Monday, June 25, 2007

Save me from Summer blockbusters

Okay, that’s it! Uncle! I give up. I’ve seen my last summer blockbuster for the season. Yawned at my last dazzling special effect. Given up trying to figure out what each superhero’s deal was (she can fly and he can turn water into jello? I’m so confused.) Slept through my last hundred million dollar big screen comic book.

SPIDERMAN 3 was bad enough but I made the mistake of sitting through FANTASTIC 4: THE SILVER SURFER. Now I hadn’t seen the first FANTASTIC 4 (opting for the more sophisticated ADVENTURES OF SHARK BOY AND LAVA GIRL instead) so I had no idea how seriously stupid this franchise was. I figured -- Jessica Alba in spandex for 90 minutes, how bad could it be?

This bad: I was rooting for the destruction of the planet.

So the FANTASTIC 4 is a team of superheroes. Aren’t the X-MEN and JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA the same thing? And what about HEROES? Or when Casper and Wendy the good little witch paired up? Hollywood originality in action again.

Jessica Alba’s power is that she can create force fields (big deal. Elisabeth Hasselbeck can do that just by opening her mouth.) and can become invisible. That’s really bright. Take the most beautiful girl on the planet and hide her.

She’s engaged to an ubernerd scientist, which seemed utterly absurd until I saw what his superpower was. Hey, if I could stretch my limb five feet I could get Jessica Alba too.

Michael Chiklis is Rock Man or Bad Acme Man, I dunno what. The kid from MASK with a tan the color of Robert Evan’s skin. And they’ve got him talking like Mongo in BLAZING SADDLES. “Me want to wallop him!” This is how he parlays his Emmy for THE SHIELD?

Finally there’s hunkalicious, Chris Evans who can fly when he says “Torch on!” Same as with Jessica, you hire this piece of eye candy and half the movie he’s just an exhaust flume.

To insure that the audience knew who the villain was, they hired Julian McMahon (the villain in everything he’s ever done) dyed his hair even blacker than it is, gave him arched eyebrows, had him screw his face into a permanent sneer, and gave him the subtle name Victor Von Doom. All that was missing was a “Cheney for President” button.

As for the Silver Surfer, if you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen his whole act. His mission is to fly around wreaking havoc and it’s only at the end we learn he’s really John from Cincinnati.

Andre Braugher was also featured. You could almost see his price tag taped to his forehead.

Screenwriters bust their asses to create interesting characters, explore the human condition, make their audiences feel something. And most of their efforts remain unproduced or unsold while dreck like FANTASTIC 4 gets made. And I imagine FANTASTIC 4 MEETS THE LAWNMOWER MAN is already greenlit.

So that’s it for me. No more idiotic stories. No more infantile dialogue. No more cartoons. No more toys. TRANSFORMERS? Not a chance. DIE HARD? Not a cartoon per se but that's because Bruce Willis can no longer fit into a body suit. Pass.

I used to enjoy comic book movies. SUPERMAN, BATMAN, even the first X-MEN. But like every other successful genre, Hollywood has run it into the ground.

They can't kill Superman but they can kill the Golden Goose.

For the rest of the summer I’ll just sit home, download Jessica Alba photos from the internet and catch up on THE WIRE.

46 comments:

Rory L. Aronsky said...

Andre Braugher was also featured. You could almost see his price tag taped to his forehead.

Same thing when he was in "Poseidon." There, he should have worn a t-shirt that said: "I will die for (insert dollar amount here)."

Anonymous said...

Well, in all fairness, they had to be true to the comics. Those have been around for decades. Maybe it didn't translate so well to the screen, but you can't, for example, have The Invisible Girl not go invisible.

Chris said...

<< Screenwriters bust their asses to create interesting characters, explore the human condition, make their audiences feel something. And most of their efforts remain unproduced or unsold while dreck like FANTASTIC 4 gets made. And I imagine FANTASTIC 4 MEETS THE LAWNMOWER MAN is already greenlit.

