Tag Archives: fantastic four

Straight Outta Compton Takes First for the Third Week in a Row

Straight Outta ComptonThe competition was rather week, which had Straight Outta Compton easily sail to keep first place at the weekend box-office. The film has been in first place for three weeks in a row, in what shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. It was a slow weekend though with an estimated $68.8 million earned by the top 12 films, and that’s 22% lower than last year’s $88.2 million, and even that was an off year.

Straight Outta Compton earned an estimated $13.2 million which kept it number one, beating out War Room which earned around $11 million. In third place was another debut, No Escape, which did escape with an estimated $10.3 million. That bumped Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation into fourth.

In comic and geek related movie news, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was in sixth place with an estimated $4.4 million. Hitman: Agent 47 has already been assassinated earning just $3.9 million in its second week. Jurassic World keeps eating dollars adding $3.1 million to its impressive totals. Minions keeps multiplying adding $2.9 million to its domestic total. Ant-Man came in at tenth earning $3.1 million. Fantastic Four continues with a non-fantastic earning, bringing in $1.7 million. The Diary of a Teenage Girl added $425,000 to its total. And finally Terminator: Genisys brought in $190,000.

For the year, Jurassic World reigns supreme domestically having earned $643.1 million. Avengers: Age of Ultron is second with $457.5 million. Furious 7 is third with $351 million. Inside Out is fourth with $344.5 million, and Minions is fifth with $324.8 million.

Worldwide grosses are the same movies, but a different order. Jurassic World rules with $1.6367 billion. Furious 7 is second with $1.5117 billion. Avengers: Age of Ultron is third with $1.4013 billion. Minions has crossed the billion line and stands currently at $1.0189, and  Inside Out is fifth with $702.5 million.

Straight Outta Compton Stays on Top of the Charts

Straight Outta ComptonFacing weak competition, Straight Outta Compton remained in the top spot at the weekend box-office for the second week in a row. The film earned an estimated $26.76 million to stay in first place. The film’s total domestic gross currently stands at $111.5 million. The film hasn’t earned much of anything overseas, my guess is it hasn’t opened yet, if it will.

Repeating in second place was Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation which added $11.7 million to its total to bring itself to $157.8 million domestically after four weeks. In foreign markets the film has earned $280.8 million to bring its worldwide total to $438.6 million.

Other big debuts this week was Sinister 2 which came in third and earned an estimated $10.6 million, the video game based reboot Hitman: Agent 47 which earned $8.2 million for fourth, and American Ultra which earned $5.5 million to place sixth.

The other major holdover was The Man From U.N.C.L.E. which in its second week came in fifth and earned $7.4 million to bring its domestic total to a meager $26.6 million. The film has earned $26 million in foreign markets so far.

In other comic related movie news, Ant-Man added $4.1 million to its domestic total to come in eighth and bring its domestic earnings to $164.5 million. The film has also earned $196.5 million in foreign markets to bring its total to $361 million. While the film has likely made a profit with a budget of $130 million, it trails other Marvel Cinematic films to be the second worst earner just ahead of The Incredible Hulk. The film has a chance to move past Captain America: The First Avenger before it’s done, but it’ll be close.

Minions continues to rake in the money adding another $3.7 million to its domestic total. The film stands at $319.965 million domestically and is just shy of crossing the billion dollar mark worldwide. It sits at $989.365 million. If it does, it’ll be the fourth film this year to do so.

Fantastic Four continues its spiral into the negative zone (ie how much money it stands to lose when it’s all over). The film added $3.65 million to bring its domestic total to $49.6 million and worldwide total to $130.4 million.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl in its third week continues to expand the number of theaters it’s in. The film is now in 69 theaters and earned $180,000. The film has earned an estimated $425,000 at the domestic box office. It was purchased for $2 million at Sundance.

The yearly box office ranks hasn’t changed from last week. Jurassic World remains in the top spot domestically and has earned $639.568 million. Avengers: Age of Ultron is second with $457.4 million, Furious 7 is third with $351 million, Inside Out is fourth with $342.4 million and Minions is in fifth at $319.965 million.

Worldwide things are similar in rankings with slight differences. Jurassic World is still on top with $1.6229 billion, Furious 7 is second with $1.5117 billion, Age of Ultron is third with $1.4012 billion, Minions is fourth with $989.4 million, and Inside Out is fifth with $689.9 million.

Straight Outta Compton Tops Chart, Man From U.N.C.L.E. Stumbles

Straight Outta ComptonStraight Outta Compton ruled the weekend box-office coming in at number one with an impressive estimated earning of $56.1 million. It knocked Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation out of the top spot into second place where it added an estimated $17 million to its total. Another high profile debut, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. didn’t fair so well, earning just $13.535 million for its first week at the domestic box-office.

Straight Outta Compton looks to have debuted as the sixth best August opening of all time, and adds to a stellar year for its distributor Universal which has crossed the $2 billion mark at the box-office on Saturday. It beats the previous record holder Warner Bros. by four months. They hit that mark December 25, 2009.

When it comes to comic movies Fantastic Four dropped to fourth, losing 68.9% from the previous week. While that might seem like a lot, it’s not the worst for a movie headlined by a Marvel character. Elektra, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Hulk all did worse. Fantastic Four added $8 million to its total to bring its domestic earning up to $41.96 million. The film has earned $102.1 million worldwide so far.

