14th Aug2015

West Week Ever – 8/14/2015

by Will

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Last week, I said that the Deadpool trailer had the West Week Ever, even though I don’t really agree with how the movie’s being marketed. My friend Glenn, however, believes that everything is as it should be. In my attempt to be fair and balanced, I thought I’d share his thoughts on things. We had a lengthy Facebook conversation about the matter, and he pointed out that Deadpool is the “Merc with a Mouth” and is only censored in the comics because he has to be. This movie, however, will give him a chance to cut loose. He said that while there are always going to be things that are cross-marketed to kids and adults, this isn’t the kind of movie that he’d take his 5 year old daughter to see. Anyway, he made some good points, and then we trailed off into talking about how awesome Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is. Since we’ve had a week to think about it all, thoughts anyone?

It was announced this week that The Lion King would be getting another sequel. At first, I didn’t understand why this was big news. I mean, the thing had 2 straight-to-video sequels in The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride and The Lion King 1 1/2 (which was more of an inbetwequel). So, even though James Earl Jones is coming back as Mufassa, why is this big news? Well, it appears that the TV movie sequel, The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar is actually a pilot for a new television series called The Lion Guard. It’s being described by Disney as “The Lion King meets The Avengers”, and that sound you hear is all of the world’s cash registers ringing at once. The series follows Kion, the youngest son of Simba and Nala, as he assembles a team of animals to help protect the Pride Lands.  Anyway, a sneak peak of the show is expected at this weekend’s Disney D23 Expo.

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The rumor coming out of Warner Bros is that a private viewing of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was held for the high up muckety-mucks, and they loved Affleck’s portrayal so much that he’s being offered his own standalone Batman trilogy. I think a standalone Batfleck film was announced at SDCC (it’s getting harder to tell the rumors from the confirmed news these days), but this is the first mention of an entire trilogy. Seems kinda odd, since this movie adapts parts of The Dark Knight Returns – a story that shows Batman at the end of his career. Still, I’d much rather have more Batman than Aquaman, Cyborg, and all the other DCU movies that have been announced.

In other DC news, it’s been announced that Matt Ryan will guest star on Arrow next season as John Constantine. This is pretty important because he starred as the character on the recently cancelled Constantine, and Stephen Amell had been lobbying to get him on the show. Now, I’ve never seen an episode of Constantine, so I’ll need some of y’all to chime in: does he fit into the world that Greg Berlanti has created in Arrow/The Flash/Legends of Tomorrow? I mean, tonally and thematically, is that going to work? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Speaking of Berlanti, he mentioned during the Television Critics Association press tour this week that Supergirl wouldn’t be crossing over with any of his other shows for the time being. That sucks, seeing as how CBS owns half of The CW, so it’s not like it would be that hard logistically. I think, however, they want to focus on establishing her as her own hero. Plus, introducing her into that world is a whole different can of worms, because that, then, admits that Superman exists in that universe, and I don’t think I’m prepared for that. Especially if they do something like they’re doing with Constantine, and bring Tom Welling back to play Superman. Meanwhile, it was also announced that True Blood‘s Brit Morgan would be playing the villain Livewire.

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In a surprising move, it was announced that the next 5 seasons of Sesame Street will now debut on HBO. The deal will allow them to create 35 episodes a year instead of the current output of 18 episodes a year. After the initial 9 month window, the episodes will then be available to air on PBS. Meanwhile, PBS will be airing recut versions of classic episodes. First of all, I’m kinda surprised they only produce 18 episodes a year. The show comes on every day, and while it has quite the video library under its belt, I really thought they were producing something like 60 a year. That’s the approximate number of other kids shows that air in strip, 5-day-a-week format. Something feels wrong to me, though, that the rich kids with HBO are getting these episodes first. As some folks on Twitter pointed out, it’s like we’re gentrifying education. Sesame Street used to be an important way that lower income students were able to learn, and now we’re giving them scraps after the kids whose parents can afford HBO have had their way with them. It just seems wrong somehow. Anyway, the deal also calls for a spinoff show starring the Sesame Street Muppets.

