The Fantastic FLOP

 

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   So for those of you who haven’t seen 2015’s reboot of the Fantastic Four, this is a short breakdown and review of what you’re NOT missing. A year and a half ago when I learned this movie was being made, I was completely opposed to a reboot while FOX still retained the character rights and with an assigned director who’s last project didn’t impress me. My concern was quickly set aside with the teaser and full trailers early this year. The tone seemed very dark and the characters seemed very well conceived. I had decided after the trailer that I was going to see this movie and as it grew nearer, the backlash and hatred for the film, still unreleased, grew and grew. The boycott didn’t just end with fans of the iconic first super-hero team, it spread as far as its creators themselves. Marvel publishing decided that if FOX Studios continued to make and release this film, they would not promote it, going as far as to cancel all of their ongoing Fantastic Four titles in print to avoid inadvertently promoting the film second-hand. This is a big decision by the company despite Stan Lee, one of the co creator’s of the team next to Jack Kirby, early on giving director Josh Trank and the studio his blessing. This blessing eventually turned into shame as evident that this is one of the few if not only Marvel films he hasn’t cameo’d in the past decade.
Speaking of director Josh Trank, rumor has it that the director had really good intentions for this film with a “Fantastic” vision for this project as tweeted by himself on August 6th reading, “A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality though” the tweet was quickly deleted but of course not before some internet troll captured it and likely sold it for hundreds of dollars. Is it true though? How much of this film is actually Trank’s. According to him and another source, only about 2/3’s of the film I saw was his and that’s ironically the better part(s) of the film. The character development and origin story is better than what I had hoped for and not what I imagined. The unique friendship between Reed and Ben spread throughout the film was superb, the jealousy and resentment between adopted brother and sister Johnny and Sue Storm was spot on. The only thing missing was the dynamic between these characters once they became an actual team. Ben and Sue barely share a scene together and the rehashing of friendships between Reed and Ben simply goes unnoticed. Director Trank appeared to have a lot going for him during the first half of the movie, slow-paced but definitely interesting. The problem with this 100 minute film is there is too much set up without an actual delivery. This was phrased perfectly by The Wrap exclaiming, ” So much time is spent putting the pieces on the board that there’s barely any time to play with them” and I couldn’t have said it better myself. The last and only action sequence of the movie was so short-lived and underwhelming it easily would’ve served as the perfect time to take a quick restroom break and had you done so, you would’ve missed what FOX attempted to make the most important part of the film and failed miserably.
It is also rumored that FOX approached Josh Trank right before principal photography with drastic request and changes to the film including budget cuts. It is even said that the 3 massive action scenes Josh was promised by the studio were reduced to 1, if you call it that. Of course the studio denied this, and to go as far as accuse director Trank as the problem claiming he became “erratic and isolated.” Some rumors even surfaced apparently originating from cast and crew members claiming he was violent and rampant. It’s hard to believe that a second or third time director this young and new to the industry has developed an ego big enough to give him the impression he can disrespect people on set and get away with it but then again I don’t know the guy personally. I yet to see any of the cast members deny or confirm these rumors so it is very possible the failure of this film and conflicts rumored to exist throughout the production of this film are in part due to his on set antics.
As for characters in this film, as I mentioned, they started off great. The relationships really seemed to blossom during the first quarter of the film and even after I’ve watched it, I still continue to like who was casted for this film. If this film was an additional 40 minutes longer with an additional action sequence of them working together as opposed to against each other, this film could’ve been a solid 7 out of 10 for me personally. Trank did something that the comics nor the previous 2 films accomplished, which gave them not only an interesting origin story, but a logical explanation as to why the four members of this famous quartet have four different super powers despite all being affected by the same source, in this film it was a sort of force field or power blast brought back from the negative zone or planet zero. This was done in such a manner that it made sense, and to me will always feel like that’s exactly how it should have been portrayed in the comic and in any other form where the Fantastic Four are described. These relationships quickly took a turn for the worst when apparently the studio stepped in and essentially took over creatively, cutting and splicing the scenes in an effort to just get the film out there with no consideration as to what had been built for the last 45 minutes or so.
I was also very much looking forward to the 3D version as promised in early advertisements of the film. It’s been said that due to the amount of reshoots involved, the 3D format had to be scrapped due to budget constraints… Although the up charge of almost $3.00 to see this movie in another “dimension” is not worth it at all when the only portion of the film worthy of this, was lackluster at best. The reshoots are painfully obvious too with the various scenes of actress Kate Mara as Sue Storm changing hair colors with the aid of a wig, sometimes in the very next frame which is impossible and hard to write off as forgettable. The CGI, when present, was mediocre at best, but failed especially with the main antagonist in the film, Doctor Victor Von Doom. An attempt to pay homage to the Ultimate Fantastic Four villains, much like the team themselves, he donned an unfamiliar costume in this reboot that many were displeased with including myself. The supposed explanation for this, much like the team’s, is very logical but is very elementary in the case of Dr. Doom basically explaining he was enveloped by the negative zone while in his exploration suit so the suit essentially melted or molded to him, giving him a very dark and mystical look, but unappealing and unpractical to say the least. His powers are never really explained either, yet he somehow knew the powers of the others as seen in the battle against the four while he telekinetically and unexplainably threw rocks and rubble into the air as to locate the position of the Invisible Woman whom he had no way of knowing she could turn in invisible.
Most fans concern with Dr. Doom was that instead of the powerful Latvarian he was in the comics, he was dumbed down to a blogger and/or gamer as most evident in the film, but I honestly was able to look past this deviation from the comic book because of his on-screen performance next to star Miles Teller aka Reed Richards. His passion for the project and science in general still made the character relatable and believable. My biggest concern was that of Dr. Doom being this larger than life, iconic villain he is in the Marvel Universe, he was defeated with such ease and had barely any screen time as the villain. The name Doom sends shivers down the spines of any well established Marvel hero and even fellow villains in the comic book world, yet I’m supposed to believe this group of kids defeated him with powers they perfected over a year, a year that they failed to show thanks to transitions might I add. Seriously though, all this build up to the grand finale and for it to fall as short as it did is very unsettling. If I were a woman and Fantastic Four was my lover, I would definitely invest in a sex toy of some sorts because if it is going to be this anti-climactic every time, it’s not worth getting undressed for!
Now, there are plenty of other rumors and controversy behind this film, much of which we will never know the truth behind, but it is evident that some thing (no pun intended) or some one, intervened and made this into what it awfully is today. There is no turning back at this point. After 4 attempts to create a successful Fantastic Four film, 3 in which are by the same studio, you’d think they learned their lesson by now. Now I’m not going to bicker and complain like all the others advocating for FOX to give the rights back to Disney and Marvel, although it would seem like the logical and most profitable thing to do, or even follow in the foot steps of Sony and share the rights of their characters with Disney and MCU in an effort to successfully revitalize the franchise. It’s not that FOX isn’t capable of making a successful comic book movie, Days of Future Past is one of my favorite comic book films of all time and it has nothing to do with the current continuity Disney is creating with Marvel Studios and with the expected success of Deadpool, a sequel is still very possible. I also recently learned that in order for the studio to retain the rights to these characters, they have to make films within a certain allotted time frame which may be why this film began to feel “rushed” near the end. In all honesty, I loved the characters and the first 2/3’s of the film were slow but enjoyable and well grounded. If a sequel was offered to Josh Trank and he was allowed to make the film in similarity to the one he intended to make in the first place, I’d gladly pay another theater admission fee on opening night. I would pay even more if these characters, as rumored, were to crossover with the X-Men, but that rumor was recently debunked or possibly even retracted after X-Men director Brian Singer actually saw this film, maybe he just spoke too soon? Regardless I still suggest you see it if you haven’t already, only so that you may decide for yourself, If you don’t want to see it in theaters, that’s understandable. I’d gladly accept a refund and patiently await the rental so I could instead watch it in the comfort of my home while playing on my phone pretending to pay attention without missing anything worth noting. All in all, I’d rate this movie a 4.5 out of 10 strictly on its plot and character development. The trailer basically does a better job of exciting me and delivering a better sequence of events than the last battle of the film. Which might I add, there are plenty of scenes from the trailer that seem to be missing from the final cut of the film. It is very possible that a directors cut of the film will be released in due time and may be able to replace this awful taste in my mouth leftover from this past weekend at the theaters.

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