Fantastic Four (Movie Review)

Stylized titles need to go ahead and put themselves out of their own misery.

I come to bury the Fantastic Four, not to praise them.

Fantastic Four

Directed by: Josh Trank (Chronicle)

Produced by: Gregory Goodman, Simon Kinberg, Robert Kulzar, Hutch Parker, Matthew Vaughn

Screenplay by: Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater, Josh Trank

Based on: Fantastic Four  by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Genre: Superhero

Starring: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson

Music by: Marco Beltrami & Philip Glass

Plot: In search of the key to unlocking the ever-elusive secrets of teleportation and interdimensional travel , Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) of the Baxter Foundation employs four young geniuses to seal the deal: Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Victor Von Doom (Yes they’re still calling him that…. Er, I mean, Toby Kebbell) and his own kids, Susan (Kate Mara) and Johnny (Michael B. Jordan). When the kids’ (Plus Reed’s childhood friend, Ben Grimm) experiment in the so-called “Planet Zero” (Because apparently, “Negative Zone” ,as it’s known in the comics, is too silly of a name for a movie where the main villain is called “Victor von Fucking Doom”) goes horribly wrong, the kids gain superhuman abilities. Reed gains the ability to stretch his body parts to abnormal lengths (Get your mind out of the gutter) Ben gets turned into a giant, supernaturally strong rock monster, Johnny gains the ability to set himself on fire and fly at will with no repercussions, Sue can turn invisible and use force fields and Victor von Bad Guy fucks off to the other dimension, goes insane, develops a power set vaguer than the Scarlet Witch, and decides to destroy the world, because whoever was rewriting this movie for the tenth time forgot to add a climax, and just picked the stock villain goal, regardless of whether it’s in the character’s nature or not.

He should’ve been named Victor Domashev. Come at me fanboys, I’m waiting.

And then, the good guys are spirited off to a secret government facility known as Area 57 (Because they couldn’t get the film rights to Area 51, apparently) where the government tries to weaponize them, because the Evil Government is Evil.

I can already feel the hatred flowing through me. God that feels good.

To say that Fantastic Four (Or if you’re lobotomized, Fant4stic) had a troubled production would be stating the obvious, at this point. At this point, those of us who tried to remain optimistic were hoping that it would be another case of persevering through adversity, Star Wars and Jaws style.

Well…. That shows what I fucking get for looking on the bright side. It’s all Nietzsche and self-hatred from here on out.

Come at me you beautiful motherfucker. I’m ready for your sweet, sweet nihilism all over me.

One controversial decision was the casting of Michael B. Jordan, a black man, as Johnny Storm, who is traditionally depicted as being a white man. I want to make myself abundantly clear about this: If you give the slightest shit about the Human Torch being black, you are likely racist, and I want you to leave. And if your retort to that is to point out the fact that I wouldn’t want Black Panther being played by a white man, then I strongly suggest euthanasia to avoid contaminating the gene pool further with your stupidity.

Michael B. Jordan isn’t the problem. None of the actors are. Every part is perfectly cast by greatly talented people, and they bring all they possibly can to this movie. In a parallel universe, we would have a FF movie that isn’t apparently being made by brain-damaged chimps with stump hands locked in a room with semi-functional typewriters. In that world, this cast is now being showered with praise instead of, well, I shudder to think of what horrible things are being said about the actors by overly emotional fanboys.

“HEY!!! These people don’t conform with societal expectations of racial dynamics in an American family! KILL THEM!!!”                                        -Idiots

All these supremely talented performers can’t save this movie from the aforementioned chimps with stump hands, though. Here’s an example of the stellar (Paraphrased) dialogue you can find in Fant4stic (Fuck, now I’m doing it):

Victor von Bad enough dude to save the president: “Do you think that maybe  the Earth really deserved to be saved? People are kind of the worst. That’s a conclusion I came to in my nonexistent character development!”

Susan: “Check out Dr. Doom over here!”

I don’t know about you, but I smell an Oscar!

