….I seriously wish this wasn’t a real thing. #WhyReboot
Watch the thing, then read the thing.
Why? Why!? Why can we not go two years without some production company thinking “you know, people kinda liked that superhero movie we made. Let’s make it again!!! But this time, let’s make it dark and gritty!”
Despite my bias against the thought of this film, all it took was the first note to sing this trailer. The melancholy minor sustained note arrives before the 20th Century Fox logo, instantly painting a picture of what we were in for. Go back and watch the first trailer for the Dark Knight Rises or the one for Man of Steel. This trailer, before it had ever shown me any footage, had let me know that it was ripping off that former piece, but with the noted difference that people were not falling all over themselves to see it. The moody narration over a minor composition works well when the demand is very high (it plays off of the rabid fervor leading up to the trailer, and the hush that falls as it starts). It does not work for something for which mass audiences are not clammoring.
Looking beyond the disappointing first 5 seconds, the following twenty showcase filler. Not pretty filler like the Tree of Life trailer; just boring, mismatched shots of the world they want me to believe in. The problem here is juxtaposition – they show us metropolis followed by wilderness, the heavens of space followed by the earthiness of a cornfield. It’s the visual equivalent of stuttering around your logline: “Well it’s kinda ethereal, but it’s very down-to-earth! It’s about life in the city, and about the joys of rural life!” This leaves the audience with nothing; you’ve covered all of the bases so I have no clue what to expect. The Tree of Life trailer at least opens with fascinating shots of space/colors that tell me that I’m in for something heady and artsy.
Without clear established direction, the trailer rambles on through the tropes of a modern, moody hero piece. The first pertinent shot comes at 0:25 of the boy running an experiment (clearly laying out a theme throughout the movie). We are introduced to our protagonists through slowed walking shots or approach shots. Hard audio and editing cuts on visual cues (the hatches closing). The visual color scheme changes as the narration turns to talk about “risk”. We get a shot stolen from Dark Knight Rises. The music beats swell and the cutting gets faster as we draw to the end. Cut off of action to the title card. The end. Fox thinks I care already and builds their trailer on that assumption. I don’t.
Two major gripes with this package. First, WHO CARES!?!?!!??!?! Last I checked, the Fantastic Four were not at the top of culture’s list of heroes we love and want to see more of. Moreover, this marks the fourth reboot of a major comicbook cinematic property in recent years (Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Fantastic Four). It’s like Marvel is specifically trying to oversaturate its own market FASTER! This is an uncalled-for trailer for an uncalled-for movie.
Second, this isn’t Interstellar, despite how hard it tries to sell itself like that film. The dark, moody tone is now a joke to society – it’s as if the producers just now saw the Dark Knight, read up on the hype it created, and then decided to try and capitalize in today’s market. The trailer sells us on a more serious undertaking of the plot (which I can get in CW’s The Flash currently) and on hokey casting. Unless Richard Reed whips out some drumsticks and launches into a solo in the middle of fight, or Sue Storm writes a scathing political article for a magazine, I doubt I will care about these de-aged heroes.
And I focus on those two because the trailer does. Clearly the makers of the trailer wanted a stunning reveal that one of the four has been recast as black (according to IMDB, he’s the Human Torch), but that falls flat when the trailer itself doesn’t focus on him for the remainder of its runtime. The two star-power white heroes hog all the screentime in which they aren’t wearing their helmets. Just an observation.
Ultimately, “What is coming?”. Well, we are in for another superhero flick that is just like the rest. Marvel thinks it can expect us to throw our money at because NOSTALGIA!!! Please don’t watch this. Go watch the original films. Yeah they were cartoon-y and a bit ridiculous, but so are the Fantastic Four. In the world of dark, gritty characters in the superhero genre, the Four do not make the grade. They preserve the campy joy of the silver age, and that’s where I’d prefer to leave them.