So that’s it for me. No more idiotic stories. No more infantile dialogue. No more cartoons. No more toys. TRANSFORMERS? Not a chance. DIE HARD? Pass. For the rest of the summer I’ll just sit home, download Jessica Alba photos from the internet and catch up on THE WIRE. >>

Yes! Go Ken! GREAT post, thank you.

Ian said...

I'm sorry you've decided to give up on summer blockbusters, Ken. From your comments (funny, BTW), I think what you should really take a pass on are movies based on comic books. I haven't seen one in a decade, and most of my brain cells are present and accounted for (okay, I saw Sin City, but that was based a graphic novel, which as I understand it is a comic book for people who don't want to admit that they read comic books).

I noticed that the new Die Hard movie got a glowing review from the Hollywood Reporter, in spite of a lot of cartoonish violence. (In my book cartoonish is okay, comic bookish is out). I'll probably see that one.

Speaking of cartoonish, let's not forget that there's one more summer blockbuster coming (and no, I don't mean Michael Moore's "Sicko," although apparently every preview screening in L.A. sold out this past weekend). Three words: Rat. At. Ouille.

BLUE SUBMARINE. said...

i havn't seen this movie.
but after your description of it, i think i'll take your word for it. Hollywood really does need to do something about their creativity. it must have fallen into a deep abyss somewhere. i'm more than sick of hearing about movies with superheroes and saving Earth. it's getting very old. plus, things that could actually happen appeal more to the general public in my opinion.

Andrew said...

If you want to see REALLY bad, see the first FF film. This one was light years ahead of it. Which, of course, doesn't make it a great film.

But you're making all the wrong criticisms of it. Jessica Alba turns invisible because... well, her name is The Invisible Woman. Victor Von Doom is named that because... well, his name is Victor von Doom. He's one of the most seminal characters in the Marvel lineup, and has been since 1961. The movie can't suddenly call him Hannibal Kreuger.

You've even got some of the major details of the film wrong. The Thing doesn't talk like "me no want go big summer movies no more" -- that's the original Hulk, not the Thing. The Thing talks like a Brooklyn cab driver, which is how he's always talked, again since 1961.

In fact, you've even got the premise of the movie wrong -- they're not a team of superheroes; they're a family of superheroes. That's what sets them apart from the X-Men, the Watchmen, and all the other superhero teams to come after them. Maybe that's the one thing, in a movie that was overall quite faithful to the feel of the original comics, that it didn't exactly pull off.

Oh yeah: And the Torch's slogan is "Flame On" -- which is how it entered the Internet vernacular.

Ken Levine said...

Excuse me for not getting the details exact but I stand by my overall impression. Yes, it was true to the comic book. Maybe I'm just sick of going to movie theaters to see comic books.

I used to enjoy them. SUPERMAN, BATMAN, even the first X-MEN. But like every other successful genre, Hollywood has run it into the ground.

They can't kill Superman but they can kill the Golden Goose.

LOVE AND IMMIGRATION CRIER said...

Sometimes I do wonder if "Blockbusters" do care about Kids of the world when it comes to comics exchanging fire for love or wealth?I presume we all know kids think and behave.As a teenager,I once hurt my left foot and hard a deep wound that needed serious medical attention but because I had just watched one of Rambo's movies in which he fell from a tree hurt his arm and simply took out a needle and tread and became a surgeon himself,I had to sew my foot without any anesthesia in front of my friends.I needed to prove to my friends how strong I was comparable to John Rambo.This is how kids and teenagers learn,what do you think

The Crutnacker said...

Honestly Ken, I don't know how Fantastic Four would make any sense to you since you skipped the first three movies. This one was an attempt to get back to their roots, that obviously failed for you because you haven't seen how much the characters have grown since Fantastic One. Fantastic Two was awesome, having been ghostwritten by Robert Towne. Fantastic Three was the obvious money play, with its ridiculous gags and musical numbers.

The Crutnacker said...

A comment on Sicko.....

