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For those not well verse in the anime medium (myself included to a degree) Attack On Titan is one of the biggest phenomena in the anime medium. The series popularity is virtually known by everyone in the anime fandom, and even if they haven't seen it they have at least heard about it. In the west, it's not quite as big compare to Japan, but even those not well verse into the medium will have at least heard about it. I would say it's a polarizing series, but more than likely anyone who sees will find it entertaining while complaining about certain leap of logic in the writing. It's reputation is what's mostly polarizing, and certainly my biggest source of criticism besides the series actual writing. It's frequently overly hated by detractors, and overly praised by the fans that usually creates a rabid atmosphere when brought into discussions. As usual, the ones that are very vocal paint a bad picture for those who enjoy the series. I would recommend the anime series to anyone, even if the person in question never seen anime since at times it can be addicting to watch, and is an entertaining gateway into anime. However, I can't say the same for the live action film which I wouldn't recommend even to the most hardcore of Attack On Titan fans.
Attack on Titan is set in a world where giant humanoid Titans prey on humans, Eren joins the scouting legion to get revenge on the monsters who killed everyone in his town. Now the biggest problem in the film lies within the first twelve minutes which can be sum up with "Let's talk about these walls". These initial twelve minutes are important because that's all the time it has on establishing anything before the first titan appears on-screen. Our leading characters Eren (Haruma Miura), Mikasa (Kiko Mizuhara), and Armin (Kanata Hongo) have "interesting" discussions on the walls construction, wondering what outside the walls, desiring to see what's outside the walls, how the walls makes the world a hellish paradise, how the walls protect what's remaining of humanity, people being discontent about living within the walls, and passing a law that let people finally go outside of the walls. On paper, nor in the film do characters spending twelve minutes talking about walls sound interesting. The only thing that would have made these twelve minutes wall discussion go on longer would be if these walls could talk.
As for anything not wall related in the first twelve-minute it fails to set up the world. It's a mishmash of technology with the mentions of aircraft, a decaying tank on the wall can be seen, and the main three leads Eren, Mikasa, and Armin hanging around missile a didn't explode. This later breaks the immersion in the film when questioning the civilization itself. Almost as if it's selective of its own technology to fit a specific quota. The anime series also shared the same problem on the selective technology. However, in the anime series humanity wasn't technologically advance where the people had airplanes as oppose in the movies where it formerly was advance. Bringing to mind why aren't the people who are meant to protect the citizens, the scout Regiment, from these Titans using heat signature technology to spot such creatures? It would have been extremely effective when traveling at night, and would it made been nearly impossible for such device to not pick up the heat signature of a Titan.
While I'm discussing the selective technology, it is the clear absence of camera makes little to no sense in this adaptation. Eren states in the film he doesn't believe in Titans, and that there hasn't been a sighting of one in 100 years. What this film is basically telling me is that there is no form of surviving media of these Titans existence. Apparently, it just wants me to assume that all cameras, pictures, the internet, and video recording documenting the existence of these creatures was destroyed. That's just too much to accept, especially when taking into accounts it expects me to believe the Titans must have done this because the humans certainly wouldn't delete information if it would help them against such a threat. What the film tells the viewer about the Titans make this oversight in the writing too much to accept. This aspect of the story wasn't thought out enough to explain away issues such as these.
Now since this is an adaptation of the anime/manga series of the same name changes were expected. The ones made in this movie weren't the correct ones. For instance, Eren witnessing one of these Titans killing someone close to him is what causes his fueled anger towards the Titans. When that aspect of his character gets taken away from Eren he just comes across as an angsty teenager. One resolution would have been Eren seeing his family getting killed by the Titans, but such a thing is nowhere to be seen in the movie. He's not an interesting character as he has minimal interactions with characters being more of a commenting bystander of the events instead of an active participant. Any viewer of the anime series who felt Eren was pathetic leading character will hate him in this live action film more so.
After the Titans breakdown a wall, and causes havoc in the inner city it cuts to two years later in the future. Our main characters have graduated from a military academy. So the film missed two opportunities now to developed characters, and proper world building. By glancing over the training process viewers will not understand the harsh training required to fight such massive creatures. This decision is made more questionable when it's revealed during the Scout Regiment graduation that the Omni-directional Mobility Gear (3D Maneuvering Device) has been developed, and is introduced to the Scout Regiment for the first time. So this begs the question what did the Scout Regiment spent two entire years for if it wasn't to learn how to use the ODMGs. Just about the only thing that gets mentioned about those two years is Eren getting into confrontations with another Scout Regiment graduate by the name of Jean during those two years. A fodder character who is only in the story so Eren could do something when he's not angsty. By skipping the two-year training in the Scout Regiment it's easier to side with Jean who's barely in the film when he complaints about Eren being a spoiled brat.
Armin, and Mikasa aren't compelling characters either. Mikasa as a character doesn't have much to her beside mentioning she's good friends with Eren. She disappears for a large portion of the film with no bearing on how the story plays out. At most, all she does is cause Eren to think like a emo. Armin wants to become an inventor, and create technology similar to modern-day devices before the titans came into the world. It is implied that Armin, and some girl who like Potatoes might end up together since they are on-screen together frequently. He's shown in more scenes with Potato girl than with Eren. This also goes against the information given to the viewer that Eren, and Armin are good friends.
Then there's the whole force romance with Eren, and character Hiana who's barely in the film. In one of the few scenes Hiana is in, Eren is walking around camp, and seeing characters deliver exposition to love ones. There's a scene before the climax of the film shared between Eren, and Hiana in which Hiana exposition dump her backstory, and motivation onto Eren. It's an unintentionally hilarious scene, and what occurs in it caused uncontrollable laughter from me because I was meant to take such a scene seriously. It's the equivalent of a Titan being a cockblocker for Eren specifically preventing him from getting any action in this one scene. All the characters are written more realistically which makes none of them stand out. The only character that'll stand out is a chubby character who flips over a Titan with his bare hands. Not only that, but also takes down a couple of Titan with an effective axe, until the story demands it doesn't work anymore.
The writing in general is sloppy establishing its own logic, and rules which don't make sense. In the film, a characters says that Titans can hear people talk, but these same people travel in large motorized trucks. It's not established the Titans have selected hearing, but are told they eyes don't work at night. Something that gets contradicted in a later scene of a Titan killing a human at night. In one scene, the Scout Regiment is told that the Titans don't have reproductive organ. Yet, there is a baby Titan in the film that doesn't get explained. It doesn't help matter the film is separated into two parts so any answers, if there are any, is probably in the second film. However, the unexplained questions will come across as plot breaking on what gets established, and especially one character trait towards the end without any foreshadowing will be a dues ex machina in the context of the film no matter the viewer familiarity with the source material.
The only time the film is entertaining to any degree are when the Titans show up. Whenever the Titans are on-screen it's a burst of energy after scenes, upon scenes of boring human characters. These Titans kill people, and cause destruction to their environment. They provide a sense of danger lacking from the human interaction. On screen, the Titans come across as a presence of danger, but off-screen they don't come off as a threat. They're more like writing tools instead of an actual character in the world. What never comes across strongly in the film is the Titans influence on the characters. Instead of being a focal point of defining how characters live in the world it's instead treated like a pesky inconvenient in this adaptation. Nothing about the Titans is interesting as characters beside they look like huge humans.
