WHERE FANTASTIC 4 WENT WRONG

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Or, “The List of Doom that keeps on Growing”

I’ll be honest, I’m completely fascinated by the waves of reports chronicling the behind-the-scenes turmoil on the recent disaster we know as the reboot of Fantastic 4.

Yes, I really wish every film could be a knockout and take no pleasure in a film’s repeated embarrassment. But my god, the juice flowing from this particular kill is more dramatic and harrowing than movie surrounding it!

At very least, this Tinseltown story is a particularly revealing lesson in pride and vanity that helps illuminate why the film we have now is such a train wreck.

Therefore, I have compiled a list of the most recent reports surrounding the tumultuous making of Fantastic 4. And to address the headline of this piece, the answer is almost immediately.

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  • The director’s attitude reportedly caused plenty of conflict between him and the cast. Michael B. Jordan starring was agreed upon by both parties but the studio wanted someone other than Miles Teller for Reed Richards. Trank got his way but the two still ended up in what was described as a “mutually disdainful relationship” (they don’t like each other). Kate Mara was a casting choice of the studio’s and Trank was reported to have treated her badly. Another instance of the director and cast not getting along.
  • There was a sentiment after filming that very little of what Trank turned in was salvageable. Most troubling was the absence of an actual ending. It was here that X-Men writer Simon Kinberg and producer Hutch Parker had to step in and retool much of the film.
  • The ending was mostly done in reshoots despite several of the cast members being unavailable. Most of the scenes were filmed months later in L.A. against a greenscreen with Teller being the only reported cast member in attendance, the rest being filmed with CG, stand-ins and stunt doubles.
  • Trank was present for the reshoot but was essentially put in the corner (“neutralized by committee”).
  • Days before the film’s release, Trank said this on Twitter:

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  • While it was deleted just nine minutes after being posted, the timing of this tweet and the already sour mood towards the film proved disastrous for Fox. It is reported that this tweet lost the studio an estimated $10 million on opening weekend.
  • Apparently Trank wasn’t too down on the film a few days before opening. The director emailed the cast and crewmembers saying that F4 was “better than 99 percent of comic book movies ever made.” One cast member perfectly replied, “I don’t think so.”
  • Despite the embarrassing opening weekend gross of $26 mill (it was originally predicted at $46 mill) and even-more crushing critical reaction (9 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the worst reviewed Marvel movie ever), Fox are sticking their collective heads in the sand again and forging ahead with a sequel to the film. I mean, you can’t have the rights revert to a group that might make a good movie in less than four attempts.
  • A release date of June 9, 2017 was announced a while ago but that date looks highly unlikely now, and may be used for a rumored Deadpool sequel instead.
  • Trank will not be involved with the supposed sequel (duh) and was also dropped from involvement with one of the Star Wars spinoff films earlier this year due to his behavior.
  • There is no word yet on the story, direction or cast situation with the sequel, minus some rumblings of X-Men director Bryan Singer being courted to helm the film.

Clearly there’s a lot of fault on both sides, as this was a project with a lot of cooks n the kitchen. However, given what we know now, the story is shaping up to look more and more like the studio cut lots corners on a dispassionate legal project and ended up with a worst-case scenario with Trank’s direction and attitude.

Whose side are you on? Is this Fox’s fault for being stubborn and not caring enough? Or did the director’s lackluster ideas and terrible behavior tank the film?

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FANTASTIC 4 MOVIE REVIEW

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“You made it ugly.”

About two thirds of the way through Fantastic 4, Miles Teller’s Reed Richards grumbles this line in reference to a remade teleportation device. If that’s not the most representative statement on this debacle of a movie as a whole, I don’t know what is.

Since its announcement, the reboot of Fantastic 4 has faced heavy backlash, helped in no small part to reports early this year of mandatory reshoots, heavy studio interference and turmoil behind the scenes with director Josh Trank’s erratic behavior.

Ultimately, regardless of who’s to blame for the production woes, none of this changes the situation that the movie we have before us is a mess of opposing interests and surface-deep ideas that never fully delivers on a single thing it tries for.

After building a makeshift dimensional portal, young genius Reed Richards attracts the attention of the Baxter Foundation, a group meant to foster young brilliance headed by Dr. Franklin Storm. Given the chance to complete his designs, Reed is paired with Storm’s children, Sue and Johnny, as well as the arrogant Victor Von Doom, to complete the project and send living beings to the Negative Zone (here known as Planet Zero). In using the device, an accident occurs that leaves Reed, Sue, Johnny and Reed’s childhood friend Ben with life-altering abilities.

