Sunday, August 9, 2015
Really Tired Review: The Fantastic Four
A friend of mine has been going through some really bad times, and I've been wiped out myself trying to help (in what little ways I can), so this is not going to be my usually polished (well, somewhat polished if I'm being honest) review. Too little sleep for a few days and emotional stress are taking a toll right now. Still, I did see the movie so I wanted to say something about it.
What to say?
Okay, there you go, thanks for visiting :)
No, really, I did not like the movie, which was disappointing since I wanted to. I was not a big fan of the last 2 Fantastic Four movies overall, but I did think that they had some moments of potential greatness. I've never been a big fan of the FF, I have read only a few of their comics - but since the team has done cross-overs with just about everybody, I have been somewhat exposed to them. So I can't comment a lot on how accurate the new movie was to the comics, only to my limited impression of the team.
The first thing that struck me, and left a sour note when the movie finally got a trailer, was how damn young everybody is. I really, really, really hate the "boy genius" trope. I hate it a lot. The times I've seen it used it has never really explored the cost of that genius. Being smarter than everyone around you is hard, no one wants to be the only human in a cage full of poo-throwing primates. But having that burden at a young age, when your own emotions and understanding of humanity is not solid or strong, that must be very difficult. The only thing interesting to me about the trope is the struggle to bear that intellect. Which the FF movie makes a nod to, but does not really explore. So, anyways, when I saw the opening of the movie where a 9 year old Reed Richards creates an inter-dimensional teleportation device in his parent's garage with spare parts from the junkyard, I cringed. When we fast-forward a whole seven years, 16 year old boy genius who meets someone else working on the exact same thing at a science fair (what a coincidence) did not make it any better. Of all the characters in the Marvel universe, Reed Richards is one who can and should be older - for the majority of his comic book life it seems he's been drawn with graying temples.
The biggest problem with the new Fantastic Four movie is that it doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. It makes a nod to the stress of being brilliant since every character has family troubles or doesn't fit in - but one or two lines of dialogue is not enough to make a point or sub-plot or characterization. It makes a nod to being terrified of one's powers and transformation and wanting a "normal life" but again in a flashback training montage, or a few lines, and does not devote enough time to really make or explore the point. It sort of deals with the dangers of scientific discovery and how it can be misused, but again not in any real detail. And the obligatory "save the world" moment feels tacked on, out of place, confusing, and really did not need to be there. In all it's more like a collection of bullet points than a full fleshed-out plot or idea. And after a whole movie of interesting concepts that never got explored I walked out feeling confused and let down.
Also, it did not seem to hit any of the notes that made the FF interesting to me. My first comic love has got to be the X-Men, a team of outcasts who fight amongst each other as much as against their villains. But the Fantastic Four have always been portrayed as a family. Sue and Johnny are brother and sister, Sue and Reed get married, and even Johnny and Ben argue like big and little brothers. There is a really cool dynamic of a group of people who actually want to be together and work together. But in this movie we have Sue talk privately to Johnny once, Ben and Reed are friends when they were kids, and the only teamwork moment comes out of the blue, all the characters seemed to hate each other and then they instantly shift gears and work together. It was jarring, and disappointing. Also, Ben's catchphrase, "It's Clobberin' Time" is abused and the fans are s#@t on when in this version that is the same line his older brother uses before beating him. That shows a real lack of respect for the fans of the character to put such dark emotional baggage on what was used as a funny and encouraging catchphrase. Overall, the movie does not feel like the writers or anybody involved really loved the original, rather like they wanted a cash-cow by making a reboot and turning everybody dark and broody (and god I wish Hollywood would get over the dark and broody superhero).
Anyways, my brain is melting as I type, so let me summarize. The movie has one or two decent moments or lines of dialogue, but does not hold together overall. It makes some nods to the source comics, but does not seem to really value them. It is not terrible, not Amazing Spider-Man 2 oh dear god please kill me in my seat the movie is half-way over and feels like 2,000 years have passed terrible. But it is not good either.
My recommendation: wait for it to come out on cable or Netflix or something, you don't really need to see it.