Lastly, an under utilize element of the film is the quasi-Nazi-ish portrayal of the government. It's a story element that's only mentioned in the film without receiving any focus. The moment the higher-ups of the Scout Regiment do appear the film imagery alludes to a dictatorship depiction. Sadly, that is about all it does with this plot point. It simply shows something dictatory, not confirm it. With the knowledge of a second film it's easy to see where it would take this element, and how childish the portrayal of a corrupt government will be. It'll be one-sided, with the heroes likely spouting things that all human life is important, and the corrupt officials get what coming to them. This is only speculation since I've yet to see the second film.
Anyone who is familiar with the source material know the all Japanese cast is a red flag for how much the film deviate from its source material. However, without that piece knowledge for newcomers the acting leaves plenty to be desired. Haruma Miura plays Eren in the with his interpretation of the character being bland. Since the film aimed to be more realistic Miura serious looking, but emotionless performance makes him as forgettable as the other cast member. He doesn't have any star power either; not to be racist, but I actually manage to get Miura confused with actor Kanata Hongo (who plays a black-haired Armin) who not only look similar, but are in roles with neither given a character trait to stand out. This same issue applies to Kiko Mizuhara who plays Mikasa. Much her other two costar Mizuhara isn't given anything character trait to stand out. In the end, all the performances mesh together.
The only actor who stands out in the film is Satoru Matsuo only because he flips a Titan with just his bare hands. Unlike the Titans, Matsuo is the only actor in the film who is fat, and easily distinguishable because of it. Also, since his screen time is usually used for fun he ends up being the best actor in the film. Another actor who stands out is Jun Kunimura, but that'll likely because the viewer might have seen him in other movies. Kunimura can delivery a good performance, but in this instance he's on autopilot. Aesthetically he's a perfect it for his character. Like the rest of the cast, he's not given much to portray from the material given to him.
The film special effect are weak to the point the film needed a grey color filter to make the Titans look convincing. Everything in the film looks like color got drain out of it simply for the purpose to make the Titans look convincing. In live action the Titans look awkward, and certain actor portraying Titans can be laughable. It usually looks awkward, and the only time the Titans look convincing is when it's entirely CG. In the beginning of the film, there's a Titan that attacks the wall that is skinless. This particular Titan plasticky look doesn't detract from the aesthetics. During the scenes where characters use the 3D Maneuvering Device the green screen effects don't mesh against the actors. The movements are jittery which is acceptable. What's not are the moments when actors are shown flying towards the camera coming across as an unfinished render for a cheap video game. In any other direction it looks silly, though better pulled off given Japan film industry isn't quite on par with Hollywood in the CG department. One praise I will give to the film are the costumes design, and some of the sets are excellent. Replicating in detail the look of the series, even if in this adaptation there are filtered in place to remove the colors from certain scenes.
The most disappointing aspect of the film, for me specifically, is the music composed by Shiro Sagisu. Unlike Sawano score which was mixture of different genres Sagisu is more in line sounding like generic fantasy music. One of the tracks on the OST, "Rise Up Rhythmetal", sounds similar to Sawano composed track "Megata Kyojin Kuchiku" from the anime. Not surprisingly, this is only track in the movie that perfectly suits what's going on-screen. By itself, Sagisu collection of epic scores, with modern techno mixture does not capture the same emotion, or feeling like Sawano music does. Sawano score was cinematic in its structure, and could be compared against good movie scores. However, Sagisu score won't receive the same praise as when it used in the film the sound mixture prevents it from being heard. There's nothing commanding from the score of the live action film. Though, the anime OST for "Attack On Titan" is one of my favorite collection of original music for a series so I guess my high expectation for the film itself to reach the same heights was too much to ask from it.
Attack On Titan Part 1 is a poor adaptation of an entertaining series. Having seen the anime series this live action film is based on the writing shares similar traits, but has the execution greatly differs. The anime series was over top, and bombastic in its presentation on everything feeling at times like a blockbuster film just in television format. While the film goes for a more realistic route making everything seems normal leading to a forgettable movie where nothing stands out. The changes that were made to the source material didn't improve, nor fixed existing problems, but rather made them worse. It's a film that will please no one. Newcomers to the franchise will be dumbfounded by the logic while bored by the poor story, and characters. Fans will likely complain about the same things too, just probably in more details relating how it changes things from the original source material. Regardless of what spectrum of media you prefer Attack On Titan Part 1 is a bad film.
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Gen Urobuchi is a writer I like, but even with that thrown out there he's very repetitive in his writing. At times, he creates fascinating worlds, and characters, but then make them speak by info dumping, and reiterating the same topics as if viewers missed them the first time. They speak like plot devices instead of like people. So Gen Urobuchi opted to create a world that was formerly filled with humans, and now are just data. Here is story written in that kind of world. A world without consistency, nor intelligent life forms. Just a strings of badly written events.
The opening sequence of the film is confusing. We're shown a beach, our main character in a swimsuit relaxing, someone hacks the beach, our protagonist throws her drink, and stops this hacking by being naked. Don't worry, the event turns out to be pointless. I eventually found out by the end of the film that it lead up to nothing. Absolutely nothing. A conflictless story that forces in conflict in its final act just because. No logical reasons behind it besides the fact it wasted more than half of its duration on nothing related to the main story, and might as well try to end things with some action no matter how nonsensical it seems.
Minutes after failing to stop the hack it is established that Deva, this spaceship where 98% of humans resides, has been hacked by this same hacker, Frontier Setter, 184 times. So Deva has push aside the notion of improving their security, but it took them approximately 184 times of being hacked to finally decide to send one of their own agent to Earth to capture the hacker. So we got an advance system/civilization run entirely by super advance computers whom all take the appearances of Gods contradicting the notion this is an advance, smart, intelligence system when it reacts this slow. At this point (seven minutes in), you begin to question if the system got hacked that many times by a single entity how come a large amount of people are still living in Deva?
Not only that, but instead of assigning one of Deva best agents on the assignment Deva assigns 3rd class agent Angela Balzsac. There's obviously much better agents that can accomplish the task. They (the computers Gods of Deva) established Deva already has an S ranking Deva agent on Earth. It would speed up the process by giving this assignment to Zarik Kajiwara, the S rank agent on Earth, who's familiar with Earth, and despite being told he has a bad reputation is clearly reliable due to the fact he is an S rank Deva agent. Why Deva uses numbers, and letters to determine an agent ranking is beyond me. Seriously, is the number 1 or 0 much higher in ranking than S rank agents?
Our main characters is named Angela Balzac, which is the most respectable thing about her. She's a stupid character who for some inexplicable reason knows to hack which would require understanding of simple terms like Script Kiddies, Black Hats, and words like Daemon for simple function. Yet, this same character does not understand people don't eat sand which is the first thing she does when landing on Earth. These two things don't belong to the same character. Ballsack (as I am referring to her out of the lack respect I, and writer Gen Urobuchi do not share for her) is introduce in a beach scene in a bikini saying it's because of work? Wouldn't it make more sense to be in a place that can overlook CPU, servers, hotspots, you know any area that'll actively help you better spot when there's a hacker in the system. I would wouldn't be questioning this if the film itself provided decent world building. With that absent, there's no understanding on the status quo of this world at all.
Ballsack goes from one scene to another completely inept in her abilities. Her human partner, Zarik Kajiwara, has to explain to her how using her mecha from Deva would expose her spot to Frontier Setter. Why Ballsack didn't think of this is inconsistent with the claim she's a 3rd class rank agent close to being promoted to a high ranking position. If that's a high position in this world it further question her abilities to do this job, and Deva security too. She needed to be told by S rank agent Zarik Kajiwara to do this instead of her doing it on her own. After being told using this Mecha would reveal her position to this intelligent hacker the next logical step would be for Ballsack to put on some different pieces of clothing to blend into Earth crowd, and not stick out. However, she wears a leotard, garter, elbow-length gloves, and knee boots for the entire film. Everyone else on Earth else wear normal pieces of clothing, but this doesn't matter in the long run either since this does not catch the attention of Frontier Setter at any point.