Ant-Man was in sixth place adding an estimated $5.5 million to its domestic total. The film has earned $157.6 million domestically and $336.5 million worldwide. The film still sits in second to last as far as earnings for Marvel Cinematic Universe films.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl which is based off a graphic novel expanded its opening to 22 theaters and earned $112,000. The film earned a lot of buzz at Sundance and was purchased by Sony Pictures Classics for $2 million. The film has earned a total for $195,000 so far in its two weeks.

For the yearly totals, Jurassic World still reigns supreme. The film is at the top of the domestic box-office grosses with $637.9 million. It’s still earning a decent chunk, so that number has a ways to go before it’s done. It’s followed by Avengers: Age of Ultron in second with $457.2 million, Furious 7 in third with $351 million, Inside Out in fourth with $339.4 million and Minions rounds out the top five with $313 million.

The worldwide grosses are a little different with Jurassic World still on top with $1.6062 billion, and Furious 7 in second with $1.5117 billion. Avengers: Age of Ultron has earned $1.3988 billion to be in third place. Minions is fourth with $957.5 million, and Inside Out is fifth with $639.5 million.

Movie Review: Fantastic Four (2015)

4536588-character+bannerAs an avid comic book reader, I was never fond of the Fantastic Four (established 1961), sure they have some compelling space story lines, but I always felt they worked better in a larger spectrum with other Marvel characters (in the comics). Whether it is Reed geeking out with his other science bros like Tony Stark (Iron Man), Dr Hank Pym (Ant Man) and Peter Parker (Spider-Man) or when the Thing takes (or at least tries) on the Hulk or Invisible Woman/ Sue Storm aka Sue Richards having an undeniable chemistry with Namor (Marvels version of Aquaman) or Logan (Wolverine), these four characters (including Johny Storm aka Human Torch) just together living as a family never really interested me much. Well except for the exception of their main antagonist Dr Doom (IGN ranked him as #4 on best villains of all time). But yet as a huge fan of the super hero genre, it is disappointing to see how despite millions of fans (and story lines),  the Fantastic Four have never seen a good big screen adaptation.

There was a movie in 1994 made by Roger Corman (king of the B-Movies), which was never released. It was only made to secure rights for a friend, and is stuff of pure cinema legend and sought out by cult film fanatics. If you’ve seen any YouTube clips of it, you know it’s terrible (Update: the movie has found its way online). Let’s fast forward to 2005, where the guy who made the Barbershop movies, director Tim Story, was given the opportunity to make a Fantastic Four movie. If you can recall it, you’d remember it was pretty enjoyable, yet Jessica Alba was really the only memorable thing from the movies, or at least the most talked about. Nevertheless, the film was a box office success enough to guarantee a 2007 sequel Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer which was pretty awful. Fantastic Four is one of those Marvel properties that has yet to be turned over to Marvel itself, and is still owned by 20th Century Fox, which is unfortunate, because that studio still has no clue what it’s doing with this franchise.

That brings us up to date with 2015’s reboot directed by Josh Trank. Trank‘s only other credit was the awesome “found footage” superhero film Chronicle, but supposedly Trank is very difficult to work with, which is why he was booted off the upcoming Star Wars film. Whatever good Chronicle had going for it is non-existent here with Fantastic Four and seems like it’s one long set up for something yet to come. Right from the production and the casting (controversial casting of Michael B Jordan, an African-American actor in an essential white role), the film has been making news for all the wrong reasons.

fantastic-four-the-thingI think the first major clue for me that this movie was doomed (no pun intended) was, the first trailer itself! A super hero film trailer which was not exciting! Even duds like Elektra and Ghost Rider had better looking trailers. Another major clue for me that this movie was doomed was its running time of 100 minutes. Why? Because when you have a film like this – a reboot, where it has to introduce various new characters, set them up and a new premise/universe, the movie isn’t going to be an hour and a half long. It’s going to be two hours. Those extra twenty to thirty minutes can make a difference. For the record, the first two Fantastic Four movies had around the same running time. The original film was only six minutes longer. But that movie wasn’t the best one, either.

I’m reminded myself of X-Men. X-Men was a great movie. It had a similar running time, but not the same task, as it wasn’t a reboot, well kinda. Yet as the first installment in a franchise, it did a fantastic job at setting things up. Yet, with Josh Trank at the helm and a talented cast of Miles Teller (who was awesome in Whiplash last year), Kate Mara (exceptional in Netflix‘s House of Cards), Michael B Jordan (brilliant in Fruitvale Station) and Jamie Bell (excellent in TURN: Washington’s Spies), I wanted to give this film a chance despite the wide-spread negative reviews pounding the internet. In my opinion, it’s not as bad as the reviews are pointing it out to be, in the sense it’s not ‘the worst superhero film.’ Did everyone forget Batman & Robin, Elektra, Hulk, Iron Man 2 and Catwoman?

This is a film very much out of time and place in today’s market of superhero movies. Ten or fifteen years ago a studio might have been able to get away with it but not today. Audiences like to be entertained and with the competition offering much more excitement, I don’t see audiences taking to this, at all.  The film’s plot really shows potential and it does manage to have some great moments, but it just takes too much time to become interesting, long enough to make us not care.

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 21.15.06The story follows young genius, Reed Richards, who at the beginning of the film, working on an experiment that attempts to construct a teleportation device. It was hardly a success as the object they’ve sent to who-knows-where, never returned. Seven years later, now teenage Reed (Miles Teller) is again trying his luck on the same experiment. The attempt yields a better result but is still dismissed as a magic trick by his high school teacher, but not by Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey), who at that moment, is drawn with utter interest to Richard’s experiments. The meeting brings Richard’s feet to Baxter Institute where he is joined by Storm’s adopted daughter, Sue (Kate Mara), his son, Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), and his ex protegé Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), to work in completing a larger and more advanced version of Richard’s device. The success of their effort prompts their team to send all four of them to their target alternate universe, but the consequence is far worse than they could imagine.