In addition to the piss-poor dialogue and the lack of any character development whatsoever, the characters are bland and nondescript, with the screenwriters reducing their personalities to the faintest possible resemblance of their counterparts from the comics. Reed’s personality? “Smart guy”. Ben’s? “Sad, strong guy.” Johnny? “Angry guy.” Sue? “Girl.”Victor Von Holy shit some names should stay in the Sixties? Well… Let’s go ahead and talk about this bleached asshole of a villain.

God, he looks like the result of a one-night stand between a crash test dummy and C-3PO.

If somebody could please tell me how this snivelling emo loser who suddenly decides to destroy the world (For… Reasons) is supposed to be the pondering, dictatorial badass from the comics, that would be much appreciated.

While you’re at it, can somebody please tell me how this look is supposed to be equal to the comics in terms of awesomeness?

He looks like a blow-up doll made out of ballistics gel.

Dr. Doom isn’t the only thing that looks like shit. The visual effects are worse than any blockbuster movie of this day and age have any right to be. There’s one scene where Reed and Ben teleport a toy plane, and the ensuing flash looks like something made via Windows XP effect.

This game of solitary is more technologically advanced than the effects in Fantastic Four.

There were some complaints about the look of Ben Grimm after his new look was revealed as well, but I actually rather liked it. No one depiction of the thing is going to please everybody, but at least this time, he’s not just a guy in a rubber suit. There are definitely worse character designs out there.

He looks like the deformed son Ultron never told anybody about.

Even if those issues weren’t monumental, which they are, the movie would still be tanked by the fact that it’s a poorly edited, uneven backloaded mess. They should make this movie required viewing at film schools as an example of what to avoid at all costs when editing film. 20th Century Fox’s last-ditch efforts to salvage the mess Trank made and/or micromanage Trank to the point where he allegedly just gave up doesn’t pay off because the movie ambles along at a painfully slow pace, devoting it’s time to clunky character development and the occasional shitty joke. Then, in the last ten minutes or so, the filmmakers realize that “Oh shit! We totally forgot about the climax!” so they bring in Dr. Doom with next to no explanation, and we’re treated to a fight so overblown and lethargic that the audience just does not care anymore. And neither do the actors, for that matter. Reshoots probably don’t do much for your enthusiasm for working on a project.

Also, why do they not need they not need a special suit to survive in the Negative Zone (I’m not calling it fucking Planet Zero) during the climax, but earlier in the movie, they clearly need those suits to survive? And why do I expect logical thinking from the same people who think that Miles Teller and Jamie Bell look like high schoolers.

Overall: Even if it is the worst superhero movie since Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, at least Fant4stic has inspired me to write my own FF screenplay, if only because I’m one hundred percent certain that it wouldn’t end up as badly as this one.

Rating: 2/10

He looks like the Vision wearing a giant, skintight condom.

Whiplash (Movie Review)

“I WANT SPIDER-MAN!!!”

So, after this, I’ve decided that any complaint I may have had about any of my teachers ever was mostly likely frivolous bullcrap.

Seriously, this was rough to watch.

 Whiplash

Directed by: Damien Chazelle

Produced by: Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, Michel Litvak, David Lancaster

Written by: Damien Chazelle

Genre: Drama

Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Austin Stowell

Music by: Justin Hurwitz

Plot: Nineteen-year-old Andrew Neiman has a pretty sweet life. A very talented jazz drummer attending the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory music school, Andrew is currently serving as an alternate (See: backup, essentially), being a first year student, and all. This all changes, however, when Andrew is recruited to the Conservatory’s studio band by acclaimed conductor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). A promotion! Fantastic! All’s good in Neiman-land, right?

Oh boy is it ever not.

While few would hesitate to call Fletcher a dedicated teacher, he is also, in scientific terms, a complete and total asshole. I’ve had teachers swear in class before, but nothing compares to Fletcher’s antics. He screams profanities at his students, berates them viciously for what are really minor mistakes, and even physically abuses them in order to get the best results out of them.

