Thursday, April 23, 2015

'Fantastic Four' trailer review

It's fair to say the Internet has blown up in the last bunch of days with trailers for upcoming genre films.

First, the second trailer for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has the most anticipated footage of any film being released this year. Graded a very rare perfect "A" here in my Cary's Comics Craze review, it's trailer perfection. The scenes pay homage to the original trilogy yet shows a lot of potential for the future of the "Star Wars" saga.

Then there's the "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" trailer. While it hasn't generated the warm fuzzies that "The Force Awakens" did, "Dawn of Justice" reveals the first look at Ben Affleck's Batman and got me thinking about we got there from "Man of Steel."

That brings me to the full "Fantastic Four" trailer.

The Aug. 7 movie hasn't generated any buzz so far, so to get fans talking about it at all is a step in the right direction.

The teaser trailer is a real yawner, which aside from a very brief reveal of the FF at the end just as easily could have featured footage of an independent, small budget film with a sci-fi twist.

I'm sure I'm not the only FF fan with questions about casting the very talented Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm aka the Human Torch. (Not due to a race issue, mind you; I live my life colorblind. Keep in mind in a CCC post back in early December, I've said I embrace racial diversity when it comes to casting — as long as the best actor/actress has been chosen and such choices serve the character and story.)

This trailer quickly answers why the new Storm is played by a black man as Dr. Franklin Storm (a very dignified Reg E. Cathey) makes it quite clear he's concerned about the well-being of his children. That threw my previous assumption — that Johnny is an adopted sibling — completely out the window. Just to be clear, it's Kate Mara's Sue Storm who apparently has been adopted into the Storm family.

Dr. Storm, in the opening seconds, also clearly establishes another important facet of the Fantastic Four — the brilliance of Reed Richards (Miles Teller, best known most recently for "Whiplash" and the "Divergent" series).

"He knows the answers to questions we don't even know to ask yet," Storm says.

Michael B. Jordan
Another similarity to the comic book/original FF incarnation I'm pleased to see is Richards' desire to reverse the changes that the Storms and Ben Grimm (The Thing, played by Jamie Bell) have undergone since being in space. This is something that has driven the scientist for years in the comics — especially in the case of his best friend, Grimm.

"I just want to fix my friends," Richards says.

And then Jordan's Johnny Storm delivers a clich├ęd line virtually identical to what we've heard in countless other comic stories: "We should use these powers to help people."

While that's a great philosophy by which comic book heroes should live, let's be honest here. If these two lines are a sample of the quality of dialogue in "Fantastic Four," there's a problem here. A serious problem — a lot of them!
Miles Teller

Unlike the comics, this pre-powered FF arrive at some sort of planet, which is where their bodies are exposed to whatever entity it is in the film that changes their bodies and gives them their individual powers. (Cosmic rays bombard the original FF while the astronauts are in outer space. Here, they have "just cracked interdimensional travel.")

Mara, having turned 32 in February, is the oldest of the "Fantastic Four" cast. In an interesting twist, Teller, at age 28, plays a Richards who is younger than Sue Storm, his bride-to-be. That's a change from the comics, in which Richards is about 15 years or so older than the love of his life.

Needless to say, this rebooted version of the cinematic FF is geared toward the 20-something crowd. The new cast's chemistry will be just as important as the quality of the story and dialogue for "Fantastic Four" to get any sort of credibility from fans — not to mention make a profit at the box office.

Aside from Bell, the actors are fairly recognizable, but certainly not well known. None of the four actors are what I'd consider household names. These cast members aren't the high-profile, eye candy cast of the first two "Fantastic Four" films — which I still say are underappreciated. Fans are too quick to dismiss them as garbage. (Check my "revisited" review from the fall of 2010 if you don't believe me!)

Back to the trailer as I wrap up this review. The effects of Sue Storm's invisibility and her brother's flaming body are impressive. The Thing is a rocky mess — but that's a good thing — and looks nothing like the rubber costume worn by Michael Chiklis. BTW I really dug Chiklis' spot-on take of the ever lovin' but always troubled Thing. But why isn't Aunt Petunia's nephew wearing any pants in this trailer?

Ultimately, nothing has changed my gut response to "Fantastic Four" from my 2015 genre film preview. I'm continuing to take a wait-and-see approach — as in wait and see if I'll actually approach a theater to see it, come Aug. 7. Grade: B

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