It’s easy to dismiss Trank‘s Fantastic Four as an unfortunate victim of superhero fatigue that emerges in the wake of the continuous influx of superhero movies inundating the big screen, but you can’t shrug off its fatal narrative flaws that include unfocused pace and bland character developments. The latter may have been completely covered by the actors playing the two-dimensional characters, but ex-positional defects keep sending them to becoming something the audience might find hard to care about. Perhaps its the ill-contrived rationales behind how all the often-sense-deprived proceedings work, that keeps the film constructing a form, worth-of- attention, or the forced CGI-gimmicks that strip the sense off the moment’s supposedly strong sentiments, that hampers its spectators’ ability to absorb its message, and thus, feel that the dangers these characters are about to face, is real. Either way, it’s difficult to care, much less find reasons why we still should.

The running time really is a problem. This film is rushed beyond belief and its plot is nonsensical. The characters’ introductions are decent enough, particularly the Fantastic Four, but their roles throughout the rest of the film are disconcerted. Exposition can be tiring, but after the exposition ended and the action was supposed to pick up – it didn’t. Second, the plot. As I said above, the film’s plot seemed interesting. It had potential and it looked like it could go somewhere, especially considering how superhero movies nowadays have managed to flesh out their stories and make them very enjoyable.

FantasticFour_1There are even hints at awesome things to come at certain points. But the film’s in shambles. You hope and feel it will go somewhere, but in its hour and a half running time, it feels so empty. One of the reasons for that is the third thing, the writing. The writing isn’t good – the film’s climactic conflict feels backed up into the end of the movie, because there wasn’t enough time to set it up. The writing caused the pacing to be terrible – transitions between scenes weren’t good and some scenes either went on for too long or were far too short. Speaking of “things”, The Thing is entirely CGI. No make-up, costume or anything – just a giant, naked rock monster. Yes, he’s naked, too. Not even any shorts. Huh. But yet, in his shortest screen time, he will probably be the only thing you remember.

Did I talk about Doom? I don’t get it why can’t FOX just stick to his comic book origins? It may sound a bit flashy, but its anything better than what they have been providing us with. Sure the Doom here is way more efficient & creepy than the previous films, but what is with him being this dis grunted blogger, and shouldn’t they have mentioned he is going to appear on-screen for only five minutes or so. Doom makes an unsurprising return here as their common enemy, driven by a fusion of body and alien matter to cause global destruction and around whose defeat to ensure the survival of planet Earth becomes a rallying call for the team to unite despite their differences. It is one of the dullest and most unexciting finales we’ve seen in a Marvel movie, not least for the fact that it doesn’t know how to collectively bring together their superpowers except in a tag-team fashion to distract their opponent.

There’s probably some salvageable remnants left in Fox‘s previous attempts to bring one of Marvel’s most popular superhero team to the big screen. That’s maybe what Fox thinks in pushing this new adaptation, given how franchises keep being rebooted and resurrected these days, assuming either lighter or darker takes, to pull away themselves from the shadows of their previous (most often, forgettable) forms. The latter is more evident with this film, as Director Josh Trank, puts a darker spin to it, employing a grittier feel to its plot. While that is true and recognizable, there’s no denying of its desperate efforts to emulate its Marvel predecessors. Trank‘s intention of emphasizing the tension within the quartet is evident and admirable, but is ultimately undone by a script that doesn’t develop it in any substantive manner. Worse still, it leaves an audience looking for visual spectacle severely wanting, that not even a very busy third act manages to salvage. The way the characters get their powers is more interesting and more realistic, and the team is assembled, but they skip any kind of training montage to a single display of their abilities which are not yet honed, we skip all that to introduce the main villain. He is majorly overpowered for reasons unknown, but the action finally begins, only for the movie to end after the first and only super showdown.

On the whole, Fantastic Four is a not so fantastic effort to build a franchise! Despite a likeable cast, a weak story,  a cringe worthy script & average special effects, the film turns out to be one of the most disappointing films I have seen all year. To be honest I was really enjoying the movie until the end and it straight up didn’t deliver after making us get to know these characters, and making us wait to see the good stuff! I don’t think this ‘franchise’ needs to crossover into any other universe, be it preferably Marvel and not X-Men, as it’s got enough potential to hold its own, and I’d give a sequel a chance because it’s a step in the right direction, which is still scheduled for a release on June 2017.

Overall Rating: 4.5

Director – Josh Trank
Starring – Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 100 minutes

Fantastic Four Gets Clobbered

Fantastic Four movie posterThe negative reviews, and negative buzz surrounding the latest reboot for Fox‘s Fantastic Four likely did in the film. The move was estimated to take first and earn around $40 million for the weekend, but the film actually came in second and was estimated to have earned a poor $26.2 million. Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation held on to first place adding an estimated $29.4 million to its haul.

Fantastic Four is probably done for the summer after its first weekend with a piss poor C- Cinemascore. To compare, Pixels earned a B. Pretty much, unless the film blows up huge overseas, the film will be a loss for Fox.

