I’m about to write something that may shock you. It may disgust you. But, that’s the kind of risk-taker I am. I actually enjoyed Josh Trank‘s “Fantastic Four.” (*Hides behind my desk waiting for you to stop hurling rocks at me.*)
Are there issues with it? Sure. Is the film as horrible as everyone says? Not to me. I’ve seen much worse. In fact I’m a little surprised that everyone, and I mean everyone, even Trank himself, spews so much hatred about it.
Yes, this reboot doesn’t realize the potential of the characters and unfortunately, when dealing with characters and concepts that are widely known, expectations are higher and tend to have more direction on where the storyline should go and how characters should behave in any situation. Trank pretty much has his own ideas and the studio has its own ideas, and neither seem to reflect the ideas of the hardcore fans.
People have complained about the beginning being boring, yet the first half is more interesting than the last. It’s an origin story with young outcasts Ben (Evan Hannemann) and Reed (Owen Judge) forming a friendship. We get hints that Ben’s family life isn’t great, and Reed is such a genius that even his teachers make fun of him because clearly they don’t understand how smart he really is. The first half combines some humor and provides a decent set up so we all know where we’re going. Then we head to the lab where the older Ben and Reed are now played by Jamie Bell and Miles Teller. Eventually the story and the characters get sacrificed for visual effects and action. Some of the visuals are pretty awesome, and the action is, well, action, but the second half of the film feels really rushed.
My biggest disappointment in “Fantastic Four” is Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell). The way the film develops – or should I say devolves – makes it feel like is he is simply stuck into the story because he has to be. He gives practically nothing as the villain who has such a huge fan base, and his underdeveloped, uninteresting role creates enough disappointment for those fans to turn their backs on the franchise.
The most entertaining aspect of this “Fantastic Four” may be the backlash. I read a highly entertaining thread about Trank‘s poor decision to publicly blame the studio for how awful the film is. One guy defended Trank saying that if you are not in the Hollywood system, you don’t understand it, and that it is perfectly okay to publicly bad mouth studios that employ you. Who knew? I’m surprised more people don’t do it then. (Note the sarcasm just seeping off the words.) While I don’t doubt that studios have a way of messing up unique, original stories by forcing them into time-tested formulas, I still believe the director shoulders some of the responsibility of the film’s outcome and has an obligation to champion it for the hundreds of people who worked tirelessly to make the vision a reality.
Is “Fantastic Four” one of Marvel’s gems? Not by a long shot, but if you go in with equally low expectations as I did, you just might find it enjoyable despite its flaws. Or you may never trust another review from me again. (Just know I still like you even if we don’t see eye to eye on everything.)