I work in the healthcare industry, and once had occasion to see some of Michael Moore's handiwork first hand at my place of employment. While I cannot deny that healthcare is broken, I also feel that Moore's simplistic approach and demonization of easy targets fails to address the real problems.

John said...

Man, if Elizabeth Hasselbeck can create strong enough force fields to keep a dense object like Rosie O'Donnell out, that is a tremendous super power...

WizarDru said...

"I used to enjoy them. SUPERMAN, BATMAN, even the first X-MEN. But like every other successful genre, Hollywood has run it into the ground."

Can I take it from your multiple references to the first X-men movie that you didn't enjoy the second X-men film? Because I thought, by most accounts, that it was considerably better than the first X-men film.

The biggest problem with superhero films is that they constantly need updating for their time period and almost all superhero movies make the same classic mistakes, story and character-wise. Spiderman 3 is a considerable disappointment, because everyone thought Raimi understood what didn't work and wouldn't make those mistakes (since he hadn't before).

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Richard Marcej said...

Ken, what I don't understand is, you're railing about the summer blockbuster films, about how stupid and a waste of time they are-
yet you watch, follow and write about the biggest waste of time of them all - American Idol.

I'll take a summer film, that's around for a few weeks and only returns for an occasional sequel and then forgotten over the uber-insult to intelligence that is reality shows, most specifically American Idol.

ThatGuyInVA said...

You are much better off watching the best drama on television. And you can bet The Wire will actually have an ending when its time comes.

Mary Stella said...

Maybe we just aren't the target demo. I never saw the first FF, so the second didn't grab my interest in the least. Twenty five years ago, my father didn't understand the appeal of E.T. which I saw six times in the theater.

What I really want to know, Ken, is if you're going to exchange reviews with Adrian from your comments and grow up both of your blogs. Your blog is definitely more famous than mine. I never get offers like Adrian's. *g*

Special Sam said...

I'm so glad I haven't seen this. I never have been a big fan of comic book movies. The only exception so far has been Sin City. And what do you know? Our goddess, Jessica Alba, was in that as well. It's funny, too, because I've never considered her a good actress. Guess I'll stick to my funny, over-the-top gross-out Apatow comedy for the summer. Which I have yet to see.

Anonymous said...

I don't get people bagging on this movie. It simply wasn't that bad. Was it tremendous? Thought-provoking? Nope. It was just fun.

And as a former comic book fiend, half the fun for me is just seeing these characters come to life. It's amazing.

Ken Levine said...

I know. I'm an enigma. I don't like FANTASTIC 4 but I do like AMERICAN IDOL. It's insane. I'm impossible to figure out.

Mary Stella, I don't do review swaps of blogs because if I did it for one I'd be obligated to do it for everyone and that would leave me no time to make fun of comic book movies.

andrew said...

i think fantastic four and movies of that ilk, suffer because the movie producers forgot the essence of these movies. For instance, the INCREDIBLES had the same idea, an action adventure movie based on a FAMILY of superheroes, but on a deeper level, it was really a FAMILY movie! And pixar people really nailed that to the wall. They paid so much attention to the dynamics of the family relationships, and the issues were very human, and once they had that worked out, they could safely work on the package or the sugar coating which is the special cool effects. Isn't that what a good mainstream blockbuster should be? a fun entertaining movie which also happens to impart some kind of good value in as unobstrusive a manner as possible?

Dante Kleinberg said...

Fantastic Four 2 is a terrible movie.

But please, I'm sick of people blaming the source material. Comic books are no more or less viable an artistic medium than any other. I'm not a huge FF fan, but I've read plenty of FF comics that were simply great.

A few years back a writer named Mark Waid and an artist name Mike Wieringo did a couple years of FF comics that are some of the best things out there. They really pushed the boundaries of what you'd expect in a superhero story right from the start, when the first villain they faced was a math equation so complex it gained sentience and fell in love with Reed Richards. It sounds silly, sure, but if you actually read the comic, it's terrifying.

Maybe one day they'll get a creative team on the FF movie franchise who understands the appeal of the characters. Until then, at least we've got Iron Man and Batman Begins 2 to look forward to.