In other superhero movie news, Ant-Man added an estimated $7.83 million to its total. The film has now earned $326.3 million worldwide in its four weeks. Unadjusted for inflation the film is the second worse film in the Marvel Cinematic universe as far as earnings. It beats just The Incredible Hulk. It may move up a post before it finishes though….

So far this year, domestically (and internationally) Jurassic World is on top so far. The film is the domestic box office champ for the year so far earning $635,627,000 so far. Avengers: Age of Ultron is in second place with $456,942,727, Furious 7 has earned $351,032,910 and is in third, and Inside Out has earned $335,375,000 and is in fourth.

Worldwide, Jurassic World has earned $1.5812 billion to be in first, Furious 7 is in second with $1.5117 billion, Avengers: Age of Ultron has earned $1.3984 billion for third, and Minions is fourth with $912.6 million.

Fantastic Four: When A Director Loses His Faith In His Own Movie

The latest entry into the superhero movie genre was released this week: the Josh Trank directed Fantastic Four staring Miles Teller as Reed Richards, Kate Mara as Sue Storm, Micheal B. Jordan as Johnny Storm and Jamie Bell as the ever lovin’ blue eyed Thing. The movie is taking a bit of a beating critically, and nobody seems to want to see it. Now, before you read any further I have yet to see the new Fantastic Four movie, so be aware that this is all based on observation. Until I do see the movie I won’t comment on it’s quality, but it’s hard not to be aware of the reviews as they’ve been coming in.

To say that the reviews have been pretty unflattering would be an incredible understatement, but that’s not the harshest criticism of the movie I’ve seen this week.

Apparently still better than the 2015 movie. Fan made post from

Apparently still better than the 2015 movie.
Fan made post from NiteOwl94

Granted, according to Rotten Tomatoes, it is the worst Fantastic Four movie that has been released. That includes the 1994 version that had a budget of about $1 million dollars and was never released to theaters or home media (it was made just so the rights holder wouldn’t loose the movie rights – sort of like the 2015 one), and the two previous offerings from 2005 and 2007 which are universally considered pretty bad. Now while I felt that the 2005 movie was somewhat underrated, I wasn’t that critical of the sequel, either – it’s cheesy, unintentionally funny but it’s certainly no Incredibles. The 2015 iteration had a lot to live up to, not because the previous movies were great, but precisely because they weren’t. In the current comic book movie age where superhero films are rarely ever out of the theater, Fantastic Four had some lofty heights to reach in order to stand with the likes of The Avengers and Guardians Of The Galaxy. 

While the film has been mired in controversy for the best part of two years, from some fans crying foul about the casting choices, others raging at some questionable story choices regarding a certain Russian hacker – sorry, Dr. Doom – and the Thing being naked in the few trailers that were released, one could be forgiven for thinking that all the movie had to do to garner fan acclaim was simply be average. From all accounts, however, it isn’t.

But when the director of the 2015 movie releases this tweet (that has since been taken down) it doesn’t exactly encourage me to ignore the reviews and rush to the cinema.tranktweet

Josh Trank released a fantastic found footage style movie, Chronicle, that is essentially an origin story for a superhero. It’s a brilliant film, and it shows that when Mr Trank has more creative freedom than the studio was allegedly willing to give him then he will produce a movie that is stylistically wonderful, has an intelligent approach to a genre that makes millions and was enjoyed by all that have seen it. If you’re not one of those who have seen it, then you can probably still find it on Netflix. From what I’ve heard about Fantastic Four, Chronicle is by far a better way to spend an evening.

The thing is, though, is that when a director tweets what is both an apology for a movie that is getting critically beaten, and an attack on what I assume is the studios interference in his project it does more harm than the reviews could ever do.

When a director has no faith in his movie, why should you?

Also posted on Ramblings Of A Comics Fan

What Could Be Expected in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

After its initial success with Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America and Thor, Marvel Studios quickly realized that it had a formula for success on its hands and seemed ready to take advantage of it.  To do so though required a plan, and studio head Kevin Feige soon had broken down the movies into various phases, with the most recent Ant-Man signaling the end of phase 2.  Aside from the developments inside the movies, there have been some developments outside the movies which have affected the universe as well, chief among those the partial reversion of the rights to Spider-Man back to Marvel, or at least the use of Spider-Man inside the shared universe in a collaboration with Sony.

At the moment, we kn ow the entire lineup for phase 3, starting with Captain America: Civil War and continuing through two new Avengers movies and the Inhumans.  What might be expected in the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?  The release of the newest Fantastic Four might signal some of the changes which we can anticipate ahead (there are some spoilers below).

Ant-Man and Wasp

waspMany expected Ant-Man to be one of the bigger disappointments thus far in the MCU, due to its ongoing problems with the direction, after it passed from Edgar Wright to Peyton Reed.  It seemed as though the studio was not going to take any risks with the character as they could not even confirm his role in any future movies.  This presumably will all change now that the movie has been released.  Although it can’t compare to the financial success of the year’s other Marvel movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, it also is noteworthy as being a better critical success, with a better rating at Rotten Tomatoes than Avengers.  With both financial and critical success it seems as though there will be more to come from these characters.  As was hinted at the end of the movie, there is still a lot of story left to tell as well, as the end hinted that Janet van Dyne might not be truly lost.  Furthermore Hope van Dyne was presented with a Wasp suit by her father.  There could be a lot of places to take the story of the two heroes, though one in particular might make the most sense …