I'm meant to believe Frontier Setter singlehandedly hacked into this super advance ship called Deva, which apparently has high security, yet the fact Frontier Setter is unable to detect Ballsack who is looking for him in this city without changing her appearance goes against what's established. Frontier Setter has other robots he could control, and taking into account he hacked into Deva 184 times this is also inconsistent with said intelligent of the character. As far as characterization goes he received nothing substantial besides questioning if human traits can be found in machines. This often used plot point in sci-fi would have been fine if the film actually explored it.
Another annoying trait of Ballsack character is her bragging how life is better on Deva, and how life on Earth pales in comparison. Ballsack mentions that old rock music wasn't considered worth keeping by Deva. Meaning Deva intentionally didn't keep information on simple stuff like sand does not taste good, but kept the information that made Ballsack be naked when stopping a hacker in cyberspace? The same information that does not tell her human body can get tired, and sick. If Deva was a such a great place to live at than it should have preserve as much information as possible not just be selective about it. Say, if somebody on Deva like rock, and Deva didn't have it that person is out of like. However, on Earth you can find rock music if you like. If not, simply ignore it not discard it like Deva does. As I mentioned earlier, due to poor world building Anglea claims of Deva being better than Earth don't add much to the film when the bare minimal about the world is not established.
Zarik Kajiwara is the most likable character, but even he has inconsistency in his character. He says himself in the movie he's afraid of heights, yet there is a scene where he's on top of an abandon building stringing his guitar. Unlike tsundere Ballsack, Kajiwara is competent at his job to the point he should have been the protagonist of the film. For starter, he blends into the crowd unlike Ballsack who sticks out. Another thing is he knows the area, can collect information on Frontier Setter location, all while being off Frontier Setter radar. This guy, is basically babysitting this deadweight agent named Ballsack to make sure she doesn't kill herself. This allows me to sympathize with Kajiwara because not only does he have to do most of Ballsack job for her, but also make sure Ballsack doesn't end up killing herself. Sadly, there's not much to his character either besides he likes rock music, and living on Earth. This about as close as the film gets to producing anything resembling good quality.
Our final character is Frontier Setter himself. The film sets him up as this intelligent hacker which does make you wonder why is he attacking Deva. Unfortunately the answer essentially amounts to "you want to go on this road trip bro?" for his motivation. It's a letdown when this is reveal because the hour building up to this were spent on characters talking about nothing related to the plot. It was either debating where it's better to live rendered into a pointless argument because of terrible world building, or being all philosophical with subjects on eating till you're full, liking a specific brand of rock music, and being sick like a human. Frontier Setter is falsely presented as the antagonist in this story, and when there's no ill attention from it then there should have been something the characters learned from their journey. Ballsack does eventually learn the value of being human, and having a human body just because. There's not a single good experience she had on her journey before finally finding Frontier Setter. She has her mecha destroyed, and sold for parts, was nearly raped, got sick while on Earth, became very tired, hungry, and talked to Zarik Kajiwara discussing the current affair of their job. Somehow all of this made Ballsack change over a new perception of human living.
It's explained later on in the film that human consciousness was transferred into data. How exactly that happened, when it happened, and how long it's been going on for is up to anyone imagination. They (Deva) could have used "Bipolar Magnetic Reversal Theory" to accomplish that as far as anyone is concerned. These simple questions needed to understand the setting are never answered. After the opening credits, Angela Ballsack crashes on Earth, and fights giant Centipede like aliens with a giant robot. These bugs appear in this one, and only scene throughout the film. Are these bugs a common issue on Earth? Is there any other species on Earth that make people fearful to live on Earth? If so, then the idea of 98% of Earth population living in a computer would make sense. Except, there is no world building on Earth either!
While seeing the film I assumed it was created by A1-Pictures because of various ass shots, but nope I was wrong. This film was brought to us by Toei Animation, and Nitroplus who really wanted to outdo them with ass shots. All the budget for the film clearly didn't go into the animation. Whenever character speak it's only up, and down motion which looks unnatural. I'm guessing the budget likely went into developing bouncing boob technology for Ballsack character before abandoning the idea when realizing Toei, nor Nitroplus had the technology to make it happen. So they opted for ass shots just incase the audience forgets Ballsack has an ass. When the characters are still the models don't look bad, but the low-framerate in motion makes everything look disjointed, and delayed. Possibly making you wonder if whatever device you're watching it on is laggy. The only time the animation looks natural is when the framerate is bumped up in the action scenes. In these action scenes the motion is fast, and whatever moving looks somewhat natural. These moments don't last long, nor are they very flashy in their presentation. Most of the film best moments of competent animation is in the climax, but given how pointless the climax is it undermines what happening on-screen, and ultimately would have been pointless if the writing wasn't so awful. The only thing about the animation I wouldn't complain about are the backgrounds are decent looking since they don't move. That would be it as far praises go.
Voice acting in both Japanese, and English languages are competent while virtually sharing the same traits. For starter, both Rie Kugimiya in Japanese, and Wendee Lee in the English voiced Angela Balzac are equally annoying. Wendee Lee is higher pitched in her portrayal which makes her more grating when listening to her brag about how better life is on Deva. She doesn't change her tone regardless what her character is meant to feel in any scene either. Rie Kugimiya doesn't fare any better in the leading role. Instead of being grating her portrayal ends up being bland. At least Wendee Lee portrayal made me feel something about the character. Sure it is mostly hatred, but it's certainly better than Rie Kugimiya who leaves no impression when having played other tsunderes. Nothing about Rie Kugimiya performance stands out besides she sounds no different from a bland tsundere character.
Zarik Kajiwara is played by Shinichiro Miki in Japanese, and Steve Blum in the English dub. On both audio tracks these two actors are easily best actors. Steve Blum especially operating on autopilot with his cool, laid back voice. Blum voice goes hand in hand with Zarik Kajiwara personality for an easy cool portrayal. Miki also does the same so not of a much difference in performances. Frontier Setter is voice by Hiroshi Kamiya in Japanese, and Johnny Yong Bosch in the English dub. None of them end up being better than the other voice actor. Johnny Yong Bosch is simply wasted in the role that demand nothing of him. The character has no complex emotions, or personality so it's more disappointing seeing Johnny Yong Bosch in the role than it is a bad performance. He doesn't sound robotic at all in the role. Whereas Hiroshi Kamiya does sound robotic in his portrayal. Fitting the role, but nothing demanding about.
The script is different in both languages. I wouldn't advise seeing the film in any language given how bad it is. Reading the subs draws more issues to its writing while the English dub has some bad audio mixture. In English, some wording are changed to make the story appears less idiotic than it already is, but also end changing the meaning in the film in general. Hearing 98% of humans have "cyber personality" doesn't seem like a big deal compare in Japanese where it says 98% of humans are "artificial intelligence". Creating different problems for itself. At best, it's most tolerable to mute the film, and read subtitles. Not the even soundtrack composed by Narasaki is noticeable in the film. It's heavy on electronics, techno, and rock, but all equally forgettable.
