JT Film Review

Fantastic Four (2005)

Fantastic Four Review
Review #157

1.5/5 stars

Director – Tim Story

Cast – Ioan Grufuud, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon

——————-

– followed by Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

——————–

From Ghost Rider, which had a boring story but unique tone, we go to Fantastic Four, which has both a tremendously boring story and tone. With any movie this is a deadly combination, and this is no exception.

The heroes in this film get their powers after they are exposed to a cosmic storm, encountered while doing some very very sciencey stuff on a space station. (The science in this movie seem even more balderdash than usual, even for a superhero movie.) They all find themselves able to do some, well, fantastic things. One can turn invisible, one can stretch, one can fly and burst into flame, and the last guy… well, he gets the short end of the stick. While he finds himself with superhuman strength, his body is hardened and enlarged into a grotesque, rock-monster appearance.

It is this character, The Thing, that the movie centers around. Smartly so. Unlike the others, he cannot go out into public as “normal”, and his wife cannot deal with the physical changes to her husband. He finds himself isolated, and alone. This is the key to a good story line. A big reason superheroes can work dramatically is that their ability to do amazing things is undercut by the distance this creates between them and everyone else. When done well, this can work (some of the Superman movies, for example). It doesn’t quite work here; it’s clumsy and heavy handed. It’s still the best dramatic thing about the movie, which is a sad thing, really.

I wanted to like the characters, and if anything is redeemable about the movie it is that. Ioan Gruffuud brings a good quality to his character, the leader of the group, and Michael Chiklis is both affecting and humorous as needed. Jessica Alba doesn’t come out quite so well, she does her best, but her character is just boring. But Chris Evans… now he makes a great impression. This is one of his earliest hits, and we see glimpses of the star that he would become. He is cocky, funny, and is a highlight of the movie. In the end, if we needed to have Fantastic Four to have the Chris Evans we have today, I’m happy. Well, almost.

OVERALL

Fantastic Four is one of the most generic movies I have ever seen. Save for Chris Evans the cast is adequate, but rarely anything more. The story is deadly dull, and the movie’s cinematography is bight and cheap looking. It reeks of the corporate mindset… “Comic book movies are popular? Let’s make one of those. Just hire somebody, anybody.” It’s just all so adequate, and thus, dull.

NOTE: This review is part of a series called Superheroes: Bottom to Top, wherein I review every super-hero movie I own, from the lowest rated to the highest (according to Rotten Tomatoes). Next we bring the Snikt! with X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

——————–

TRAILER

“Fantastic Four” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

——————–

June 2, 2012 Posted by | 1.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Superhero, Superheroes: Bottom to Top, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace Review
Review # 153

1.5/5 stars

Director – Sydney J. Furie

Cast – Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Jackie Cooper, Marc McClure, Jon Cryer, Sam Wanamaker, Mark Pillow, Mariel Hemingway, Margot Kidder

——————–

– follows Superman III

——————–

Christopher Reeve didn’t want to make a fourth Superman film. After the campy Superman III , released in 1983, there weren’t even any plans for a follow-up. But the rights were sold to the low-budget production company Cannon Films, and Reeve was approached to reprise the role that made him famous. He eventually agreed, but only if Cannon agreed to finance a pet project of his, which became the critically applauded Street Smart. Reeves was even promised story input. But as Superman IV: The Quest for Peace went into production, Cannon reduced the budget multiple times. Apparently Reeve himself said to other cast members that the movie would not be very good. That was an understatement.

It’s a shame too. Apparently Christopher Reeve personally recruited Gene Hackman back to the franchise, and it was his idea to have the movie revolve around the disarmament of nuclear weapons. The movie makes a nice effort to show Superman as a citizen of the world, and the anti-nuclear weapon stance is, of course, commendable. Now while it beats that particular drum a little too heavily by the end (and the X-Men movies did much better with the “superheroes meets politics” theme), I really think it shows the movie’s potential.  But “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”, and while it may be a stretch to call sitting through the movie to be a hellish experience, it’s not that far away.

The special effects are worse than those int he original film, released 10 years earlier, the story is clumsy and heavy-handed, and the whole thing isn’t even consistent with the mythology set up by the previous movies. The best word for Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is, I think, “drab.” The actors appear bored (except for possibly Gene Hackman, who is cut down by an absurd script and even more inappropriate “theme music”), and the villain cooked up by Hackamn’s Lex Luthor looks like a constipated member of a glam rock band. Most rock bands have better pyrotechnics, though…

Poor Christopher Reeve. He wanted it to be so much better.

OVERALL

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is an under funded mess of a movie, made all the more infuriating by the (albeit small) glimpses of what could have been. The story is dull, the actors are tired, and the special effects are awful. In a scene taking place on the Moon we can actually see the black curtains at the back of the set.