Micronauts

micronautsThe Micronauts are a bit of an oddity in comics.  They started out as a line of toys, who were written into comics after in the 1970s after Marvel writer Bill Mantlo saw his son open a box of the toys.  The series started as somewhat of a standalone, but slowly was incorporated into the Marvel Universe, with appearances by some other mainstream characters.  While the rights for the characters do not presently rest with Marvel, there is a long publication history with the characters and as the rights rest with other smaller comic companies, it would likely not be too difficult to reacquire the rights.  Furthermore for the film studio that might try to replicate the runaway success of Guardians of the Galaxy, they might look smaller instead of bigger and find their next surprise hit there.  There would be some hurdles, but also there might be a few benefits, as Janet van Dyne disappeared into the smallest dimension, the Microverse.  This small universe is not in itself small, but the pathways to enter it are, and could give an explanation as to where the character disappeared.  They might find Janet in the Microverse, but they might also be able to find some other heroes there as well…

Fantastic Four

fantastic fourThe Fantastic Four is one of the best known Marvel properties that does not lie within the company’s grasp at the moment, instead being controlled by Fox.  While Fox has managed to control the X-Men franchise strongly enough with some decent movies, the Fantastic Four has mostly been a sequence of failures.  The first of the series was good enough to warrant a sequel, but this was before the wake of Marvel movies changed how fans expected superhero movies to turn out.  Marvel Studios was looking to be innovative, not just rehash generic action/sci-fi plots with superheroes thrown in.  The most recent attempt by Fox to revamp the Fantastic Four might have been an attempt to do the same, to get some new excitement into the mix, but it evidently did not turn out that way.  Critical response (and probably financial) will mean that the characters will have to be shelved for a while before the public has forgotten enough about them.  Using the Sony/Spider-Man approach, lending the characters back to Marvel Studios might be a wiser choice, one that would probably make more money for both, and one which would keep the fans happy.  By this point though, with two origin movies behind them, it might make sense to jump straight into the Fantastic Four with them already established as heroes.  They could exist in a similar sense to Hank Pym in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, unknown but still present.  More so, one of the places that is visited by the Fantastic Four is the Microverse, and if they were stuck there then it would be an easy bridge between Ant-Man and the return of Marvel’s first family.

Namor

namorIt is not entirely clear where the rights to Namor presently rest.  Kevin Feige has indicated that Marvel, if they desired, could make a Namor movie, but that there would be some “entanglements”.  Rights to the movie have rested with Universal, but seem to have at least partially lapsed.  What remains is speculated to be the same arrangement with 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, that Marvel creates but Universal distributes.  While it was not a problem when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was still nascent, it seems moving forward that Marvel likes to create and distribute, and to get rewarded financially at 100% for its efforts.  It might make exceptions for Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four but maybe less so for Namor.  Another factor to consider is what DC Comics will manage to do with its own movies.  The other of the big two comic companies is playing catchup, but also has the benefit of controlling the movie rights to nearly all of its characters.  They have already greenlit an Aquaman movie, but it remains to be seen just how well it will do.  Aquaman is after all a hero that is taken not so seriously in pop culture, but if DC can make it work, maybe it will give Marvel second thoughts about its own underwater hero.

Thunderbolts

thunderboltsThe fact that DC Comics is playing catchup in the movie game can also be to the advantage of Marvel.  Marvel has already taken its gambles and seen those pay off, as with Guardians of the Galaxy.  DC Comics, who are eager to catch up, are also taking their own gambles, and chief among those is the Suicide Squad.  Featuring a group of villains forced into a heroic role, it might catch on, or it might flop.  Fans certainly will not be very familiar with the concept, and the concept in itself is strange enough that it might not work.  On the other hand, it might work, and if yes then it could serve as a gamble that Marvel gets to witness the results of without gambling anything itself.  If popular it could use its own villain-turned-heroes team the Thunderbolts and catch the wave of people wanting more Suicide Squad before a sequel to the DC movie comes out.  If played right as well it could help quieten those that think that the MCU’s villains are the weakest part of the movies.

Defenders

defendersMarvel is already a long way along in its development of the Doctor Strange movie, and holds the exclusive rights to the Hulk as long as he is not the featured character in a movie.  A Namor movie could be forthcoming depending on the success of Aquaman, and if Fox sees the benefits of doing so, a collaboration might be in the works to return the Fantastic Four and associated characters to the MCU, which would include the Silver Surfer.  Those four make up the original four members of the Defenders.  For those that are getting a bit tired of seeing the Avengers over and over again on the big screen, it might be an excuse to feature this other Marvel team (although Marvel is working on a street level Defenders television show as well.)  One interesting aspect about this team is that as opposed to the Avengers that the original team is made up of all non-street level characters, meaning that the stakes could be higher and that bigger things might happen as a result, such as …

World War Hulk

wwhThis has been a long rumored development in the MCU, but also not one that has not yet come to fruition.  Marvel has been careful to include in story arcs from the comics, and it has made for some great connections for fans of both mediums.  Although World War Hulk is not necessarily the best all time Hulk story, it is up there, and would be a better vehicle for putting a new spin on the Hulk stories, more so than what we are seeing at the movies, with both Hulk movies fitting the same general pattern of the Hulk being hunted by the government after smashing up a bunch of stuff.  It would also allow the character to move beyond the Avengers, which is a connection that is not as strong in the comics.  Also if all the pieces fell into place, it would mean that a lot of the major players from the crossover might be able to make it into the movie, save for the X-Men.

