Aug. 11th, 2015

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
First, I really like CHRONICLE. As "real world teens get superpowers" movies go, it is in my opinion, one of the best. Plus the climactic battle is just phenomenal. THIS is what superheroes and supervillains fighting would be like, and the collateral damage is amazing (and terrifying). it's a great film.

I didn't know until just a few days ago that the guy who did that film directed (or started directing, apparently) Fantastic Four. I don't know if he's in the right, or he was the problem, or (more likely) it was a colossal cluster____ to which he and the studio contributed in equal measures.

What I do know, is that the primary reason (in my opinion) why the earlier FF movies did only okay (though they did do okay) and this one tanked is that the folks in charge were unwilling to commit to making a COMIC BOOK movie. That is, in my opinion, why Marvel has succeeded so well. Yes, they make changes to the costumes, to the backstory, and so forth to make them look better and to appeal to a wider audience*, but they're making movies about COMIC BOOK SUPERHEROES and they don't pretend otherwise.

Guy builds a suit of powered armor in a cave out of scraps? Yes.

Superscience turns a 1940s weakling into a superman? Yes.

And he is frozen in ice for decades then brought back? Yes!

Norse God shows up with huge pecs and huger hammer. Yes!

They have a flying helicarrier? YES!

Look, the very idea of a heli-carrier is preposterous. It would be easy laugh at it. It's easy for movie execs to FEAR that people will laugh at it, and thus veto it or water it down into something "believable" (for Hollywood versions of same). But Marvel COMMITS. They showed us the full-fledged, exactly-as-imagined helicarrier taking flight and they do it without backpedalings or embarrassment. This is what comic fans came to see and they are by god going to show it to us. And even the non-comic fans are mostly going to think, "wow, that's so cool--impossible, of course, but really ,really cool."

Which is exactly the reaction they have to the zillions of impossible (but cool) fights/stunts/car chase scenes in standard action movies. But only Marvel seems to understand that you can elicit the same buy-in from moviegoing audiences if you commit to the superhero story the same way. (And even Marvel had to learn. There are a fair number of low-budget, truly execrable Marvel superhero movies--even tv-movies--over the last few decades. Partly that was due to shoestring budgets and laughable costumes and sfx...but that was also due in part to a lack of commitment. It was a vicious circle that took some serious cojones--and money--to break. But Marvel did.)

Fox seemed to understand it when they did the first two X-Men movies. Yes, they swapped out the yellow spandex for black leather, but otherwise? Scott Summers had actual eyebeams. Wolverine's ginormous adamantium claws were just as cool in live-action as they were in the comics. Rogue's ability to steal powers (not the most photogenic power out there) worked well in the story. Rebecca Romjin's Mystique was incredibly fun too. Plus, of course, they had Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan to give the move some much needed gravitas.

And they didn't shy away from the whole comic-book notion of evolution. "Mutant" means "person with naturally-occurring superpowers" and that's just how it is. Like the heli-carrier, it makes no sense in the real world. That's not how the world really works. But that's how it works in THEIR world, and they weren't embarrassed to tell a story in that world. If that doesn't make all the difference, it makes the lion's share.

But when it comes to the Fantastic Four (especially this reboot), they seemed to shy away from giving us the Fantastic Four we've known in the comics for decades. They shuffle their feet, hem and haw, and are clearly embarrassed by the story they want to tell--and it shows. No matter how much extra action and how many SFX shots they add.

*They have to. The audience for a "hit" comic book" is a miniscule fraction of the audience you need to make a successful motion picture.

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sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
sinanju

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