Rakuen Tsuihou: Expelled From Paradise will leave you with many philosophical questions. The most important one being "What did I just watch?". Don't let Gen Urobuchi, and Seiji Mizushima (director of the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime) names trick you into seeing this film. If this is the standard Japan wants to set for every 3D animated film that come out of their country they're in serious trouble. The general low-framerate in animation, lack of any thought into the writing, and nothing substantial to remember is inexcusable in an era where the likes of Pixar, and Dreamworks Animation have made better 3D animated movies. If the animation isn't flashy enough to make it entertaining to watch than it should at least contain good writing to keep viewers engaged. When you got neither, this film here stands as an example of that.
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(interrupting a quiet day as a cashier)
Izanagi: "So will you see The Visit with me?"
Cesar: "Do Pigs sweat?"
Cesar: "There you go"
Izanagi: "You got to stop your bias thinking on M. Night Shyamalan"
Cesar: "Really? Okay, starting from 2002 all the way to 2010 M. Night Shyamalan was only ever attached to one good movie."
Izanagi: "The Sixth Sense?"
Cesar gives Izanagi a grim look, and a head shake of disapproval.
Izanagi: "You didn't even like The Sixth Sense!"
Cesar: "I did like Unbreakable, but that's about it. In my book Shyamalan is a mystery. Kinda like Neill Blomkamp, minus starting off with a great movie, and then declining. Shyamalan was bad for me out of the gate."
Izanagi: "Come on! See it with me!"
Cesar: "You have two things working against you. One I already mentioned, and to reiterate M. Night Shyamalan is a terrible writer. Second is the found footage format, and I'll stand by my claim by saying 98% of found footage movies are garbage. Also, if it is like his other movies it's going to have a plot twist."
Izanagi: "Even if it does you won't guess the twist."
Cesar: "Give me the setup"
Izanagi: "It's about two kids visiting their grandparents..."
Cesar interrupts Izanagi to say what he believes is the twist.
Izanagi: "If that's so, only one way to find out."
Cesar: "Fine, but if I win you buy me a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey."
Izanagi: "Jigoku no!"
Cesar: "There you go I win."
Izanagi: "Fine I agree, but if I win you have to...see Jack and Jill"
Cesar: "No way. I could barely tolerate one Adam Sandler. I don't even want to picture two of him in one movie"
Izanagi: "Afraid now are we?"
Cesar: "Fine, but if anything happens to me...."
Izanagi: "Like the time Ooga Booga made your soul leave your body, or the time you had a bomb inserted in your balls, and timed to explode when you reviewed Diana. I'm sure you'll survive this"
When I heard about "The Visit" I immediately lost interest even before knowing who was involved in it. The title alone kept me away, but when I discover the two other factors; M Night. Shyamalan, and the found footage format it was "No Zone" film for me. One thing I hate about the found footage format is that it's the most insulting sub-genre in film. Allot of found footage movies claim they're real which immediately discredits them. Not only that, but virtually everyone in a found footage movie has an HD camera to record whatever incident they are in. Cameras have gotten better from their conception, but I'm expected to believe every single person has an HD camera to record what they're seeing. To further explain my distaste for found footage films are the force justification for a character to film everything they're doing, and not let go of the camera. If some of these movies incorporated traditional scenes along with the "found footage" scenes I would believe what I'm seeing a lot easier. Except I'm not, and the first found footage film, Cannibal Holocaust, has hard to watch content (actual animals are killed on-screen) is still a high point in this sub-genre. Combine a movie with one of my most hated writer of all film, and my most hated sub-genre you have "The Visit".
The Visit I will not provide a synopsis for. I want to reiterate this is an M. Night Shyamalan film so by nature if you know his writing any description of the premise can spoil the movie. Therefore, any review that has a synopsis for the "The Visit" fan or no fan of the director should consider them spoilers. Now, the first thing that raised a red flag about the poor writing skill of Shyamalan was a mistake in the first five minutes. We're told the mother of the main characters was contacted by her parents through the internet, and the grandparents want to see their grand kids. So this would have not caused any suspicions if the mother did not established she had a rocky relationship with her parents, and has not seen them for 15 years in the first two minutes of the movie. First of all, by simply saying she got a phone call would have been believable, but nope the mother simply says the internet is how her parents found her. You know, that thing is basically a digital ocean of information. Two, the protagonist's mother found out about her grandparents being counselor through the internet also.
(Cesar drinks an entire beer bottle.)
You gotta be kidding. I was hoping I would never have to say this because there is bad filmmakers, and then Jorge Ameer who is worse. M. Night Shyamalan writing has crossed over into Jorge Ameer territory. In 2013, Jorge Ameer wrote a movie called D'Agostino where the main character found an entire backstory for a pet human slave by simply typing his name, D'Agostino, on the internet. Shyamalan writing is similar to that of Jorge Ameer in this instance. Third, is the mother keeping tabs on her parents at all times? It would explain how she quickly manage to found out about her parents started counseling. Four, the main character, Becca, is an aspiring filmmaker whose filming the events for a documentary. One important thing about documentaries would be research. So how come Becca didn't tell her mother to show her a picture of her grandparents? I found this suspicious which is extremely good for those like me who just love to prove the overly hated, overly criticized M. Night Shyamalan "talent" has been overlooked.
Izanagi: "Dude, get on with it!"
Cesar: "I would, but I still got to complain about the first five minutes."
Izanagi: "Man you suck!"
Five, the protagonist's mother went to her parents counseling website, and finds no picture of them? Now, because this is a Shyamalan film within the first two-minute I figured out the twist. At least in Signs (2002), the twist wasn't easy to spot. Sure it turned to be plot breaking, and rendered the premise broken, but I wasn't able to predict the twist. Here, everything that has been established in the first five minutes of the film, and the lack of logic in it only serves to giveaway the twist. Six, if Becca actually saw a picture of her grandparents the film itself wouldn't exist. This leap of logic is needed in order for there to be a film. If there's no sound foundation for the story to begins then it'll serve hurt it more in the long run with more mistakes.
Seven, the mother despite telling her kids not to go still lets her kids go visit their grandparents. If this was written competently than the mother would accompany the kids instead of leaving them on their own despite what her kids wanted. You know, like a reasonably concerned parent. Shyamalan could have used the mother memory against her. A simple "It's been so long. I don't recognize you mom, and dad" would have been enough to buy into this setup. It's established that the mother hasn't see her grandparents in fifteen years, and some of these simple changes would have removed these plot holes. I was willing to look past this immediate failed setup by Shyamalan until, Tyler (one of our main characters) attempted to make Vanilla Ice rapping seem like Tupac Shakur in comparison with the following rap.
Tyler: "Girl. I'm chilling again. I feelin again. I am like Iron-Man and Batman. I'm a hero again. Ugh. You think I'm little, but last month I grew an inch, and a quarter again. You think you're 2 good for me. But that's really a joke, cause you c. That doesn't bother me. Cause I'm not a sensitive blough. Ugh. Now in the end, you'll be in my bed. We won't be just friends. You'll write inappropriate text, and hit send. We share a Starbucks frappuccino blend dog. And see this isn't just philosophy. It's based on science you see. My Mista Pediatrician disconfront for me. You tall skanks! I'm going through puberty. Hoe!"
Izanagi: "Oh, man. That was just painful."
Cesar: "Pass me the mic."
Izanagi: "Dude, just forget it please. That rap was awful. Let's just move on."
Cesar: "No, no. I need to illustrate how incompetent M. Night Shyamalan is at writing."
Izanagi: "You eventually will with the rest of the review! It's already bloated enough."
(Cesar grabs a mic out of thin air, and begins rapping)
Cesar: "The same old boring day just keeps rewinding. Everybody's fear just keeps on binding. Still they act tough, like they're hot stuff, but it all doesn't matter cause it's all a big bluff. The same routine everyday is boring. Need to get outside and start exploring. Thoughts in my mind are overlapping. I'm running out of lines to keep on rapping. What did you think?"
Izanagi: "...That was good."
(Cesar, drops the mic.)
Cesar: "M. Night got nothing on me. I wasn't raised the streets foo!"
Izanagi: "Well, he was nominated once for an Oscar for his screenplay for The Sixth Sense"
Cesar: "Stanley Kubrick received a Razzie nomination for Worst Director for The Shining, and Brian De Palma received one for Scarface (1983). Awards, and nominations does not make talent factual."
With the first five minutes of the film alone I already have enough material to post a satisfying review. Not only did I bring up issues with the premise itself that it never fixes, but also presented solutions to some of those problems that could have led to a better film. However, if I stopped at just the first five-minutes that would leave many to discredit my position on the film, even though I just proved, and provided reasons as to why the writing is broken.
The Visit is meant to be a comedy, and horror film preferring the former genre for its overall tone. However, Shyamalan does not know when to implement comedy. There's a scene where Tyler goes into a tool shed of sorts that is setting up a horror scene. Tyler enters this dark shed, and says throughout the scene how much it smells. This destroys the atmosphere the scene was going for, and misleads the viewer into thinking they're meant to be afraid of what's in this shed. When the scene is solely comedy it doesn't hit well. Besides timing, the cast is filled with only two major characters to follow, and aren't written to balance the horror, and comedy of the movie. Becca is mostly serious in the film so she is not reliable for humor. She hardly breaks out of her serious mold, and when she does it simply to set up a horror scene with no payoff. Then there's Tyler who has the role of being comedy relief. He has to rap terribly in the movie for comedy relief, and also be taken seriously. He's a character whose poorly written because little about him is developed beyond the fact he wants to be a rapper. As for his backstory revolving around dealing with his father leaving from his life at a young age affects Becca more than it does Tyler. With Tyler constantly shown without concern for serious issues until the last act rolls in. Tyler is never an engaging character.
There's a moment in the film when Tyler says, and I want to emphasize M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN WROTE THIS! Tyler says, "No one gives a crap about cinematic standard. It's not the 1800s. Have you seen reality TV? Housekeepers of Houston has like a billion viewers!".
Cesar cynically clapping.
Thank you M. Night Shyamalan for reaffirming your negative attributes from your ego, not listening to criticism, and sheer ignorance for proper filmmaking with this dialogue. You dare insult the audience telling them they don't have cinematic standards? Not only that, but you're only defense is reality TV is popular? Have you missed Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Oz, The Twilight Zone (1959 - 1964), and other great series so you could cherry pick only reality television? M. Night, you just can't assume you're critical stance is correct with a narrowed mindset like yours. Maybe if you know, you were anything like Steven F$%@ing Spielberg you might be taken seriously with this claim. You do have Becca counterarguing Tyler claims, but the fact is M. Night Shyamalan is solely credited as the writer, and told everyone (including his fans, who might even hate reality TV) they do not care about cinematic standards. If professional film critics, and audiences didn't have cinematic standards Shyamalan people would be eating up "The Last Airbender" just on name value alone.
There's also the introduction of two characters in the movie that go absolutely nowhere. On this trip, what were the chances that Becca would filmed two completely random adults who used to be actors. One during the train ride in the beginning of the film, and another twenty minutes in when someone came up to check up on the grandparents. These two characters don't do much from the single scene they are in besides being more evidence to assure viewers who made predictions on the twist. Another person is brought up in the film is a stranger who just appears in an empty neighborhood to just get beat up by the grandpa.
Why this stands out so much is before grandpa, and the our main kids characters arrive at the high school their grandparents met each other. We're shown the drive to that destination, and there's hardly any people walking on the streets. Sure it's winter, but another trick to good horror movies is removing the suspicion of there being any scares in a scene which can't be done when the one time we're shown the outside of this house is an empty neighborhood. Becca encourages her grandpa, and brother to play a game where they make up a story for a person in a building. I spotted the house where M. Night Shyamalan good ideas never existed.
Another aspect about this scene that also gave away the twist was the grandpa feeling like he was being followed. Now, we're told these old people are counselor so when the grandfather acts funny by believing someone is following him it doesn't add up. I mean, it's part of his job to talk to people so this scene was also reaffirming my prediction on the twist, as well as breaking what's established. If the grandpa simply stated one of his patients has it out of him problem solved, and nothing seems out of character. Except grandpa, and grandma never talk about their jobs, nor mention the people they help in detail.
The last secondary character that is worth mentioning is a young woman who brings food to the house. Seeing the lack of attention for establishing any form of normality this character also goes nowhere. If the lack of secondary characters didn't giveaway there's something clearly wrong with the situation then the interaction will. Shyamalan problem was immediately making the grandparents awkward for the kids to talk too. He does not show a gradual change from a welcome home environment with the grandparents to unsettling visit. This decision cost Shyamalan to write himself into a corner. Without establishing a sense of normality, or a nice family moment viewers will expect something bad to happen at the end. Also, there's not a single shot of Becca, Tyler, and the grandparents all together in the same frame. Hmm, nothing suspicion is there. You think Becca, an aspiring filmmaker would at least want one shot of the entire family together for documentary, except the thought never pops in her mind. Hm, completely makes sense to me. Unfortunately, something bad did end up happening in the last act.
Izanagi: "No! Why?!"
Cesar: "I was right! I told you M. Night Shyamalan is a terrible writer!"
Izanagi: "I don't know who I hate more right now. You for acting obnoxious for being correct, or the fact M. Night is still writing twists into his movies!"
Now the twist wasn't hard to see to coming. Before the twist is revealed there is not a single scene in the film with the entire cast all together. The two kids, are never shown sharing a scene with both grandparents together besides when they meet for the first time. They either hang out with the grandpa, or the grandma. On top of that, every scene where the kids interact with the grandparents is written awkwardly. One way to counteract this would have been writing a single scene of the entire family having fun together. Except that never happens. Something has to go aray whenever the kids are with their grandparents. Then there's the plain problem that the kids are mostly together implying they hardly hang out with the grandparents. Also, let's not forget the counseling job is mentioned once in the beginning, and is briefly brought up again in the middle of the film. So connecting the dots wasn't a difficult task for me. It wasn't being used in the film to drive the plot so I made a note of it. The broken premise, combine with awkward interaction between kids and grandparents, the lack of secondary characters written in the film, the lack of the grandparents talking about their jobs or seen doing it, no nights at the grandparents house without some odd occurrence, and that it is written by M. Night Shyamalan made me confidence about my prediction. Also, the fact I dread being correct goes to show I take no pleasure in being correct about a bad piece of writing, and the whole film in general.
There's still other elements to write about though. Those the are the characters which don't have depths to them. Becca is an aspiring filmmaker, but talks about film in a snobish way. There is no enthusiasm towards her approach in filming. There's also a subplot brought out of nowhere of how she doesn't like looking at herself, even though there was a moment fifteen minutes into the film of Becca looking into a mirror when talking to Tyler. This would be better foreshadow if she turned around in that scene, and talked to Tyler. Also, she's an aspiring filmmaker, and does not like looking at herself? There's also this plot point of the kids father leaving them at a young age which also get brought out of nowhere at times. This eventually connects with why Becca is filming the documentary...but it's very silly. A simple phone call would fix everything if all the mother was looking for was forgiveness. Then the plot twist opens up more plot holes, and brings up the serious lack of police world in this small town.