Hawkeye

kateRumors abound that another major character will die in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War (especially that there are pictures from the set of a funeral sequence), and without any other way to verify this other than by seeing a movie that will not be released until 2016, it still seems likely that one of the characters that might be easiest to kill off would be Hawkeye.  He is among the less popular of the main characters in the MCU, and has been almost a footnote to the movies series, appearing to provide fans with another superhero, but also one that doesn’t really do much.  Even if he does not die in the movie, it is also worth noting that the character is one which is on the verge of retirement, being somewhat older than the other heroes and with responsibilities to his family.  This could leave open the possibility for a Hawkeye movie except not as we might expect.  As the movies expand in popularity it makes sense to be closer to four quadrant movies, and one way to do this is to introduce more female characters.  If Clint Barton were to retire on screen, it could open the door for Kate Bishop to step up, providing the MCU with another superheroine, and one with a lot more of an edge than Clint.

She-Hulk and Spider-Woman

shehulkOn that same note, if Marvel is looking to keep its female fans happy it might look to develop these characters as well.  Most of the main Marvel superheroines would be tied up elsewhere, with most of the major heroines being members of the X-Men, and other such as Sue Storm or Medusa mostly only operating as parts of teams.  Others such as Elektra and even Hellcat are tied to the television series, which mean that only a few major female characters would be left to get the big screen treatment.  She-Hulk and Spider-Woman could both be strong contenders to hold down their own movie, especially if Marvel did something unexpected and went off the script with the Spider-Gwen version of Spider-Woman.  It would also help to fill the ranks of the Avengers, a team which needs to be mixed up a bit from time to time to keep the roster fresh and the fans intrigued.

Ka-Zar

tigraKa-Zar is one of the longest running Marvel characters, but also one that has not had a very solid fanbase in modern years, although unquestionably popular among many.  Although Marvel is keen on taking risks, could it make the Savage Land work the same as it made Guardians of the Galaxy work?  The Savage Land is the source of many stories within the Marvel Universe, though most of them with the X-Men.  Why might the MCU be interested in the Savage Land?  It is a fantasy setting, and while it does not match up with other heroes, could still serve as an explanation for the re-appearance of some characters who also happen to be Avengers – Hercules, Tigra or even the Black Knight.  It might be a stretch, but Marvel will be looking for new blood for its Avengers as it moves forward, as is evident from the new roster after Age of Ultron.  Tigra especially might be interesting, as she not only is her own character, but is also indirectly responsible for the development of Hellcat, whose non-superpowered version is already set to be introduced in the Marvel television show Jessica Jones.

Iron Man 4

iron manThis is perhaps the biggest question to solve in phase 4.  A big part of what made the MCU so popular is that it based its hopes on the initial movie, Iron Man.  If this movie had failed so too would the plans for the shared universe.  Success would probably have still come the way of the studio, but it would have been a longer road.  Part of the runaway success of the original Iron Man was that Robert Downey Jr. was perfectly cast as Tony Stark, what some might say is not even really acting as he seems to be mostly playing himself.  That having been said, superheroes never really age but actors and actresses do.  While the studio can get a few more years out of Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson (all in their early to mid 30s), and even a lot more out of Paul Bettany (whose character the Vision wears so much makeup as to be ageless) and Elizabeth Olsen (who is in her mid 20s), it can probably expect less out of Robert Downey Jr, who is now 50.  They might push him for a couple more movies, but eventually he will need to be replaced, and the biggest question would then be by who, as the character is one that is of highest importance to the MCU.  There might be no bigger question heading forward in the MCU than who will fill this role.

The Denny’s Thing Burger, Not Exactly Kosher (Updated)

thing-burger_thumb-m

With Fantastic Four out in the theaters this weekend, and big question I had answered below, I decided to run this post again.

Denny‘s is running a tie-in with the upcoming Fantastic Four film and features various dishes with a “theme” pertaining to the character it ties in to. As a whole I’d shrug my shoulders, but the one for The Thing is actually interesting. I’ll ignore the 1920 calories, 1180 of them from fat, the high amount of fat, cholesterol, and sodium. You might be a superhero to survive eating it.

For those that might not know, Benjamin Grimm aka The Thing, is one of the more high-profile Jewish characters in the Marvel universe. While he’s not regularly at synagogue in the comics, he has said Jewish prayers in comics and mentioned his religion every so often.

Back to the hamburger. It includes the burger, cheddar cheese, bacon, and a cheddar bun, among other things (special “thing” sauce). Pick up on the issue here? Not only does the hamburger include bacon (some Jews don’t eat pork, I do), but it also mixes milk and meat (unless Denny’s is admitting their cheese is anything but). This violate Kosher law which prevents the mixing of the two. In other words, this is a meal a lot of Jews probably wouldn’t eat.

The Thing might not keep kosher, stats vary as to how many Jews do (anywhere from 15% to 40%), it definitely is a bit insensitive to his history and background. Definitely a hand. head. slap. moment.

Update: So went to see Fantastic Four last night, and in the beginning of the film there’s a Menorah on Ben Grimm’s shelf, so there’s at least one nod he’s Jewish.

And check out the genius ad below for this fantasticly offensive meal.

Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four: A Brief History of Futility

Fantastic-four-movie-posterWith all the buzz about the new Fantastic Four movie, (especially at how terrible it is) there’s a lot of comparison to the “original” Fantastic Four movie. You know: the one released in 2005 with Chris Evans in it. But it isn’t the original. Not by a long shot. The original was created in 1993 as a way for the studio to retain the rights to franchise, and was never meant to be released. This is a brief history of that film.

