September 13, 2007

Paying Back An Old Debt

Some time ago, the inimitable Lefty Brown performed, for me, a valuable public service in talking me out of seeing Catwoman starring Halle Berry. However, in that spirit of good wishes - and as a public service - I would like to pay Mr. Brown back by doing a similar task.

Lefty - you may, at some point, express considerable curiosity at the 1995 Roger Corman-produced version of The Fantastic Four, which was originally made to insure that this producer held the rights. (Of course, it was never intended to be released). As someone who has a high tolerance for pain (I've watched clips of the aborted Justice League pilot on YouTube), I strongly urge you...don't. This movie, "borrowed" from a friend, is a painful, torturous experience.

This is not one of those "so bad it's good" movies, or a movie that has subtle flaws - no, anyone who encourages you to see this movie is saying, "I hate you. I hope you die slowly, an existential death, and making you view this film is probably the most passive aggressive way I can express those wishes. I despise you, lack respect for you, and quite frankly, can show no other contempt for you than to make you watch this movie." In other words, the perfect Christmas present to give Joe Quesada.

But why is this movie so horrible? Well, first they only had a million dollar budget, which was spent primarily on the costumes for Dr. Doom and the Thing. Which is good, because the rest of this movie looks like it was shot in the same office building/warehouse/park complex. It has a script that sounds like it was written on sticky notes , some exasperating leaps of logic (like Latveria being simultaneously near New York and in Eastern Europe), some truly cringe worthy moments (like a tween Sue Storm pining for Reed Richards), dodgy special effects (taken straight from a video game)...to paraphrase Monty Python, this is not a movie for viewing, this is a movie for laying down and avoiding. (Fight scenes, for example, are done with cheap video effects that insult the memory of Ernie Kovacs). It's almost as if the Burton Batman never happened - as a TV pilot, it would be poor trashy camp; as a theatrical film, it's painful.

The acting is pretty much uninspired (or, "hey, it's a paycheck, so I'm not even trying") except for two key roles. The first is the Jeweller, or "The Mole Man Kinda Guy", who combines the presence, charisma, and subtlety of "Grandpa" Al Lewis and Jonathan Harris. But Jay Underwood, as Johnny Storm, makes the most of his role, and "makes the most of this role" is code for "leaves so many teeth marks in the scenery it is not even funny." Comparing the 2005 film to this leaves no comparison; a $50 sock puppet version of this movie would be an improvement. It's also surprising because most Roger Corman productions have a kind of goofy, elaborate charm about them - this is a movie made for the most cynical of reasons, and it shows.

But still, you may think, I need to at least sample this to make up my own mind. In that spirit, I have used Rifftrax DIY to make an MST3K-style mashup of one key scene, borrowed from YouTube. Hopefully, this can help make this wretched, vile disaster of a movie slightly more palatable...but I doubt it.


1 comment:

Roger Green said...

For whatever reason, this video - heck, even opening the page ever since you posted the video - gives me me a page run error. Don't know why.