[If you want to read the spoiler-filled version of my review, click here]
Well, it's finally here, the movie we've all been waiting for! And don't you try and deny it, whether you were for or against this film, you've probably been waiting to see it. Many, MANY people were absolutely sure that this movie would suck, and were only anticipating its release so that they could pick it apart limb from stretchy limb.
Always the rebel, I found myself on the side that was actually excited for this movie, genuinely believing that it would be an enjoyable film. There weren't a lot of us, but we made our presence known!
Well now, the film is finally out in theaters. All of its faults and features have been presented in full detail on the big screen. By now, you're probably aware of what the general consensus on this movie is. You've read review after review, report after report, and looked at the Rotten Tomatoes rating over and over again to see if it changed at all. Because of this, I'm not going to write a simple review, because you've surely grown tired of them by now.
Instead of just writing a review in the traditional way, I'm going to write something a bit different. The fact is, this movie -despite its name- wasn't "fantastic". But it was far from horrible, and pretty dang close to wonderful. Wonderment-meter aside, I REALLY liked this movie. But I'll admit, I expected a bit more from it. To explain what I mean, I've compiled a list of 4 GOOD things about this film, as well as 4 BAD things. So, let's not dwell any longer—here's the first bad thing about the Fantastic Four!
One-Liners, Exposition And Motivational Speeches!
Let's start this off with the bad side first. I always find it better to talk about the faults of a movie before you get to the good parts. Oh, and this is spoiler free, so don't worry about the plot getting ruined for you. But know that when I say spoilers, I do only mean plot details. Other elements of the film may get spoiled for you.
So, the first thing I didn't like about this movie - its dialogue. Now, I didn't hate ALL of the dialogue. A lot of it was clever, funny and really creative. But a lot of it was also cheesy one-liners, exposition pieces and heartfelt motivational speech. And to me, that was kind of annoying.
Like every comic book movie ever, there are a lot of one-liners. But this movie felt like a character was spouting out a joke every five minutes. I'm all for clever one-liners, but they become less clever if you over use them. As for exposition, I'm just not a fan of that at all. I always believe in "show, don't tell", and this movie did quite a bit of telling where it could have just shown. That being said, it's not like the exposition was super long and unnecessary, a lot of it had to do with a key element of the plot that the audience needed to know about in order to understand the film. But still, I wish they could have just SHOWN us this information, instead of having a character give us a lecture about what's going down.
Speaking of lectures, oh there's a lot of them in this movie! There are more motivational speeches than a Braveheart scene! Now, I'm all for speeches -like one-liners, they are a part of the whole comic book movie package. But I just didn't like how many there were, especially the ones that weren't really needed given the situation. When it comes to one-liners, exposition and speeches, few is better than many.
Whole Lotta Origin!
I'm actually glad that this is an origin story. The Fantastic Four aren't like Spider-Man, in the sense that we've seen their origins on screen again and again. We've only seen their beginnings a total of two times on the big screen, so an origin story is a must do.
I only wish that they kept the origin stories short and sweet. Without giving off any plot details, I'll say that the origins are heavily focused on in this film. Sure, they're needed, especially given this new take on each member of the team, but I feel like they were drawn on for too long.
I get that origin is important if we're going to learn about these characters and connect with them -but I think they could have gotten in out of the way much sooner than they did.
Ok, that's it for the bad things, now on to the good!
Obviously, in a movie about superheroes, you have to do a good job of showing their various superpowers. Fantastic Four did a very well job of this. All of the powers were visually stunning, and incredibly cool.
It wasn't just that they looked amazing, the science behind the powers also contributed to how I feel about them. There's actual science and logic behind their powers—as logical as you can get when it comes to superpowers that is.
Each power is represented gloriously, and how they get their powers is as well! Even the CGI behind Mr. Fantastic's powers -which was abysmal back in 2005- is pretty good looking! And creepy, VERY creepy! The effects for all of the characters are definitely creepier than they were back in the day; but of all of them, Reed is definitely the scariest dude! Just, his whole stretching deal is very...shown, in ways that aren't necessarily haunting, but super odd and weird to look at.
That isn't bad though. I mean, imagine how you would react if you saw a guy with super stretchy limbs walking down the same street as you. I'd be terrified!
Ben And Doom!
Why is this one of the good things about the movie? Because Ben Grimm/The Thing are the absolute best parts about Fantastic Four!
Ben is like how he's always been—a tough-as-nails brawler with street smarts and an angry attitude 24/7! He's awesome, strong and makes note of the time -being that it is half-past clobbering- quite a lot! Admittedly, he does look ridculous. But do you know how hard it is to have a live-action version of a giant rock monster and make it look good. I'm willing to accept Thing's "fried chicken" design, because he's just an epic character.
As for Doom, move over Julian McMahon! There's a new Doom in town, and his name is Toby Kebell! In all seriousness, Kebell more than exceeded my expectations for his role. His portrayal of Victor von Doom is cool, charming and sort of suave—to the point where you kind of want to root for him and his sly personality! But don't let that fool you, he's a straight up psychopath!
Like Ben, he too suffers from an odd design. But I really like his look! The energy pulsing through him, the metal welded to his face, it's all very terrifying! Toby does it right in this film, and he and Jamie Bell are definitely my favorite parts of the movie!
Ok, so those are the things I liked about the film, as well as the things I thought were pretty bad. But before I give my final score, there's still one more thing. Something that isn't necessarily good or bad—and could go either way, depending on how you look at it
More Sci-Fi Than Superhero!
Something that everybody should keep in mind before going to see this film—it's not like any superhero move you've seen before. These days, where every other big box-office success belongs to Marvel or DC, we've started to expect a certain storytelling formula from them. DC is dark and gritty, and full of more mature themes. While Marvel is fun and adventurous, preferring a more lighthearted tone most of the time.
Fantastic Four doesn't fall into either of those formulas. But that's not a bad thing, though it isn't exactly a good one either. The film is very heavily sci-fi, with themes focusing on science, exploration and the future of mankind's existence. Going in there, expecting it to be like Avengers, Man of Steel, X-Men or any other superhero movie is just going to result in disappointment. But at their core, the F4 have always been about these themes.
Reed and Sue were scientists before they were superheroes, and Johnny and Ben tagged along with them as they tried to invent new technology and better mankind. In the comics, they have their own lab, their own research and development program, and even supply themselves and a ton of other superheroes with groundbreaking new technology never before discovered by anyone.
But the thing is, we aren't expecting our superhero movies to be anything other than...superhero movies. Like I said, there's just a certain formula that we've gotten used to. It's why all Marvel films are practically the same. Sure they've got their little genre differences -like Ant-Man being a heist film and Captain America being a war movie- but they're all very similar when you get down to it. I enjoy the feel, look and tone of Fantastic Four, and I think it's definitely a breathe of fresh air to see a superhero film tackle a genre that isn't necessarily expected of superhero films. Doctor Strange, you're up.
Fantastic Four isn't the best superhero film, it's certainly not on par with any of the others that have come out this year. But it isn't a trainwreck. It deviates from the traditional formula for a superhero movie, but still keeps enough of the formula in to be considered a superhero movie. But as I said, this film is about science, sci-fi, and exploration.
It has its faults yes, and they can't be ignored, but they're nothing damning or unforgivable. The story is solid, the characters are intriguing and entertaining, and the visuals are absolutely stunning! Its final act is underwhelming, but is in no way boring. I give this film a...
If you want to ready my spoiler-filled review, where I go into more extensive detail about everything, as well as talk about two more good things and two more bad things, click here!