It really says it all when the stock footage of volcanoes erupting seems out-of-place because it is of better quality than the rest of the movie…

NOTE: This review is part of a series called Superheroes: Bottom to Top, wherein I review every super-hero movie I own, from the lowest rated to the highest (according to Rotten Tomatoes). Next up, Batman and Robin! Shudder…

———————

TRAILER

“Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

—————————————-

May 27, 2012 Posted by | 1.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Superhero, Superheroes: Bottom to Top, Year - 1980-1989 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Perfect Host (2011)

The Perfect Host Review
Review # 143

1.5/5 stars

Director – Nick Tomnay

Cast – David Hyde Pierce, Clayne Crawford, Nathaniel Parker, Helen Reddy, Megahn Perry, Joseph Will

——————–

The Perfect Host is a fairly low-budget thriller/horror film, starring David Hyde Pierce as Warwick, a seemingly mild-mannered man who finds himself unwilling host to John, (played by Clayne Crawford), a young man who is on the run from a bank heist. Things take a turn for the worse for John, as things are wont to do. He quickly comes to realize that this particular choice of refuge was very poorly chosen, as Warwick has…well… issues. In fact, he is a bit of a full-blown psycho.

I don’t think it ruins the movie to reveal that, as we learn this very early on. In fact, this is just the first of many twists. Many, many twists. Too many. So despite a good start, good performances, and the intriguing idea at its core, this movie becomes irredeemably muddled, confusing, and almost a chore to sit through.

At first, David Hyde Pierce is very, well, David Hyde Pierce, but slides very well into his characters dark side. There are many downsides to having a much-loved character on a long running TV show, and of course association with that role is one of them. Thus, I could not help but see Frasier‘s little brother Niles pop in and out occasionally, but that stops quite quickly when he starts bashing John over the head with things. We can appreciate this nice bit of anti-casting, as Warwick is anything but a shy milquetoast. The problem, however, is that while the characters are performed well, they’re all wrong. Just plain wrong. We don’t care about any of them, and once the multiple twists keep on coming and character motivations are revealed (often revealed but never explained), we just don’t give a damn any more. While some movie can make unlovable characters work, this one doesn’t even try.

The Perfect Host is essentially torture porn that tries to substitute a fun performance from David Hyde Pierce for torture, but then castrates the character with one strange move after another. The final act is unbelievably bad, with no focus, no point, and no sense of what the hell the movie should be. I have never wanted to yell at the screen quite like this before. With a great third act this could have been a decent movie. An early trailer promised a movie with a clear identity and a simple story, but oh no. Bring on the pointless twists! They work so well for M. Night, right?

OVERALL

Despite a decent first act, The Perfect Host is a horrible mess that makes itself worse as it goes along. The actors work is done well, but the script is all over the place. I was intrigued by the movies awesome trailer, but don’t waste your time on this movie folks. Not even David Hyde Pierce can save it. It is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Look, it even made me quote Shakespeare in a movie review. How’s that for pretentiousness, eh?

——————–

TRAILER

“The Perfect Host” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

—————————————-

February 14, 2012 Posted by | 1.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Horror, Year - 2010-2019 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

97 – The Last Airbender (2010)

The Last Airbender REVIEW

1.5/5 stars

Director – M. Night Shyamalan

Cast – Noah Ringer, Dev Patel, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone, Shaun Toub, Aasif Mandvi, Cliff Curtis, Seychelle Gabriel

——————–

The Last Airbender is adapted from an animated show with heavy Asian influences which aired for three seasons on Nickelodeon. Director M. Night Shyamalan wrote, produced, and directed the movie.

Shyamalan has professed to be a fan of the series. Frankly, I can’t see how anyone with even a passing interest in any TV show could create a movie which treats its material in such a dull and lifeless manner. The dialogue is awfully wooden, painfully expositional, and repetitive. The actors do the best they can, but I don’t think Laurence Olivier himself could have spiced this up or made it feel natural. Even the music, composed by James Newton Howard, is derivative and lifeless.

Despite what others say, I think the CGI was well implemented here. It was not extraordinary, but it blended well with the natural environment. The ships of the villains, the Fire Nation, were gorgeous to look at. I found myself waiting for their next appearance, hoping for one of those spinning shots, as done from a helicopter.

That, of course, is a sign that the movie is incredibly dull. The ironic thing is that the potentially most interesting parts were skipped over, replaced with dull narration. If I had to hear one more example of “…and they became great friends.” or “He then trained in the art of blablabla, becoming well versed…” I was going to leave the theatre.

The actors, though doing their best, are generally miscast, and not because of their ethnicities. Cliff Curtis, who is rapidly becoming the go-to guy for random ethnic parts, is dull as the head honcho of the Fire Nation, and Noah Ringer comes across as a chubby, whiny little brat rather than the supposed saviour of the world. The only actor I can say I enjoyed was Aasif Mandvi. He appears regularly on The Daily Show, and is mainly known as a comedian. Here he plays a general of the evil Fire Nation, and we get from him the sense of a more rounded character. Everyone else seems relegated to “Glowering Villain”, “Youthful Hero” or “Conflicted Bad Guy”. With a few more natural and rounded performances such as his we might have gotten a better movie. As long as the script was better. And the pacing. And the music. And the direction…

OVERALL

The Last Airbender is a dull, derivative, and badly paced. The acting is lazy and the fight scenes are barely adequate. The biggest sin is the screenplay however, which reeks of wooden dialogue and painful exposition. Where has the Shyamalan of The Sixth Sense and Signs gone? Will he ever return?

——————–

TRAILER

“The Last Airbender” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

——————–

July 8, 2010 Posted by | 1.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Fantasy, Year - 2010-2019 | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment