Friday, February 26, 2021

Fantastic Four (1994)

The 2021 So Bad It’s Good Blogathon is an event devoted to films commonly perceived as bad, yet enjoyable, hosted by Taking Up Room. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the link at the host site.

Fantastic Four (1994)

YouTube viewing

I don’t recall where I first learned there would be a movie based on Fantastic Four, my favorite childhood comic book—in one of Stan Lee’s editorial “Bullpen Bulletins,” perhaps. I specifically remember seeing a flyer at my local comic shop announcing the guy who played Reed Richards would appear for a signing. 

As time passed, and it became clearer the movie would not come soon to a theater near me, I was disappointed. This was before the renaissance of comic book movies that began with Blade and X-Men and Spider-Man and continued with Iron Man and the cinematic universes of Marvel and DC. Films like Batman and Robin and Superman IV taught me to lower my expectations.

Then the FF film went straight to video, and bootleg copies popped up at conventions. At one, a dealer played it on a small TV screen and I finally caught a snippet.

I believe it was the scene with the Human Torch flying. (I say “the scene” because it’s the only one in the movie!) I recognized it as the Torch; that was encouraging, no? Maybe it would’ve looked better on a big screen. Maybe it needed to be seen from the beginning for me to truly appreciate. It wasn’t fair to judge based on an out-of-context clip from a bootlegged copy shown at a noisy and crowded comic convention.

Besides, I had seen a few photos of the cast: they got the costumes right (except the “4” logo was so low it was practically on their stomachs), the Thing was massive and rocky like he was supposed to be (even if he kinda looked made out of papier-mâché), and they really overdid it with the grey in Reed’s hair, but the most important things were the acting and the story. As long as I could believe in the whole thing, the rest wouldn’t matter. One day I would see it and judge for myself.

It couldn’t be that bad, right?

Monday, February 22, 2021

New York movie theaters set to reopen in March!

With New York City reopening, the studios will hopefully have more confidence to keep their release dates as planned, which is a huge step in the process of recovery for the entire exhibition industry...”


I’m of two minds about this. 

I knew this day would come sooner or later, and of course I’m thrilled, but at the same time I’m trepidatious. How can I not be? Spending two hours inside an enclosed room, immobile, without outside exposure, with a large amount of strangers who may or may not keep their masks on, is less enticing now than it was last summer when I was so sure I’d go back right away and follow all the social distancing protocols and blah blah blah. 

Spending Thanksgiving and Christmas with small groups of friends prepared me for this moment, I suppose (Virginia and I also went to a museum last fall), but I honestly didn’t think it would come quite so soon. 

I’ll return, but I won’t run right out on the first weekend. 

The bigger takeaway from this, of course, is what this means to the movie industry in general. Local theaters—the chains, indies and revival houses—will stay in business after all. How they’ll compete with the streaming services is another question, but at least they’ll have gotten past the worst of it.


Monday, February 1, 2021

Netflix new release roundup for January ‘21

...and that was just January.

What a month, huh? Our long national nightmare is finally over, though the mess DT left behind will take years, if not decades, to clean up, and a whole lot of people out there will try to impede the process... but now that adults are in charge of America again, we stand a good chance at making some progress. To ease us back to movie-related discussion, if you haven’t seen this video from Arnold Schwarzenegger—the former California governor, remember?—take a look at it.

The Midnight Sky. George Clooney and a little kid are stuck on an Arctic base but they’ve gotta send a message to a spaceship returning from a scouting trip to another planet, telling them not to come home because the earth is effed up. This was done well and all, but man, I’m tired of all these depressing space exploration movies: Interstellar, Gravity, First Man, Ad Astra. I realize SF can’t all be action-adventure shoot-em-ups, but space travel used to represent hope. What happened? Clooney also directs and produces; as an actor, he’s in full-on Grizzly Adams mode, and everyone’s grim and silent and sad. Just the kinda thing we all need right now, isn’t it?

Pretend It’s a City. Vija told me about this one (she read about it; she didn’t see it): a documentary mini-series, in half-hour installments, on writer Fran Leibowitz, her love-hate relationship with New York, and thoughts on life in general, directed by Martin Scorsese. This is actually their second collaboration; the first movie he made about her was in 2010. I had no prior experience with her; never read her work, never seen her speak, barely even knew who she was, but I can see why Marty put her on film. One part Woody Allen, one part Dorothy Parker, her observations on New York life are quite funny and very often on the nose, to those of us who have lived here long enough. This is someone I could easily see chatting with on a subway car, complaining over a variety of things that are wrong about the city, but mostly I’d be listening. I think there’s a lot to appreciate about this even if you’re not a New Yorker.

Outside the Wire. US-military-made cyborg teams up with disgraced drone pilot to hunt down European terrorist looking to acquire nukes—but said cyborg has agenda of his own. Anthony Mackie gets to channel his inner Van Damme in what some critics have called an SF Training Day. It was okay, but not emotionally involving. Doesn’t have the heart of Terminator 2 or the brain of Ex Machina. It’s basically an excuse for Mackie to kick ass—which, granted, he does really well! Newcomer Damson Idris is appealing as the human reluctantly paired with this cyborg, but otherwise, well, I probably would’ve passed on this if it were a theatrical release.

More on the other side.