Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Shaun the Sheep Movie VS. Fantastic Four

          

The idea for this blog came from my dearest of all friends at the home front and one of the most creative and kindest minds I’ve ever encountered, Bernardo W. Tejedor.

I told him that I was about to see Fantastic Four, but had decided against it after reading the horrific reviews this shitstorm of a movie received. If a director tweets shit about his own film, you know where you’re at. I went to see Shaun the Sheep instead and was completely and utterly enchanted. Tejedor in his infinite wisdom suggested I watch Fantastic Four anyway and write a comparison of the two summer flicks. He admitted though that even his kind mind had fallen asleep during the premiere of Fanta Four.

Comparing the two movies is clearly an impossible feat. But since watching Mission Impossible, we all know, again, that nothing is (impossible), and I feel thoroughly girt.

A bit of background information about both films, starting with the one that I liked:

Shaun the Sheep Movie is a spin-off of the eponymous series which is a spin-off of the Wallace & Gromit series, produced by Aardman Animations and commissioned by the BBC. By cutesycute nature, it’s a stop motion venture, meaning it takes plenty of nimble fingers, buckets of Plasticine, and god-like patience to make it happen. For that alone, your hearts should go out to the filmmakers.

Shaun the Sheep Movie was produced by French-based StudioCanal who already mastered last year’s family entertainment with endearing Paddington. One may regard Shaun as one consistent masterpiece: the lovely storytelling in combination with adorable characters, dialogue-free sound effects and uplifting/touching musical choices, and the crafty Plasticine designs all add to the overall success of this enchanting film.

Story: Under the guidance of Shaun the Sheep, the sheep on Mossy Bottom Farm scheme to take a day off from their dull routine, triggering a ton of unforeseen and entertaining events and happenstances, taking the story places where you never thought you’d see sheep.

Watching it during the day with lots of little kids in the cinema is magical. The kids coo and rattle just like the film itself, and yes, my ovaries were clapping enthusiastically.

It’s a small film that’s worth every penny, and it’s easy to appreciate all the work that went into it.

Not so with the other shitpot.

Because I knew beforehand that my day was going to be fucked by bad moviemaking, I thought I’d do it some justice and wear my Wonder Woman knickers, my Disney-Ariel-T, and my Sons of Anarchy sweater. Prior to the film, I also went to a place around the corner from Arclight called Veggie Grill. Naively, I ordered something called grilled chicken, and half way through my sandwich I realized it wasn’t chicken. It was tofu that was made to believe it could be chicken.

Now, I don’t know how you stand with tofu, and I don’t mean to insult anyone, but I personally can’t do most tofu. I’ve really only had good tofu once in my life, in Vienna. Let’s say on a crazy fan scale of 1 to Misery, I’m a -99 when it comes to tofu. And tofu isn’t chicken, because Kiwis can’t fly.

I got several compliments on my Ariel T-shirt, which probably tells you a lot about the staff and clientele of Veggie Grill, where I will never go again in my life.

With my belly full of tofu hidden underneath Disney and Sons of Anarchy I entered the theater… only to find myself completely alone. 

The nice man who was supposed to give an introduction never even bothered.
“Is it really so bad?”
“Yes.”

So me, myself, and I braced ourselves.

And by god, was it bad. No review could prepare you for what was about to unravel on the screen.

Story: For the first 90 minutes, a science experiment goes wrong and brings about body change in four late teens, who for the last 20 minutes have to learn how to work together to undermine Dr. Doom, who’s trying to destroy Earth because he’s depressed and blinks green.

Fantastic Four mainly encourages alliteration in combination with other f-words. You thought the previous FF films were shit? Well, you know nothing, Jon Snow.

Every film student should see FF to get a glimpse of how to succeed in making a shit movie. You can point your finger at nearly all instances from pre- to post production that were responsible for the making of this disaster. Was the script really so shit? Did the director really interpret the script into such a shit vision? Instead of doing reshoots that could have saved some of the story, why did they reshoot shit? Did anybody involved give a shit at all? 