The Letch said...

More Jessica Alba please...

Dave said...

Fantastic Four 2 is dreadful -- even more than the first one (no mean feat), but most of it comes from the filmmakers seeming to be embarrased by doing a "comic book" movie and wanting to rush through it. (I can understand Chiklis wanting to play Ben Grimm, though; he's one of the most beloved characters in comics.)

The biggest problem with most superhero movies is that they're so damn formulaic: Introduce hero. Give him powers. Introduce villain. Villain kicks hero's ass. Hero smarts over defeat. Villain and hero meet again. Hero suddenly defeats villain due to a deus ex machina, villain's overconfidence, or a fluke. Villain dies. Hero flies off into the sunset. Roll credits.

I long for the day when someone has the nerve to break the formula and make a movie about characters who happen to be superheroes, rather than that being the only reason for the movie. (Singer tried in Superman Returns, but he was so hyp-mo-tized by the Donner movies that he neglected anything resembling a movie, including characterization and dramatic tension.)

Granted, the genre exists for watching guys in their underwear punch each other, but couldn't there be more than that? Watchmen might do it, but given Hollywood's track record, I'm not holding my breath.

Chelsea said...

Fantastic 4 is not cool. X Men is awesome though.

Mary Stella said...

Mary Stella, I don't do review swaps of blogs because if I did it for one I'd be obligated to do it for everyone and that would leave me no time to make fun of comic book movies.

I figured as much, Ken, but since you've now saved so much time by not swapping reviews with that guy, and there isn't another comic book movie coming out for awhile, would you please watch America's Got Talent at least once? I want the pure pleasure of reading whatever blog you write about the show.

Anonymous said...

>>Maybe it didn't translate so well to the screen, but you can't, for example, have The Invisible Girl not go invisible.<<

Maybe just her clothes could go invisible. That would work for me, and I'd pay to see the movie over and over and over...

Alaskaray

Brian Howe said...

Okay - there's no question the last few comic book movies have been bad, but Superman?
Are you high? Every Superman movie made blew pole. No use arguing. Superman made these films look like The Godfather. I'll give you Batman (the 1st one ONLY) But Superman? Gimme a break.

Lizbeth said...

I just took my kids to see Pirates of the Caribbean 3 today and we were all bored out of our minds. The movie made absolutely no sense. It was actually painful to watch. I never thought I'd be tired of Johnny Depp, but that movie was awful.

And yes, I too was disappointed by Spiderman 3, Shrek 3, and The Fantastic Four -Silver Surfer. It's all just noise. It's like they think we won't notice that they're shooting movies without actual scripts.

I think I'm done with summer blockbusters too. I'm just gonna sit home and watch Freaks & Geeks on DVD.

Good Dog said...

Given the choice, I'd ditch the movies and stick to The Wire.

The Wire has story and characters. Therefore it wins every time.

Robert Ward said...

To everyone who saw the sequels....

You paid, you went, you supported them.

I hate you.

Will there ever be a Terminator 2 or a Godfather II again. I mean a sequel that actually adds to the characters?

Or will it be more of the same? Crap on top of more crap...

Don't go... Just don't. They might not make as many if we stop going.

Instead, I vote that we support television shows that are ripping it up.

Rescue Me, The Wire, The Sheild, etc.....

I can't believe that Arrested development gets cancelled, but they make another fantastic 4 movie...

Anonymous said...

Ken, Thanks for taking another bullet for the team. Your willingness to sit through all the crap Hollywood has to offer is commendable!
In the end you have saved me from wasting valuable time.

Bill Nesbitt

D. McEwan said...

hz"Every Superman movie made blew pole."

Brian, I had to read your posting three times before I realized that your expression "Blew Pole" was meant as a COMPLIMENT, as, let's face it, that sounds like an insult. And BTW, SUPERMAN III and SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE blew pole in the bad way.

