Sunday, July 24, 2005

THE FANTASTIC FOUR

Don't need no more (that's ungrammatical)

Director: Tim Story
Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis

Tagline: Prepare for the fantastic.

Cursed Incredibles! How dare you make the antics of four superbeings into a Christopher Guest-like dinner table farce! Blasted Ain’t It Cool! Sabotaging the opinions since the script existed! Damned BBC’s Late Review team! They saw it and were so under-stimulated that they reviewed something else instead! Arg! Every reviewer took their own petty potshot, usually grounded in some overly long way of saying that it was not a ‘fantastic’ movie! Darn!!!
Of Stan Lee’s four biggies (he done Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk and X-Men, so he did), this was always going to be the hardest to get right. The Hulk is Frankenstein retold, Spiderman and the X-Men dance between puberty and simple prejudices. The Four came first, and hence, the themes are a little confused and their adventures bear the marks of a worryingly simpler time. In the past they saved Prince Charles from an earthquake, fought villains with names like ‘Impossible Man’, ‘Galactus, Devourer of Worlds’ and ‘Namor the Sub Mariner’ and even gained their super powers by being overly competitive in the Arms Race. Stan Lee subtitled it ‘The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine’ as of its fourth issue.
Thankfully, some of this spirit lingers in the ghost of the original script. It has a reasonably funny happy montage sequence, a few inspired one-liners and a short but sweet cameo from Mr. Lee. Trouble is, it isn’t innocent enough; New York is still run by those supreme overlords of all things, the firefighters, a speed record is set for product placement (about twelve different products in two minutes) and worst of all, there is that dick-joke (you know, Mallrats?). Dr Doom really is rubbish. Really, really rubbish and bollocks in every way. He’s been over-directed, told both to camp it up and to keep it realistic. Making him a slick businessman motivated by love of his woman and his corporation takes away everything interesting about him. He doesn’t even appear to imperil the Earth! On top of all that, The Thing is really wee-looking compared to (you wouldn’t like me when I’m) Ang Lee’s Incredible Hulk.
Most of all, it suffers because you see the flaws of a committee, not an individual director or writer, people pulling in opposite directions and making compromises that don’t work. The Fantastic Four 2 is on its way, and the only way it’ll be good is if it’s directed by a fruitcake and uses a villain as inhuman as The Inhumans instead of trying to compete with anything else out there.

WEDDING CRASHERS

“We’ve been comin’ to the same party for twelve years now, and in no way is that depressing” Ron Burgundy

Director: David Dobkin
Cast: Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughan, Christopher Walken, Rachel McAdams

Tagline: Life’s a party. Crash it.

The frat pack are very, very worried about their age. Just look at Ben Stiller in Zoolander, Will Ferrell in Anchorman, Jack Black in School of Rock, Will Ferrell in Old School, Vince Vaughan in Dodgeball, Will Ferrell in Elf, Mike Myers in Austin Powers or Will Ferrell in A Night At The Roxbury. All of these films on some level pose the same question: “should we stop partying?” With a plot concerning two professional wedding hoppers who lie to everyone, gorge themselves on cake, shots and tits, and expect no retaliation, the same question is not far off. It arrives only fifteen minutes in, and things get lot less fun from there on. Things get so bad that their God has to step in and wouldn’t you know it? It’s Will Ferrell.
Wedding Crashers is generally shitter than most of the films mentioned above. The story is so predictable that you can envision a writer confronted by the Microsoft paperclip saying “It looks like you’re writing a romantic comedy!” and opting to use Word’s Rom-Com Wizard. Jokes, even whole characters are borrowed from the Meet The Parents and American Pie franchises and the unimaginative one-joke characters like a swearing granny, a gay pervert and a family of Asians intended to draw the laughs simply by being onscreen, all come across as deeply insulting. As standard as the parts are, they still make as little sense as the movies tagline (you want me to ‘crash’ my life?) when put together. Plotholes and wild personality shifts are either ignored or smoothed over with “It’s love making them crazy”, as with love in Hitch or Christmas in Elf. The main cast are at worst extremely talented comedic performers without exception, but none of the circumstances are at all good enough. I’d rather see Wilson, Vaughan, Walken, McAdams and Ferrell on ‘Who’s Line Is It Anyway’ than at the whim of such a crappy template. The frat pack needn’t stop the fun just yet, but it wouldn’t hurt to party with some better story writers.