Friday, July 08, 2005

Fantastic Fun

Peter David, famous comic, novel, and television writer has finally given his review of the Fantastic Four movie out this Saturday to the masses. But don;t read this shit if you don't want to read spoilers, you tools! Check it out:

In the interest of full disclosure, I will state what most of you already know: I wrote the novelization of "Fantastic Four." So obviously it's to my benefit for the film to do well. Anyone who feels that linkage to the film colors my opinion can disregard it as he or she sees fit.


Just came back from the FF screening in the city. I heard a number of adults crabbing about how terrible it was, and I was left wondering whether they saw the same film I did. I then asked every kid I could find who was in attendance what they thought of it, and kids of (literally) all ages loved it. Girls liked Sue Storm, boys grooved on the Thing and, particularly, the Human Torch. No one loved Reed. But, hey, what else is new?

Whatever you're expecting in terms of the more mature angle that comic book films have taken, be it "Batman Begins," "Sin City," or even the sophistication of enjoy "Fantastic Four," you simply have to set the wayback machine in your mind back to when comic books (and movies thereof) were mostly cornball fun. Think "Superman" but without the camp. Some mild spoilers follow:

It's a well-made film with some wince-worthy dialogue that you then realize could have (and possibly did) come straight out of Silver Age FF, and a lot of sequences that just nail the entire squabbling-yet-loving family nature of the FF. The film is at its best when it keeps it small. The character interactions, the throwaway casual uses of their powers. Johnny's tormenting of Ben, including a hilarious practical joke while the Thing is sleeping. And you sit there and say, "That's the FF."

When it goes big, there are stumbles. The main problem centers on Doctor Doom. My concern was not that they changed Victor Von Doom from a Latverian monarch to a corporate douche bag. My concern is that Von Doom blames Reed Richards for the accident that essentially ruined Von Doom's life. In the comic book, this blame is misplaced. In the film, it's not. That Von Doom goes bonkers as a result doesn't change the fact that Reed really IS responsible. I'll grant you, that's consistent with the comic in that Ben blames Reed for rushing them into space without the proper shielding in place. But the thrust of the comic isn't Ben trying to kill Reed as a consequence. In this case, the FF isn't battling a supervillain so much as they are doing damage control, cleaning up after the mess the themselves made (or at least that Reed made).

But there's more than enough in the film to make it worthwhile nevertheless. The Thing should defnitely be seen on a big screen, because all the cries of "Foam rubber" were misplaced. Between the acting, the sound effects, and a few CGI boosts, you'll believe a man can be made out of rock. And the must-see of the film remains the Human Torch. Basically he's an exuberant jackass, but hey, again, that's Johnny. That he's not callow doesn't bother me. After all, he grew up and married a Skrull in the comics, so why not just start with him as the older model? Instead of being a teen and thus expected to be a jerk, he's a guy who refuses to grow up. Johnny Storm with the ultimate in Peter Pan syndrome considering he really DOES learn to fly.

Several key scenes were in the script but not in the film, which would have topped two hours had they been there. These include an entire sequence with Ben attending a soiree at Alicia's art gallery, and Johnny running afoul of a football star and his date at a singles bar. I'll be interested to see if they show up back in the eventual DVD release, as they were excellent scenes (although admittedly they didn't advance the plot much.)

Bottom line, go in expecting a hip, up-to-date rethinking and redefining of the FF, and you're largely going to be disappointed. Expect a reasonably faithful (Von Doom issues aside) translation of the style, spirit and stories of the Silver Age of comics, and you'll have a great time.

Thanks, PAD.




Blogger MagiFeller said...

Usually a comic book film is made with the aesthetics of the general public in mind. Hip, cool, and updated.

Comic book geeks are a niche, and even if each fanboy saw his favorite movie three times it still wouldn't equal the general mass of movie goers.

So most of the time movies pander to the masses first while making attempts to satisfy the comic fans (lest the full fury of the internet fall upon them).

Finally, a film is made with the inverse in mind. Something with a heart of silver(age).

(Doom issues aside...)

How much you want to bet most of the comic fans bitch anyway?

Some people always do...

Of course, I liked the DareDevil movie so there goes my credibility...

11:31 AM  
Blogger MagicMafia said...

Your credibility's as good as gold; I enjoyed DD and Punisher as well...

I'll be giving my review soon.

Thanks for reading.

4:16 PM  

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