It’s been a little while since I sat down to write about something that didn’t involve wrestling, but, there was just something about my viewing of Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four that made me want to sit down and write about it. This will be part review, part overall look out of the franchise, part booking the territory on how this goes forward, so stick with me.
Before I begin, I want to get two things out of the way. The first is my actual rating of the flick. I don’t want you to have to get through what may end up being a lengthy diatribe before finding out what I think about the movie. So, on a scale of 1 to 10, with one being the worst, I give it…
“What?!” I hear you gasp. “The Internet has led me to believe that this movie is an utter abomination unto the Lord! How can it only be a 5?” I hear you, and I will address this momentarily.
The second thing I want to get out of the way…
I do not like the Fantastic Four.
That previous statement doesn’t just cover the movies. No, it covers any medium that these characters show up in. Comic books, TV shows, video games…anything. I just don’t like them. They’re my least favorite characters.
Now, those things out of the way, let’s get started on this movie, shall we?
Arguably, this is the movie that no one wanted. After two lackluster F4 movies under Tim Story, I was almost certain that the rights would revert back to Marvel within a few years and that would be that. However, at the end of the day, Fox is a company and wants to make money on its investment. Comic book movies and TV shows are the big thing right now, with no less than six movies in theaters each year and almost as many TV shows on the airwaves. To own a comic book property, like F4 or X-Men (which Fox does), and not create a movie using those properties, would be ludicrous and a terrible mismanagement of assets. So, while no one was clamoring for a “gritty” reboot of this property using a younger cast, we got one nonetheless because to not make one would have been financially irresponsible on the part of Fox. So, I don’t begrudge them the movie. It was either make it or lose a big card at a time when those cards are worth more than ever.
From the beginning of this one, though, the fans have been crying doom on it. We found out it would be a “dark, gritty” reboot. The Fantastic Four are the one group of characters that you really don’t want to go that route with. However, since the Nolen Bat-flicks, dark and gritty is the way to go. Then, we dealt with rumors of a terrible version of Doctor Doom that involved him being a blogger. We heard they weren’t going to be in the iconic blue suits. We heard, gasp, that Johnny Storm was going to be black! Basically, every detail that came out about this movie made comic fans gasp in horror. I’m not going to shy away from it…I wanted nothing to do with this movie. However, I said the same things about X-Men: First Class and Amazing Spider-Man, and I ended up enjoying both of those movies greatly. So, that in mind, I decided to hold of judgement until I saw the trailer.
The trailer, truthfully, wasn’t bad. It really showed that they wanted to do a more serious, sci-fi take on the property, which was cool. I was actually more excited about this version than I was about the two previous ones.
Then, over the last few weeks, came the storm (no pun intended). The movie wasn’t being screened for critics. The cast hadn’t seen the flick yet. It only had a 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. Everyone gathered around to check out the train wreck that everyone called two years ago. So, with very low expectations, I sat down tonight to check it out.
I honestly feel that anyone who tells you this is the worst movie they’ve ever seen (and you will find a lot of this on the Internet in the next few days) is either adding to an already heaped up dogpile, or they honestly haven’t seen many movies in their life. This was not a train wreck. It wasn’t even a bad movie. It’s completely passable, middle-of-the-line Hollywood output. It’s better than the last two. It’s better than X-Men: The Last Stand. As much as it pains me to say, since he’s my favorite character, it’s better than Green Lantern. The characters were crafted better than I thought they would be. They came together in a pretty interesting fashion. I even liked how they got their powers.
The movie’s problems, primarily, are pacing and Dr. Doom. It feels like two different movies are going on here. The first two acts are a slower, more sci-fi story that works in some interesting things with the government and how characters like these would be treated in the real world. The last act feels like they lifted it out of one of the Tim Story flicks from a few years ago. It’s cartoony, rushed, and doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie.
