Fantastic Four (The)

The Fantastic Four | Exclusive and original film review/editorial video music presentation with West Coast Midnight Run publication, starring Bon Jovi, Imagine Dragons, Peter Glederblom & The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Super DJ Powerhouse Tiesto, Miles Teller, Jamie Bell, Kate Mara, Michael Jordan and Reg Cathey.




Our five-part editorial music presentation and film revue, an exclusive production from West Coast Midnight Run.  If you are interested in a recap how the Fantastic Four started out, West Coast Midnight Run was there in 2005 for the debut of the adventure with Ioan Gruffud, Chris Evans, Jessica Alba and Michael Chiklis.

There are more editorial pieces coming up soon.  Hold on Fans of The Fantastic, 4 more very soon.


FANTASTIC FOUR MOVIE REVIEW

It's so astonishing!  The lot of comments dropped in my inbox on the Fantastic Four before I had the chance to screen the film and write the review.

"Remember Star Trek The Motion Picture?  Big budget remake, lots and lots of EFX to satisfy the waiting and eager fans, nothing practically happens till the very end.  Good Day V'GER"

"Real Genius on big budget, only this one has vast sets of real-looking labs and R&D facilities"

It's okay if many critics and lots of viewers didn't like the new Fantastic Four.  Perhaps they were somewhat vested in the older franchise with Chris Evans, Ioan Gruffud, Michael Chiklis and Jessica Alba

The new Fantastic Four has some glaring flaws, but it's not what you think and it also got some huge pluses working for it.  If you have already made up your mind from word of mouth advertising and the grapevine, there is no point in reading this review.  In fact some reviewers and viewers may have made up their mind about F4 before, or without, viewing the movie.

In marketing sciences, this behavioral dynamic is tied intimately to a high level of brand awareness.  The skinny?  If something has already a very definite image in your mind, no amount of enticement, conversation, discussion, reviews or advertisement is going to shift your perceptions.  Your opinion is dead set, for better or worse, in solid concrete.

You want my opinion on the new Fantastic Four?  I found much to criticize yet it wasn't all that bad.  In fact the Fantastic Four offered scores of polished elements and pieces that are poorly developed in other big budget spectacular action films.  This reboot had done right what film critics typically bemoan about the many of the ills of superhero adventures.

You must be wondering at this point, what could be the problem with this film?  There are so many I can conjecture for you and I have very limited editorial space.




ANTICIPATION

Let's start with something Sue shares with Reed in a nicely romantic, albeit "modern romance" scene as she is listening to music with her Walkman MP3 player.

Anticipation, or audience anticipation could be one of cupid's several misfires.  Moviegoers may not have been anticipating a re-boot.  In a decade that has seen an ever growing avalanche of superhero films, demand for this item may not have been properly gaged.


CLEAN NEW SLATE

If you were not surprised by the bold move of Fox and the studio executives when they started releasing the initial previews for the new Fantastic Four project, then something is definitely off with the radar.  Of course it looked Fantastic, the new previews had a fresh contemporary look and feel.  However by doing a complete makeover, entirely scrapping the old series, 20th Century Fox was ignoring the only fan base the Fantastic Four brand had.  Remember what we mentioned earlier about brand awareness and its implications?

Fox studios may have wanted to acquire an entirely new audience, a younger generation of moviegoers and in so doing cast an entirely new team of actors, none of which had the star power or appeal of the former cast.  Do we need to mention that Jessica Alba, when cast as Susan Storm already had a tremendous following from her highly successful multi-season TV show Dark Angel?  And if Chris Evans was new from his success in the movie Cellular his star appeal and power continued to rise after his stint as Johnny Torch with Captain America and The Avengers.  

These actors continually feed goodwill into their former projects with each successful movie and nurture their fans, loyal to the brand, who in turn invest into the stars and follow their exploits, creating word of mouth interest and buzz amongst indifferent moviegoers.  To ignore Michael Chiklis is a mistake, he had at least two highly successful TV series with The Commish and The Shield, both running for several seasons and garnering multiple industry awards.  That's three out of four stars from the old film series who had a strong fan base and audience.  The new actors, had very little in established appeal and star power compared to their older counterparts.




YOUNGER, CYNICAL, GEEKY Z GENERATION

While the first set of Fantastic Four and Rise of The Silver Surfer movies targeted Generation X and Generation Y, the new project is unmistakable in its efforts to reach out to Generation Z, bracketing those born after the New Millennium to present day - making the audience pre-teens, teenagers and college students.  These moviegoers are far more tech-oriented, more adept with electronic gadgets, more "wired", cynical and more comfortable with science and technology than any previous generation on this planet.

