Questions for the Filmmakers

One of my constant complaints when watching big budget films is that with millions spent on the overall production, couldn’t they throw a few thousand at someone to edit the story so it makes sense? This is leveled not at just genre films but most movies.

I was reminded of this once more when the kids and I took in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surer the other night. Whereas Spider-Man 3 was so overstuffed, the character arcs failed to work, this was nothing but surface material that didn’t dare crawl into the characters to make us care. Instead, at something like 90 minutes, it moved breezily along and left us incredibly dissatisfied.

Had I read this script, before shooting began, I would have asked the following questions:

  • How did Doctor Doom come back to life?
    Sue Storm was established as a brilliant scientist in the first film so why does she have nothing do in the second film?
    If the Silver Surfer could always mentally summon his board, why didn’t he do so when he had ample opportunity?
    Since when does the Power Cosmic heal and bring people back from the dead?
    If Doctor Doom possessed the Power Cosmic, what were his intentions? And once when he learned Galactus was coming to destroy Earth, why didn’t he do something about it?
    If touching the cosmically-altered Human Torch swapped powers, why would all three touching the Torch give him all the power?
    If the Silver Surfer essentially dumped all his power in an attempt to stop Galactus, who bestowed the power on him, how did it discorporate Galactus but allow the Surfer to survive?
    Why would the military capture the Silver Surfer and immediately invite Dr. Mengele to interrogate him as if he were a human instead of an alien that would have been measured, scoped, scraped, studied, etc.?
    Why aren’t we properly introduced to Captain Frankie Raye, and what on Earth did she see in the Torch?
  • Then, after the film was made, I’d wonder why there was zero chemistry between Ioan Gruffud and Jessica Alba. Then there was the issue of Alba’s poor acting. And if Stan played Willie Lumpkin in the first film, why didn’t he just reprise the role this time, a likely attendee at the wedding? (I know, the bit was a take off on the actual comic book wedding, but still…)

    The CGI Surfer worked wonderfully with kudos to actor Doug Jones and voice artist Laurence Fishburne. The Fantasticar was also sleek and wonderful to see if used all too briefly.

    The film largely felt like the skeleton for a much richer film. When dealing with cosmic forces, it should have felt big but actually felt small. If anything, Marvel’s first family has been treated as a low budget franchise, shot on 16mm and blown up to 70mm and failing to work at the larger size.

    Three Marvel movies this year, all bringing in the bucks but all failing to be truly satisfying movie experiences. Now we have to sit tight and cross our fingers Iron Man will deliver next May, where these stumbled.

    6 comments

    • KRAD

      Why aren’t we properly introduced to Captain Frankie Raye, and what on Earth did she see in the Torch?

      This at least was in the script, but wound up on the cutting room floor during editing.

    • Susan O.

      I swear it’s a viewer-is-moron mentality of the producers. When will they realize that we don’t care if the movie’s 5 hours long, as long as it’s GOOD? The worst, I think, was Harry Potter 3, where it ran through the book so quick it felt like it was on fast-forward. Besides the awful direction, do they really think we would have gotten up and walked out if it was 20 minutes longer and made sense? Would we really have refused to see LOTR if just 5 precious minutes had been left in to highlight points? Or is it done deliberately so that after getting nailed by $9 ticket prices and scratching our heads, they can skin us for the $22 ‘extended’ DVD with the sense scotch-taped back into it? While the trailers for HP 5 look wonderful, and we will see it on the 13th, biting our nails for Book 7, I can’t help but dread another chop-shop treatment of the material.

    • David

      My guess is that they make the movies short so theaters can have more showings of it.

      This was one of the problems that the local theater had with the three-hour Grindhouse. They could only get about two showings a day, while they could fit in four or five viewings of a shorter film. The more they can show the film, the more money they can make.

    • Those are great questions. I saw the movie the other weekend and just hated it. What I couldn’t figure out is how they could make a movie about the end of the world and have it be so dull. Yeah, it was short, but I was so totally bored through the whole thing it felt like it went on forever.

      The other thing I REALLY couldn’t figure out was why if they had these four characters with great superpowers, why why why did the film open with a 15-minute sequence about the FF getting on an airplane? Could they have really chosen a stupider opening? That just set the whole tone for me that the movie was going to be just terrible. What a waste.

    • bob

      All Star Break! … Time to assess damages and fix what’s wrong for that long stretch to the Big Show in October.

      Mets… 9 games over .500 … 2 game lead in the NL east w/ a suddenly surging Braves team coming up fast. Not enough breathing room here… What does Randolph need to do to insure the team gets the championship? What does the GM need to do? I had thought the rotation would hurt more with Pedro out with the rotator cuff, but Glavine, who had a bit of a shaky June, seems to be hot of late. Maine hasn’t lost since June 18 and you guys got one of the best bullpens in the game….
      Where do you go from here?

      And why haven’t the Yankees fired Joe Torre yet?

    • will pickering

      To answer one of your questions: I dimly remember a black-and-white reprint of a Thor story in which the Surfer used his powers to heal Balder the Brave from near-fatal injuries; no idea the issue number, or what was going on, but it must have been about my first exposure to the characters to still stick in my mind over 30 years later – the Surfer, Balder and Karnilla the Norn Queen all posing around on some rocky mountaintop, declaiming away in that glorious cod-Shakespearean style the Marvel gods all used in those days. Aah. Anyway, the precedent is there.