By the way, the way you’re imagining a scene like that playing out in your head? Complete bullshit. I assure you, it’s at least fifty times worse than that. J.K. Simmons as this Fletcher dude is absolutely terrifying. Every single time he appears in a scene, he is accompanied by this super-palpable aura of dread. You can absolutely feel and understand the terror the students feel whenever he appears. And yeah, obviously, this mostly has to do with J.K. Simmon’s masterful performance, but I feel that a lot of it can be credited to Damien Chazelle’s direction, and how he made sure to capture the terrified expressions of the students, and not just the eerily unforgettable presence of a bald Simmons in a tight black shirt, with every vein in his head bulging out to the point that you would worry about him getting a coronary if he wasn’t such a total dick.

By the way, this is unrelated, but this photo sums up the movie nicely.

Also, for the record, this movie has some great music. I know, shocking that a great movie about jazz music would have some great music, but there you have it. Also, kudos to the sound people on this movie for making this music sound so good in the first place.

More credit needs to be heaped upon second-time director Damien Chazelle for his role in this movie, not just as a director, which is a job he clearly excels at (The one action scene in this movie actually got me to exclaim out loud in shock, something I actively try to avoid in non-comedies. Also, that last scene. Holy crap, you guys!!!), but also as a screenwriter. This dude can write characters and dialogue like nobody’s business. The bizarre decision by the Academy to classify Whiplash as an adapted screenplay for reasons I couldn’t care less about could wind up benefiting it, as it no longer has to go up against Birdman (Still my favourite movie of 2014) but instead has to contend with The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game, which are not bad movies by any stretch of the imagination, don’t get me wrong, but they’re definitely easier competition. I dunno, if I was Chazelle, I would be feeling pretty okay about my chances.

Just because I said that, watch fucking American Sniper win it.

If y’all will allow me though, I’d like to double back to the character of Terence  Fletcher, if only because I will keep sucking up to J.K. Simmons until I completely devolve into a blubbering fool. See, while it’s super easy to get sucked into the pure dicketry of the character, the movie does a good job of portraying him as both a ravenous beast of a man, and as, you know, an actual human being who genuinely believes that he is doing the right thing for these kids by psychologically damaging and abusing them in the hopes that he can push them to their full potential, even if it means crossing several lines that even the biggest hardass of a music teacher wouldn’t dare approach, even. Look, I’m not saying I agree with the guy when he does eventually rationalize his actions, I’m just saying you can’t completely disregard his practices as the demented practices of a raving madman. There is supposedly a method to the madness, and if you can momentarily cast a blind eye to the obvious, plentiful drawbacks that this kind of thinking leads to, you can kinda see a method to the madness.

I mean, if you actually emulate him, you’re still a goddamn sociopath. I think that should be clear enough.

With all the much-deserved praise being heaped upon J.K. Simmons, one tends to forget that he is not, in fact, the lead actor of this movie. That would be Miles Teller, an actor who, I must admit, I wasn’t exactly the biggest fan of before seeing this movie. Project X is a terrible movie, 21 & Over isn’t much better, That Awkward Moment doesn’t look good at all and I still haven’t seen The Spectacular Now. So, when people started praising this movie and, by association, him, I was somewhat skeptical, and who could blame me? He was in Project Fucking X. 

So imagine my surprise when he turned out to be one of the best parts of the movie. Miles Teller absolutely kills it in a performance that, much like his co-star’s performance,  needs to be seen firsthand in order to properly do it justice. I, personally, would have expected a lot more Oscar consideration for him, if not a nomination. I also heard that he did all his own drum parts. No idea if that’s true, but if so, that’s pretty damn amazing.

Big fucking deal. I played a mediocre flute in junior high. Beat that, Teller!

Overall: This movie excels in just about every possible way, and is an absolute blast to watch, easily one of the five best movies of 2014.

Rating: 10/10

“You are a worthless, friendless, faggot-lipped little piece of shit whose mommy left daddy when she figured out he wasn’t Eugene O’Neill and who’s now weeping and slobbering all over my drum set like a fucking nine-year-old girl! Now, for the final FATHER FUCKING time… SAY IT LOUDER!”

 You’re welcome for that mental image.