Friday, 4 September 2015

Fantastic Four (12A)

I know I'm getting old, but we all remember the last Fantastic 4 film right? I know the Silver Surfer one was duff, but the first one was OK.

And it had Stan Lee in, so that made it cool.

Who the hell decided we needed another frickin' reboot?

What's that? Darker and grittier you say? Well, that makes everything OK...

And if it had have been, it might have done.

Instead we spend more than half the film explaining how the 4 got together, leaving barely any time left for the big battle at the end.

Who's big idea was that?

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Let's start at the start, where Reed Richards is at school at meets Ben Grimm and they do experiments in the garage.

Then let's leap ahead to the pair of them getting picked up by the mysterious Baxter Institute at the school's science fair - and let's try to overlook the fact that, even though both of them worked on it, only Reed gets the golden ticket.

And don't ask why Pa Storm was taking his daughter Sue on a work jolly. He just was, OK?

So now we're at the institute, only the genius Victor Von Doom is sulking in a lock-up somewhere.

Not to worry, Pa Storm has a word and we're all good.

We have our four (once Johnny has stopped playing with cars). Hurrah.

Only that's not the four, so we have to stretch the plot even thinner to shoe-horn in Ben at the back end.

And I could live with the huge backstory if the dialogue was snappy and the actors (star of Whiplash Miles Teller as Reed, Kate Mara as Sue, Michael B Jordan as Johnny and Jamie Bell as Ben) looked like they believed in what was happening.

But even they are clearly struggling.

And there are so many questions that go unanswered.

Like where did Doom get his cloak from? And how did they get that stretcher out, along with the 12-strong team?

Let's be clear about this. This is a superhero movie.

Which means we want a quick 'how they all got there' followed by lots of flying about, big fights, massive explosions, and oodles of zip and pizzazz.

And humour.

Not just the bit early on when Reed blows the whole town's lights. More.

Check the books. There's banter. It's fun, dammit!

I'm sure somebody somewhere has a very good reason as to why this film exists, but as someone who walked out into the daylight wondering what else I could have done with the time I'm at a lost.

It's not a new take.

It's not even a fun take.

It's a tedious re-telling of a story we all know that lacks energy and enthusiasm.

And Doom's really crap. A reject from AI doesn't make for a bad baddy, OK?

Thankfully it hasn't set the box office alight, so we should be spared a sequel.


Oh nuts.

Well, let's just pray it's better than Rise Of The Silver Surfer.

Trainwreck (15)

I have two problems, approaching the reviewing of this film.

I'm not allowed to disclose the ending, I have a real problem with Judd Apatow, and I'm old fashioned in that I think comedies should be funny.

OK, three problems.

And it's too sodding long.

Right, four problems. I'll stop now before the list becomes the whole review.

So which one to start with?

Let's start with Apatow.

Now, I hated This Is 40. Billed as his 'all grown up' film, it painted a loathsome picture of a bunch of loathsome people. And as I was hitting 40 the year it came out, I took real exception to the way my age bracket was being portrayed.

Trainwreck is actually worse.

The premise is essentially sound - Amy Schumer plays a woman who is quite happy to be dicking around, getting wrecked and shagging anything that sits still long enough.

And at this point, I have no problem with the film.

That the central character is perfectly happy with her lifestyle is actually a very positive message to send out.

Not that she SHOULD be living that way, but that she CAN if she so CHOOSES.

She's also a journalist. And this is the first hurdle at which the film falls.

While trying to satirise the junk and crap that passes for popular magazine fodder these days, it's clear Schumer (who wrote this thing) has never spent any time around the real people who create them.

What you get is a bunch of cliches and bullshit, and an editor played by Tilda Swinton doing an impression of Gillian Taylforth playing latter stages Kathy Beale.

It actually took me a while to realise it was Swinton.

Then I spent the rest of the film wondering what the hell had caused her to agree to being in this car crash of a movie.

Elsewhere, we have celebrity cameos - including LeBron James.

We know it's LeBron James because LeBron James keeps mentioning that LeBron James is LeBron James.

LeBron James likes talking about himself in the third person.

We also have Bill Hader, playing a sports physio who seems to spend as much time in a hospital as he does treating LeBron James.

A man who is such a massive star you just know Miami Heat would not be worried about him getting treated by a guy in an office somewhere rather than their extensive team of health folks.

No no, that would be fine.

I mean, Schumer's researched this stuff, right?

Then there's the jokes.

The opening 10-15 minutes are faintly amusing, with lots of smut and sex jokes. But after that...

Let's just say subtle wasn't one of the words used by the test audiences.

We also have the small matter of her dad having MS.

Not for comedic purposes, as far as I can tell. Not for drama. It seems to be a condition that wouldn't cause too much offence as no one knows what it is.

You can almost hear the meeting where it was decided they couldn't use cancer (been done, Amy) or Parkinsons (too Michael J Fox sweetie).

MS? You mean Microsoft? Oh, it's a real thing? Let's go with that!

When it's first uttered (and, OK, I know I might be a smidge sensitive on this) it really leaps out. I mean slap-in-the-face leaps out.

The fact it doesn't go anywhere makes you wonder why him simply being 'ill' wasn't enough. It's not like attention to detail is a watch word here.

So, after 15 minutes of smut and an editorial meeting staffed by clowns, the love interest arrives and the plane finally takes off.

And splutters and stalls for another two pissing hours.

Christopher Nolan can keep me in my seat for half my life, that's fine. He's got big ideas and an ability to make a film look good even if it doesn't make any sense.

But Apatow?

He may be trying to be a serious film maker, he may have an ego the size of Florida, but look at his catalogue.

Ideally 90 minutes, and he's done. It makes some people laugh.

Two hours is stretching the sketch a bit far. The jokes get fewer and further between. And less funny.

It's the law of diminishing returns.

So you can imagine what two hours 20 mins does for a film.


Throw in an ending that has you spewing bile and expletives at the screen, and you have quite the rom-com date movie.

Just try and forget the fact you paid money to see it.

(Do I get a brownie point for avoiding the obvious title-related joke?)