I was one of the naysayers in the beginning. In a world where there is a double standard and a movie cannot be judged on trailers or production information unless it is positive; I have SEEN the movie and therefore I can speak as ill as I want about something that I feel ashamed I paid money for. As my wife said; “Should have waited for half-price Tuesday.”
As I am asked the million dollar question this evening; “Christian, what was Fantastic four like? Describe it!” The best I can do is this anecdote from my youth: When in high school as a young adolescent we would go to Blockbuster Video (anyone remember that place?) and us being the young male teenagers we were, would see movies such as ‘Car Wash Bikini Girls.’ As we became older the joke was those were movies that promised so much… but offered so little. That is what Fantastic Four is like; the hot Prom Date who doesn’t so much as allow you to kiss her.
For a film that had so much exposure outside of an otherwise lame and lite theatrical promotion it fell flat. The Fantastic Four suffers from a lack of proper publicity, that is where the whole Human Torch fiasco comes into play. To make the biggest splash Fox could they cast Johnny Storm as a black actor in the form of Micheal B. Jordan and we only get him in this movie for all of 20 minutes. Mind you, F4 is not a long movie by the way. Anyone who thought Jordan was cast as the better actor over his color, has not seen this movie. He lends nothing to the role, there is no screen presence let alone any reason for him to be African American other then for the sake of “Hey the Human Torch is African American on screen.” This was not a role that launches a thousand ships in search of new movie deals. The real acting does come from Reg E. Cathey who plays his father, Dr. Franklin Storm. Miles Teller (Reed Richards), Kate Mara (Susan Storm) and Jamie Bell (Ben Grimm) deliver half decent acting but with what they had to work with seems next to nothing. Then there is Toby Kebbell (Victor von Doom) who plays a character also seen in the movie very little with almost no character development and a slew of under developed ideas. It can clearly be seen where the re-shoots were done to cover up previous mistakes and fan disapproval. The first half of the movie can be okay while the second half severally lacks.
Which is how I could honestly sum up Fantastic Four: a slew of underdeveloped ideas by the would-be genius Josh Trank. Josh Trank, the very same man who was booted off the Star Wars franchise spinoff movie for reportedly being erratic. Trank, who’s only credits as a screenplay writer and director of anything in the form of a major movie is… Chronicle… really? Chronicle was not that good of a movie and whoever sat in the FOX offices and handed this guy the keys to kingdom of a would-be billion dollar franchise should be in a unemployment line somewhere. Hey you get what you pay for. The fact Trank got this gig gives me hope as a screenplay writer! The man is an indie film maker, that is what Chronicle was – an artistic expression of superheroes and super villains. You don’t take a huge multi-billion franchise and decide; “Hey, I’m going to experiment out of the box. Play around a little. Maybe some trees over here.” You’re not Bob Ross! This isn’t The Cannes Film Festival, this is an attempt to breath life into a franchise, it is a battle to maintain the rights to an IP that very well may become lost to FOX after this opening weekend blunder.
Not only did Josh make a horrible movie but he himself cannot stand behind what was finally brought to the masses as he denounced this version of the film over his original ideas.
I am big on spoilers and I wish I had some for this film but there aren’t any. The film is incredibly short. I felt like I was watching a set of dallies while on set during production. There are some good ideas and concepts but they get swept aside to move a plot that is so shrouded in secrecy I don’t think the actors knew what was going on.
The start of the movie is like watching the 1980s movie, “Explorers” we see Reed and Ben meet at a young age and form a friendship which lasts 7 years into their future. We are given the impression Ben sticks by Reed on every insane invention he has ever designed. Reed is picked up by the Baxter Foundation because he has stumbled onto the same theory as Victor von Doom, except Reed solved the problem Doom couldn’t. Oh this is where a real rivalry could begin but it doesn’t. At some points I think Victor forgets he is suppose to be Reed’s rival. There’s some hint of a past relationship between victor and Sue but alas that is not explored. Sue doesn’t even get to to the… I don’t even know where they go. The movie calls it Planet Zero (I thought I was watching a DC movie for a moment) but we all know it’s the Negative Zone but that wouldn’t be a believable name, right? Calling all Feminist, that’s right sue doesn’t get to go on the journey but has her exposure caused by the backlash of… Cosmic Rays… they don’t ever name the energy in the movie but let’s play pretend here. Of course victor’s origin is once again linked to the Fantastic Four. As if Josh Trank saw everything wrong in both earlier Fantastic Four movies and felt he could make it work. We don’t even see a proper Doctor Doom, we see a man who is fused into his space suit or environmental suit and has telekinesis. Almost as if everyone in the film had access to the Fantastic Four script yet Toby Kebbell was given a screenplay form a Trancers sequel.
Nothing is explained in this movie. There isn’t even any long winded Reed Richards speak. To steal a line from Rose Tyler’s book, give me some ‘Spock’! There is no ‘Spock’! This is a science fiction movie at heart or tries to be yet there is no technobable. No pseudo science just a lot happening over a span of two years in a short amount of screen time. Even Victor’s motivations are non existent. Oh one can debate and guess as there are plenty of options to choose from but the makings of a good movie is one which can tell a sequential story while explaining just about everything that should be a wee bit important to the viewer.
Fantastic Four fails as a comic film, it fails as a science fiction movie, it fails as a story about family and friendship by handing us cliche’s that even Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would snub their noses at. Once more showing us a comic film ashamed of it’s source material and not once even coming close to wanting to embrace it. The two comic book legends must be rolling in their graves! There are some scenes where I feel that the movie touched on… something. Or maybe got close. Maybe Trank is screaming the truth and there was a better take on this that we will never see because…it was the fault of FOX suits. This is a disaster that even the director, Josh Trank ran away from before the opening of the film with his mysterious vanishing and reappearing Twitter remarks.
Alas the movie is a cluster fuck, the train wreck that most of fandom imagined it would be. As some fanboys who drink the Galactus Koolaid have said, “Hey, you should be thankful that we even get comic book films today.” My response: “No, good Sir, no one should have to thank anyone for this ALMOST 90 minute garbage.”
Fantastic Four trailer:
Fantastic Four TV spots: