WEIRDLAND: "Fantastic Four" (Miles Teller as Reed Richards), Bryan Cranston in "The World of Philip K. Dick"

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

"Fantastic Four" (Miles Teller as Reed Richards), Bryan Cranston in "The World of Philip K. Dick"

Fantastic Four opens with protagonist Reed Richards (who will grow up to be Miles Teller) as a child blessed with a scientific mind that would be the pride of most Ivy League science departments. For a big-budget tentpole featuring such iconic characters and multiple planets and dimensions, Fantastic Four is strangely insular and hermetic. For a superhero movie, Fantastic Four is curiously light on super heroics and for an action movie, it’s oddly short of action. A superhero with very similar powers, DC’s Plastic Man, is generally a figure of fun and not an Olympic-grade brooder like Reed Richards here.

But Miles Teller gives the character an intriguing prickliness all the same, playing a man so brilliant, he’s more than a little bit crazy. Trank’s Fantastic Four doesn’t seem particularly interested in being “fun.” From a critical standpoint, that’s an interesting strategy: to purposefully deny audiences a lot of the cheap kicks endemic in superhero movies for the sake of something a little more moody and cerebral. But from a commercial perspective, it’s easy to see why the film failed. 

Trank’s take on the material is dead serious, albeit in a way that allows for a surprising amount of wry, deadpan humor so understated it can be easily overlooked or missed altogether. Trank and cinematographer Matthew Jensen give the film a dark, sleek, slick look full of gunmetal blues and grays. The filmmakers also bequeath to the proceedings an ominous tone rich in portent.

These brilliant young people, who really should be out binge-drinking and exploring the wonders of casual sex, build a quantum gate to another dimension. They then travel through this gate to an alternate dimension known as Planet Zero, but when they are pulled back they discover that their interaction with this other dimension has profoundly altered them on a physical level. Trank plays the transformation of the Fantastic Four from plucky kids to mutants blessed but mostly cursed with superhuman powers from another dimension as Cronenbergian body horror.

Fantastic Four is the rare superhero movie that might actually be overly focused. Fantastic Four feels incomplete and unfinished. It was clearly designed as the first in a series of films but its historic box-office failure ensured that it is a one-off. Hell, even Story’s phenomenally shitty movie got a sequel. But Trank’s Fantastic Four is a surprisingly engaging, offbeat entry in an increasingly exhausted genre. I suspect that the future will be kinder to Fantastic Four than the present is, bringing overdue appreciation for this strange movie and its oddball charms. Source:

Travel to another dimension - clip from Fantastic Four (2015).

"The universe is information and we are stationary in it, not three dimensional and not in space or time." -Philip K. Dick

Miles Teller and Bryan Cranston in "Get a Job" (2016)

'Electric Dreams: The World of Philip K. Dick' will be a 10-part anthology, which Bryan Cranston will also executive produce along with 'Battlestar Galactica's' Ronald Moore and 'Justified's' Michael Dinner. Sony Pictures Television and British broadcaster Channel 4 said Tuesday that they are partnering on an original drama series based on the short stories by award-winning sci-fi novelist Philip K. Dick.

The 10-part anthology series, Electric Dreams: The World of Philip K. Dick, will be written and executive produced by Emmy-nominated Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Outlander) and Michael Dinner, with Bryan Cranston (Trumbo, Breaking Bad). Each episode is set to be a standalone drama, adapted and modernized for global audiences by a creative team of British and American writers. The series will both illustrate the writer’s prophetic vision and celebrate the enduring appeal of his works, which include The Man in the High Castle, A Scanner Darkly and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which became Ridley Scott's hit Blade Runner.

"This is an electric dream come true," said Cranston. "We are so thrilled to be able to explore and expand upon the evergreen themes found in the incredible work of this literary master." Source:

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