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Posts Tagged chris evans

Marvel Movies Project: Fantastic Four

Poster for Fantastic Four (2005)

This movie has a 5.7 rating on IMDb, a lowly 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a slightly better 40 on Metacritic. But I can’t help it … I like it. A brilliant cinematic achievement? Well, no. But it’s light and funny and it does a fairly good job of bringing the FF and their dysfunctional family dynamic to life.

Fantastic Four (2005) stars Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards, Jessica Alba as Sue Storm, Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm, and Chris Evans as Johnny Storm. The FF’s archnemesis, Victor Von Doom, is played by Julian McMahon. (In some dark corner of the internet I’m sure there’s a Nip/Tuck-Fantastic Four mashup in which Dr. Christian Troy asks Doctor Doom what he doesn’t like about himself and Doctor Doom says he needs to do something about that scar, but I haven’t found it yet.) The great thing about this cast is that they have chemistry. I thought about the problems I had with Blade: Trinity a lot while I was watching Fantastic Four this time around. While Blade and Hannibal King butting heads in Blade: Trinity leads to nothing but painfully unfunny awkwardness, the tensions between team members in Fantastic Four drive the story and make the movie fun to watch. Ben’s paranoia about Reed putting his feelings for Sue ahead of everything else allows Doom to manipulate him and bring on the final showdown. Johnny’s brash personality leads to a lot of conflict, as well as some very funny moments as he drives Ben crazy. Sue’s frustration with Reed’s constant focus on science is also amusing.

This is probably the funniest of the Marvel movies so far. The FF have pretty good lives compared to certain other Marvel heroes — somewhere, Spider-Man watches the media and public fawning over them and cries — so the mostly comedic tone of this movie is appropriate. The script is quippy, with lots of puntastic and silly dialogue: Reed is said to be “always stretching,” Ben feels “solid,” and just after Victor tells Sue he has four little words that will change their lives forever, Reed rushes in to announce that “the cloud is accelerating!”

Much of the humour comes thanks to Chris Evans’ hilarious performance. Johnny is egotistical, mischievous, and totally unfazed by going to space and coming back with superpowers. Evans, who gets almost all the best lines, plays him with lots of energy and a great sense of fun, not to mention perfect comic timing. Who’d have thought he’d go on to do an equally good job playing the rather more straight-laced Captain America? Chris Evans is truly one of the Marvel Movies MVPs.

Chris Evans as Johnny Storm, greeting his adoring public.

Michael Chiklis is also very well cast as Ben Grimm, a role he’d apparently always wanted to play. (He later played a similar character in No Ordinary Family, the short-lived, fairly FF-ish TV series about a family who develop superpowers after a plane crash.) I like the fact that they didn’t use CGI to create The Thing, even if I’m not totally sold on the actual costume and makeup job that appear in the film. It looks a little awkward to me, but the face is well done: Chiklis’ expressions come through vividly.

I’ve never been convinced that Jessica Alba was the right choice to play Sue Storm, but she does a decent job with the role as it’s written and works well with the rest of the cast. Ioan Gruffudd is good, but Reed is not a standout character here: he’s mostly playing straight man to everyone else. I think one problem with putting Reed Richards in a movie is that when you see them in “reality” as opposed to on the pages of a comic book, his stretch powers really are, as Johnny says, kind of gross. Ultimately, Gruffudd and Alba both are just plain overshadowed by Chiklis and Evans. Alba and Gruffudd’s romantic chemistry is just okay; on the other hand, Chiklis and Evans are, well, fantastic together. Ben and Johnny’s rivalry and the larger group dynamic make much more of an impression than Sue and Reed’s love story.

I can’t say that this is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, but it’s certainly entertaining: something to put on when the weather is bad and you want some brainless fun. If nothing else, it’s worth watching just for Chris Evans.

All Is Quiet, on New Year’s Day

The beginning of a new year always makes me feel like doing random things in the name of having a fresh start; for example, this morning I flipped all the cushions on my couch, which I would probably never think of doing on any other day, but hey — it’s a new year! I also refilled my salt shaker, opened up a new toothbrush, and started rereading the Harry Potter books again.

Now a brief look back on 2011. I did some good things: went to England, managed the HPreread. Got to know my toddler niece as she developed her personality. I rewatched The X-Files. This may not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but I’ve tried to do that three or four times before and have never made it past the first half of season six. In 2011, I did all nine seasons plus both movies. It felt like an accomplishment! I also did a good job of getting myself back in the habit of reading every day, and as consequence I read 65 books. To be fair, many of those were short and some were things I’d read before, but I’d count about 30 of them as solid new books. I think I managed my personal life fairly well. I had surgery to fix up a health problem I’d been dealing with for a while and took advantage of the fact that I have dental coverage through my job to get some much needed work done on my teeth. I paid all my bills and knocked a fairly big chunk off my student debt. I did well at my job. I tried to make smart decisions about how I spend money and on what. All in all, it was a good year.

I also took in some good culture. Here are a few best and worst of 2011 picks:

Music

I liked Florence + the Machine‘s debut album enough that I was really looking forward to the followup, Ceremonials, which turned out to be one of my favourite albums of the year. My picks for the best tracks: “What the Water Gave Me,” “Heartlines,” “Leave My Body,” “Only if for a Night,” “Never Let Me Go,” and “Shake It Out.”  But my most listened album of 2011 is undoubtedly Born This Way by Lady Gaga. It’s not perfect, but there are some truly great songs on there. The best, in my opinion, are “Heavy Metal Lover,” “Bloody Mary,” “Born This Way,” and “Hair.” “Hair” was easily my favourite song of the year. It’s so stupid, but so much fun.

My biggest musical disappointment of the year was Radiohead‘s King of Limbs. I never thought we’d reach the day when Radiohead made a bad album, but unfortunately it seems we have. It’s still possible King of Limbs will grow on me in the future. I hope so.

Movies

I was underwhelmed by the cinema of 2011 until July when I saw The Tree of Life, and I still think it was probably my favourite movie of the year. As I wrote at the time, I totally get why so many people hated it, but it really, really worked for me. I thought it was beautiful and brilliant, and it stayed with me for a long time after I saw it. Another movie that has stuck with me is the haunting Martha Marcy May Marlene, starring Elizabeth Olsen as a young woman who joins and then leaves a cult, but finds that she may never truly be able to escape. I’m not sure why this movie isn’t getting more awards buzz. Speaking of which, The Artist is just as good as people say. I found it very charming. In terms of more mainstream fare, I thoroughly enjoyed Captain America — everyone seems to have a preference between Cap and Thor and, while I enjoyed Thor, I think I was more drawn in by Captain America‘s period setting. I thought the filmmakers pulled that off very well. Plus, Chris Evans was wonderful, and Hugo Weaving made a terrific Red Skull.

Movies I didn’t like: The Descendants, which I am officially naming the most overrated movie of 2011, was just as boring and pretentious as I expected it to be given my hatred of Sideways and my general dislike of George Clooney in serious movies. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 annoyed me so much the first time I saw it that it almost put me off ever watching any of the HP movies again. Then I saw it a second time and liked it more, but I still have to say that the series was overall pretty disappointing — apart from the absolutely excellent casting.

Books

I think the only 2011 releases I read were The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin, both of which were great but fell just short of being truly outstanding. I read Martin’s entire Song of Ice and Fire series for the first time in 2011, and the third volume, A Storm of Swords, was most likely my favourite “new” (to me) book of the year. A low point in 2011 for me and probably for the world: I read all four Twilight books. Breaking Dawn created a whole new level of bad.

Television

The good: Fringe, The Good Wife, and The Vampire Diaries are the best things on television right now. I was overjoyed — overjoyed, I tell you! — by Smallville‘s series finale, which made me feel that the 10 years I spent watching that show were actually worthwhile. The second season of Boardwalk Empire also wrapped up in spectacular fashion.

The bad: I was disappointed when I heard One Tree Hill and Weeds, two shows that have really gone downhill, were being renewed. I finally stopped watching House.

The sad: No Mad Men.