Review of Fantastic Four (2015)

fantasticfour2015

The Fantastic Four have been anything but fantastic, when it comes to live action movies. Out of the three films distributed by 20th Century Fox the feature released in 2015 is arguably the weakest. That’s a surprise, given that the movie was directed by Josh Trank, who has previously worked on Chronicle (one of the few found footage films that I have managed to enjoy.) Perhaps studio interference is to blame for the debacle, as Trank’s vision for the project was a sci-fi body horror story. Fox were initially onboard with the idea, eager to distance themselves from past FF films, which have been heavy on camp. Midway through filming however they got cold feet and demanded that changes be made. After seeing light-hearted Marvel dominate the more serious DC, I can only speculate that they changed their mind on the script’s dark tone.

OVERVIEW

Reed Richards is a young genius who, with the aid of pal Ben Grimm, has managed to design an interdimensional teleporter. During his school’s science fair he reveals a prototype constructed out of materials salvaged from the scrapyard Ben’s family owns. At the event he showcases how the device can send toy models to an unexplored alien land. Reed’s teachers dismiss the invention, as a cheap magic trick. Dr Franklin Storm, who is in attendance, however recognises Richard’s talent. He immediately recruits the teen and has him put to work at the world renowned Baxter Institute. Storm hopes that with greater resources Reed will be able to construct a larger machine, capable of sending humans to the aforementioned extraterrestrial planet. Like the Ninja Turtles character Baxter Stockman, the Baxter Institute soon learns that travelling to another dimension carries risks.

Assisting Reed in his scientific venture are Franklin’s son Johnny and his adoptive daughter Sue. I have to stress that blonde haired Sue is adopted because, unlike his comic book counterpart, this version of Johnny is black. Although his race has changed, this iteration of Johnny remains a hot-head (rather ironic given that he later acquires flame based powers). He is portrayed as a capable engineer who has no respect for authority. Rather than build advanced tech he prefers to assemble cars, for the purposes of street racing. Supervising the group is fellow intellectual Victor Von Doom. With a name like that it should come as no surprise that Victor is the movie’s antagonist. Some people are just fated to become their surnames. Did you know that my country’s former minister for tourism is called Joe Holliday?

VERDICT

My rating for Fantastic Four is a two out of five. I imagine many viewers despised the movie because they have been conditioned to expect non stop action and humour from superhero films. Fantastic Four on the other hand is slow paced and sterile. I didn’t actually mind the more realistic approach taken in retelling the Fantastic Four’s origins. The movie starts well enough and did some interesting things later on, when the above mentioned characters are mutated during their maiden voyage across dimensions. Rather than willingly become warriors of justice they are strong armed into serving the military. Unlike other superheroes, who consider their newly acquired superhuman abilities to be a boon, the titular four are traumatized by the changes their bodies undergo. Their distressed reactions mirror the time I realized that my scalp is beginning to bald.

Sadly any nuggets of creativity that Fantastic Four tries to inject into the superhero genre cannot overcome a weak script. The dialogue is so stale that it robs the characters of any personalty and makes a cast of otherwise accomplished actors look very ordinary. What really brought the thing down, in my eyes, was the final act. The studio interference, which amounted to reshoots filmed without the director’s approval, is there for all to see. In the blink of an eye we witness a sombre science fiction tale morph into a below par superhero flick. The closing scene makes a half hearted attempt to introduce humour via a cheesy skit revolving around the team’s name. Preceding that is a showdown with Doom that is marred by awful CGI and uninspired fight choreography. The end result is a box office flop, which played a factor in Trank losing the opportunity to direct Star Wars. Fair enough, although I doubt he would have done a worse job than Rian Johnson.

25 thoughts on “Review of Fantastic Four (2015)

  1. There are a ton of stories about Trank basically buckling under the pressures of a big budget film. You see examples of directors jumping immediately from small indie films to AAA blockbusters a lot. Some work out (like Taika Waititi for Thor or Ryan Coogler doing Creed) but I guess this is an example of someone unable to rise to the occasion.

    • That could have been the case with this film. I can sympathise with the guy because I am the sort of person who prefers to be a big fish in a small pond rather than vice a versa. There have been some stories circulating online that say Trank is difficult to work with. All that said, the same applies to many talented people. Hitchcock wasn’t exactly pleasant with his actors.

  2. When I hear a movie is really bad, I always want to check that out for myself. I have had it happen many times when I ended up like the movie regardless. In this case though I didn’t (lol). I definitely agree with everything you wrote here. This could have been better …so much better. And wow…it’s almost hard to imagine anyone doing an even worse job on the Star Wars movie than Rian Johnson..but I think you might be right too πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

    • I think Rian Johnson would have been alright on Star Wars if he was handed a script and just told to film it. Were things went is that he was given the freedom to rip up JJ’s outline and do his own thing. I’m amazed Disney were okay with that. Trilogies should be planned in advance, not made on a movie by movie basis.

      • It still gets me mad every time I talk about The Last Jedi. The guy basically destroyed Star Wars. Everything that was etablished, he just ripped apart. I can only hope that JJ will be able to turn it around again, and make Star Wars great again. FIngers crossed 😊

  3. *reads Fantastic Four*
    “Oh, Judge is reviewing an old movie.”
    *sees 2015*
    “It only came out in 2015?!?!”
    I know the reviews were bad, but you hear nothing about this film that it feels like came out a decade ago, not just 3 years ago.

  4. Hello The Otaku Judge,

    I have never seen a Fantastic Four movie, but I definitely saw and read some of the reviews of this movie and I do not think that any of them were good.

    I had heard about some of the studio interference before, I can only imagine how much this must have bothered the director and some of the cast, it is a shame.

    Thank you for sharing your review,
    -John Jr

    • None of the Fantastic Four movies are great, so you aren’t missing out on much. Having the studio tamper with a director’s vision must be maddening. I wonder how the original cut compares with what we got. Some of the footage used in the trailer doesn’t appear at all in the movie.

      • Hello The Otaku Judge,

        I hate when there are things that are in the trailer that do not show up in the movie; I remember there was an alien interrogation scene in the District 9 trailer that was not in the movie.

        Thank you for responding,
        -John Jr

  5. I think the problem with this one is the same one the previous two have. Nothing interesting happens. They’re boring. When they finally DO get something rolling, it comes off as generic. It’s strange how the low budget, made solely for rights reasons, Roger Corman Fantastic movie (1994) is still the best example of how to do the characters on film.

      • That’s why I am not a big fan of origin stories. A lot of them end up being dull because a lot of time is spend showing how the characters got their powers. That 1994 movie isn’t great, but is more faithful to the comic. I wonder how that movie would have performed, had it been given a budget and officially released.

    • A reboot is very much on the cards. I heard a while back that Disney (who own Marvel) are trying to buy Fox. Should the deal go through Marvel Studios will regain the rights to both X-Men and Fantastic Four.

  6. I’ve not seen this one and whilst the DVD is there I can’t bring myself to watch it even though there is a morbid curiosity to see just how bad it is. Then again, the two previous efforts with Jessica Alba weren’t that great either so maybe the Fantastic Four are unfilmable?

    • I think the Fantastic Four have potential to be turned into a good live action movie. The key is to hire the right people to make the film. Years ago if you would have asked comic fans what would work better as a movie, out of Fantastic Four and Guardians of the Galaxay, the overwhelming answer would have been FF.

    • If anyone can redeem the Fantastic Four, on film, it would be Marvel Studios. They have a much better track record than Fox and also have the added motivation of wanting the movie to perform well, as it may boost their comic book sales.

  7. Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy the film. πŸ™‚ I’ve only seen the first Fantastic Four film and wasn’t to impressed by it, so have passed on watching the rest πŸ™‚ This one sounds worse than the first one πŸ™‚

    Stale dialogue can really ruin a film. It can make the characters seem so boring and robotic. Hope the next superhero film you watch is a lot better πŸ˜€

    • The Fantastic Four movie you watched isn’t great, but I liked it more than this one. At least the older one has a bit more action and some humour. You haven’t missed much by skipping the other films.

    • Some people wouldn’t mind getting pelted with hash. My Hero Academia features an invisible girl too. She can’t make her clothes invisible though. When infiltrating she removes her garments. A chilly way of upholding justice.

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