Words by: Jack Dawson
Well this was… uh… well…
Look, as a film critic it’s my job to be able to talk about movies, whether they were good, and why they did or didn’t work. But when a film is an adaptation, it can be kind of hard to separate it from the property it’s adapting, as well as the feedback from fans about elements of the adaptation. Fantastic Four was under attack from day one, and was never going to have much of a chance because of that.
But at the end of the day, the kindest thing I can say about it is that it’s the best Fantastic Four Movie we’ve seen so far.
Our story begins with prepubescent Reed Richards developing a primitive teleporter, a Teleporter that he will develop and improve upon until Franklin Storm takes notice at a Science Fair (yes, an experimental device that breaks physics is at a school science fair, just roll with it). Reed is conscripted to help develop a working large scale version that can teleport organic matter, and joins a team comprising of Susan Storm, Johnny Storm and a lovely young man named Victor Von Doom. Mistakes are made, alcohol is consumed, and everything goes to hell shortly afterwards.
To talk about this film, we need to talk about the source material. I won’t go into a huge rant, suffice to say that applying a down-to-earth and serious tone to a comic book series about a team of Scientists who fight aliens and a Giant Purple Planet Eater who has a minion who surfs around the galaxy, was a poor choice. If you’re going to adapt that kind of series, you need to be totally unafraid and commit to the material utterly, instead of being afraid to say the title of your team.
It didn’t help that fans actively wanted this movie to fail. Yes I know that sounds contradictory, just hear me out.
Since Fox owns the rights to the Fantastic Four and X-Men trilogies, Marvel Studios can’t make any X-Men or Fantastic Four films that tie in to the MCU. However, recently Sony relented on the rights to Spiderman, which means Spidey gets to be in the next Captain America movie. So the thinking goes, if this movie that’s already taken significant departures from the source material fails, then Marvel gets the Fantastic Four movie rights back.
And after seeing this film, that sounds like a good idea.
But enough about the film’s background, what about the film itself?
Well, it’s not very good. But, I didn’t actually hate it.
The film really is all over the map when it comes to tone, the settings are too insular for us to care about the outside world, and some of the special effects are actually quite terrible for the money that was thrown at them. The final act comes out of nowhere, and there’s a lot of lines that should have either been rewritten or cut all together. And I can only imagine how enraging this is for fans of the original property, to see a film come out that seems to actively despise its inspiration.
Fantastic Four can’t even nab a cameo from Stan Lee, and that is never a good sign for a Marvel movie.
But there were aspects I actually enjoyed. I liked the almost Croenburg-like reveal of their powers, and I appreciated the time given for the different characters to grow and get to know one another. I even liked Von Doom, who was at least somewhat close to his bombastic portrayal in the comics.
All in all I’m surprised at my muted dislike of this movie, but considering the prior reaction of fans and the ambition present, it’s kind of hard to see this movie as anything but an underdog.
But at the end of the day, I can’t recommend you go see this movie.
If you’re not familiar with the source material, you probably won’t care about these characters very much, and if you are familiar with the source material, you’ll probably hate what’s happened to these characters.
All in all, I’m still not sure how to feel about this movie. It doesn’t commit any truly unforgiveable sins, and it’s actually got a lot of good things going for it. But the tone is just completely wrong, and at times its’ embarrassment from being about Superheroes makes Fantastic Four feel like a movie from ten years ago. I appreciate the new direction taken by the film makers, but perhaps it’s time for Marvel to save the day.