Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Fantastic Four - Flame On!, people!

I know, I know, I'm on a superhero kick. But I'm really having a good time with myself. Many people hated this movie but I kind of liked it. It tells the story of how our superhero friends Sue and Johnny Storm (brother and sister), Ben Grimm and Reed Richards become The Fantastic Four. Oh, and Dr. Doom too. I think my favorite character was Chris Evans as The Human Torch. Although I couldn't believe that he could have been a real astronaut I could believe he rides a motorcycle and looks sexy with his shirt off. And when he finally learned to fly all torched up it was really exciting! His antics teasing Ben Grimm and setting things on fire brought some comic relief to a film dulled by the performances of Jessica Alba and Ioan Gruffud. Those two were really boring.

Ioan played Reed pretty straight - the scientist geek loses the girl as well as his pride and has no qualms about a little boot licking to further his research. I understood he needed to make a journey into his leadership role but even in the end you could tell he was always going to be a pansy. But good old Ioan (IMDB kindly provides a helpful pronunciation guide for his name "YO-an") doesn't seem to have the chops to be a top loser scientist. Too young perhaps? I can't put my finger on it but there is no way this guy went to MIT. I saw Good Will Hunting and I KNOW.

I thought Jessica was a little weak as well. I was completely hooked on her in the series Dark Angel so I'm no stranger to her being a superhero. But someone effed up her makeup and she looked really reddish-beige all over. Her constant hen pecking of Johnny and pining for Reed was a turn off.

Michael Chiklis rocks as The Thing (no pun intended) and even manages to show emotional pain after his transformation. He notes that he's the only one who doesn't get to stay his sexy self, and that's rough. And with a heart of gold all he's trying to do is get our lovebirds, Sue and Reed back together. Awww. At least they give him proper manpris, instead of the blue underpants of the comic.

Know what's been killing me about these two movies? Spider-Man 2 and Fantastic Four? The crowds. Both movies are set in New York and there you have our intrepid New Yorkers enjoying their new superhero citizens. "Spider-Man, take me!" and "There's the Invisible Girl!" Instead of screaming in fear and running for their lives folks are down with old Spidey and The 'Four. X-Men's premise is the division between human and mutant so there's no such hammy friendliness. But I'll hit that in another post.

Although the film is bloodless as anticipated Dr. Doom has no trouble putting large holes in the middle of his enemies' bodies. I thought that was a little edgy - "hey, he didn't just knock that guy down with his electric blast!" That surprised me a little. Julian McMahon brought a level of evil smarminess to the role and I sincerely didn't like him. I guess that's good acting.

See? Fantastic Four was good. The action was good, the CGI was better than Spider-Man 2 - Reed is SUPPOSED to look rubbery, and Johnny Storm was excellent eye candy. Oh, and I'm sure Jessica was too. But I think if you're looking for a movie just to see her you'd do better with Into the Blue.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Spider-man 2: Holy tortured soul, Batman!

I resisted Spider-man 2 for a long time. I really enjoy superhero movies but I remember distinctly disliking Spider-man 1 enough so that we stopped watching in the middle of it. I can't remember what irked me so - was it Peter Parker's annoying Aunt May, or the saccharine-sweet MJ? I borrowed Spider-man 2 from my library so the price was right. This was the second time I did so because I chickened out the first.

My second problem with Spider-man is that while Tobey Maguire embodies Peter Parker's youthful spirit his appearance is so...youthful. That makes it hard for me to find him "hot" in any sense of the word. I have to look on him as "cute" in a motherly sort of way and that makes me feel old. Maybe that's why I like X-Men so much. I'm salivating over X-Men. It has attractive superheros for all ages.

Spider-man 2 starts out with Peter in crisis. He is living in one of the most expensive cities in the world and he's broke. MJ has ditched him for his unreliable loser ways, he's just lost his job delivering pizza, he's about to fail his class and Aunt May is losing her home because she's broke too. Plus he's late on the rent in his crappy apartment. It really needed a shot of the cockroaches because a hole like that surely has them. I thought we spent a little too much time detailing his loserdom but maybe all the young whippersnappers needed to truly understand where Spidey was at. I could have used more crime fighting during this period.

I really liked Alfred Molina as Doc Ock. He brought a sensual earnestness to the role. He wasn't just a cold hearted scientist he was a lover with a beautiful wife. I liked the creepy way they attached the arms to his body. It made my skin crawl. J.K. Simmons again made a perfect J. Jonah Jameson. He seemed like a cartoon character himself, brash and loud with his mustache and buzz cut hair.

MJ. Mary Jane. I know she's supposed to represent the girl next door, vibrant, sweet and alive. But she just doesn't do it for me. The one thing I will say is that Kirsten is a good match for Tobey. She doesn't look too old and she doesn't have any boobs. Any sexier and it would have given folks that uneasy feeling I was worried about in paragraph two. Casting should be credited for that.

While I liked this movie overall I did have a teeny problem with the CGI. Spidey looked great swinging between the buildings but the fight scenes looked like a cartoon. Spider-man looked too much like a Stretch Armstrong doll as he fought Doctor Octopus. I guess it was to be expected. No stunt people could jump around and stick to buildings the way the computer Spidey can.

The movie proceeds as expected and has a boring ending after the big fight. The filmmakers do leave a nifty option open for a third movie. Will I see it? Only if I can borrow it from my library.