Fantastic Four (2015)

  Let’s be up front here. Firstly, the recent film releases based on Marvel Comics characters from any movie studio other than Marvel Studios have been a mixed bag at best and the poster child for this train of thought was last years ‘Fantastic Four’. Secondly, I am in no way defending the mixed bag results that the first two 20th Century Fox films based on Marvel’s First Family delivered during the last decade in any way shape or form, but at least they got part of the spirit of the characters right.

That’s the biggest issue I have with the 2015 reboot, but it is not the only issue I have with it. I will say that from a basic plot standpoint, I liked that they had the Fantastic Four being explorers, but the how and the why behind the main characters knowing each other and being a team was never fully fleshed out. This issue arises from the pre-planned sequel and not actually giving us even basic character development as the film went on.

Following up on that, the next massive downfall of ‘Fantastic Four’ was the tone of the film. We all know that audiences went bonkers for a dark and gritty Batman in the Christopher Nolan helmed Dark Knight trilogy, but not every superhero film needs to go that route, and no characters can be further from that thought than here. The Fantastic Four are a family, from the long standing marriage of Reed Richards and Susan Storm, to the playful adolescent pranks between Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm, they have always been a bright, loving and joking group of characters. That is not what we got in this film.

It was dark, it was gritty, there wasn’t a playfulness that we at least got in the original two films that Fox gave us last decade. The fingerprints of Nolan’s Batman were all over this film and it was both out of touch and not needed. Whether this direction was made by director Josh Trank, producer Simon Kinberg or someone higher up at Fox, this was entirely the wrong decision.

The decision to have Victor von Doom be a combination of his physical form and his protective suit resulted in a horrible look that actually makes me long for the black leather of Fox’s X-Men franchise. Tied directly into the dark and gritty, down to earth dynamic of this film, it was really the final straw on the proverbial camel’s back.

In the end, 20th Century Fox has just never gotten the Fantastic Four right, or their main adversary Doctor Doom. It really is a shame because they were Marvel’s first team, one that has some great stories and history but just never been put to film the way we would love to see.

‘Fantastic Four’ is a tough film to rate, but, end of the day, 1  tank-smashing Thing out of 5 seems a little more than fair. I wanted to like the science based explorers, but the forced realism killed that hope quickly.

As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer and check out the archives for older reviews. Cheers all!!!

Kingsman: The Secret Service

kingsmanThere are a lot of spy/thriller/action films franchises right now, from Bond to Bourne, hell, even Mission: Impossible, so there are a lot of options out there for films to watch, but it is nice every so often to get something new and maybe a little off the wall, and that is essentially what we got with 2015’s ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’, an adaptation of the Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons comic book series.

Giving us two concurrent story lines that at times cross into each other and then at the end mesh into one giant free for all, ‘Kingsman’ gives us, in the immortal words of Monty Python “something completely different”, and somethings that, while not perfect, at least something that works well.

Featuring Academy Award winner Colin Firth in one of the two main roles for the film and relative newcomer Taron Egerton in the other main role, ‘Kingsman’ is a relative 21st Century-millenial take on many spy tropes in film, all while paying homage to the grand-daddy of them all in James Bond.

Firth does an admirable job as the seasoned veteran trying to repay his debts while Egerton shows some youthfulness as the twenty something who is throwing away his potential until one final wrong step pushes him back onto the right path.

‘Kingsman’ also features Michael Caine in a bit of a throwaway role as the leader of the organization, but also features Samuel L. Jackson in a hilarious, scene-chewing role as the proverbial big bad. While the premise of the story may be a tad over the top, Jackson tackles it and makes the film all the better for it. The film also gives an interesting role to Mark Strong, one that almost seems as if it was written specifically for him.

Once you get past the overt British-ness of the film and its setup, the stylized action scenes are different enough to hook your attention while also delving into the meat of the main story and the recruitment arc all at the same time.

In the end, ‘Kingsman’ is an enjoyable romp, one that isn’t perfect due to the way in which it was filmed but one that overcomes that with enough laughs and action to satisfy most viewers.

For the new review system, ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ nets a solid 3 1/4 mind altering SIM cards out of 5.

As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer, and feel free to peruse older reviews of other films in the archives. Cheers.

The Martian

themartianAs I have grown older, I have noticed that my taste in films has also changed, heading to, over the years, more adult based fare. Now, I guess that this is probably quite normal, but in the past couple of years, I have really found myself drawn to certain kinds of films, and the newest on that list is ‘The Martian’.

I need to preface this by saying that I, for the most part, really enjoy Matt Damon as an actor and think that the majority of Ridley Scott directed films are top notch, so much so that I place Scott in the top echelon of film makers today. With the combo of the two involved, I really had high hopes for ‘The Martian’, and I am happy to say that it delivered on the mark.

The not-so-distant future setting of ‘The Martian’ allows it to come off as something that we can actually believe as reality, and unlike 2014’s “Interstellar’, this film was able to pull off a whole other level of realism and convincing us that a singular human, stranded on a barren planet, could actually survive, and that is exactly what Ridley Scott does with this adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel of the same name.

That being said, the star of this film is and always will be Matt Damon. Damon, he of the face on a poster type of movie star, allows you to get inside the head of his character, Mark Watney. Watney, a botanist, comes across as a likeable every man, even if he is a pretty intelligent one at that.

The supporting cast for ‘The Martian’ is fleshed out with amazing actors and actresses from Jeff Daniels to Jessica Chastain and Chiwetel Ejiofor. To see these names filling out their characters just goes to show the quality of this film. Each of the supporting characters has reason to be there and a key role to play in the main arc of getting the stranded astronaut home.

The visuals for this film, when needed, are near perfect for the kind of story that Ridley Scott was looking to tell, which you would expect nothing less from the man that brought us other breath taking films like ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Kingdom of Heaven’, to say nothing of his other sci-fi work over the years.

At the end of the day, what we get is a film that tells a wonderful story, keeps you on the edge of your seat in doing so, and does it without ever feeling like the 141 minutes it is. ‘The Martian’ is an amazing film, well worth its Oscar nomination for Best Picture and Matt Damon shows us why he will one day win a Best Actor Oscar after securing his second ever nomination in this film.

Also, something new for you all on this review, I am going to start a ranking of the films that I review, and for ‘The Martian’, it gets 4 1/2 Martian potatoes out of 5.

Thanks for reading all and bearing with me while I go through some spurts of not getting these reviews out. As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer and cheers!!!