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Back in the day, BET had its own version of Skinemax known as BET Uncut. Young Black kids used to tune in hoping to get a glimpse of boob while videos played the hip hop hits of the day. The show ended in 2006, but its legacy was never forgotten. So, imagine everyone’s surprise when BET suddenly announced that the show would be returning on August 11th. When viewers tuned in, however, they were met with a surprise: the whole thing was a ruse to promote the debut of BET’s version of Punk’d. If you remember, Punk’d was conceived by Ashton Kutcher and ran on MTV for a few years back in the mid ’00s. Well, this new version will be hosted by YouTube stars Andrew Bachelor and DeStorm Powers, and it debuts next Tuesday. Never watched the original, and I probably won’t be watching this one, either.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Modern Family‘s Ariel Winter revealed that she’d had a breast reduction as she was tired of the unwanted attention her body was receiving

-Target created a shitstorm when it announced that the toy section would no longer have gender-based signage. These means that Barbie is no longer a “girl’s toy”, while action figures are no longer “boys’ toys”. Folks came out of the woodwork, acting like the sky was falling. It’s not like they’ll change the planogram, however, so you probably won’t see Barbie sitting next to Iron Man on shelves.

-A new Jem trailer was released this week, which made it look like the same bad movie, only now with an Earth to Echo spin, as they’ve added a tiny robot.

-The CW is reportedly developing series based on The Notebook and Friday The 13th

-Adult Swim renewed Rick and Morty for a 3rd season

-Bravo renewed Jill Kargman’s Odd Mom Out for a 2nd season.

Kindergarten Cop 2 is currently filming, starring Dolph Lundgren. It’s slated to be a direct-to-video release.

The Exes was cancelled on TV Land

-Shelly Fabares will not be returning for NBC’s Coach revival, as her character, Christine Armstrong, has been killed off.

-Google’s parent company changed its name to Alphabet.

FF

I LOVE weeks when the thing that had the West Week Ever is controversial. Folks might disagree, but then I just remember, “Hey, Will – it’s your site!” and then I feel OK about it. So, in the immortal words of the bard Samuel L. Jackson, “Hold onto your butts!”

Last week, a friend and I made the impromptu decision to catch a late showing of Fant4stic Four. The reviews had been terrible, the rumors even worse, but I felt that I needed to see the movie for myself. I actually like the other 2 Fantastic Four films (I’ve never seen the Corman version), as I have a mancrush on Ioan Gruffudd who played Reed Richards. So, in my mind, the bar wasn’t set all that high, and I felt like I knew what I was walking into. AND BOY WAS IT HORRIBLE – is what you want me to say. But I can’t do that. As I said on social media, to listen to the online fanboys, Fant4stic Four ascended to the heavens, slapped Jesus, and pissed on your dead grandma. If you read anything about this movie on Twitter, it’s the worst thing since Hitler and New Coke. Fant4stic Four is not a great movie, but it’s also not horrible.

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The most positive thing I’ve read about the movie is that it had a strong first 2/3rds, and then loses its way during the 3rd act, and I would completely agree with that. The early scenes with young Reed are great, and it’s touching to see the dawn of his friendship with Ben Grimm. Once Reed is recruited by the Baxter Foundation, they almost become star-crossed lovers, as Reed is too impressed by his new surroundings to realize what Ben realizes instantly: their bond can’t last. You’d think they would just naturally grow apart, but that doesn’t happen. Instead, Reed invites Ben on the journey that will end the research that they started together. No, it’s not being from 2 different worlds that will tear them apart. It’s that Reed accidentally turns Ben into a rock monster. This is the first time in my dealings with the Fantastic Four that I actually felt like Thing was a sympathetic character, and a lot of that was due to us seeing him before his transformation. I appreciated that. A lot of people have made a big deal about the origins of “It’s Clobberin’ Time!” (though it’s Thing’s signature catch phrase, in the movie it’s uttered by Ben’s abusive older brother before he assaults him), but that didn’t bother me so much. I kinda felt like it added another dimension to his character.

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I also felt the family dynamic between the Storms. No matter what you think of this movie, you can’t deny that Reg S. Cathy as Dr. Franklin Richards was one of the strongest aspects of the film. You really felt that he just wanted his son to do something productive with himself. You could also feel the tension between Johnny and Sue, where it was clear that Johnny felt that Sue was dad’s favorite, which caused him to act out. People always say that the Fantastic Four concept revolves around family, and that was pretty evident in the first 2/3rds of the movie. Their families didn’t understand them, so Reed and Ben had become their own support system. As strained as it might’ve been, the Storms were also trying to hold on to the family that they had. Meanwhile, Victor Von Doom (formerly known as mad blogger Victor Domashev before the Internet had a field day with that news) is probably the character in the film with the most personality. Just as Sinestro was the true hero in Green Lantern, there’s very little here that makes Doom a villain, per se. In the context of family, he’s on the outside looking in, as he doesn’t have what Reed and Ben have, or what the Storms have, but he knows it’s lacking and he resents it.