Dr. Doom, or, in this movie, just Doom (guess he hasn’t earned his doctorate yet), plain out sucks. Just like he did the last two times. They find some reason to make him part of the origin, just like last time, and they find some reason to give him super powers, just like last time. It’s like Fox just cannot abide Dr. Doom not having super powers. He doesn’t like Reed…just ‘cause. Reed’s brought in and understands how to fix some issues they had with the project Doom started, so he hates him. Other than the fact that Reed apparently smiles around Sue, that’s the entirety of their rivalry. There’s a place in the middle of the origin story that would have been a great jumping off point for Reed and Doom to have issues, but no, the movie ignores that, moves past it, and just goes on about its day. So, there’s really no reason for me to care about Reed and Doom’s rivalry…one of the best rivalries in all of comics…so, there’s no reason for me to care about the ending of this movie.
My final verdict on the flick…skip it. It offers nothing that the last two didn’t offer already. It’s only mildly better than the last two. It adds nothing new to the genre and, ultimately, adds nothing new to cinema as a whole. It’s a non-entity, truthfully. It’s not a terrible movie, it just happens to also not be a good one.
Now, onto the future. People have been calling for it for years and they’re already pulling out the bullhorns now, despite the movie only opening about five hours ago. “Let the rights go back to Marvel,” they say. So, my thoughts?
Let them stay where they’re at.
I’m actually very intrigued that I feel that way, but, in all honesty, I don’t feel there’s anything that Marvel can do with this franchise. The ONLY reason I care that Fox has the rights and not Marvel is because the rights to Galactus and the Silver Surfer are also locked up in the rights to Fantastic Four, meaning that as long as Fox has the F4, Marvel can’t play with two of my favorite characters. Marvel tried to get them back a few years ago, even going so far as to let Fox hold on to the rights to Daredevil in return. Since Daredevil is my favorite thing that Marvel has done as a studio thus far, I’m ultimately glad they didn’t get them back and will says that as long as I get more of that show, they can keep Galactus and the Surfer.
The reason I feel that way is because I don’t think there’s anything Marvel can do better. We’ve seen three attempts at the Fantastic Four now and they’ve all been mediocre. I honestly feel that a fourth attempt will yield much the same. While watching this movie, I came to the realization that there are only two characters that are interesting in action scenes…Human Torch and The Thing. Mr. Fantastic’s powers just come off silly on screen and I don’t think there’s anything Marvel will be able to do to change that. The only time I’ve seen stretchy powers done well was The Incredibles, and I think that was because the entire world was done in CGI.
At the end of the day, I just don’t care if Marvel has the characters back…and I don’t think I’m the only one. The movie going audience has given this franchise three shots. They’re not coming back for a fourth, no matter who makes it. The average movie goer doesn’t realize that this is a Fox movie and not a Marvel movie. They’re all comic book characters and they essentially all run together. I’m a teacher and I talk comic to my kids almost every day, and I can honestly say that the majority of them don’t even realize who is DC and who is Marvel, much less who is Disney/Marvel and who is Fox/Marvel. I feel that if Marvel got the characters back, the general audience would see yet another reboot with new actors and just give up. No reason to believe they’re going to get it right this time, is there?
If Marvel does get the rights back…which I honestly do not see happening…I would have them show up as background characters in an Avengers movie and that’d be about it. Get Mr. Fantastic to have a science-off with Tony and Banner, or present him as a guy that even Tony and Banner have to go to because they’re not smart enough to solve this one, and let that be that. Cast an older guy, in his fifties, with gray temples, and put him in the blue suit with a lab coat over it. Maybe have the other three milling around in the scene. Boom. There you go. Make them cameos. Maybe, if they’re well received, they can help the Avengers fight Galactus in Avengers 9 or something. I just think that as their own stand-alone franchise, they’re dead.
My final thought involves the director, Josh Trank. This was put up on Twitter earlier tonight, although it’s since been removed.
Have fun in Movie Jail, Josh. You don’t trash the company on opening day and expect to work in a studio setting again for a long time. He’s already lost a job directing Star Wars, so I wouldn’t expect to hear from him again any time soon.
Thanks for reading my ramblings. I don’t pretend they’re anything other than that, but I’m interested to see what you have to say.