Primarily, it seems to be blamable on Fox themselves. The studio reportedly delayed, postponed, cut, rewrote, fired and hired, cast and recast, shot and reshot at their own leisure, causing director Josh Trank to tweet his disappointment out into the world on the day of the premiere. I sincerely hope the studio will taste its own vomit. Perhaps they learn something from it, because quite frankly, the last 20 “Foxian” ones are as boring as the first 90 “Trankian” minutes. They’re just a different kind of boring. 

Upside: In no way is this sad excuse of a film the fault of the actors. They’re all young promising, mostly TV actors, and they can only do so much with shitty lines and inconsistent tone and direction to pull their characters off. Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell) meets Whiplash (Miles Teller) meets Friday Night Lights (Michael B. Jordan) meets House of Cards (Kate Mara) meets Black Mirror (Toby Kebbell). These are all names we like to hear. 

Still.

Still shit. 

FF is a prime example of a cinematic turd. 

Now, here’s my attempt at a comparison.

Enjoy… or not. If not, blame Bernardo W. Tejedor.



                                                              VERSUS                                             


Shaun the Sheep
Fantastic Four
Rotten Tomatoes Rating
99%
8%
Budget
I couldn’t find out, but an estimated $20-40M
$122M
Box Office
(as of 8/18)
$71,265,425
$103,075,183
Protagonism
A group of sheep
A group of sheep
Antagonism
Trumper, the animal control worker
From pre- to post production only antagonists were hired to work on this film. Everybody probably hated everybody during production. Special thanks go to Fox production president Emma Watts, oh, and there’s last but least Dr. Doom.

Stakes
The sheep lose their Farmer and henceforth their joie de vivre
Who the fuck cares?
Dialogue
No dialogue
“I think the four of us should have a name.”
“That’s fantastic.”
“What did you say?”
“I said it’s fantastic.”
“Yo, guys. I think I’ve got it…”
Story
Sweet, fresh, and full of delightful details
Dull, contrived, full of inexplicable, improbable, and incomprehensible iteration.
VFX
None/few needed.
The worst since Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
Representation of ethnicities
Multi-ethnic personnel, Farmer being a short-sighted ginger
Human Torch (Michael B. Jordan) is the bad boy of the crew, car racing and even lying to his own dad. (Stereo)Typical, hm?
Representation of gender
Well, it’s sheep.
Invisible chick (Kate Mara) is treated just like that, by the filmmaker and the other characters.
Fun factor
Slapstick and chain reactions at their finest
None. The Fantastic Four can’t have any fucking fun in this one.
Music
The Baa Baa Quintet and cool up-to-date instrumental pieces
Portishead and Coldplay. You might as well put a bullet in your head.
Times Maryberry yawned during the film
0
8.5
What other reviewers said
The greatest delights derive from relishing the details of the clay figures and intricate sets, crafted by the studio’s master model-builders. (Jen Chaney, Washington Post)
Fantastic Four is a pile of something, too. You fill in the blank. (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)

Shaun the Sheep might look like an exciting, no-nonsense tale for little kids — and it totally is, on one level — but beneath its pitch-perfect simplicity lies great wisdom and beauty. (Bilge Ebiri, Vulture)
Much of “Fantastic Four” consists of sullen teenagers bickering and staring at computer screens. I thought that’s what people went to the movies to get away from. (Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post)
What the filmmaker said
We do what we love. We believe there's a kind of magic and a kind of humanity about this [stop-motion] technique. Maybe it's not slick, not noisy. But surely a change of diet is a good thing for audiences. (Peter Lord, Aardman Animations)
A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. (Josh Trank, Director, on Twitter – deleted)
Bottom line
Charming and heart-warming, full of honest laughs
Tejedor, you owe me a fucking Kinokarte.
 

Please go watch Shaun the Sheep and support StudioCanal, and please don’t go near Fantastic Four and show Fox your bare arse.



Links of the day: