Fantastic Four (2015)

In lieu of an actual review what follows is a text message conversation between my wife and I as I watched Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four. I know it’s lazy but this movie exhausted me.

(Warning: this entry contains spoilers.)

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Guardians of the Galaxy

I created this entry almost seven weeks ago. I know that I don’t have the most rigorous schedule for new content nor am I at risk of abusing anyone’s inbox with notifications, but almost two months is a long time to sit on a post. Especially since I’m very clearly a huge Marvel fanboy. So why, then, have I been neglecting this particular topic? It all comes down to one uncomfortable fact:

I thought Guardians of the Galaxy was kind of a crap movie.

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Snowpiercer

Sometimes I feel like storytelling has gotten too complicated for its own good. I wonder how many writers have felt pressured to break new ground in their chosen genre, or how many would-be writers never put pen to page because they worry that their ideas aren’t “fresh” enough. Aiming high is good, that’s how progress is made. Yet I find myself slightly disappointed by some of what I read and watch because the stories don’t fully ascend to the apogee of their aspirations. The film version of The Fountain comes to mind. So does Sucker Punch. These aren’t bad stories per se, they just fall a little short of the inherent promise made to us by the tellers: “This one is different. This one is more.”

There’s a reason why fiction can be broken down into familiar structures taught to students young enough to struggle with cursive handwriting. Those structures may seem tired but they just work, and if one understands them well enough it becomes unnecessary to try to break free from them. Snowpiercer is a wonderful example of what happens when a writer doesn’t try to get fancy with format and just lets the story tell itself.

(Warning: this entry and its comments contain spoilers.)

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X-Men: Days of Future Past

Is there any literary device more maligned and misused than time travel? I don’t think any other concept has spawned as much confusion and (ultimately) exasperated resignation in an audience. It’s so hard to get right, so I wonder, why do we keep going back to the well on this? I think maybe it’s the universal human desire to get a “do over”; we all have memories which might have played out differently at our current level of knowledge and wisdom. Who wouldn’t like to go back and correct a few mistakes?

If I’m right, though, there may be no more glaring example of pure irony in the history of entertainment. The list of stories that used time travel in an interesting a novel way are hugely outnumbered by the cliché and confusing examples, yet writers keep dusting the concept off for another go. Despite the overwhelming odds that the next story will end up atop the pile of bad examples, writers continue to venture forth into the world of paradoxes, causality loops, and unexplained mechanisms.

How many of those writers would like to go back in time to stop themselves from failing?

(Warning: this entry contains spoilers.)

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Agents of SHIELD

As a life-long reader of Marvel comics and someone who enjoys my action/adventure with a healthy dose of funny I am soundly within the target demographic for Marvel’s most recent foray into the world of live action television. Weekly stories within their shared cinematic universe? More Phil Coulson? A place for Marvel to introduce some of their less popular or “movie friendly” characters? I really, really, want to love Agents of SHIELD.

But I don’t. Not yet.

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