Review: Fantastic Four

F42015 Arguably one of the toughest comic book movie adaptations to take on as a director. This is the fourth big movie studio attempt of Fantastic Four. Many have tried, none have actually succeeded, but young director Josh Trank puts his own spin on it this time around. While it was a different and unique take on the characters, due to sloppy writing and turmoil off camera the film feels disjointed in parts and seriously rushed in others. However, there is a some genius buried in the movie that simply shouldn’t be ignored for the sake of beating a dead horse.

The movie begins with a young Reed Richards giving a presentation in school about his desire to one day be the first person to teleport himself. His ambitions are laughed off as most are by geniuses of his intellect. Through this presentation he befriends a young Ben Grimm, a boy from rougher means who sees real potential in Reed from the start. Fast forward to Reed (Miles Teller) and Ben (Jamie Bell) giving a presentation as teenagers at their school’s science fair. The two are showing off a small scale model of Reed’s teleporter which ends up sort of working. Reed is approached by Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathy) and Sue Storm (Kate Mara) because they are obviously aware of Reed and his capabilities. They recruit him to the Baxter school of elite minds. A school that breeds the greatest accomplishments in the world and now Reed is their latest student, who is brought in to work on their very own teleportation device. Alongside Sue, Reed is teamed up with Baxter school outcast Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), and eventually Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan). Johnny, is a reckless street racer and son to Franklin Storm who is “wasting his potential” according to his father. He is brought onto the team because he is a genius level engineer. So there you have it, the team...almost.

When they eventually crack inter-dimensional travel the team decides to go it alone into this new dimension. Things go very bad, and Victor ends up trapped there and the others develop “powers” but do make it back to Earth. This part of the film is where the real genius lives in the script. We are treated to a very David Cronenberg-esque dark twisted sci-fi film that focuses heavily on what these new powers and deformities do to the psyche of these 4 people involved. This has never been examined in a Fantastic Four film, so I found this new take to be refreshing to say the least. Their bodies are now complete abnormalities and yet the military is chomping at the bit to use them in warfare...and they do. These kids are put into a predicament of having to do these things in order for the military to try and cure them. Again, it’s an interesting take on the classic characters.

The movie then starts to take a bit of a nosedive in the third act that is increasingly noticeable. While most origin stories take up about 50-60% of the first movie, Fantastic Four takes about 90%. So what we are left with is a rush of an actual adventure in the last 10% of the movie. We finally meet our villain, the quasi (as far as costumes go) realized Dr. Doom, in the last act and he is well played actually. Easily the most violent and brutal villain in a comic book movie to date. Kebbell’s Doom was a definite standout here.

The scale of the film is so much smaller than what we are used to these days, so don’t go in expecting some grand Avengers level action. As a film and as a comic book movie, Fantastic Four is mediocre. It’s not particularly offensive or extraordinary. Its sits solidly in the middle, and does nothing much more than that. There are some great bones to the film that if the writing and direction were more consistent it could have elevated the movie much further. Supposed issues from director Josh Trank caused some behind the scenes issues with him and the studio. Its becomes obvious in parts that the film was being handled by multiple people. There are interruptions of the natural flow of the filmmaking at times. However, I can recognize Trank’s style in those first 2 acts and they were pretty solid. The poor 3rd act really dragged the movie down unfortunately. The performances were all good to great, but in the end the writing just wasn’t there to support them.

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