It felt like they were laying the groundwork for some grand thing that would bring them all together. In the comic, that was the cosmic event that gave them their powers. Well, that’s not what happened here. Instead, the arrival of their powers drives them further apart. And this is where the problems begin.

Once Reed, with his newly-acquired powers, escapes from the secret facility, there’s a title card that says “One Year Later”. Time jumps are rarely good things, as they’re usually an excuse to keep from explaining something. Well, it can be said that everything after that title card is when things go downhill. At this point, it clearly plays like a movie “made by committee” as certain things don’t make sense anymore. And it’s also where you’d expect to see all those action scenes from the trailer. Welp, you’d be disappointed. Better sites than mine have made comprehensive lists, but you can immediately see that a LOT of editing went down on this film. Remember the shot of Thing falling out of the plane onto a tank? It’s in every trailer and TV spot? Well, it ain’t in this movie.

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Let’s talk about Thing for a minute. The government has convinced him to be an operative for them, with the weak promise that they’ll help turn him back to his human form. So, he gets dropped into these countries as this killing machine. In one scene, you see that he has 43 confirmed kills. KILLS! He’s not Wolverine! Now, I know he’s upset by the transformation and all. Anyone would be. I also know that he comes from an abusive past. But I don’t think all of that would make him a killer. And he’s not overly patriotic, so it’s not like he’s doing his duty for Uncle Sam. No, he selfishly decides to kill in order to get things back to the way they were. That doesn’t sit right with me.

Sue is wasted, as she just becomes the Token Girl. If people weren’t spending so much time talking about how terrible the movie is, I’m sure The Mary Sue or someone would’ve written an article about how marginalized she is in the film. Hell, she doesn’t even get to go on the trip that gives them their powers! She got hit by some kind of aftershock, and ended up being able to turn invisible. All the powers, with none of the risk. Were they afraid to send a woman into that dangerous environment? If that’s the case, they certainly don’t discuss it. In fact, Reed goes through the trouble of calling Ben in the middle of the night, to get him to come down to the Baxter building and travel to the other dimension, but at no point does he, or anyone else, say, “Hey, shouldn’t we let Sue in on this?” And it’s not like she had built up this reputation as a hard-to-work-with bitch or anything, so it’s kinda bad that she’s just an afterthought to them. However, they never would’ve made it back alive had it not been for her. I don’t feel like she’s ever appreciated enough in this film.

Johnny’s kinda brash, but not the joking ladies man he appears to be in the comics. Somewhat like Sue, he doesn’t really get to develop much. He seems to hate being in the shadow of his sister and father, so he acts out. Once they get their powers, he’s all about doing the government dirty work because he feels like he might finally have a purpose. He doesn’t care about right or wrong – he’s just a gun waiting for someone to aim him at the bad guys.

And Reed. Where to begin with Reed? I like Miles Teller now. I used to want to punch him in the face, because he just had one of those faces. Then I saw Two Night Stand and Whiplash, and now all is forgiven. As much as I like him now, I don’t think he was right for this role. I can see why he was cast: rising star, he’s quickly becoming a “name”, etc. But he wasn’t Reed Richards. He’s capable enough in the role, but you don’t leave the theater saying “THAT was Reed Richards” the way you did when you first saw RDJ as Tony Stark. My biggest problem with Reed is that he’s not very smart – the thing that he’s primarily known for. Sure, he’s smart enough to want to try to build a matter transporter in middle school, but it seems like he peaked at that age. I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that Reed’s able to stretch his brain, effectively making him smarter. He doesn’t display the capacity for that in this film. And no, I didn’t expect to see his head stretch or anything to signify that it was happening, but he just doesn’t do anything that would make you say “He’s smart!” I mean, something as simple as rattling off a calculation. He doesn’t really do it. And in the final battle against Doom, he doesn’t outsmart him. No, it’s instead a physical, hand-to-hand battle. Reed Richard is not a fighter, and he would’ve found an intelligent solution other than a simple Hail Mary play.

