Was the Fantastic Four a good movie? No. Im willing to say that straight away but that certainly doesn't mean it was terrible. From a film studies background, there were story structure problems, strange and unnecessary tone shifts and moments of horrendous dialogue but in no way shape or form deserve to be beaten down like it has. Seeing reviews so far, there is no way that this film deserves a 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes after 93 reviews. Thats ludicrous. Heres a quick review on Josh Trank's, Fantastic Four.
I don't know exactly what happened on set, whether Trank was trashing too many hotel rooms or Fox got to involved in the film making process but whatever it was, it shows in this movie. I felt like i was watching a film with its soul slowly being ripped away from it, until it was finally ready to just give up. When the movie starts off with a young Reed Richards and Ben Grimm I was on board, maybe it was a bit too long but it served a purpose in story direction so i could live with that. Then you visit the same two characters again years later and they are still working on the same project but naturally, its slightly more advanced. So a solid introduction to Reed and Ben's friendship, nothing wrong here, if anything Ben could have shown more about how he was Reeds muscle as opposed to the quite guy who follows him around but still a perfectly suitable and understandable friendship was built. Next you are introduced to Sue Storm and her father Franklin Storm, this was the start of an interesting dynamic that Trank started but never continued and that was the idea that Sue Storm was the favorite child and Jonny Storm never lived up to Franklins expectations. This would have been and interesting dynamic to continue through the movie, which would have made a particular scene at towards the end of the movie carry a lot more weight but for whatever reason that direction wasn't taken, i felt was a missed opportunity to really build the Jonny Storm character. Now, i think its worth saying that Michael B Jordan did a great job with the material he was given and that can be said for the rest of the cast as well.
While Sue Storm seems to get a lot more screen time than both Jonny or Ben, she never really seems to develop as a character finishing the movie as she started. The only change being that she now has these strange new powers. While Jonny gets no way near as much screen time as Sue, he still seems to have more of a character arc going from a somewhat reckless young man, who seems to battle daily with not living up to his fathers success, to finally finding his place in a 'family'. So it makes sense that his character would be the member of the Fantastic Four that doesn't want to give up his powers. Next we have Ben Grimm, probably the second biggest missed opportunity in this entire film. Ben Grimm is almost given nothing to say in this film which makes his characters arc hard to follow. We know so little about Ben Grimm's character, that those "Help Reed!" moments don't have as much pull as they should. While his friendship with Reed was handled okay at the start, Ben Grimm becomes a character simply put there because Reed needs motivation. He is far more than that, he could and should have been the Hulk of this movie. There was a real obvious lack of action and entertainment, The Thing could have saved that issue for Trank and Fox but he was given no real scenes to show what he can do and the movie suffered from that.
The whole plot revolves around this mysterious Planet Zero, Reed Richards has been able successfully transport objects back and forth from the planet. Now, with the first human trial, mistakes are made and from this journey the Fantastic Four are given their powers. Firstly, while the 'Planet Zero' was under used with plenty of bad CGI, it was a great idea and is one of the stronger plot points of this film. I would have liked to have seen the cast spend more time on the planet and explore it a bit more. Now, the biggest problem people have had with superhero films in recent years is the major destruction caused to cities and the lack of consequences. This movie finally had a chance to cause some major damage on a completely vacant planet but instead, the fight lasts 5 minutes with no creative action set pieces what so ever.
As an audience we leave the cinema not having seen really what any of the Fantastic Four can do with their new powers, we get a very short scene of them working together at the end and thats about it. These scenes could have been some of the best scenes in the movie. We get a glimpse of Reed Richards fighting some people in the woods and that is a great example of some of the creative ways you can show Reed Richards in battle. Jonny never shows what he can do in a fight, basically just flying around on fire the whole time and Sue just covers some different things with her forcefield and fly's when its convenient to the story, while The Thing throws a few punches.
Lastly, the biggest disappointment is Dr Doom. Fantastic Four has Marvels most popular villain in Dr Doom and he doesn't show up until the very end of the film. Unbelievable. His design, his motives and his powers. Everything about him felt unfinished and that is ultimately where the film confirms its many offscreen production problems. This to me is just unacceptable. You have the potential to create one of the most feared movie villains of all time and you use him to as a scene filler to bring the Fantastic Four together. This shows that Fox has no idea about this franchise and the amazing characters on offer.
Now generally a film like this will have 3 act structure. Fantastic Four has 2 full acts and a half. Now to me that screams studio interference. Im sure this wasn't Trank's vision, wether Trank's vision was better or not we will never know but if both Trank and Fox had stuck to the tone of that first act and continued down that line where the movie felt like a Horror/Science Fiction film, i think we might have something rather unique. It may not have been the most exciting film in the world but it would definitely standout from the current style of superhero films that we see today. All that being said, there are some positives to be mentioned about this film.
The casting was good, no one really gave a poor performance. My issues with Dr Doom was more his rushed set up and story arc more than with Toby Kebbell. The first act was well structured, had a tone that was fresh and different enough from the previous Fantastic Four to separate the franchises and felt unique enough that if the whole film had remained that style at least we we would have had something new. The second Act was strange and third act was just terrible but they introduced some interesting themes and team dynamics that could be used going forward, for example, Jonny's willingness to fight for the government and how does he handle the loss of his father, he never felt that he lived up to his expectations. Ben Grimm's desperate desire to be cured, he showed signs in that scene with Reed on the plane that he mentally believes The Thing and Ben are two different people. Does Reed Richards have the ability/trust of his team lead after abandoning them, he is somebody who has been an outsider for most of his life and hasn't yet shown the characteristics of a leader and how does Sue deal with losing her father who she seemed to have such a close bond with, her whole life has been built around her relationship with Franklin Storm, does she take over her fathers division?
So there are plenty of directions Fox can choose to go with Fantastic Four 2, presumably Trank wont return so that leaves the door open for another director to come and have a shot at this troubled franchise but all in all, i came out of this movie more confused than any movie this year. It truly felt like two completely different directors made this movie, make no mistake there is a good Fantastic Four movie to be told, this movie just isn't it. With this cast, who knows, maybe Fantastic Four 2 will reach the potential that this franchise has. Its just a shame that they have now wasted the best Villain Marvel has to offer by having him show up for only 15mins but there are a lot of great characters including the silver surfer and Galactus but lets not make Galactus a cloud this time. Hes not a cloud.
Honestly, i dont know whether to suggest this movie or not, firstly you must understand what you are going to see. Do not go in expecting a grand superhero showpiece because thats not what your going to get. If the idea of a Science fiction/horror story interests you, then it might be worth a watch. At the end of the day, film is subjective and thats what makes it special. Was the overall outcome disappointing? yes. Disaster? No. The controversial build up to this movie had people hating it before they had even seen it. This movie is not a good movie by any means, but is it the burning trainwreck that everyone else is making it out to be? No way.