This all started with a man by the name of Bernd Eichinger. You probably haven’t heard of him before. That’s okay. Most producers are happy to stay behind the scenes. Back in the late 70s, he founded Neue Constantin Films, which later became just Constantin. This is the studio that brought us The Neverending Story, The Name of the Rose, and all those Resident Evil movies. Bernd’s interest in Fantastic Four started in 1983, and he wanted to do a movie based on that IP. He met with Stan Lee to discuss an option for the film, but it wasn’t going to be available until 1986.

Now, keep in mind that at the time, Marvel wasn’t doing all that well financially. They were just kind of selling their IPs to studios like a cut rate ice cream truck to a pack of uninterested children. This is why Marvel’s various IPs ended up going kind of all over the place, and why we have the mess that it’s in, now. As a prime (and relevant) example, Marvel couldn’t option the Fantastic Four in 1983, because they had already sold the rights to The Human Torch (without the rest of the Four) to Universal back in 1977, and that option wasn’t up until 1986. This is why Eichinger had to wait until 1986 to option the film for a paltry sum of  $250,000. (That’s about half a million in today’s economy.)

Eichinger shopped around for a company to help his studio produce the film, but the proposed budget made the bigger studios balk at the prospect. The option on the franchise was set to expire at the end of the year of 1992, and, frantic, Eichinger asked Marvel to extend it, but they didn’t. So the only way he could hang onto the option was to make a movie.

thethingEnter Roger Corman, B Movie King. Roger Corman is kind of the Kevin Bacon of the film industry, but you only have two or three degrees of separation between him and everybody else. He was known for being able to shoot a movie for $5000 and in under a week, and he had this down pat. A lot of people got their started and learned a lot about movie making by working under the man (Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, and Jonathan Demme just to name a few.) So, in September of 1992, he hired Roger Corman to make a Fantastic Four movie for just $1 million (That’s about $1.7 mil in today’s money. Hooray Inflation.)

This is the most amount of money Corman was ever given to make a film, and by God he was going to do this thing right.  He got Oley Sassone to direct, Alex Hyde-White as Reed Richards, Jay Underwood as Johnny Storm, Rebecca Staab as Sue Storm, Michael Bailey Smith as Ben Grimm, and Joseph Culp as Dr. Doom. They weren’t exactly the most high profile of actors, but for $3,500 a week, it’s not like you could afford Tom Cruise. Everybody was excited to be involved in what they thought would be a high profile superhero film. Keep in mind that in the past few years prior we had Batman Returns, Darkman, Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles, and The Rocketeer. The superhero genre wasn’t in the state as it is today, but it was trying hard as hell to be, thanks to the success of 1989’s Batman starring Michael Keaton. While most of these may not have been critical successes, they were financial successes, and our actors knew that if they did this film right it would be very good for their careers.

Fantastic Four Group ShotThe film was shot in 21 days, including crash-landing the four’s spaceship in Agoura, and blowing up the lab on the Loyola Marymount campus. Just so you understand how compressed this timeline was, the latest Fantastic Four film was shot in 72 days, and had a budget of $122 million in comparison.  The level of dedication, love and work  that was put forth on this film was far more than what you’d expect for a Corman production. Reve Richards, the costume designer, went to a comic book shop to buy as many of the FF books as he could find to make sure he could be faithful to them. Carl Ciarfalio, who wore the rubber Thing suit worked closely with Michael Bailey Smith so that their mannerisms would match. Even David and Erik Wurst, the composers,  personally spent $6,000 to make sure that they would have a 48 piece orchestra for the soundtrack. Hell, even Stan Lee himself visited people on the set to encourage them.

In the summer of 1993, the promotional part of production had started. Trailers of it were playing on other Corman videos and in movie theatres. Cast members did a promotional tour, worked the con circuit, and even brought the Thing’s head with them. The film itself was screened at SDCC that year, and it was covered in many movie and scifi magazines. The film was slated to premiere for January 19th at the Mall of America.

The movie, however, was not going to be released. The crew started hearing rumors that all their hard work was going to be for naught, and Sassone received a call from Eichinger, explaining to him what the situation was. “He explained it the best way he could,” Sassone said, “I mean, look, he knew that we had all worked our asses off on this thing. Frankly, I think they thought it was just going to be this piece of shit… so I think it kind of unnerved them when it wasn’t.”

So what had happened? There’s still a lot of debate surrounding the film’s fate. The cast started hearing rumors that it was never intended to be released in the first place, that it was an ashcan copy. Stan Lee confirmed this in 2005 stating, “That movie was never supposed to be shown to anybody…. It was never supposed to be seen by any living human beings.” Corman and Eichinger, however, had a different story. “We had a contract to release it,” said Corman, “and I had to be bought out of that contract.” Eichinger stated, “That’s definitely not true. It was not our intention to make a B movie, that’s for sure, but when the movie was there, we wanted to release it.” Regardless, Marvel executive Avi Arad bought the film for a couple of million dollars cash, and ordered the prints be destroyed.

Most agree with Stan Lee and the cast, that Eichinger had deliberately created this version of the film so that he could retain the rights to the option. The fact that he started preproduction on a big budget version of the film in 1996 (which would eventually become the 2005 version) would lend credence to this version of events. At this point in time this remains the only movie Roger Corman never released, and the production has gone down in movie infamy.