Now, the acting is surprisingly good. The dialogue is written awkwardly, and the kids don't talk like kids, but they are convincing in their roles. Olivia Dejonge who plays Becca deliver convincingly her role of a troubled young teen. She sounds like she has built up resentment, sounds like she's into filmmaking, and shows uncertainty on to how to feel in situations. Dejonge does not come across wooden in her performance. Dejonge comes across convincingly as her character. Ed Oxenbould best trait was his chemistry with Olivia Dejonge. I believed him, and Olivia Dejonge were siblings. Their chemistry felt natural in every sense of the word. However, Ed Oxenbould was the most annoying out of the cast. I blame Shyamalan for giving him his awful rapping scenes, but Oxenbould takes the blame for confusing shouting for comedy. Ed Oxenbould does not have the acting chops to sell good jokes because he has no charisma behind his setup, and punchline, let alone selling a film filled entirely of bad jokes. Making matter worse is he ends the film with another one of his terrible rapping scenes.
Deanna Dunagan plays the grandmother in the film. Aesthetically she fits the role by simply having to look old, but her appearances is her greatest attribute in this film. Managing to come across as some nice old lady, and flipping the switch into insane crazy old woman. She shows fear whenever she does anything odd which adds to the character uneasiness towards the kids. Dunagan comes across convincingly as a senile person. Lastly, Peter Mcrobbie gets a less showing performance compare to his co-star Dunagan. Mcrobbie comes as sincere in portrayal which is to his credit. He's makes a character that little to explore, and acts naturally in it. There ain't much to his performance besides being the more normal acting grandparent. The supporting don't have screen time to make an impression making most of their inclusion in the film mostly pointless in one scene.
Night Shyamalan's The Visit is just plain bad. It's not a good movie by Shyamalan's standards, nor ties for the worst films he's made in his careers. By found footage standard, the acting is better than the genre generally provides, but the writing matches those of the worst in the genre. Then finally, the same mistakes 98% of found footage movies do The Visit also falls victim from audio being able to be heard despite long distances, the characters filming everything, and acting against reason. For instance, there's a scene where the grandmother picks up a camera, and film herself attempting to enter her grandkids room with a knife with the intention to kill them. So despite losing her marbles this old woman has the sense to pick up a camera, but not destroy the footage? Shyamalan is not successful enough in creating a fictional illusion barely comprehending makes work of fiction engaging. Whatever made him think he could sell something else as reality to viewers is about as nonsensical as his writing.
Izanagi insisted I include this epilogue.
Izanagi (furiously looking at Cesar): "You're such a buzz kill!"
Cesar: "I told you so Izanagi. This is M. Night Shyamalan we're talking about."
Izanagi: "You're so obtuse on the guy! Other people enjoy his works. If you don't, then don't be a dick about it! There is no one out there who shares your same viewpoints on movies"
Cesar: "Fair point, but think about this. From my perspective, the hack that is M. Night Shyamalan gets more attention, articles, and discussions for his films over talented filmmakers like Charles Burnett who made a great biopic called Selma, Lord, Selma in 1998 for Walt Disney Pictures."
Izanagi: "There is no way Disney made a film on Dr. King. I mean, hello. They're Disney!"
(Izanagi takes out his phone to check if it's true. Much to his dislike CM is correct.)
Izanagi looks at a smiling CM: "I hate you so much."
You can also find me at.
Time traveling movies have the largest amount of room for error in their writings. Creating paradox, plot holes, and inconsistency. This all applies to all forms of stories, but the ones where time traveling is involved are at greater risk coming across these issues than any other type of stories. However, the less amount of errors you have in a time traveling story the better the overall result can be. Time Lapse is one of those instances where a simple approach to a complex concept makes a good film.
Time Lapse follows three friends discovering a mysterious machine that takes pictures 24 hours into the future and conspire to use it for personal gain, until disturbing and dangerous images begin to develop. One aspect about Time Lapse that most films about time manipulation do incorrectly is over complicate the mechanics behind time travel. In this film, upon the main character's discovery of this camera the rules are laid out, and are easy to understand. Our characters attempt to understand how this camera, and test it out to confirm it functions.
Characters in the present are given a picture of themselves 24 hours into future doing various things, and the characters in the present timeline have to match the photo in 24 hours so their past self can receive the same photo. The characters never travel between timelines meaning there's less chances to create a paradox. If something goes wrong the characters, at no point, can they travel back in time, and undo an event. At most, they can simply warn their present self in a photo from the future. Another nice bonus to the camera is how it's used to foreshadow events in the future visually. With this simple element the writers are allowed to focus more on the characters than spending several scenes discussing the mechanics of the camera. This also gives the writers opportunities to set up seemingly unimportant elements of the film, and bring them up later to be used later on.
Characters are few in number, and written in a way they can carry the film on their own. Throughout the run time the film never loses focus on the main characters. Finn (Matt O'Leary) is an aspiring painter who can't seem to get the final product from his mind onto a canvas. Jasper (George Finn) is a slacker who attempts to make money through illegal gambling like betting on races. Finally, Callie (Danielle Panabaker) the supportive girlfriend of Finn. These three characters are always together creating an intimate tone within the story. Not only that, but their interactions with each others conveys these are long time friends. Instead of telling us about these characters relationship with each other it shows it to the viewers. Through the course of the movie greed will take over each of the character taking a toll on them in different form. These three characters are dynamic making the events that prevent the story from heading into a linear path.
These character gradual changes add twists to the story while never over complicating the overall storyline. Character relationship are explored in the film. From Finn and Callie relationship that seems rocky to Finn and Jasper that argue over how this camera should be used. It's all driven by the characters. Best aspect about the small cast is how clear everything is about them. They aren't complex characters, but their simplicity work extremely well in the confined in the story presented. The film does sprinkle discussions about the consequences of playing against time, but the concept isn't fully explored compare to the character relationship that becomes rocky over time.
As much as I am praising the film there's evidence of the low-budget indicating how events fold out in the film. Despite giving the film my highest rating possible these issues prevent Time Lapse from feeling like a great experience. For starter, one of the film's central conflict revolves around illegal gambling, and a bookie who doesn't like the idea Jasper (one of our three main characters) is winning so much money. This conflict could have easily been remedied if Jasper simply went into legal gambling like buying lottery tickets. This huge over sight is done to provide conflict to the story in the form of Ivan giving a life threatening presence, and actual consequences of their usage of this camera besides their friendship. A more organic conflict arising from Jasper large winnings was possible, but wasn't taken for the sake of the story.
Another is the lack of location within the film. Everything basically takes small in one small area. In order to compensate for the lack of location the filmmakers opted for a more personal story involving its characters. Unfortunately, the camera never leaves the gates of this one area so visually you'll be seeing the same rooms, and the same set without it ever changing. It's all shot well thanks to cinematographer Jonathan Wenstrup polish, tightly confined, and clear look for the film. One aspect that wasn't a hindrance, but could use an explanation is one moment in the film. Jasper takes a picture from his phone of the photograph from the camera which manages to show the same thing. What this says is basically a photo taken by any other devices other than this huge, futuristic camera can also capture a photo that show events that will transpire 24 hours into the future. The film never goes into the creation of this camera, but even if it did it likely would have sounded preposterous given the huge size of the actual camera.
