Fantastic Four

If you have not yet seen the film, there may be some spoilers in here for you! :O Hide your vision if not!

The Fantastic Four was not a film that I myself would have volunteered to see at the cinema. It’s the sort of comic film that could never really seem to be doable.

But apparently they completed a film, and it is comic based.. and seeing as I’m a fan of The Thing I sorta had to go see it.

Directed by some guy called Tim Story- of whom I’ve never heard of- Starring Ioan Gruffudd (Reed), Jessica Alba (Susan), Chris Evans (Johnny), Michael Chiklis (Ben) and Julian McMahon. (Victor)

The film begins by following the comics rather closely, showing the Fan 4’s lives and the event that changes them all. While they are off discovering what they have become Victor Von Doom (McMahon) plots to get Reed Richards (Gruffudd) back for ruining his life. The good guys win, Von Doom is shipped back to his country (Latveria) Only for him to be still alive.. like we didn’t see that coming :P

It seemed like an MTV kids action movie than anything else. With loud obnoxious music, snowboarding and motocross its probably a great film for the youths of today. Unfortunately I am not so interested in all of that. Though Fortunately for me Michael Chiklis did a great job with The Thing, and seeing as he’s my favourite of the four, I couldn’t really care about the others :P.

But I should probably comment on them :/ What can I say… Chris Evans was suited for his role, he seemed to act pretty much like Johnny –a spoilt brat, as well as the spats between Ben and Johnny which were more than frequent in the comics.
As for Ioan Gruffudd I do not think he was right for the part, and the same goes for Jessica Alba. They both felt way out…
The same goes for Julian McMahon, Dr Doom was a poor example of one of coolest villains created in the Marvel Universe. They butchered him, he had his moments, but most of the time he seemed like your usual clichéd bad guy.

But Michael Chiklis is by far different to all those present. His performance as The Thing was excellent. Reminiscent of comics, he played his character perfectly and convincingly as the ever loving blue eyed thing. But as I said, he was the only real good part of the film.

Onto the screenplay MARK FROST?! What? For those you of you that don’t know who he is.. he wrote Twin Peaks with David Lynch. Along with Michael France they both wrote the screenplay of what could be expected of such a film, not what I would expect of Mark Frost though.

I don’t really have much to say about the film. It was better than I thought it would be… hell, it could have been miles worse, thank god they kept The Thing of real materials, rather than a CG monstrosity. So what was good about it?
Well as I keep saying, The Thing was the best part of the film (he’s one of my favourite comic superheroes) I liked how they kept to the comics and everything.

As for bad points- I could say the acting from the other cast members were not excellent. The CGI for Reed was not the best, it had one shinning moment, then looked kinda crappy the rest of the time. But then it was needed, else Mr Fantastic would be unable to stretch..

Overall it was a film you’d perhaps go see to be entertained, not particularly life changing, or profoundly deep, its just some harmless fun-filled entertainment. A family movie, with a great performance by Michael Chiklis, other than himself, an all round ok, but nothing special cast.

Cptalbertwesker Rating - 5/10
Was actually better than I expected, pretty close to the comics. Merits half marks.


Batman Begins

If you have not yet seen the film, there may be some spoilers in here for you! :O

Batman Begins, the fifth instalment in the Batman series: a series that had proclaimed itself dead to me when George Clooney stepped up to the role under the direction of Joel Schumacher. Full of nippled costumes and awful dialogue I did not know what to think when Batman Begins -the film to follow the monstrosity that was Batman & Robin- was released. So I vowed never to see it.

But with nothing to do, it couldn’t hurt to see it, after all being directed by Christopher Nolan, who had made an interesting film of Memento,
and much like every other Batman film it boasted a star studded cast. I was more than pleased with the performances that they all gave.

To name a few, the cast was made of Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson and Gary Oldman. Not to mention Rutger Hauer, Cillian Murphy, Katie Holmes and Tom Wilkinson.

So what’s the film about? The film follows Bruce (Bale) from when he left Gotham after his parents were killed. Somewhere along the line of finding himself he is arrested, and eventually found by Ducard (Neeson), promising that if he becomes a member of a ninja cult then he will be free to go, as long as he follows under their rule. He is taught their ways, manages to escape and travels back to Gotham, to get back what was once his -as well as have a stab eradicating the troubles in Gotham. He begins with Falcone; the local mob boss. This is very much how it was played out in the comics. Once Batman managed to get Falcone the weirdoes in masks came out. So once he’s dealt with Falcone he’s got an even bigger foe to sort out.
In this case it's the scarecrow.

Watching the trailers for the film I was afraid that Batman Begins was going to be a mishmash of karate/kung fu fighting with a big car known as the Batmobile. But I was surprisingly wrong about that. The ‘Batmobile’ was not as bad as I had first thought. Congratulations are also in order for Mr Nolan to stick to using actual stunts rather than CGI with the Batmobile. Which made a huge jump across a long gap all the more amazing.
As for his suit, it was ok, I guess you could say it was more suited for the film. Although I do prefer the yellow bat symbol myself.

From mentioning the star studded cast, one has to worry, in cases such as this, most of the actors present would not usually be used to their potential. This was not the case in Batman.
First off you have Christian Bale; who can play both Bruce Wayne and Batman superbly. Most actors that portray Batman can either play a good Bruce or a good Batman. He had some great lines as the suave Bruce, which reminded me of the comics. And I thought he did a good Batman, although he seemed to shout a little.

Michael Caine was not someone I would envision as Alfred; especially after Michael Gough playing the character for years, I could not imagine someone else taking his place. But Caine filled the void rather well; he was witty, charming and above all actually felt like Alfred. I just can’t stand him though.

Murphy’s Scarecrow was the point of the film that made it darker than any other Batman film previous, his fear gas, along with the CGI that accompanied it made everything spectacular. And seeing as it was a 12A I was dumbfounded. Batman may not of contained the amounts of blood that War of the Worlds had, but the Scarecrow had a quality that I believe would scare any small child. Hell he looked like the chainsaw-wielding-bag headed-monster-zombie from Resident Evil 4
I can’t say that Liam Neeson’s character was anything special; nothing like his better roles. Must say he wasn’t too noticeable.

Gary Oldman played a great Commissioner Gordon, but then Oldman always seems a pretty solid actor. Even though when I look at his resume, I have not seen him in that many films. He and characters acted by Morgan Freeman, Tom Wilkinson and Rutger Hauer all helped propel the movie forwards. Although poor Rutger Hauer was unrecognisable by my sister.

The downfall of the film was the choice of Katie Holmes as the heroine.
In the past Batman was given such beauties as Kim Basinger, Nicole Kidman and Michelle Pfeiffer. Holmes looked too young for her role. She was supposed to be the District Attorney! No offence Miss Holmes, you look about 18.

What made this Batman film extraordinarily different from all the others was its focus. The original 1989 Batman was not hailed for Keaton’s role as Batman or Bruce. It was Nicholson’s force as a great actor that the film will be remembered for.
Never before has the audience been shown so much of Batman and so little of the villains.

The greatest achievement of Batman Begins was to actually take from some of the best Batman stories around. Sure you can nitpick it, but it will not stop the film from feeling like Batman. He’s darker than ever and part of that is created by Gotham’s atmosphere.
Gotham certainly is not Burton’s extravagant imaging of it. Far from it in fact. Gotham looks more suited for a film like Blade Runner. Because of this slight change it makes the film grittier than any before.

I’ve praised the film enough, so what are its problems?
Let me just state I’m a nitpicker.
It was a pretty long film, at about 3 hours long it's not the longest film out there, but because of its length I got home pretty late. That also means the chances of me watching it a lot when it is released on DVD will be pretty slim, because I’m a nut when it comes to time management.
The Fight sequences were too fast paced, with a cut every few seconds it was too hard to tell what was happening in most fights.
A couple of my problems were also with the incident of his parents’ death. Simply that they had gone to the theatre to see Die Fledermaus rather than Zorro; to stick with tradition. Although it did fit context.
Second, focus on the pearls. No matter what Batman comic you read that focuses on their death you always focus on the pearls. Pearls symbolise innocence. The innocence is gone when they drop to the ground in pieces. I believe they even focused on it with some of the other Batman films.

On the plus of being a bit of a Batman fan I must say the screenplay took from some of the best comics out there. Most noticeably Loeb’s The Long Halloween and Dark Victory and although David Goyer denied it. Some of it is comparable to Frank Miller’s Year One. (The bat signaller on his shoes, and the end)

Overall I have to say it was a great film, an even better Batman film! With a great villain, and some great actors, it was one of the best films of the summer I have seen.

Cptalbertwesker Rating 8/10 Great film, bit long but well worth the watch. Especially if you’re a fan of Batman.

Can’t wait to see who they cast for the Joker!! I can only hope that the next film will be just as good as this was.


War of the Worlds

War of the Worlds, a spur of the moment film when watched, please take the time to read my views.
If you have not yet seen the film, there may be some spoilers in here for you! :O Run for the hills!

Well it was a Tuesday, which meant a very long school day. And I thought, ‘Hell, lets go to the cinema’ Which doesn’t happen much. We only really went for the fact that Tuesday’s are Student Days at the Odeon, meaning that tickets are half price at only £3.50 each.

The choice was out of Batman Begins and War of the Worlds. It was a tough choice, but I chose that we (me and kitty) would watch War of the Worlds.
Although we watched Batman Begins the following week anyway.

War of the Worlds, another blockbuster churned out by the mogul that is Steven Spielberg. Starring only Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin and Tim Robbins.

Directed by Steven Spielberg; whom has had much experience with alien movies, but never before have I seen such a good disaster movie (probably because I tend not to watch them).
The film follows Ray Ferrier; a dock worker, divorced with two children, who he has been given the responsibility to look after at the time the aliens strike. Of course nobody gets along well. The film spans across many states and environments for the ultimate goal of reaching Boston; where the children’s mother and stepfather are staying. Throughout this journey we are witness to a haunting train, the remains of a plane crash, a boat disaster and lots of running, hiding and shouting.

A typical action movie. Except for one difference.
I enjoyed it.

My main anxiety for the film was its enormous usage of CGI for the creation of the aliens. I am not always the fan of CGI especially when it is issued for no reason. But in War of the Worlds the CGI effects were utilised extraordinarily, helping to convey the frightening devastation that the tripods unleashed unto the protagonist’s world.

A note on Tom Cruise in the film. I am not his biggest fan, I must admit whenever I see him in a movie I always need to comment on how short he is compared to regular actors. But hell, he was really one of the only actors in the film alongside with Robbins. No one else really struck me with an amazing performance.
Another bit I picked up on was how Tom Cruise looked really old. I came to the conclusion while watching that perhaps it was just to convey his desperation in the events, how tired he really was. Well you couldn’t really have some shiny clean actor bursting through the film, looking as though nothing had happened...
But I felt he gave a good performance. Perhaps it’s not up there with some of his better characters, but he was convincing - a man on the edge, at the end of his wits. With a screaming child at his side...

Dakota Fanning... the screaming little girl. Surprisingly I did not find her too annoying, I usually would. I hate children in films. But then without them, it would just be a bunch of adults. Justin Chatwin didn’t really strike me with a great performance; I do not really remember much of him while I write this. The only fact I do remember his character was the blatant advertising of the Apple iPod... eww I’m biased against their cause.

Tim Robbins was the only other real ‘good’ actor besides Cruise. He gave a first-rate performance as a crazed guy. I thought his character was really sinister though, half expecting him to try and kill them all.
The only other memorable character was the female friend of Ray, her death was rather shocking, and not expected by myself. Especially for a film where everyone lives happily ever after. (She was the one that couldn’t make it onto the ferry).

Off acting I will now focus on the screenplay. Of which I do not remember predicting any lines; which for a large budget film is usually unheard of. Especially with a screenwriter like David Koepp, who has written many a large budget screenplay before.
Sure not everything was the best, but I do remember some rather funny lines, and occurrences:

Two for you, two for Robbie, two for me... One for the house
(That was funny, but not supposed to be :P)

What is this?
Yeah, from the Health food place, I kept a menu last time we were here.
(Stares at her)
… Well you said order.
Yeah… food.

What is it? Is it terrorists?
These came from some place else.
What do you mean… like… Europe?
No, Robbie, not like Europe!

I’m allergic to peanut butter.
Since when?

Most of them are only funny in context, but I remember laughing a little now and then when I saw the film.

A note on the score by John Williams... that was John Williams? I do not even remember hearing any music whatsoever. I could not distinguish John Williams in the film at all. His work is usually so easy to recognise.
As for diegetic sound, the tripods made the experience of going to the cinema solid. The terrifying screeches let off by the tripods sailed all around the 10 people seated at the particular screen. The sound effects were magical, the best part of the film.

The film itself having been rated PG was going pretty easy on it. If I were a small child I would have been terrified to see such a film. With innocent civilians being disintegrated left and right, alongside others being spewn all over the place.
Although the violence was all in context, it’s not as though a cinema goer could copy the events and kill someone in the same fashion.

So what was good about the film?
The eerie quality that highways gave were perfect for the film. Hundreds of deserted cars along a stretch of road really gave a feel of isolation, another event that helped with this was most definitely the airplane crash; the strangest part of the film, alongside with the flaming train.
The introduction of the tripods was spectacular, destruction left and right so heartlessly that I loved it.
I liked the story of the loser father, some of the dialogue along with the acting was top notch. An all round enjoyable film.

Although every film has its bad points. Mine were mainly with parts of the story.
Why did Spielberg decide they would be under the ground? I suppose if they hadn’t of been it would have been another Independence Day. But still I thought it was unnecessary.
It would seem some of the film was centred for compassion for your fellow man. If that were the case then why did no one care about the first man to be sucked inside the tripod from the cage? Why did the army officer give Tom Cruise the thingy of grenades and not the other poor guy? No one else seemed to care a thought for him.
My only other gripe: Boston.
If there were as many tripods after Ray as there was everywhere else, then why did Boston look immaculate? How did all these people survive? Ray had been around different parts of the country; many of with were deserted because of the terrible devastation. Of course in talking of Boston, this all leads to the ending... of which words cannot express.

With such a great film I feel the ending dampened the whole thing. I would have rather it had a sad ending, than one so happy.
But seeing as this particularly bad end was to a pretty great film, it does not come off too bad.

Overall a pretty decent film. The first to rekindle my interest in contemporary cinema, and began me on the road of watching a new film every Tuesday.
It had some good acting, some fun dialogue, and some great special effects. The kind of film I would go to the cinema to see, simply for the experience given by the sound.

Cptalbertwesker Rating 7/10 A great premise but a bad end, definitely a good start to the summer films.