Fantastic 4 is fantastic in the sense that it never fails to find a way to disappoint you, despite containing bits and pieces that hint at a good movie underneath the weight of its colossal failure. The feeling that this was a film by committee, existing to first and foremost satisfy a legal obligation, engulfs the whole picture, which would explain the overwhelming lack of passion coming from everyone involved.

In an effort to remove themselves from the previous F4 movies, the creative team has taken the gritty approach and has gone on record as saying this new story is largely inspired by the science fiction work of David Cronenberg. On the surface, this seemed great. “What superhero franchise could benefit more from a change of pace than Fantastic 4?” Well, there are several ways this approach could have payed off: multi-dimensional characters (hah), a good script, an interesting plot, emotional investment.

Yeah, this movie has approximately none of those.

There’s just no depth in any aspect to sell such a self-serious mood. We’re made to follow a set of characters we barely know anything about, who seem to have only a passing interest in each other, in a plot that almost prides itself in not advancing. A good half hour of this film is devoted to just the building of the machine that will take the team to the other dimension and it’s here that the movie shows that it could have been something.

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These are now my default faces when thinking of this film.

Despite devoting entirely too much time to a single piece of the “plot”, this section of the movie comes closest to working. We get to spend the most time with House of Cards‘ Reg E. Cathy here — whose presence as the father figure of the characters is the movie’s biggest asset — and actually are given some sense of buildup for what’s coming.

Spoiler alert: it’s nothing good.

Somehow, the Fantastic Four here are more boring after they get their powers than before. The accident that gives them their abilities is impressively horrific but it’s practically an afterthought for the rest of the movie. There’s an unnecessary excursion to Panama, but most of the middle of the movie sees our main heroes stewing about in blank, cement-basement sets (don’t be fooled by the posters, New York plays only a cameo part in the film), bargain-bin visual effects and unclear purpose. Reed’s entire anemic crux of the film is learning how to make his arms not stretchy. Seriously.

Then Doom shows up, a sore sight for eyes, and the film rushes into its one and only action set piece. The ending fight of this movie is so sudden, garish-looking, poorly conceived of, wrote and all-around lame that it’s like you can practically see the Fox execs taking the scissors to the celluloid and the budget simultaneously. If the movie up to this point was simply boring, here’s where it becomes downright laughable.

I would say that this film is like the old days when studios thought they could get away with delivering subpar superhero movies as long as the titular characters appeared and looked cool, but F4 bungles even that low bar. There’s no character to this film and thus nothing to even define it as a Fantastic 4 movie. It’s simply that hollow.

For what it’s worth, this is all coming from someone who really championed giving this movie a shot in the midst of all the bad buzz in recent months. The basic ideas were there and they had the cast to hit home on at least some of it.

Yet, here we are with a film so destroyed even one of its most accepting patrons thinks it’s garbage.

The characters deserved better. The cast deserved better. Fans deserved better. The very art of movie-making deserved better.

Flame over.

2/10

GUEST COLUMN: CAPTAIN AMERICA THROUGH A POST 9/11 LENS

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How a Cinematic Captain America is Interpreted through a Post-9/11 Lens

by Michael Maurer

Comic book characters are currently at their most popular in pop culture since their creation in the 1930’s and 40’s. These characters are mostly superheroes, and their moral decisions set a standard for acceptable vigilantism and prosocial causes. While these characters saw their birth in the comic book medium, it is safe to say that a majority of the American population (and possibly the world) have only experienced them through blockbuster films and that is why in this study we will look at where Captain America’s values are founded in his box-office appearances, most notably the films Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. These films are one of many iterations of the hero, but as of 2015, this interpretation of the character is the most relevant. It will also reflect how a character created in a time of world war and moral clarity is now interpreted for modern audiences in a post 9/11 world where high levels of distrust for American government exist and America’s enemies are much more difficult to identify.

Captain America through name and action is a character directly attributed to beingRMK2338GM_Classic_Captain_America_Giant_Wall_Decal_Assembled_Product a representation of his nation the United States and the values of its population and government in ideal circumstances. He was created in 1941 by Marvel writer Joe Simon and artist Jack Kirby. In the cover of his very first issue he is seen delivering a right hook to Adolf Hitler, which expresses that character’s original intent as a propagandist war superhero meant to encourage American involvement in World War 2. Since then, Captain America has evolved to one of the most respected superheroes in the Marvel pantheon. Steve Rogers (Captain America’s alter-ego) is consistently treated with the utmost respect by other Marvel characters. This is due to his history as a war veteran as well as his never faltering ethical code. But was exactly does Captain America Represent? How does he do it? And how does he reflect modern American culture in his new cinematic format?

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