjoyable fun middle of the road superhero adventure flick. And it’s fine. And it’s fun. And I can honestly say that I enjoyed every moment while watching it. But it’s just so disappointing to think of what could have been. Real quick, thoughts on the actual movie: I liked Paul Rudd, I though Michael Pena stole the show, Michael Douglas was really well cast as an old Hank Pym, even tho I would have liked to see the character younger, the heist plot was fun but I wished they had committed to that theme a little bit more, and, finally, I don’t really give a shit about Ant-Man from the comics, but I do really love the Wasp. I think she’s the heart of the Avengers and it’s complete bullshit that she hasn’t been in either of their movies. And not only does this movie have the balls to not do the Wasp at all, but when they finally do drop the easter egg about her, the setup is for Evangeline Lily’s character to become her. Evangeline Lily sucks. She can’t act. I hate her. Don’t make her Wasp. These things are all upsetting to me. Anywho, kind of a long rant about a lot of different shit, but hey, I may not keep doing this much longer, might as well go out talking way too much about superhero movies. Sorry for no paragraph breaks that’s not how I roll. My official recommendation: go see this movie, you’ll enjoy it, it’s worth your money. But I think it’s time to stop expecting anything creative from Marvel. It’s at this point I’m really glad for the X-Men movies. I mean you can poke tons of holes in Days of Future Past, it’s far from a perfect movie, but at the end of the day it still feels more like an actual movie with a creative point of origin than anything marvel has put out in the last five years. And even though no one really talks about it, X-Men: Apocalypse is actually the comicbook movie I’m most looking forward to in the next year or so, more than Civil War and Batman V. Superman. But I’m rambling again.

Overall Rating: Generically Good/10

Mad Max: Fury Road Review

So this movie was straight up awesome. They basically took everything that was great about the franchise and boiled it down to the raw. The whole movie is just one long badass chase full of explosions and car wrecks and gruesome deaths. Tom Hardy does a great job of portraying the stoic badass Max, who, like in Road Warrior, has barely any actual lines. Which is a good thing I guess, cause Hardy’s Australian accent could probably use some work. And I actually didn’t hate Nicholas Hoult in this. Usually that guy really bugs me, and I’m not quite sure why. He’s just such a slimy little butthole, I wanna punch him. He’s also totally miscast as Beast in X-Men. But I digress. I didn’t think he did a great job in this movie, but his character was interesting and he was good enough that I was able to enjoy the performance. But it’s Charlize Theron who really steals the show. This franchise makes up for its lack of interesting female characters (unless you count Tina Turner, which you shouldn’t) pretty damn well. She’s totally badass and we really become invested in what she’s trying to do. In fact, she almost becomes the main character, with Max just along for the ride. When asked in an interview where this movie takes place in relation to the others on a timeline, director George Miller suggested that Max exist as somewhat of a legend in this world, with all sorts of different stories existing about “the road warrior”, and that this is just another one of those stories. I like that idea, not only because the loose continuity allows for them to make a fourth movie 30 years later with a new actor without having to do a reboot, but because it sort of allows each movie to be its own self contained story. It almost become more of an anthology series, just different tales throughout this apocalyptic wasteland, with this drifter character of Mad Max as the only common element. They imply this even more strongly at the end of the movie, while Charlize Theron’s character is standing victorious and being cheered for while she looks down to see Max simply vanish into the crowd. If they do more of these, which I’m sure they will, I hope they stay consistent with this format. Sometimes an underdeveloped protagonist is better than an overdeveloped one. See: Dredd. Anyway, this is exactly what action movies should be nowadays. I mean you got your dark brooding Nolan movies, and that’s fine, and you got your big fun happy Marvel movies, which I like too, and you even have your big dumb fun stuff like Fast and the Furious, which is hilarious, but nobody is just making awesome badass violent non stop action thrill rides any more. Except George Miller, evidently. Go see this fucking movie.

Overall Rating: A whole vehicle dedicated to one guy with an electric guitar and a flamethrower hooked up to giant amps just playing tunes for your whole post-apocalyptic car gang/10

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome Review

So this one is kind of where it all falls apart and just becomes silly. First thing you need to know is that Mel Gibson rocks super long hair for the entire first half of the movie, which is sick. The second thing you need to know is that the villain is aging pop star Tina Turner. There’s also a town that runs on pig shit, a gang of kids who talk in weird future speak, a pilot character played by the same guy who played the pilot character in the second movie but who is definitely a different character, and most importantly a midget who rides around on top of a large mentally retarded man. Yeah, this movie’s whack. Apparently George Miller wrote this script as a completely unrelated apocalypse movie, but then decided, fuck it, I’ll make it a Mad Max sequel. He was also so depressed during filming that he only wanted to direct the action sequences, and got some Australian sop opera director to do everything else. Sounds like a recipe for a really great flick. As troubled as the production sounds, this movie clearly has a much higher budget than the last. They go crazy with the post-apocalyptic sets and clothes and stuff, but most notable is how haam they go on the custom vehicles. In the last couple of movies they all looked like normal cars, with maybe a few modifications here or there, but in this one everybody’s driving some kind of crazy dune buggy looking thing. The one downside of the big budget, though, is that the studio insisted on a PG-13 rating, which I guess meant they had a limit on how many deaths they could show, because literally every time you think Mel Gibson kills somebody they cut away to a shot of them getting up and being ok. Anyway, this definitely isn’t a good movie, but it does have some classic moments. Probably the highlight of the whole thing comes right around the end of the first act, with the battle in the titular Thunderdome. Mel Gibson and a mentally handicapped man bounce around on bungee ropes in a large cage trying to kill each other while the crowd chants “two men enter, one man leaves” over and over again. Awesome.