The one aspect that makes this whole film come together is the acting. Matt O'Leary takes charge as Finn. He's charismatic, and a capable leading man. His acting shops proves his immense likability being funny, dramatic, and struggling internally sometime all within one scene. Matt O'Leary has a good grip of his character that he becomes Finn without questioning it. George Finn plays Jasper with a good portrayal of his slacker turned into psycho. What best about this performance is George Finn doesn't go over the top when showing the darker aspect of his character. He simply hints at it throughout with simple gesture making for a calm psycho. Danielle Panabaker plays Callie making her likable. Unlike George Finn character, Panabaker isn't given enough scenes to gradually show her transform into a different character. However, Danielle Panabaker is able to hide her character ulterior motive without viewers catching on. Together all three actor keep viewers engaged during a slow build of the story. Their chemistry with each other is natural in every scene they take part in. Selling quickly the idea these are long time friends.
The supporting casts are a nice addition from Jason Spisak as the bookie, and David Figlioli as his bodyguard. None of them look intimidating, but are their performances work. The remaining cast member to mentioned have brief appearances in the film. They won't make much of an impression since their screen time is very brief. Time Lapse soundtrack doesn't contain much music making the noteworthy track, "Spider" by the band The Autumn Owls easy to spot. All the music will go unnoticed since it's not a strong presence in the film. The music isn't huge on a tracklist, but it's effective nonetheless.
If you're still pondering over the rating (even you read the previous paragraphs) here's a bit more insight. The choices made by the filmmakers are equal to those done by veteran filmmakers. You have a great premise, and plenty of ideas with it to tell engaging story. However, there's a giant plot hole that should prevent the story from being told the way it is. Do you compromise an original vision, or rework to way in a new way? In this film, nothing feels like it was compromised because it was engaging to forgive it giant plot hole, and become immersed in the story. Every choice from the casting, the look, and even the execution was expertly handled by director Bradley King in his first feature-length film. Not only that, but also compliments to both Bradley King, and BP Cooper for their written film. They do not have experience on under their belt, and do display potential talent in crafting a film. Whether or not these two will continue to make films remains unanswered, but they with their showcase with film is any indication they might be capable of creating a classic film.
Time Lapse is an enjoyable, simple film that's better written than you might expect. The choices made are similar to veteran filmmakers in crafting a good film. It won't have the wow factor of any time travel classic due to some sacrifices in the writing, nor the technical prowess to stand out, but it's nice a little gem in the low-budget sci-fi department.
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My views towards superheroes films is similar to that of Disney movies; very complicated, convoluted, and getting tired of their formulas. A main contributor to this is most superheroes films feel the need to tell an origin story, and all feeling the same in outline form. Usually you have a young main character getting into an accident, is a good-doer, and after learning about his new-found abilities becomes a hero for the greater good. Our main character could suffer from blindness, being bullied, or simply being beautiful which limits the type of characters that are created. Superheroes films, at the moment, don't experiment much to the point that female-led superhero films can be counted on a single hand.
Fantastic Four was different for me as director, and writer of the film Chronicle, Josh Trank, brought in new ideas to a genre that refuses to experiment. It was a good film that while limited to the found footage format actually managed to be one of the rare times a found footage film worked. So for the first time since Man of Steel in 2013 I had expectations to experience a different kind of superhero film. Allot of what I learned about the film seem promising, and the teaser trailer got my interest. Now the point I started getting worried about the project wasn't the reshoots since one of my favorite movies, Jaws, and one of the best superheroes film ever made, Superman (1978), also endured reshoots. It was with the first official trailer for Fantastic Four that made me lose interest as the trailer was generic.
You think reviews would have kept me away, except for the fact superheroes films are the least trustworthy for me when it comes to critical, and audience reviews. If "The Dark Knight" is held to the highest standards for many of these reviewers so I had little reliable sources to turn to whenever one of these films get release. So out of the hundreds of reviews for this film the two reviewers I actually trusted with this genre both wrote negative reviews for the film. This caused me to be cautious. Then came in the talk of cut content which is where my interest raised again.
Fantastic Four follows four young outsiders teleported to an alternate and dangerous universe which alters their physical form in shocking ways. The four must learn to harness their new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy. The first ten minute of the films seem promising showing a young Reed Richard, and Ben Grimm attempting to send a toy car into another dimension. Unlike the rest of the film, the character are enthusiastic towards this goal, and dedicated to achieving it. What's wrong with these first ten minutes are simple. For starter, Ben Grimm "It's Clobberin Time" catch phrase originates from the times his older brother beat him up. Now I, expected this eventually pointless discovering would lead to some sort of repressed memory for Ben Grimm. This film clearly wanted to go in a dark direction so why not repress murder? It wouldn't be pleasant, nor worked well, but would have been different, and explain Ben Grimm lack of social skills or friends in the film.
In the first ten minutes, Reed Richard succeeds in building a teleportation device in his parents garage. Before that though, Reed Richards tells the entire class he wants to be the first person to teleport himself. His teacher, naturally tells him to pick a real career seemingly wanting to crush a young kid dream. I would argue against the realism of this scene, but school is where dreams go to die. My college professor told me that once when I, and several others, talked about our desired career on the first day in class (no joke). So after succeeding in teleporting a toy car what happens to Reed Richard? Fast forward seven years later. Neglecting what could have been interesting events to follow-up on. Why this timeskip is so damaging is plain simple; it glosses over the possible introduction of Reed Richard to the Baxter Foundation at an early age, and meeting the other major characters. If the film chose to show Reed Richard working within the Baxter Foundation at a such young age, and communicating with the other major characters developing the cast could have been easier. Also, I'm expected to buy within the first ten minutes a young kid developed a teleportation device in his parents garage, but a research institute aiming for the same thing completely missed this story in every possible way. This is the moment I gave up hope for good, sensical writing in the film.
In a science competition Reed Richards shows his teacher who told him to pick a real career. Demonstrate in front of his teacher eyes, and hands covering his ears a teleportation device. This same teacher who failed to crush Reed Richard dreams disqualified Reed Richard under the basis he believe Reed Richard perform magic. Yes, because Reed Richard who had his hands covering his ears build a machine in order to make an elaborate light show in order to perform magic. I would argue how this teacher got his job, but the US education system is terrible so it's not far fetch when depicting this teacher.
All of this was meant to develop characters within the first hour. However, that soon evaporate with one major mistake. So in the film Reed Richard, along with other young bright scientists that make up the core cast have to work together to make a teleportation device for the Baxter Corporation within the building. Instead of showing the trial, and error process of making such a machine would be a good excuse to develop characters, and their bond. The film decides to speed up the process by only showing the group talk to each other every now, and then. Not showing any hardship that has to be overcome when building a machine straight out of science fiction. Therefore, the completion of this teleportation device doesn't feel like a group achievement. Feeling more like the writers went through another plot point keep the story rolling.
It might read like I skipped over a lot of material, but the sad truth is hardly anything in the first hour contributes much to the overall picture. The only thing that needs to be brought up is the group decides to go to Planet Zero because they got drunk, and want to stick it to the man by going to this other dimension first. Something goes awry when the group goes to Planet Zero, and eventually return home with one less member. Now, Sue Storm, not going to Planet Zero would have been fine if she didn't get her powers by getting blasted by a computer. At most, a computer will catch on fire, and burn you. There are other side effects, but none of which include the powers to be invisible. To be clear, I'm not referring to Kate Mara (the actress who plays Sue Storm) career after this movie either.