The result is a movie that is darker, grittier, more realistic in its portrayal of the world and plays up the science and geeky angle rather than the studs and brawns aspects.

Judging from the decent box office receipts of Fantastic Four (in excess of $100 Million so far), it seems that Fox succeeded in slicing an entirely new set of demographically aligned audience, while possibly keeping at bay most of the fans loyal to the older series and brand.


SMALLER BUDGET, FEWER SUPER HEROICS

Many reviewers and critics have pointed out that this effort has fewer action pieces and the exciting stuff is scarce.  Compared to the Man of Steel from Warner Brothers that had a budget well above $200 Million, and Disney/Marvel's The Avengers with a budget that almost closed at $300 Million, Fox did not follow the trend and kept the budget at a humble $100 Million prompting the critics complain about the lack of spectacular action, which is kept to a minimum until the very end of the film when all comes to a head and our heroes let loose against the impending menace facing them and our planet.

Was Fox supposed to up the ante and deliver a movie more grandiose than Disney's Avengers at a budget of $400 Million with effects and battle scenes that would make the eyeballs of the most jaded film reviewers pop out in amazement?  20th Century Fox chose a different tack.



SOME VERY NICE TOUCHES

Remember this movie had some huge pluses working for it?  If you were a moviegoer that found the 2005 Fantastic Four  and 2007 Silver Surfer efforts dreary and dull, this movie has the advantage of offering you a completely different perspective, not just in style, but also in context, content and mechanics.

The storyline takes an in-depth stab at what drives each of the characters, their background, personalities and relational dynamics, far more than any recent superhero movie in memory.  This Fantastic Four also does a great job in providing a more realistic portrayal of the world of science, technology and R&D.  There are some really touching scenes in which the director, Trank, and the filmmakers reach out to their new and younger audiences, via actor Reg Cathey as father of Sue and Johnny and as head scientist, when he belts out a motivational speech on the "finest and sharpest minds assembled on this team" and how the mistakes of the previous generation and their screw-up is this team's opportunity to shine, achieve greatness and fix things.

It's not the motivational speech that is as great as is the manner in which the team receives it which informs us immediately that the filmmakers are addressing a shrewder and more cynical audience that, after all, has been weaned on the antics of the likes of Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga.

There are additional bonus scenes that reinforce this angle, giving audiences a bare-knuckles look at the grim realities of the world awaiting even the finest and sharpest minds that are potentially our salvation. The darker, pessimistic tone is very palpable in this film, as well as the extent of institutional powers that can manipulate, distort and damage a cohesive effort and the team's expectations for reward.  Fantastic Four does not pull its punches with the audience and this may have been a turn off for some moviegoers expecting a more cheery subtext.

The only scene that cheats the audience may have been the absence of intellect, wit or strategy in the turning point that brings the team together to victory.  Rather than offering us the leader, portrayed throughout the film as the unquestionable brain trust for the group, marshalling the big noodle along with superpowers, what we get is more of an Oooomph harrroomph, sheer will and jock bravado pivotal point that breaks the spell of defeat and energizes our heroes to take their powers to the threat facing them.



THE FUTURE FOR THE FANTASTIC FOUR?

While critics continue to extol condolences for this effort and predict the demise and sale of the project back to Marvel Pictures (currently owned by Disney), Fox has announced a new sequel is in the works - slated for summer of 2017.  If this is the case, then the studio's intentions may have been to create a strong background story with the first film only to segue into an action spectacular with the second, having invested heavily into developing the property with a brand new look, personality and core for an entirely new audience.  
All Fox has to do is play nice for the fans of the older series and bring them onboard again for a mega success with the sequel - capturing both new and previous marketshare.  This could be done by either including cameo appearances for the old cast or simply having them endorse a passing- of-the-baton ceremonies for the public at conventions and entertainment-related events.

While shooting the second film, 20th Century Fox can borrow a leaf from Close Encounters of The Third Kind (the Director's Cut) or Lucasfilm's first Star Wars trilogy makeover, by filming extra action scenes for the first film, re-editing them into it and re-releasing this movie a couple of months prior to the debut of the sequel in 2017.

If you have been hoping for a different Fantastic Four and superhero movie, this is your chance to enjoy it - warts and all.  The wait is over, the adventure awaits at your local theater.


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