Fantastic Four is the movie that everybody seemingly loved to hate on, except I didn't hate it, at least not entirely. Don't get me wrong though, I still have some serious reservations about the casting and the movie. Fant4stic is the reboot of the semi-successful duology from Fox studios and we're again told a familiar, but far less convincing origin story of Marvel's first family, the Fantastic Four. Scientific prodigy Reed Richards (Miles Teller) befriends Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) in his youth and they go about building a teleportation device for a school science fair. I was reminded a lot of the vibe of Super 8 during their earlier years, but those moments were short-lived. Years later and they've successfully built this teleportation device, and they should have received a freakin' Nobel prize, instead they were disqualified by the most ignorant science teacher I've ever come across.
Dr Franklin Storm (Reg Cathy) takes notice of Richard Reed's intelligence and invites him to build his device using his more than ample facilities at the Baxter building. Apparently Franklin Storm regularly visits school science fairs to recruit kids to build their projects on a massive scale, he referred to all of the kids as 'his' kids too, which seemed odd to me. It's here that Reed Richards meets Susan Storm (Kate Mara) and Johnny Storm (Michael B Jordan), briefly. Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) is also brought back to help finish what was apparently his project in the first place and after building the machine to another dimension and getting drunk one celebratory night, they decide to test it out for themselves before the government steps in and takes over, and the results are, well... disastrous or fantastic? You decide. Josh Trank was definitely leaning more towards the disastrous side, and I actually liked the body horror elements and thought they were done well, but probably not appropriate for a Fantastic Four movie. Josh Trank spoke about being inspired by the body horror vibe of David Cronenberg and I got glimmers of that that I liked more than I thought I would.
I liked how their powers were realized, especially Susan Storm's with her invisibility, levitating and flying. Reed Richard's seemed to utilize his powers better than he ever has before, more effectively. While the Thing was a big improvement over his predecessor in the previous duology, they still could have put a pair of pants on the guy though, at least let him have his manhood. Johnny Storm's powers were poorly done and were not an improvement over his predecessor's in any way whatsoever. The narrative was messy and the characters were so often inconsistent that I could never get a good understanding of any of their motivations, they just did and said whatever the script required of them to get to the next scene. Not for a second do I believe Reed Richard's would abandon his family for over a year, no way, no how. I understand that they're supposed to be young, but there's just no way Reed would do that. The paucity of the action wasn't a problem for me either, it was refreshing in some ways, but the disjointed narrative and the lack of momentum and excitement was a problem for me.
The casting was a big mistake for me right from the start, especially for Michael B Jordan, because he's black and Johnny Storm is about as white as white gets, and Kate Mara because she's bland and her amorphous hair color was ridiculous. Jessica Alba had the same problem as well. Why is it so hard to cast a normal blonde? How hard is it to cast ostensible siblings? Not for a single second was I convinced that Sue and Johnny were anything more than brief acquaintances at best, forget about being family. Josh Trank tried to reason that because he came from a multi-racial family, that so should the Fantastic Four, but I don't him projecting his own family history onto the Fantastic Four, the Fantastic Four have their own family history that goes beyond Josh Trank's entire life. I don't care if Christopher Nolan's entire family died in a car crash, I don't want to see Bruce Wayne become an orphan of a car crash.
This is the black hole of the movie for me, the entire absence of any sense of family unity between any of them whatsoever. This is supposed to be the crux of the Fantastic Four, that unshakable bond of familial unity, but here I felt like a stiff breeze would shatter their facade as any kind of familial unit that would die for each other without a moments hesitation. It simply wasn't there. The entire foursome barely even share any dialogue among each other. There was no romance between Reed and Sue, which is one of comics most enduring romances, even Ben and Johnny only ever exchanged one, maybe two lines of dialogue throughout the entire movie, and they're supposed to be like brothers. All of the alleged and forced relationships with each other were utterly unconvincing, the previous movies definitely had the familial aspect down a lot better.
I didn't like how Susan Storm got her powers though, she never even went to the alternate dimension with the others, but apparently a little bit of cosmic blow back will give her the same levels of exposure and mutation as the others? No, and what the hell were Doom's powers? Some sort of telepathic rock swirling abilities? I don't even know. I don't know what his motivations were for destroying the Earth, or how he was putting his plan into effect. Did Doom seriously want to destroy the Earth and then rule a barren planet all by himself? Was that his grand plan? Because if it was, that fucking sucks. The ending seemed rushed, as many others have said and the Thing's catchphrase came out of absolutely nowhere, and again seemed inconsistent with his characterization throughout the rest of the movie and the general tone of it as well. People joke about Josh Trank retweaking his script for Chronicle 2 and making this version of the Fantastic Four instead, and I can kinda see that now. I actually don't think this was a terrible movie as many have made out, on its own merits, but as a Fantastic Four movie, it's way off the mark of where it needs to be. Back to formula Fox!
Written by - The Sentry - 13/09/2015