One of my favorite film critics is Roger Ebert. Of course I have to share my adulation for the first film critic to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with other film buffs. Reason being he used prose that the layman could understand and he pretty much communicated his thoughts in all candor. I like that. What I don’t like are film critics that suck all the fun out of the movie-going experience (ergo the pompous John Simon of the “National Review” whose attacks Siskel and Ebert had to defend on ABC News in 1983 when Simon blasphemed “Star Wars” as “dehumanizing” and “stultifying”). From that very interview Siskel states “I do not think a film should be rewarded for aiming low and hitting that mark.” Alas I think I’ll don my Pauline Kael suit for this review considering there is something about a bad movie that can’t even meet the mild expectations I originally had for it that makes me very upset.
When great movies do well in the box office everyone is happy. When great movies flop the moviegoer is still happy. When bad movies do well (e.g. “Jurassic World” which I admittedly liked) only Hollywood is happy. But when poor movies flop, no one is happy (think “The Lone Ranger”). Well “Fantastic Four” falls into the latter category with a solid Rotten Tomatoes score of 12% which is pretty terrible considering some of the worst movies I have ever seen have gotten scores of 80 to 90%–even “Ant Man’s” rating was 80% fresh tomatoes. So what to make of this dismal display of light and sound that without a doubt does not reach the level of art all movies should strive to reach? Well first when you throw an old, tired genre like the superhero movie at an audience that continues to go see these god-awful flicks and completely drop the ball…I’m sorry to say but our free market economy just will not tolerate let alone reward this kind of ignoble failure, at least in the case of the blockbuster movie. I mean the most intelligent line from the movie that I can recall is Dr. Storm (Reg E. Cathey) preaching that his “generation’s mistakes are your generation’s [the millennials’] opportunities.” Boy was that vapid. Second maybe the producers shouldn’t have gone through with the idea for a sequel considering those of us who are millennials, which is essentially who the American film industry is catering to these days, (ever since the jarring beginnings of the “New Hollywood” starting out in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s) saw this movie a decade ago. Trust me, I was nine and I still remember Jessica Alba as Sue Storm. Anyway all this to say we need more movies that mean something to someone, anyone other than as a product that falls somewhere on the economic spectrum between a good and service for the sole purpose of generating box office sales. (Except for the special effects used to create Doom’s head. Those were sick and we need those for the upcoming “Star Wars Episode VII,” which by the way they can make ten more of and I will be at every theater showing).