I’m not going to lie, sugarcoat or slather my review in any form of bovine-excrement: Fantastic Four SUCKED as a movie!
I can’t say that I hated the film. That’s probably because Josh Trank’s reboot lacked any type of inciting or exciting traits or characteristics worthy enough to actually make me care about it at all; it was a tedious, emotionless, draining superhero venture void of any personality at all.
So, the latest attempt to bring Marvel’s first family to the big screen was a rather cut-and-dry origin story starting with child-prodigy Reed Richards building a machine capable sending objects to another dimension and years later he is recruited to the Baxter Institute to finish his research with the assistance of his childhood friend Ben Grimm, Victor Von Doom, Sue Storm and Johnny Storm.
Their unauthorized jaunt into the new frontier goes catastrophically awry and Richards, Grimm and the Storm siblings suffer unimaginable consequences that leaves them and their lives forever changed.
You get the idea right? When Fantastic Four ended, I mourned the loss of the time I wasted watching this. I had an idea that this could be a boom-or-bust film and going in, I heard less than glowing accounts from reviews going in, but by God this made the last cinematic crack at Fantastic Four look beautiful in almost every way.
I don’t know where this film went wrong. Does the fault lie with director Josh Trank? The screenplay written by Trank, Simon Kinberg and Jeremy Slater? The acting? The editing? Tough to say but it is easy to say that blame can go all around for this debacle.
Months prior to the release of this film, I heard stories about the troubles of this production under Josh Trank’s direction and those troubles led to his dismissal from a potential (God-forbid) sequel as well as other projects, but this put the bad in bland! There was a complete lack of an inciting incident to really propel audiences to empathize or sympathize with any of these characters, outside of changing Johnny Storm’s race or sibling relationship with Sue, or whatever the hell he did or didn’t do with Dr. Doom, there was no imaginative twists or imprints that made Fantastic Four distinct. If Josh Trank’s original vision for this movie was to run it into the dirt in the most robotic way conceivable, congrats! Mission accomplished.
The screenplay lacked any personality or wit whatsoever. As you heard Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Reg E. Cathey, Toby Kebbell, Tim Blake Nelson recite their lines, that is exactly what they were doing; there was a complete void of emotion in this story the screenwriting team came up with, which was as arid and dry as the surface of the Thing’s skin. The narrative progression took every usual course and there was just a complete lack of surprise, suspense, levity; there was no joy to be taken from this movie whatsoever.
There was a scene where Reed and Ben, post-powers, where having something of a tussle because Reed went AWOL after the four received their powers and the scene built itself on resembling something of a smackdown, like when Iron Man and Thor had fisticuffs in The Avengers a few years back, but instead, a simple rock-headed headbutt ended it like a gag. It was at that moment where fans should have realized, this was not what I signed up for.
It was tragic watching these actors be a part of something so transparently destined to be doomed for failure. Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Toby Kebbell, Tim Blake Nelson are all better actors than the material they were given to work with and there was no chemistry between any of the actors whatsoever. From what I’ve seen from superhero movies in the past, it at least looked like the actors had fun with their roles, and these actors didn’t look like they had any fun making this movie at all, and that shouldn’t really be surprising considering the stories and speculation I’ve heard about the production.
Fantastic Four wasn’t all bad though. The camerawork and cinematography by Matthew Jensen was okay as well as the visual effects. Elliot Greenberg and Steven E. Rivkin’s editing? TBD because editing makes or breaks a movie and considering that this movie was already broken because of other factors, it’s hard to tell whether the editing of Fantastic Four helped or hurt it’s finished product.
I can’t really say that I hated Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four. I do believe that it ranks among the worst films of 2015 though. Superhero movies are supposed to incite excitement, make you care about something such as the plot, the characters, the purpose, but this was probably the first superhero that failed to bring it’s audience to care about any and everything about it at all.