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Let’s circle back around to Doom. In the first 2/3rds of the movie, he’s just antisocial. Sure, they end up having to leave him in the Negative Zone, but he didn’t HATE them. He just kinda resented them. So, when he pops back up a year later, with his environmental suit fused to his body, you’d think he’d want revenge on them for leaving him over there. I mean, surely he’d find them responsible for ruining his life, right? NO! Instead, he LOVED it over there, as he experienced true power. And all he wants to do is go back. That’s it. He wants to go back to his world and his power, and the Four are all, “No, you can’t go back”, like they actually give a shit about him. If they’d have just let the man have his wish, nothing bad would’ve happened. In what was clearly the result of reshoots, Doom walks through the corridor, making everyone’s head explode – even people who aren’t in his way. It’s like there’s a clearance sale going on for head explosions, and he just can’t get enough. So, in their refusal to let him go back, the Four actually set into motion the thing that makes him a “villain”: the portal back to the Negative Zone created a sort of backdraft that was pulling Earth into a black hole. The reason I say the head explosion scenes were reshoots is because someone at the studio must’ve known that something else was needed in order to make Doom appear evil. Otherwise, without that scene, the Four actually look worse than Doom does.

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And that final battle. It just didn’t add up. Doom supposedly had all this power, but we never saw much of it except in his creation of the portal. The Four defeat him in combat when they never should’ve been able to get close to him. As I said before, Reed should’ve defeated him by out-thinking him and not punching him. And he goes down too easily, but not in the ambiguous “We’re trying to keep him around for a sequel” kind of way. I mean, they could bring him back, but the movie doesn’t really end setting up a sequel. All that happens is the team is officially formed. Yet, the viewer still has no real reason to care about the characters, as none of the relatable stuff from the first 2 acts is even relevant anymore. It’s like these are 4 different characters; it’s not like they’re showing growth, either – they’re just 4 people who look like and have the same names as their counterparts from the first 2/3rds of the movie. And they’re not especially likable, nor are you particularly rooting for them. I mean, the movie’s named after them, so they must be the heroes, but that’s really as far as it goes.

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And one little problem lingering from adapting the comic: the lack of Thing’s pants. This might seem petty, but it’s actually pretty important. I mean, up until this point, we all just assumed he still had a penis, only it was probably rocky now, too. It’s the kind thing 12 year olds sit around and talk about. Instead, he now no longer even has a penis. My God, no wonder he hates Reed so much!

Anyway, at the end of the day, it’s a movie with problems, but it’s hardly the abomination that some are making it out to be. The odd thing, however, is Fox’s involvement in the whole thing. As I wrote about last week, the director, Josh Trank, posted a tweet that alluded to the fact that there was studio interference in his original vision. That tweet was quickly deleted. Over the weekend, the rumors started to fly. It was rumored that Fox was considering giving Fant4stic Four 2‘s 2017 release date to Deadpool 2, assuming that Deadpool will do better than FF did. On Monday, however, Fox announced that they are “still committed to the characters”, but nobody knows if that means they’ll push ahead with the same cast or reboot AGAIN. Good or bad, Fant4stic Four was on everybody’s lips the past week, even if folks didn’t see it. In fact, it only pulled in around $25 million, making it a worse box office than even Daredevil. Still, I think once the dust settles, and folks start seeing the stuff I was talking about in the first 2 acts, we may look back on it more fondly. And if Trank’s ever allowed to release a Director’s Cut, then it may be redeemed just as much as the Director’s Cut has seemingly redeemed Daredevil. In my mind, nothing had a week like Fant4stic Four, and that’s why I’m saying it had the West Week Ever.

4 Responses to “West Week Ever – 8/14/2015”

  • Your description of Fantastic Four sound really, really, really terrible to me. At least as an adaptation. Maybe it’s “okay” as a movie. But I don’t have any interest in this take on the FF. Too grim. I think the movie theater that got your money for that stinker had the West Week Ever.

  • 1. I love Alamo Draft House. Saw Thor 2 there in San Antonio.
    2. NOAP to Lion Guard
    3. At SDCC it was rumored that Geoff Johns and Affleck would work on his Batman movie. No word at that time of a trilogy.
    4. Constantine fellow will guest-star on Arrow to bring Canary back to life for Legends of Tomorrow
    5. RIP to Ariel’s boobs

  • People really seemed to be pulling for Fantastic Four to fail, and taking a lot of weird joy in comparing how bad every different reviewer was saying it was…

  • Agent_Z

    Personally, I’d rather they shelf Batman for characters that haven’t appeared in movies yet. Especially Aquaman and Cyborg two films starring POCs.

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