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Sunday, June 04, 2006


Last summer, I watched "Batman Begins" and reported to inquiring friends that I liked it.

I did the same with "Fantastic Four" a few months later.

As time went by, I rescinded my endorsement of both films.

"Batman Begins," I concluded, took itself too seriously. I dig darkness as much as the next guy, but SHEEEESH.

I realize the aim was to exorcize, once and for all, the vile aftertaste of the Joel Schumacher administration, and to restore the franchise to the megabucks magnet it once was. But poor old Alfred the butler (Michael Caine, albeit in inspired casting) shouldered the entire humor burden for this movie -- a tall order.

"Fantastic Four" looked chintzy and had some fatal casting weaknesses. Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm? Yes. Jessica Alba as Sue Storm? Yes. Some Dude Whose Name I Can't Remember as Reed Richards? No. Some Other Dude Whose Name I Can't Remember as Dr. Doom? No. Yet Another Dude Whose Name I Can't Remember as Johnny Storm? Well, the kid did an OK job, but I could take him or leave him.

Other issues: Whose idea was it to put long pants on Ben Grimm? A bottom-liner, that's who. See, they didn't have to make Ben's legs look like orange rocks, thus stretching the makeup budget. And SPEAKING of stretching -- the stretching FX for Reed Richards were disgracefully uninspired, if not downright lazy, in this age of CGI miracles.

The best test of a comic-book movie is: Do you need to see it again? I won't feel deprived if I never see "Batman Begins" or "Fantastic Four" again. Although, sucker that I am, I'll probably pay to see their sequels.

The "X-Men" films is another story. I believe these films, all three of them, are intelligent and exciting science-fiction films with good writing, appropriate (as opposed to gratuitous) FX, amazing casts and even some resonant social commentary.

NEXT POST: Some impressions of "X-Men: The Last Stand."


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