And everybody, PLEASE stop referring to Fantastic Four as "FF," as to a few really dirty-minded pervs like myself, FF means something VERY different. Everytime I read that "The first FF was even worse than the second FF," it's all I can do to hold in the spit-take.

SJ said...

You won't be disappointed with THE WIRE, that's for sure.

Ratatouille is getting some astonishing reviews so that's a must-see. It's Pixar...can't go wrong with them!

I think Sicko is a must-see movie too....there are problems with it, but it is a very important movie.

Btw I will definitely watch Transformers, even though I know Michael Bay is going to f it up somehow. I just have a soft spot for Transformers since I grew up watching the show as a kid.

Dwacon said...

Obviously Ken, you didn't read comics as a kid...

Jennifer said...

I made the mistake of seeing the first Fantastic Four (at the dollar theater), so I am definitely not going to bother with the second.

However, comic book movies aren't totally doomed. I loved Batman Begins, and I am really looking forward to the Dark Knight.

theBender said...

You hear it all the time: Film, first and foremost, is a business. It's not about enlightening humankind, it's getting butts in the seats. That and the $40 bucks in concessions (popcorn and 2 medium drinks). What always rankles me is the willful amnesia that the business was always based on telling a story. In words, in dialogue, painted in compelling pictures, whatever, the thing that brought people back was story, well told. That's what so much of today's crap lacks.

The Crutnacker said...

I think we can all take comfort in the fact that Evan Almighty tanked at the box office.

When you can't even find material that looks good for the commercials and trailer, you know you have problems.

Also, I have to comment on the backhanded smackdown of the Soprano's finale that said "You can bet the wire will have an ending."

Get over it! The Sopranos ending was brilliant.

America's Got Talent is essentially the Gong Show with lesser celebrities. Although I have to say that their Simon Cowell is more entertaining and witty (not that this is a stretch) than the real thing.

Mary Stella said...

America's Got Talent is essentially the Gong Show with lesser celebrities. Although I have to say that their Simon Cowell is more entertaining and witty (not that this is a stretch) than the real thing.

Not to mention a lesser host. Doesn't say much for Jerry Springer that Chuck Barris was more entertaining.

MARV said...

Dude, I feel ya... I'm a card carrying (although I don't flash it around)comic nerd and I'm (almost)done with effin' "superhero" movies...
I'll give Transformers a go tonight...(Bay! you muthaf*cker!!You better not have screwed it up!)...and possibly Tin Tin when it comes out..
Crossin' my fingers...

Batocchio said...

The summer blockbusters seem more painful than usual this year (so far).

Anonymous said...

here's to hoping that you get the chance to share some of your thoughts on The Wire after you get caught up....

Anonymous said...

Send me your address. I want to send you a nickel so you can buy a clue. I hope you are ten years old or else you are in serious trouble in life.

FUNNYMAN said...

I never really was a big fan of the Fantastic 4. I thought the comics, movies, tv shows were all dreadful. Nice Alba picture by the way!!!
http://wwwfunnyman.blogspot.com/

Scottler said...

Jessica Alba is one the hottest women on the planet. I might even go see fantastic four just for her!....Well no, but her sexy pics will be on my screen so. And really, that's what counts right? To me anyway, and that's what really counts.

Paul said...

Fantastic Four 2 was aimed at kids, not adults.

I want to see Die Hard 4 and Transformers.

And you're complaining about screenwriters busting their asses and such... come on, what you're really saying is "The people that pay to see movies are morons and it annoys me".

If character-driven dramas made $114 million on opening weekend, they'd make a whole lot of them. Sometimes people (including me) want to be entertained, not enlightened. Especially in the hot summer. Winter is when I like to curl up by the fire and watch a character-driven drama on DVD, not summer.

Jennifer said...

die hard was ok...although you knew bruce willis wasn't gonna die, no matter how old he is. i never planned on seeing fantastic 4...seems like it's a stupid as i thought it was gonna be. cept i have to admit jessica alba + julian mcmahon=explosion of sexiness. lol i'm a dork. anyway, the point is, what'd you expect?