Fantastic Four (2015)

Fantastic Four (2015) movie poster

director Josh Trank
viewed: 01/20/2015

Critics love to beat up on a bad movie.  I myself have noted that it’s sometimes more fun to write about a movie I hate as opposed to a movie I love.  And Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four was one for the ages of 2015.  It’s up for a lot of Golden Raspberries and clocks a 9% at Rotten Tomatoes.  It’s pre-planned sequel has been shelved.

The implosions behind the film are worth noting, and it’s worth reading Anthony Breznican’s article on EW.com for the scuttlebutt.  It’s also worth noting that Marvel Comics cancelled the Fantastic Four comic book series prior to the release of the film.  Speculation had it that Marvel didn’t want to build up a franchise whose rights belonged to another, in this case Fox.  The thinking was that if this thing tanked and Fox didn’t make a sequel, the rights would revert to Marvel/Disney and well, whatever happens then…who knows.

Could this property have been more beleaguered?

Marvel sold the film rights for the Fantastic Four initially for a relative song, which resulted in the notorious and obscure Roger Corman-produced flick from 1994.  Those rights were eventually parlayed into 20th Century Fox’s mitts and brought forth the two Jessica Alba movies of 2005 and 2007.  And it’s been since that time that Marvel went from scrapper to powerhouse to Disney acquisition, controlling their own product and developing what’s come to be known as the MCU (the Marvel Cinematic Universe).

How much do you think Marvel wants all their stuff back?  They got Spider-Man back last year in a partnership deal with Sony.  It’s probably much to their chagrin that the X-Men continue to thrive at Fox.

My daughter has become quite the fan of the MCU, and even though Fantastic Four is outside of the MCU, she was still pretty into seeing it.

It’s a strange resultant film.

It’s an origin film, re-worked from the comics, putting the four together with Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell) getting spattered with weird energy from a trip to another dimension.  This is in part where the film has its best qualities.  I liked the casting of all the key characters Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Miles Teller, and Kebbell too.  Making the characters younger, straight out of high school, more or less, gave them something a little different, vaguely fresh.  And up through the point where they become blasted with powers, the film moves along quickly and pretty well.

At 100 minutes, it’s one of the shorter movies out there, definitely one of the shortest superhero movies, which would be to its credit.  Except right after they get their powers, the story switches over where Teller’s Mr. Fantastic runs off by himself for a year, the others work for a quasi-government organization, and then decide to go after the other dimension again, where they find Doom, who got stuck on the planet and went crazy.

By the time it’s time for the showdown, there is no time left in the film.  The climactic battle is so mercifully short that it feels weird.  And the ending comes quick and embarrassingly glib.

It’s true, it’s a mess of a movie.  Who knows what it might have been.  Who knows to whom the blame belongs, on Trank or the studio.  Who knows what will become of the cinematic Fantastic Four.

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