Overall Rating: Tina Turner’s gross old mom cleavage/10

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior Review

Now this is what you think of when you think Mad Max. The original movie actually didn’t originally come out in America, and so the sequel was released in this continent as a standalone movie called The Road Warrior. Most people didn’t ever know there was a Mad Max 1 until years later. Anyway, so this is the one where all the classic stuff you associate with the series comes from. It starts with an explanation of how the government collapsed falling an oil crisis, and now the highways are ruled by waring gangs out for fuel. This one is much more post-apocalyptic than the first one, to the point where they almost feel like completely different worlds. I would complain about the inconsistency, but it makes enough sense that society would continue to break down further the more time passed with no government, and I actually think it reflects the character in an interesting way. In the first movie he’s just trying to be a normal guy, with his wife and kids. He’s trying to remain sane and normal in a crazy world, just like the remnants of society trying to maintain civilization in a world that no longer has any law or order. Then in the second one, after he’s had all that ripped away from him, it’s like he’s stopped pretending and just embraced being as mad as the world around him. And the rest of the world has followed, hence the transition from small towns with some form of law enforcement to a bunch of crazy people wearing animal skins and crazy masks shooting arrows at each other. Another neat little touch is that they actually stay consistent with Max’s injuries from the end of the first movie, giving him a leg brace from where he was shot in the knee and a missing sleeve on his jacket from where it would have been cut off by doctors treating his run-over arm. Not a huge factor in the overall experience, but a nice little detail that makes the world more believable. Anyway, this movie better than the first one. Why? Well, the budget is higher, the stunts are cooler, the environment is crazier, the villain is more intimidating and there’s a small feral child who kills people with a big metal boomerang. So all those reasons. But the real highlight of the movie is the last twenty minutes or so, which is just one long extended chase scene with a whole gang of dudes in cars and on bikes are trying to stop this one huge fuel tanker that Mel Gibson’s driving. It’s some totally brutal, bloody, intense, kickass car action, and at the end of the day that’s really what we’re all here for. 

Overall Rating: Finally a movie that has the balls to kill the dog without spending fifteen fucking minutes trying to make everybody feel sad about it/10

Mad Max Review

So the new Mad Max movie comes out this week and you probably already know how totally fucking awesome it looks from the trailers. And, well, I just wouldn’t feel right going to see it without sitting down and watching the first three movies first. Before now, the only one I’ve really seen is the second one, and it was long enough ago that I don’t really remember it, so more or less I’m going into this whole thing fresh. Now the thing I keep hearing about these movies is that the second one is the only one worth watching, that the original doesn’t hold up. But I had to watch it anyway, because doctors say there’s something severely wrong with me. Anyway, fuck everyone who said this movie is shitty by today’s standards cause I thought it kicked ass. It’s a little slow moving, and there are a few long stretches were stuff keeps almost happening, but then not really. There’s not really much of a plot either, or at least not a very complicated one. But to me this movie feels less like a single story and more of just an introduction to this post apocalyptic future world. And I use the term “post-apocalyptic” very loosely, because it sort of just seems like regular Australia. I mean, there’s no government and the world is full of roving bike gangs, but other than that society seems pretty intact. It’s actually sort of interesting to see a movie apocalypse where people still kind of have there shit together instead of just the usual single pockets of survival type thing, but going back and watching it now it’s not really the world you picture when you think Mad Max. Anyway, where the movie really excels is in all the cool car stunts. If you just want to see a whole bunch of really awesome, well executed car/motorcycle crashes without the use of any CGI, this is the place to do it. Probably the highlight is the opening chase, where all the cop dudes are chasing this guy Night Rider (no relation). It’s just car getting mangled after car getting mangled, and it’s awesome. There are also a whole bunch of motorcycle crashes where you can tell they actually just got dudes to crash their motorcycles and by the look of some of them it’s a miracle no one died during filming. The movie a weird low budget indy Australian movie from the 70s, but it’s probably the best possible version of that, and I was honestly entertained the whole way through. And it’s funny hearing Mel Gibson with his Australian accent, cause he doesn’t really have one anymore.

Overall Rating: Also the final scene of this movie inspired the entire Saw franchise so that’s pretty cool/10