Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fantastic Four ★

Image result for fantastic four 2015 movie poster

    "Fantastic Four" is a poor film, if for no other reason than for its subpar display of acting, which, unfortunately, culminates in several uneven performances that are undoubtedly lacking in talent, among other things. This is not to mention a script that can only be designated as inept in form and an atmosphere that can never fully hit its stride, simply because of the natural sense of dramatic irony that arises from the subject matter. (We not only know what is going to happen to our resident group of superheroes, but we can assume to know anything that is not readily explained; this, in turn, makes the picture as predictable as they come, as it lends itself to a rather monotonous temperament.)

    Someone should tell our producers here that a dark color palette and a utilization of low-key lighting could never achieve the desired effect--that is--as long as predictability remains evident. (For example, how can one be coaxed into believing anything bad is going to happen to the main characters when we have seen this rodeo before?)

    Let's be honest: A remake of this franchise was never entirely warranted in the first place; a notion that can surely be ascertained from the opening weekend box-office numbers for the film itself. To make matters worse, we are given a storyline that relies heavily on the origin tale structure (you know, half of the running time is used to explain how our heroes obtained their powers or abilities, while the latter portion of the picture indulges in some sort of complication) and on the clichéd motivation to save Earth via another planet's resources. There is a subtle hint toward a social statement concerning the youth of this nation and how their collaboration could bring optimism and hope to a planet that has been plagued by humanity's ignorance, yet it is quite ineffective, especially when considering the futility of its cause.

    What is most troubling here, however, is the lack of build-up when it comes to our central conflict and the substandard acting that ultimately takes center stage, in what is likely this year's biggest flop. In fact, the conflict arises from two separate entities: that being, the government of the United States (as asinine as that may seem) and the character of Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell). The script uses the ill-treatment and irrational decision-making of the government (this is with regard to the manipulation of the "Four" to succeed in military operations and the intent to strip another planet of its resources) to fuel the villainous intentions of Doom, yet, it merely comes off as contrived and dare I say, downright put-on. This all leads to a "superhero showdown" with Dr. Doom that lasts all but about five minutes of screen time, which essentially highlights the issue with these types of films today--all marketing and little cashing in.

    I could sit here and discuss the numerous poor showings in "Fantastic Four" at the actor position for days on in, but let me tell you succinctly: What we have here are four actors, mostly known for supporting roles (except, of course, for Miles Teller, who shined in last year's "Whiplash"), with a chance to make a name for themselves in Hollywood. I regret to inform you that this did not even remotely come to fruition, as our youthful cast struggled scene after scene, and in every dramatic moment that the picture ultimately musters. The chemistry between Reed Richards (Teller) and Sue Storm (Kate Mara) ceased to exist, as well as any conviction from Teller in several key instances. Though, our young cast was not entirely to blame, as Reg E. Cathey, a veteran actor and Emmy Award winner, arguably had the worst performance of the lot. To say that Cathey's delivery of dialogue lacked passion would be a euphemism for the ages.

    It has come to my attention that the character of Ben Grimm really got the short end of the stick in this group. Here's a guy who religiously supported the career and aspirations of his close friend, with little thought to his own life, and while accepting nothing in return, and yet, he is unquestionably bestowed with the worst "superhuman" ability; he is simply a walking and talking rock. It is obvious that the other three members of this band can partially control their abilities--and maybe most importantly--they appear to be human. "The Thing" may never love again. One would assume that some level of hatred for his situation lie beneath that hardened exterior, but, of course, "Fantastic Four" would never be able to show that internal turmoil because its focus rests with cheap humor and run-of-the-mill entertainment. How do I know this? Because they tried to execute it and failed.

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