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Fantastic Four, Diary of a Teenage Girl Review; Best Movies We Saw Blind

fantastic four review podcast

This week on the Now Conspiring podcast, I’m joined by Kayla Savage, Adonis Gonzalez, and Maria Garcia as we take an in-depth look at Fantastic Four and whether or not it’s worth watching.

We also review Diary of a Teenage Girl, the latest Kristen Wiig film with newcomer Bel Fowley. Plus, we cover new trailers, the latest box office updates, and all the entertainment news you can consider entertaining. And of course, we read your comments from last week’s show.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is the best movie you saw blind? As in, you had no idea what the movie was about, hadn’t seen a trailer, etc.

Go on…Fantastic Four, Diary of a Teenage Girl Review; Best Movies We Saw Blind

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‘Fantastic Four’ Review — Doomed Expectations

fantastic four review

Fantastic Four feels more like the pilot to a promising TV series than an actual movie. That’s not a really a bad thing, but it’s certainly a deal breaker for most critics and FF fans.

We could talk all day about the troubled production this film has gone through, the obvious reshoots, and how director Josh Trank was fired halfway through and is pretty bitter about it (enough to denounce the film via Twitter before it even came out).

The obvious end of Trank’s career aside, this is a movie that is best enjoyed by audiences who want something a little more fresh from their superheroes. Fantastic Four is a welcome surprise for anyone who thought this year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron was a little overstuffed and overly self-aware. Instead of focusing on spectacle, FF focuses on characters coming of age in a science fiction backdrop.

Weirdly, superpowers are more of an afterthought.

FF is about a group of loners who build a teleportation machine that can take them to a “new dimension.” The journey alters and grants them powers, of which the military is anxious to capitalize on (it makes more sense than the army wanting to weaponize raptors).

fantastic four review

Most of the film is that first part of the story, in which we meet each character and get to know their origins and what motivates them. For this reason, I really enjoyed the first half of the film. It’s tightly written, the eventual villain has a decent arc, and I had fun watching these characters interact in a story that was obviously building up to something great. Only some of it was a bit eye-rolling (the science fair ex machina, for example).

Unfortunately, post-production rewrites sort of gutted the weight of the movie by essentially skipping over the second act. We jump from Act 1 (getting the powers) to Act III (using the powers for one, final showdown). There’s no real buildup or failure/success cycle you’ll find in a good story.

We don’t even get to see how these characters feel about getting superpowers because of a strange time skip. This is ironic considering Trank’s last movie, Chronicle, almost exclusively focused on the fun part of figuring out what it would be like to have superpowers.

TV pilots are typically guilty of these rushed plots. And sure, it all leads toward something that could be great in the future. But the ending is instead too one note to feel earned.

fantastic four review

My theory is that the second act had to be streamlined because it would have felt too familiar. The 2005 Fantastic Four movie already did the “getting our powers and learning how to use them” thing, so this reboot attempted to do something different with these frankly unpopular characters. I can easily see FOX discussing how fans were tired of the incessant Spider-Man reboots repeating the same story and trying to come up with a unique solution for this.

I appreciate the gesture, but it could have been much better executed.

The effects aren’t very memorable, and the action scenes were overall unimpressive. I did enjoy the look and brutality of the Thing, played by Jamie Bell. And my favorite scene (that I wish they extended) was the fight between Reed Richards and his pursuers. Pitting Reed against his future teammates (not just the Thing) would have been a great way to demonstrate how great these powers are. Instead, the movie decided to just tell us because it was getting too long.

I will say that with the exception of Reed and Doom, the look of these characters was good, even great (Human Torch was spot on). Kate Mara’s Sue Storm went the safe route and Miles Teller had way too many scenes where he needed a shave, for example.

fantastic four review

Doom himself does get a chilling scene straight out of a horror flick that is quickly undercut by how goofy he looks, but this can all be compartmentalized into a rushed third act that doesn’t force you to dwell on his character design anyway.

SUMMING UP

This movie will be very polarizing for years to come. Fans who enjoyed enough of the movie to forgive some of its blatant flaws will be met by others who were immediately turned off to the third act. A great example is Iron Man 3, another superhero film I thoroughly enjoyed despite immense backlash for its “twist.”

It’s not saying much, but I consider this the best of the Fantastic Four movies (of which there’s now four). To be fair, I abhor the 2005 and 2007 film. Comparisons aside, FF on its own is something I want to see more of. It’s a mess of a film that could be leading to something superb down the line, though I doubt it will ever get the chance under the weight of its abnormal expectations.