Doomed Movie PosterCopies of the film are still floating about here and there. I had bought a bootleg copy on VHS back in 1995 at NorWesCon, and I still have it today, having watched it far too many times to count (though right now it’s sitting in a box somewhere in my closet). There’s several copies that have been uploaded to the internet, and if you really want to watch it.  There’s even a documentary in the works called Doomed! The Movie and it’s something that i’m looking forward to seeing be released as well, since we’ll get a more personal account as to what happened.

As for the movie itself, how does it stack up? if you like arbitrary numbers, Rotten Tomatoes has it listed at 33%, compared to the 2005 version at 27% and the 2015 version at a whopping 9%. I’ve only ever watched the first two version (I, honestly, have no intention of watching this latest train wreck) and I think the numbers are fair. Neither are particularly good films, but the later suffers from being, at best, unmemorable. However, like other Corman works, the 1993 version it doesn’t put on any airs of being anything other than what it is. It’s a fun, lighthearted superhero film, best watched with friends. If you plan on seeing the latest release, well, all I can say is that you’re probably better off saving yourself some money and hunting down a copy of this.

Review: Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four movie posterI’ve avoided reading full reviews of the new Fantastic Four film before actually seeing it in hopes that it wouldn’t taint my view going in. I’ve seen the Tweets and some Facebook posts referencing that things weren’t very positive. With that little information (and the horror stories/rumors about the production), I still went into it expecting the very worst of the Fox reboot. When all was said and done, the film isn’t as disastrous as everyone makes it out to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s good.

The film has some bright moments, especially towards the beginning, that makes you hold out hope things will be good. Then we get to various characters getting their powers and that’s where things go off the rails. Half the film is good/tolerable, a quarter of the film is tolerable, a quarter of the film is rubbish. But, the failure overall is the filmmakers loss of what really makes the Fantastic Four, fantastic. They’re a family, and as a family they stand and fall. The four don’t really come together until the final battle, and it’s more out of necessity than they really want to help each, or even like each other. While they might bicker in the comics, or even fight with each other, they still like each other (you know, like a real family).

The movie has so much potential, but the small details is where the film goes off the rails (I may use that phrase a lot in this review). There’s a scene post powers where Reed looks like he has pubes on his face (no seriously), and those cover up a horrid zit (if it’s a real beard, I feel sorry for Teller. I partially think it was included to cover up the zit. If the zit is make-up, give these people an Oscar). The pube beard looks like a prank people play where they actually shave someone’s pubes and then glue it on someone else’s face (I hear the kids do that, I never have). Between scenes, he’s cleanly shaven and his zit gone. That’s a detail that no one picked up on? No one noticed this? Even the character’s ages and the time frame seems poorly thought out. Miles Teller is roughly 19? Was doing some stuff in the 80s towards the beginning going to bust the budget too much?

The acting is ok. Michael B. Jordan, as Johnny Storm, is the best of the bunch (not much of a shock), and he’s not given much to do other than try to act cool. Miles Teller, as Reed Richard, seems to have lost any charm he displayed in previous roles. He’s actually unlikeable in the film. Kate Mara, as Sue Storm, may have one of the more active/vital female roles in a superhero film, and even then she’s still pushed to the back a bit. She’s the most competent one of the team, and doesn’t even get a thank you. When someone flies you through a black hole and interdimensional space, you say thank you. When someone prevents you being used as a tool for the army, you say thank you. The US government can’t find Reed, her and her music does it in no time. When someone flies you in a bubble and lands you safely, you say thank you. Jamie Bell as Benn Grimm/The Thing is one of the most abused of the film. You feel his emotion through the shitty CGI. There’s a story there that could have made a fantastic film, but Secret Invasion Heroclix Doomthat’d have involved an attention to detail, or handle on the characters. Jewish rock golem people, the fucking film writes itself! Toby Kebbell as Victor Von Doom can’t decide what accent to use, and while his look sort of makes sense, it still reminds me of the crappy Secret Invasion Doom Heroclix figure to the right. They’re all forced to spout dialogue that’s a mix of horrible clichéd 80s writing, and 90s superhero films.

The film feels like it doesn’t realize superhero cinema has evolved past the 90s. As if Spider-Man, Iron Man, Batman Begins, the Avengers, never happened. It feels like someone thought Roger Corman’s take was good, and pointed towards that as to what they wanted, and gave it a budget. The film is a mess that attempts to reinvent the subject and material, but doesn’t grasp the key elements of what makes the Fantastic Four Marvel’s first family. It’s understandable why Marvel has distanced themselves from the brand, I wouldn’t want to associate with it either. I’d be afraid it would hurt the comic series, and the comic sold like shit.

I watched a lot of Canadian television during the 90s, and the movie reminds me of a Canadian version of American superhero film. From what I remember, Canadian television seemed a lot like American tv, but with production values just slightly less than the American counterpart (and I love Canada). It felt like the generic off brand, to America’s name brand. Funny enough, the film thanks Quebec and Ontario at the end. So, I guess I felt like it was a “Canadian” superhero film for a reason?

The film is watchable, it’s jut not a watchable Fantastic Four film. It makes the last two films look like high art (I actually enjoyed those two). It has characters that have similar powers and names, and that’s it.

The movie is so off, Stan Lee doesn’t even have a cameo.

Thankfully the film runs only 100 minutes, and by the time the final battle comes along you’ll be distracted by something else, laughing uncontrollably at the film, left, or fallen asleep. It goes by quick, like an extended television episode which is about the production values.

Maybe fourth time’s the charm?

Overall Rating: 5

Director – Josh Trank
Starring – Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell
Rated – PG-13
Run Time – 100 minutes

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