Long Time No...Ah Skip it
Since I last blogged, I went back to Canada for a badly needed reality check, and it left me with a longing to move back as soon as possible. It's not just the health care thing, of course. It's the beer...and my family...and my friends ...and the fact that I used to have a life. Little things, you know? A whole mess o'movies have done come and gone in my absence, and since I've been told by a couple of impartial people that they like it when I write about movies, I'll tell you what I saw and what I thought, and try to keep it brief. I said try.
If Batman Begins and Spiderman 2 are lessons in how to make a Comic Book movie, Fantastic Four is a lesson on how to royally screw one up. In fact it could serve as a textbook, right next to the screenplay for The Hulk.
There's a difference between the Marvel and DC approach to adapting their characters to the big or small screen. The DC approach is the Basics are sacred. Krypton will always blow up and the infant Kal El will be sent to Earth in a Rocket his father Jor El built before that happens. Bruce Wayne's parents will always be murdered before his eyes...The Motivation remains the same.
There are, of course, variations within those parameters...The Kents don't appear in the Comic Books until years after the origin story from 1938...The Radio show ignores them altogether by having Superman stepping out of the Rocketship fully grown, and in costume (" Hmmm Clark Kent...That sounds like a good human name.." or words to that effect). Alfred didn't show up until after Robin...But the basics are always there. The gospel according to DC Comics. Trust me. In "Superman Returns" which comes out in Summer of 2006 all else may change(I doubt it, but it's possible), but Krypton will have exploded etc. etc... That's how DC does things...
Over at Marvel they seem to have a slightly different philosophy, and that is "You bought the rights, you can do whatever you want to do with them"
There are exceptions. The X Men and Spiderman movies stick to the Basics and are great examples of the genre when it works...The Hulk did not and was consequently a big green Turkey. Daredevil straddled the fence and was consequently so so. Which brings us to Fantastic Four...
Yeah, the schtick with Cosmic Rays is still there. They do the transformation thing all well and good. Where the movie starts to go wrong is its approach to the characters. Reed Richards is supposed to be the one of the most brilliant scientists on the planet, yet here, he doesn't say anything that a 4th Grader watching the Discovery Channel couldn't understand. Johnny Storm is fine...The Thing is played for a tad too much pathos but he's there. As for Jessica Alba as Sue Storm *sigh*... There lots of talented and actually blonde actresses out there, so why did they feel the need to hire Jessica Alba and dye her hair? She can't really act...She pouts nice, but that's not really acting in the traditional sense( although some have been getting away with it for years...See the complete works of Renee Zellwegger)
But where they really screw up is the handling of arguably Marvel's best villain, Dr. Victor Von Doom. First off they try to turn him into a cross between Donald Trump and Gene Hackman's version of Lex Luthor. They try to humanize him...Yes, I said it. They tried to humanize him...HIS NAME IS VICTOR VON DOOM FER CHRISSAKES!!! How human is he gonna be? Secondly they try to tie his origin into that of the FF...The stupidity of that I won't even bother to go into, except to say it's a direct steal from Tim Burton's Batman...In Fact this movie swipes a lot of things from Comic Book book movies that work, only to botch them.
BTW It might surprise some people that this is in fact the second Fantastic Four...The first one was deemed unreleasable...Would that that were the case here...
The only reason I saw this movie at all is because while I was up in Toronto, my mom won tickets to a preview...10 Minutes into it I turned to my Dad and said " I bet there's a dead kid in the water tower"...I was right. If you saw The Ring you saw this one. And what the hell have they done to Jennifer Connelly? There oughta be a law...
WAR OF THE WORLDS
Ya know that old Dick Van Dyke show where they have a running gag "You SLEPT through the GUNS OF NAVARONE??!!"? Well, I slept through the WAR OF THE WORLDS...AND IT WAS LOUDER!!!
MR. and MRS. SMITH
Okay I'll admit to having seen Fantastic Four...but a masochist I'm not.
MARCH OF THE PENGUINS
Ever watch a National Geographic Special...Well, that's exactly what this is, no more, no less. Except with Penguins and Morgan Freeman...well his voice anyways.
In which we discover that the writer of this blog was dead wrong when he prejudged this movie after last year's Oscar as being probably just another lousy Biopic (I may have to eat my words on "Walk the Line" too). The only criticism I have of this movie is that Phillip Seymour Hoffman is too tall for the part. Other than that It's the most inrelligent and well executed movie I've seen since "Sideways" which makes it darn near perfect in my book...except for the height thing.
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK
A close runner up to Capote. In my next life I want to be George Clooney. Don't we all?
More soon... I promise...