Grade: C+ 

fantastic four review

Extra Credits:

  • I really like how they gave Ben Grimm the idea for “it’s clobbering time.” And it was fun to see more substance and backstory come into play for Johnny Storm, who was overly silly in the last two of these movies.
  • There’s nothing after the credits, and I don’t think FOX is ready to hint at any crossovers with their X-Men and Deadpool movies unless FF is received well. I think this is fine because FF doesn’t seem to fit in a world where mutants live.
  • No Stan Lee cameo. He approved of the Human Torch being cast as an African American, but that wasn’t necessarily a recommendation for the film. He probably wants FF to be folded into the Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point.
  • Look, I get that it would be cool to have FF in the MCU. It would also be cool to have X-Men and Deadpool in the MCU. But the fact is that FOX bought these rights when Marvel was on the outs. They deserve to get a return on their investment, especially since their bailing out of Marvel two decades ago pretty much led to the sacred cow cinematic universe you seem to like so much.

Fantastic Four was directed and written by Josh Trank. It was also written by Simon Kinberg and Jeremy Slater. It stars Miles Teller as Reed Richards, Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm, Kate Mara as Sue Storm, Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm, Toby Kebbell as Victor von Doom, and Reg E. Cathey as Franklin Storm.

 

Will ‘Fantastic Four’ Share a Universe with’ X-Men?’

x-men fantastic four

(Click here to download the episode)

This was an exciting week for the Now Conspiring crew! Maria is off at Sundance watching cool movies, so Adonis and I flew solo. I talked about checking out the teaser a day early at the Fox lot in LA, and Adonis shared what it was like to visit the red carpet premiere for Project Almanac.

Of course, we review the teaser and movie. We talk about the not-so-successful opening weekend for The Loft and Black or White. Stick around for our Movie News segment, where we talk about the latest Marvel casting announcements. And of course, the Netflix Recommendation of the Week will be right after.

Enjoy the show, and please rate us on iTunes if you like Now Conspiring!

Cool things we mentioned:

Marvel’s next super-heroine has been cast!

One of the villains for Captain America: Civil War has been confirmed!

Adonis’s trip the Project Almanac red carpet premiere (with pics!)

Question of the week:

Being the First Fan In The World To See The ‘Fantastic Four’ Teaser.

fantastic four teaser

The ‘Fantastic Four’ Teaser Just Dropped, And It’s Surprisingly Epic:

Simply put, The Fantastic Four is a superhero science fiction movie. And I think it might be the first one…

In the same way I fell in love with the lore behind Panem and Katniss Everdeen, I’m starting to really enjoy this new take on a familiar, but entirely different universe. 

Seriously, the parallels are there. A group of young adventurers with one-in-a-million powers rising above obstacles? Got it.

This is an excerpt from my teaser breakdown of The Fantastic Four, which was released alongside the teaser on Moviepilot. I was the first fan in the world to watch it, or so I was told by 20th Century Fox.

On Monday, I flew to Los Angeles to visit the 20th Century Fox lot. At my side was Aaron Kelly, the Director of Community at MP, along with Andrew Marco, Josh Weinstock, and Britt Frizzell (all MP staff and good friends of mine).

It was a fun time. I met a few of the people in charge of Fox’s marketing, including George Dewey. They invited us to a private screening room (remember, this is Monday afternoon) where we could sit down and watch the teaser a few times.

They didn’t tell me what to say, or lead me into making nice comments about the teaser. The representatives there simply wanted to gauge my reaction. I can’t blame them considering the amount of vitriol surrounding this movie’s sheer existence. They must have been quite curious.

I wrote the breakdown that evening, which was a surprisingly short process. I’m not used to being harshly edited when I write about movies, so what you’re reading above is quite close to the first draft. My breakdown was released in the morning, shortly after the trailer dropped, and to my chagrin, it was retweeted by a few of Fox’s Twitter accounts.

This was definitely a memorable experience, and it makes me excited about this new trend in fan empowerment. Movie studios can only benefit from allowing fans a chance to see how the shawarma is made.

I’ll be sharing more of this experience (and other thoughts on the teaser) on Monday’s episode of Now Conspiring. Also on the show, fellow MP writers, Maria Garcia and Adonis Gonzalez will share their own experiences this week at Sundance and the world premiere of Project Almanac. It’s going to be a great episode.

And yeah, we’ll talk about how you can get the opportunity to do cool things like this, as well.

Fantastic Four Reboot Will Reimagine Doctor Doom as an Internet Troll

dr doom fantastic four reboot

 Sean O’Neal | AV Club

Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four has already promised a more “gritty, grounded” approach to fantasticness, a tone Fox’s comic-book movie hopes to achieve by staying away from the sort of outlandish stories one might find in comic books. In keeping with that, certain adjustments must be made to the characters themselves, giving them new origin stories, making them younger and hotter—and therefore more believable as scientists—and, in the case of villain Doctor Doom, updating them to a more contemporary version of evil.

For example, the old Doctor Doom was the gypsy son of a witch and medicine man who wielded sorcery and science as the ruler of the fictional nation of Latveria. He was a man of unparalleled arrogance who used his skills only to threaten the world. So obviously, in the modern parallel, he’s an asshole on the Internet.

You can’t make this stuff up. Unless you’re Fox, that is.

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