Evil Movie Review: Fantastic Four (2015)
I did it. I saw Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four movie.
You know what? It’s not that bad either, certainly not as bad as the world at large would have you believe. At the time of this writing it holds an 8% on rotten tomatoes. EIGHT PERCENT. Movies under double digit ratings are usually reserved for Adam Sandler flicks and ridiculously unwatchable garbage. This movie is far from that, I’d put it at least on par with Man Of Steel as far as watchability.
People want to hate this movie. Hell even it’s director Josh Trank mostly disowned it. Ever since the casting got announced and the first trailer was released it became a blood bath. A lot of people chose to hate The Fantastic Four without even seeing it which is a problem. It reminds me of the newest Lone Ranger movie. The world at large would have you believe it’s a pile of absolute shit, but when I ended up seeing it it was a decent movie. Sure there were problems, but I’ve seen far far worse.
Let’s be straight here, this ain’t your daddy’s FF and I think that plays a factor in some people’s distaste. It shares virtually none of the DNA of the classic Lee/Kirby take on Marvel’s first family. I can see how that can be a red flag for a certain portion of audience. Trank’s version of the story hues closer to Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Marvel revamp. Reed and Ben are childhood friends; Johnny and Sue’s dad runs a school for scientifically intelligent youth. They begin working on Reed’s childhood project that he had almost perfected to teleport matter. Turns out where it’s being teleported is into a different planet (the Negative Zone) and with the help of fellow student Victor Von Doom they are successful. When they test it out though something goes wrong and they come back with their bodies mutated except for Doom, who doesn’t make it back at all.
This script is mostly devoid of fun. It’s a dark, serious rumination about science. After seeing the first trailer I had told anyone who listened that this looked like a really cool Sci-Fi movie, but not a Fantastic Four movie. I still stand by that. It has the look and feel of a Ridley Scott flick especially when they travel to the Negative Zone for the first time. The scene after this when they get their powers might be the highlight of the movie. It ends up being treated as psychological body horror and is mostly successful in that. It’s after this (roughly a little past the half-way point) that the movie takes a nose dive.
The third act feels very slapped together and superheroish. The team comes together and has to battle Doom in the Negative Zone. The contrast with the first half of the movie is very noticeable. If we are to believe Josh Trank this is where the studio began recutting his work, rewriting the script and reshooting. There is no denying this movie has third act problems, but as a whole I feel like most superhero movies have the same issue, especially if it’s the first of the series. We get the somewhat grounded version of an origin story for the first 2/3rds and the last 1/3 is almost always some zany battle scene with shitty graphics. Make no mistake either The Fantastic Four has some truly awful special effects. The Human Torch actually looks pretty good when he flames on and that’s about it.
Doctor Doom is another issue here. I thought the actor did a good enough job with what he had to work with. The characters motivations are really weak and his look left a lot to be desired. Why can’t someone get Doom right? He is without a doubt one of Marvel’s greatest villains and has possibly the single greatest origin story of a character in all of the Marvel U. The Books Of Doom miniseries by Ed Brubaker should be required reading for anyone who attempts to do anything with the character. You can’t strip away his Latverian nobility, his pride/ego or his intellectual and antagonistic rivalry with Reed. These are the building blocks of what makes Victor into Doctor Doom. There’s more great stuff (his gypsy upbringing, his time with the Tibetan monks, his mom’s deal with the devil and subsequent death, being a SORCERER SCIENTIST etc.) but you need to at least touch on those three things I mentioned. Someone needs to find a way to make his 616 origin work on the big screen.
I think the rest of the actors did a fine job, especially Reg E. Cathey’s portrayal of Franklin Storm and Miles Teller as the studious and introverted Reed Richards. Jamie Bell was actually better as The Thing than Ben Grimm. Everyone else served their roles good enough. I have no real complaints at all about the cast.
I seem to be in the minority here. Maybe I feel differently about this because I don’t care much for superhero movies. Don’t get me wrong, I see just about every one of them that comes out because I’m a comic book fan but most of them leave me pretty hollow afterward. The front half of this movie never once feels like a comic book movie, it’s just straight up sci-fi with some coming of age stuff thrown in there as well. If that seems up your alley than take a look, it’s not nearly as bad as people would have you believe it is. You’ll just have to hurry. The way this movie is hemorrhaging money it won’t be in theatres for much longer.
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