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Awake In The Dark
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Old July 9th, 2005, 12:54 AM   #1
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Fantastic Four

I just came from seeing this movie and thought I'd lay my first impressions down here.

I'm sure most would know the basic premise of the movie: based on a marvel comic book, five people go into space on a scientific exploration and are exposed to an unknown type of cosmic energy. Their DNA is mutated and they soon develop superhuman powers. Four decide to harness their powers for the greater good, while one decides power is meant to be used by the powerful for their own ends.

The film was actually shorter than I expected, given the average superhero movie: I estimate 1 hour and 45 minutes. The story was loosely based on it's comic origin and while I could argue the good and bad of the changes therein, I don't think anyone really ever expects a literal translation or one that goes off without some holes: we are taking for granted the gain of superhuman powers and resulting superhuman acts they can produce.

I thought Fantastic Four was a good movie which was been crafted towards a more family experience, group of friends, etc. It is not really an action oriented film, though are are some points which qualify. There were several examples of good humor throughout and in particular the rivalry/clowning between Johnny Storm/Torch and Ben Grimm/Thing was perfect. Because ths is a team movie with four leads, screen time to really flesh out interactions and relationships between characters was not perfect and I think there could have been far more interaction than there was.

I think the cinematography was good and suited the direction of the movie, though perhaps there could have been a stronger visual style/stamp on the movie - I thought it was a bit non-descript. The sequences were good, the focus was sharp, the colors were pretty good - especially the costumes and skin tone. The texture on the Thing was I think also good and seemed believable. The flying sequences with the Torch was pretty good, though there were some instances where you could get lost.

The CGI was good, though not spectacular, more subtle. The Stretching effect I thought was very good, and the flames. The Invisible Girls' powers were underutilized and I would have preferred a stronger presence from the lone female in the crew.

The acting was solid. Torch, nailed it. Mr. Fantastic, nailed it - though there could have been a better transition from geek to superero. Thing, good job, hard role. Invisible Girl, hmmm...a little weak, but maybe more because of the script, not sure.

Dr. Doom. Nailed it as Victor. Very good performance. As Doc Doom, well I think more a result of the script, but a much weaker performance - it is a comic book after all, but hearing the same voice basically through the mask sorta killed it for me.

How does this compare to other superhero movies I've seen? That's a tough call. This movie tries to be different and I think it succeeds, whether that can translate to audience appeal, I'm not sure. If someone wants a superhero flick with lots of effects and titanic fights they're not gonna get enough of that. What they will get is a superhero flick that they can go to and enjoy with their friends and little kids, but not in a childish way. Definitely it is a direct contrast to Batman Begins which is closer to what one generally expects of a superhero movie. Spider Man and X-men both have FF beat, but those movies were definitely big on action.

I would say there are elements that could have been worked on and definitely the film needed more back story, character development, character interaction, and a more menacing bad guy, who actually only became bad at the almost very end. Perhaps more CGI as well, and I only say that since these guys have powers and that's what makes them Fantastic.

There's more I could say, but I'd like to hear from you guys first. I'd give this movie a B. Solid effort and enjoyable.
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Old July 11th, 2005, 11:38 AM   #2
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To me, it felt like a movie made in 1985, in virtually every way- with the obvious exception of the cgi. The shooting style was very flat and TV like, as was the script. It was cohearent, for the most part, but any current day super hero story that fixates on the origin (very 80's-90's) is going to be less than good. When Jack Kirby and Stan Lee created the FF back in 1963 they did the origin story in something like four comic book pages, and then moved right into another, unconnected adventure. I think they literally could have lifted the story arc of that comic and had a MUCH better movie.
I give it a C.
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Old July 11th, 2005, 11:57 AM   #3
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Fantastic Four

Yeah, I do agree the movie lacked a stronger visual style - and it did seem a bit retro. But, I'm thinking this was probably planned. Marvel had gone on record as saying they wanted a different look to their other films, and that was why they chose Tim Story to direct.

Whether or not it worked out as they wished, I would have preferred a more dramatic style to the movie. Yeah, the story was a bit flat, particularly the climax - just didn't build the suspense or action to a real climax and it was almost an anti-climax to me. More work on the story would definitely have lifted the movie.

What I think works for this movie is the fact it is different and is more - for good or bad - like what one expects of a comic book story. There are always holes in a comic book story! There was definitely an air of humor and fun; not a lot of drama and heavy intellectualism as with Batman Begins.

I said a B because you can go to this movie with your family, friends, little kids included and everyone can have some fun and be entertained.

Not saying there weren't many things that couldn't have been improved, but I don't think this film was trying to be the best superhero movie ever made: just an entertaining one that kids, and others who read comics could see recognizable heroes in.
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Old July 11th, 2005, 12:31 PM   #4
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No offense intended, but I just found it to be remarkably bland. I didn't feel that it was very "different" as you say. Superhero movies that fixate on the origin story are about as far from being different as I can think of.
I think that if you are going to make a genre movie, you should really try to transcend the tropes and cliche's of that genre. Look at the xmen movies, for instance, Professor x gives up the origin of the xmen and, in fact, the entire mutant phenomenon in about three sentances. The first movie isn't even 10 minutes in and you know the nature of the conflict and you've met some characters and the story is moving forward. The FF movie felt like the not very well thought out back story for another movie.
Furthermore, comics are not always poorly written- to say so condenms the work of literally thousands of people who have worked in the form. As for the movies, when I lay down my eight bucks and hand over 2 hours of my life-I do expect a plot without holes, I do expect something original. If the film makers aren't playing to win, they first thing the have lost is my interest, the second is my dollar.

One more thing, the Xmen movies are perfectly acceptable family fare, and they are not bland, not cliched, and they are original and visually interesting- you can indeed have it all, and really shouldn't settle for less with your time or your money.
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Old July 11th, 2005, 12:43 PM   #5
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I haven't seen the FF movie but I have to back up what Michael said about comic stories. Read Alan Moore, Grant Morrison. These are great stories that just happen to be set in fantastic environments.
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Old July 11th, 2005, 02:13 PM   #6
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The original FF comic started out with the news broadcast about the attacking mole people. No kidding. One by one, you meet the 4 characters as they find out of the attack, and start off towards the trouble. The origin and background of these characters is learned through flashback sequences. Doom comes in down the road a few issues.

As with the rest of the movies, the story and character are changed a bit for the big screen. In some movies, they give the character "Daddy issues".

Overall, I enjoyed the movie, and so did my two boys-4 and 7. I just missed a couple of elements, such as the Yancey Street gang, the Landlady, and Ben Grim's diehard Brooklyn personality. Mr.Fantastic was a bit... dull and lifeless? Still, a good movie with plenty of laughs and action.
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Old July 11th, 2005, 02:21 PM   #7
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Fantastic Four

Hey.

No offense taken. I do understand your points, and actually I do agree with you on many things you've said. I was only making a distinction between the movies currently being made that have comic book originated material.

As for Origin Movies, really that is all Batman Begins is. For all it's much praised critical appeal, I personally found many plot holes within it. I'm only saying, Fantastic Four took another perspective on the "comic book movie" genre, which seems to have become as predictable as any other genre.

For example Sin City; not many people descried it's total lack of story credibility since most were caught up with it's visuals and the fact it was HD but, seriously that movie had many weak points, bad dialogue and superficial characters. Not to mention the total lack of a believable world the story takes place within, but you could argue that the film makers wanted people to know it was not real - many of my friends I forced to see that movie felt cheated out of a movie. But, in film anyone can say this or that was the intended effect - it's called artistic license.

With that said, I think their intention was to make a movie with a difference. Whether or not that aim was achieved is not something I'm going to say happened, since I also felt disappointed about many things within the movie - see my first post.

But, I give them kudos for tying to be different. I also think X-men was a great movie for all audiences, but there were cliches.

As for comics in general, I've been reading them for over 20 years and to be honest, I've read everything from early 40s comics to modern day comics - I have a friend with a personal collection that spans that time period. I'm also a writer (poetry, shorts, working on feature/screenplays) and currently I'm a film student. So, when I say I see many holes in the comics I read that does not mean I do not appreciate the better stories or the art form in general: Dark Knights Returns, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Powers, Invisibles, Groo, etc.) I'm also a collector of Spider Man comics myself.

So, it's not that I don't agree with you, either of you, I just prefer to give the movie the benefit of the doubt for going in a different direction that most people would have gone in. It film makers didn't take chances - even ones that suck - we would lose a lot of creativity, innovation and appreciation for those movies that DON"T suck.

Feel free to disagree, it's more fun that way anyways, and we all learn more that way :-)
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Old July 11th, 2005, 02:30 PM   #8
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Funny thing is, I liked Batman Begins, but Batman's psyche is wrapped up in his origin in a way that doesn't exist for most superheros. The murder of Bruce Wayne's parents and his subsequent handling of it over the course of his youth is far, far more character relavant than watching Peter Parker get bit by a radioactive spider. So where, I agree that Batman begins was an origin story- the sory itself, was, unlike the FF movie, an exploration of the film's central character.

On another note, I didn't Feel that the FF came off as heroic- I mean really all they do is help minimize an accident situation that one of their members created to begin with, and thier other moment of "heroism" is defeting Doom, and, in the film, they are pretty much responsible for his creation as well. So really all they do is make a mess and clean part of it up. Also the time spent on fame/hassle aspect of their lives seems wasted to me- hell, I can read people magazine or watch ET for that kind of stuff.


Oh, and Reed should have been a supremely confident character, as he is in the comics- it is what gives his failure in space meaning.


I guess my main beef with your argument is your insistence that the movie is original. I found it staid and really predictable (never at any time did I think," I wonder where this is going."), which seem to me to be the opposite of original. For example. the villian created as a result of one of the hero's actions seems a bit used to me too. It's all over tim burton's Batman movies, for instance. Oh and just to be clear, I did not say the xmen movies were without cliche, I said the movies themselves were not cliches.
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Old July 11th, 2005, 11:07 PM   #9
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I do agree with your reasoning but to explain a bit about what I meant by different direction, not so much "original," is that it's become par for the course with Comic Book Movies to be all action - even Batman Begins gets like that towards the end. And I did like Batman Begins - though I was disappointed about several aspects of that movie (see the Batman Begins Thread for my thoughts on it). The Fantastic Four movie tried for more humor and less action, a different path. I do however heartly support your points of criticism. The story really needed some work and the screenplay was definitely weak.

As to the Tim Burtonism, Batman Begins actually, in my opinion, made it seem as if Batman only came into being because of Ducard/Ra's and through no ultimate plan of Bruce Wayne's - a major condradiction of the exact pain and sense of helplessness young Bruce would have felt on his parents murder - not to mention the Batman Mythos. And to add injury to insult, remember Ducard/Ra's also said Bruce's parents were killed as a result of plans by his shadow organization, but I digress. The exact same thing is present in many movies, so I don't think we should be too hard on FF if it follows suit - perhaps it was less well done or sucessfully brought off, etc.

The fame aspect is a well documented part of FF comic book lore, though it happens later on. It does kinda make sense though - if you got fab powers wouldn't you want to be rich and famous because of them? In today's reality tv driven media society, I can't see a person not feeling like that and going for it.

Sorry if I misunderstood your comment about the Xmen movies, though I disagree slightly about the movies not being cliches, especially since the Token Black character, Storm, had the weakest role in both movies and the whole career military soldier turning bad has been done to death (X2).

Again, feel free to disagree, just wanted to be sure I wasn't being obtuse about my reasons for giving the movie some kudos for "trying" something different; it was an ok movie - not great, not exciting, not blockbuster, but entertaining and fun.
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Old July 12th, 2005, 12:01 PM   #10
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Well I got the impression from the prison sequence at the beginning of Batman Begins that Bruce was honing himself for the role he would eventually fill, and that his encounter and training with Ras merely helped him along the way- as opposed to setting him on the path.
As for the FF movie, I think we will have to agree to disagree. :)
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Old July 12th, 2005, 08:23 PM   #11
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Sounds good to me, :-)
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Old July 13th, 2005, 10:07 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Gibbons
As for the movies, when I lay down my eight bucks and hand over 2 hours of my life-I do expect a plot without holes, I do expect something original.
My sentiments exactly. There are far too many big-budget movies out there nowadays--particularly comic book based movies--with gaping plot holes and zero originality.

Maybe I'm just expecting too much. :-)
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Old July 13th, 2005, 10:09 AM   #13
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Unfortunatel, it is the studios that have the final word. We all know they are far from genius status, but they have the money and hate to let any of it go.
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Old July 15th, 2005, 05:26 PM   #14
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I enjoyed this movie. It wasn't the "best of" anything, but it didn't need to be. I found it entertaining without the pretense of a lot of other superhero movies these days, and was worth my $9.

Sometimes I just want mindless fun - and this movie obliged. I'd even appreciate it if they made a sequel in the same vein.

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Old August 24th, 2005, 07:58 AM   #15
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I tried to read Fantastic Four comics when I was younger but the characters were boring.

Never make a movie about boring characters.
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