Another issue is, like every live action Fantastic 4 film, is it desire to follow trends for of the time for unexplained reasons. For instance, as unsubtle as a villain like Red Skull in Captain America is, that film doesn't undermined the audience intelligent, and actually plays up on that aspect. Here, there's a character named Victor Von Doom. Hm, there's clearly nothing wrong here. I am one-hundred percent positive someone named Doom will not, in any way, be the villain of the film or turn out to be evil. Noticing this I am dealing with yet, another instance of "Obviously Evil Bad Guy". Unlike in say something like Mad Max: Fury Road where the "Obviously Evil Bad Guy" worked because the aesthetics of the film complemented it. In Fantastic 4 it is attempting to be more realistic (for some reason) where it goes against such a cartoonish name. The film attempts to humanize Dr. Doom by making him difficult to work with, rude to his peers, getting jealous when Reed Richard is talking to his possible crush Sue Storm, and doing stupid things when he is drunk. Wait, some of that is still evil behavior. Well, the writing really sucks for this film.
By the time the second act finally ends you're given enough reasons to dislike the film. The rush pacing, glossing over obstacles, missed opportunity for character development, and failing in setting up a grand story. One aspect that could have been engaging simply goes away due to a time skip. Ben Grimm returns to Earth as a pile of CGI, walking, talking rocks, and when the film shows Ben Grimm in this form for the first time he is scare. However, this turmoil for Ben doesn't last long as soon as he talks to Dr. Allen minutes later he accepts his new body. Well, that was pointless. There's also another scene where Franklin Storm sees his son, Johnny Storm, confuse in pain burning endlessly. Instead of making a somewhat emotional moment of Franklin Storm talking to his son, and calming him long enough for Johnny to be in human form. Viewers are instead greeted with a scene of Reed Richard escaping from a military base that has little security despite the fact they are holding people with abnormal abilities. Though, the film is not entirely to blame for this lengthy review. I got admit I missed an opportunity to make a racist joke as to why Johnny Storm is black in this movie unlike every other incarnation of Fantastic Four.
One line of dialogue in the film pissed me off way more than it will the average movie viewer. It was during a scene where supervisor Dr. Allen is showing footage of The Thing working in military combat fields. At the moment the camera shows The Thing ripping off the upper half of a tank Dr. Allen says "He's been involved in covert operations". Really? A walking, pile of rock has been involved in several covert operations? Not only that, but apparently none of this footage, nor the enemies footage of The Thing has been seen by any form of media? I'm expected to believe , The Thing, existence is unknown to the world when he is shown ripping apart the upper half of a tank, and throwing it at enemy soldiers? Now the reason this line pissed me off was because in my time off I played a video game called Binary Domain. The entire game was meant to be a covert mission, yet in one level I fought against a Spider Robot the size of tall building. This occurred in one level so try to imagine an entire video game spanning around ten hours with events like that. The game events unfold in the span of a couple of days, and of course it eventually get public attention. Yet, I'm expected to believe for an entire year The Thing has been a part of military operations, and none of the enemy soldier that saw him told anyone? Dr. Allen says The Thing saves people while The Thing is hurting people on footage. So if this claim is true, HOW COME THERE ISN'T A SINGLE NEWS REPORT OF SEVERAL SOLDIERS REPORTING THEY SAW A GIANT PILE OF ROCK IN COMBAT! I'm willing to accept any leap of logic, but not, when it is very clear, that the film itself is attempting to be realistic, and wants to be taken seriously to the degree of Fantastic Four.
The final act is entirely ripped from another movie. A generic superhero movie without giving its main villain a motive for destruction, or has heroes that care that a military facility is filled with dead people. Seriously, there's no emotional reaction from the Fantastic Four when ordinary people die. When the Fantastic Four have no chemistry with each other, than showing them be concerned with the fate of planet Earth in the climax there's no sense of weariness from them. At this point in the film, the team isn't even referred to as the Fantastic Four, nor is the name ever uttered in the film. It's ashame of it for some inexplicable reason. What this final act also contains is a force "Save the World" climax, and a weak final fight for some action. When the film actually ends, it becomes evidently clear the film amounted to nothing. From the first hour that set everything to the last act that goes in an entirely different direction. Losing faith along the way before becoming a film that satisfies no one.
The cast of Fantastic Four includes the talented cast of Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell. Performances they aren't bad when showing the inner struggle of their characters alone, but together the cast don't have any chemistry together. Jamie Bell, and Kate Mara for instance, never make eye contact with each other in the entire movie. When the Fantastic Four are all together on-screen they don't come across as good friends or a family. One issue being Jamie Bell is absent for a good portion of the film while the other cast member play characters who built a teleportation device. Toby Kebbell who plays Doctor Doom provides a stale performance. As soon as he appears on-screen there's no question he's a villain. He's gets the worst part to play since his costume for Doctor Doom is expressionless, and his mask seems like a crash test dummy head painted black with neon green lights implanted on it. It's look terrible on-screen.
Miles Teller gets a few scenes where his acting chops adds to a scene. For example, there's a scene that requires Miles Teller to crawl to a pile of rubber after an incidents. His display of concern is convincing, but when he turns around to see his body stretched out his mortification sells this moment. It's a good moment in the movie, but this is only of one of about three scene where the characters come across as people. The other two scenes being Jamie Bell voicing his distraught in being The Thing for the first time, and the other being Michael B. Jordan screaming as he is engulfed by flames. These snippets make the character seem real since they are afraid of they new-found abilities they don't understand to use. However, there's where their most human moments end. Unlike other films in the genre, we don't see the Fantastic Four gradually accepting their abilities.
The supporting casts are entirely one note for the film. Reg E. Cathey who plays Franklin Storm maintains a similar facial expression of disapproval for every scene he's in. He's can't do anything in the role. Tim Blake Nelson who plays Dr. Allen has to look smug, and pretend to be chewing gum for every scene he's in. He makes little no lasting impression. That's about it for the supporting cast. Most of the actors in the film appear briefly in a scene or two then never appear again. One of them being Ben Grimm mother, and his brother who disappear after a single scene.
This film contains a few practical effects, and they are convincing looking. Like the mentioned moment when Reed Richard is crawling, and legs stretches out for a couple of meters. CGI on the other hand never blends into with the live action portion. It's rubbery whenever Reed Richards stretches his body in the few moments near the end when powers are used. However, the CGI isn't used for action scenes, nor in moments of showing off the heroes good sides. At most, you'll see briefly clips of The Thing military operations, one brief fight with Reed Richards attempting to fight off military gunman, and towards the end when the Fantastic Four team up to fight Doctor Doom. So very powers usage throughout the world. The Thing looks convincing depending on the lighting, but when he's fully visible isn't convincing. Kate Mara wig changes throughout the film, and so does her style. It's distracting, but the least of the film problems. Planet Zero itself is simply an empty planet with nothing living on it. The music is just forgettable.
Fantastic 4 is a bad film that had potential, but was squandered. It's a shame to be what it originally wanted to be opting to be a film that pleases everyone, and in the end becoming a film no one wants. Some ideas it had could have led to a good movie, and certain moments in the film are inspired, but the whole thing is a big mess. Good talent is wasted, special effects quality are uneven, and the script is weak on all front. In the end, the biggest let down of seeing this film is the only thing that makes it stand out in the genre is how bad it turned out.
A Silly Afterthought:
I had no idea where to include this piece of thought in my review so I just place it here in the end. One thing I noticed about all the Fantastic Four films, and some of the comic books is The Thing always wears pants, but in this film he's always walking naked. So, I find it funny the MPAA considers this PG-13 material, yet something like Steve Jobs has probably like small uses of the F word is rated R. If I understand this correctly, I could display nudity in a movie so long the character is entirely CG, yet simple foul language will get me an R rating. Every movie watcher probably knows this by now, but the MPAA really needs to update their regulations for movie ratings. Oh yeah, there's also the costumes which I didn't comment on. To be honest, I prefer the costumes in this film over the comic books which basically are blue tight suits with a number four on it.