Reviewed by: Bob MacLean
|Featuring:||Kate Mara … Sue Storm / The Invisible Woman
Miles Teller … Reed Richards / Mr. Fantastic
Jamie Bell … Ben Grimm / The Thing
Michael B. Jordan … Johnny Storm / The Human Torch
Toby Kebbell … Victor Domashev
Aaron V. Williamson … Navy Seal
Tim Blake Nelson … Harvey Elder
|Director:||Josh Trank—“Chronicle” (2012)|
|Producer:||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
|Distributor:||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
What do you prefer in a movie review? Help in deciding whether to pay the $11 per ticket? Some scoop on the story-line? Enough info on the excitement or intrigue? As a believer in your Lord, who paid a much higher price for your forgiveness, maybe you also, or even preferably, want to know if the contents of a film honor your commitment to Him or fall short in that regard.
We see Philippians 4:8 encourages us so:
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (NASB. See also Phil. 3:7-8, 16; Col. 3:1-2; Eph. 4:1; Col. 3:3)
Comic book movies started at least 75 years ago and have seen a resurgence in the past 35. The Fantastic 4 franchise started in 2005 and was followed by the “…Silver Surfer” in 2007. “The Fantastic Four 2” is already announced for June 2017, with the same actors playing the super heroes.
The first half of the movie sees some genuine intent on character and storyline development. That means there is little in the FX department during that time. One brotherly relationship grows out of that introductory period, but I found it to be underdeveloped and shallow. The main idea developed is how some super smart young adults develop a transporter mechanism under the guidance of the wise adult who talks them into collaborating, although a couple of them don’t have the personality traits that would encourage working well in a team.
This reveals one of the sad undercurrents of nearly all film plots in the last 20 years, and that is the principle of the egotist. It is held up as being perfectly acceptable and even encouraged in screenplays. Let me be clear, this attitude is completely unbiblical and unacceptable, yet movies cannot lay it aside as the wrong way on a steep slippery slope, precisely because the subject of real character, which is the opposite of egotism, is to be a servant, showing kindness and preference to others. And since Hollywood does not believe in God, the Bible and its contents will never be the source of the attitudes they choose to put in movies.
Contrast that with “Courageous,” a Christian movie concerned with character as its main subject. Of course, the most humble, most caring human ever was Jesus himself, as explained in Phil 2:8 (see also: Phil 2:4; Rom 12:2, 10.
The necessary anti-hero character is introduced also, and, again, the character is poorly developed. I suppose this issue of poorly developed characters is not much of a problem, if you just want an action movie, but I don’t understand why. The writing talent available in filmmaking is definitely there for the having.
However, I had this and many other questions answered in an article I read about how Hollywood decides which movies to make and how to construct them. Apparently, most business relationships are honed in Hollywood parties for the ultra-in group, those that wield the power to conceive of and produce movies. They meet and schmooze at these fests, cementing deals and plans for future projects. The ones who seem to have the most respect are those who create the most edginess in their films, the ones who push the envelope the farthest and find new ways of including more action, gore, sex, foul language and shock value. Since they introduce it incrementally over the years, people become desensitized to it.
This goes a long way in answering our questions “why does Hollywood put such unnecessary scenes in movies? Don’t they know we’d prefer less and that they’d sell more tickets?” Again, if you are an atheist, you don’t have a hope in knowing what true character is nor why themes connected with it are a good idea.
Another completely expected theme is Evolution. The “wise guide,” who leads the youthful group, brings it up and proclaims to the financers of the project that this first-of-its-kind apparatus will lead mankind directly to the next steps in his destiny. Jesus believed in the literal account of Creation, and since He created everything (“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in Earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” —Colossians 1:16), it makes little sense to argue the point. If you have trouble with Genesis, you will have trouble with many issues throughout the Bible.
After the first half of the movie, you’re left wondering what they are going to do in the second half because the buildup has taken more time than most comic book based films with almost no FX or action. Well, things begin to move along once the transport mechanism is built and four of the talented and youthful inventors get in it and push the ON button. The events that follow transform the young inventors into the fantastic four plus one super villain. How ironic it is that the perceived positive result of “evolution” non-believing mankind is headed for is its opposite. It is actually one leading to hell because of their desire to put themselves into the throne reserved for the Almighty God.
At this point in the movie, things are pushed into high gear. The super-villain wants to destroy Earth and is making a super-mess of our planet. The other four know they cannot individually beat him and decide to unite to end the inter-dimensional maelstrom he builds, which is sucking Earth in great gulps into oblivion.
In the past few years, there is a phenomenon in fantasy and sci-fi movies that is disturbing to me. Due to the increasing sophistication of special effects, villains are able to conjure up matter as whirling clouds of dust or metal and create objects or living matter. I’m thinking of “Transcendence” and the X-Men character Jean. This stuff makes my skin crawl, because it wreaks of man seeing himself as having the ability to bring things into being.
The end of the film is predictable, the villain is destroyed, the Earth is saved and the Fantastic Four demand a research institute for their role in saving Earth.
You’ll notice there isn’t much in this review about details of the characters or the plot. That is because there is nearly nothing to either. Of course, those who “just wanna see a bit of action” will have to read reviews from others who prefer that kind of movie. This review is meant for those who want to dig a bit to see how the contents of the film compare with the Christian worldview, as Chuck Colson used to put it.
There is no sexual content with the exception of a tightly fitting suit for Kate Mara’s character. Foul language consists of the s-word in various forms (9), damn (1), hell (4), OMG (3), G*d-damn (1), d**k (2), scr*w (1). The f-bomb is not used explicitly, but one character uses the gesture to show it. I am so pained to see PG-13 given to such foul language. The slide downward in what is permitted will only continue, sadly.
If you consider all the negative themes and the weak positive ones, I can’t say this movie is worthwhile.
Violent, disturbing scenes: At the beginning, a young boy is being slapped around by what appears to be his older brother. This is rather despicable. There is a very gruesome scene of a human burning alive, which could be very disturbing to children; it sure turned my stomach. Another sequence that lasted too long was the “escape” of the villain. He marches out of his containment cell, killing many in the process, while marching down corridors. Brains literally splatter on walls as he crushes skulls telepathically.
The idea that an action movie has to employ these elements is, of course, just not true. I’m thinking of “Deep Impact,” “2012” and “The Day After Tomorrow.” I’m looking forward to the production of more Christian films to choose from in the near future, in order to have good choices like “Courageous” and “Soul Surfer.”
Violence: Heavy to extreme / Profanity: Moderate to heavy / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.