"When you change the world, prepare to defend it."
And speaking of the word defend....That's exactly what I am going to to do here. Come to the defense of a movie that according to the majority of the internet is the "worst comic book movie evah!" And the worst superhero movie since Batman & Robin.
Look. I am not saying this film is a great movie. Nor is it even a fantastic one. But I would be lying to anyone reading this post if I said I didn't like this movie. I went into seeing this with bottom of the barrel expectations and with a certain curiosity on my mind due to some interestingly satisfying trailers I had seen for the film. And from the very beginning of the film? I liked what I saw. I was engaged by the story, by the characters, and I liked where the film was heading. I even thought the performances by the cast were really solid. In fact I personally feel that the acting performances by Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Michael B. Jordan are the first time ever in a fantastic four movie where every member of team delivered an equally solid and respectable performance. Before it was at best half of the team that did a solid job with their roles. Here? They all did their jobs equally as well. I also liked the film's portrayal of Doom as an unhinged dangerous psychopath who is primal in his actions and intent like a wild beast. When he gets back out of the alternate dimension and starts popping peoples heads like in scanners? That was a real shock to me, and a welcome one coming from a fan of that genre of filmmaking. It also made Doom intimidating for once. Unlike his earlier portrayals in the 1994 unreleased film and Tim Story's FF movies. And speaking of alternate dimensions? I also really liked the fact that the team got their powers from being exposed to energy from an alternate dimension and not cosmic rays for the third time. For the most part all of the changes to the source material? I did not mind at all. In fact I appreciated them and actually liked the fact that the filmmakers tried to take these characters seriously. And for the most part I felt that they succeeded.
And maybe I was more welcoming to the drastic changes because honestly, I am not that big of a fan of the Fantastic Four in the first place. I always thought their comics were too silly and goofy for my tastes. It was a nice departure for me personally to see them portrayed as forces to be reckoned with instead of a team to laugh at like a live action cartoon. I also really dug the bits of Cronenberg body horror that was in the film, as well as the traditional science fiction approach the film was going for. It made it more of my type of film. And this dark sci-fi horror adaptation of the Fantastic Four is something that was right up my alley and that went a long way for me in terms of my enjoyment of the film. But even though it was a bit darker than the other movies it wasn't pitch black. It had it's moments of levity and it's fair share of entertaining moments. I even admit cheering when The Thing said his signature catchphrase of "It's Clobbering Time" and punched Dr. Doom during the film's climatic action sequence. Which for a reshoot wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been for me. I actually liked the bits of action that were there. The only thing that bugged me is how the tone of that sequence didn't mesh well with the darker more minimalist tone of Trank's vision of the film that was happening in the first half of the movie. It's almost like this Fantastic Four is two different movies. One is Trank's bold new vision of familiar characters, and another is 20th Century Fox's bombastic blockbuster comic book movie. The two don't mix well. But taken separately they both have their merits.
The main problems I had with this film were things that were left on the cutting room floor. More character development between Sue and her brother Johnny, a better fleshed out rebirth of the relationship between Ben and Reed, a little more motivation for Doom to destroy the earth at the end, and a bit more action. But other than that? I liked a lot of what was there. I was never bored by this film, and I wasn't disappointed by it either. It never made me angry like Pixels or made me ill like Terminator Genisys did. I honestly fail to see why this film is so bad. Yes it could have been better but considering the amount of bullshit that occurred behind the scenes and during post production it could have easily been a lot worse. I don't even think this is the worst Fantastic Four movie either. That dishonor easily goes to Rise Of The Silver Surfer for me. If I was going to give one thing about the movie a thumb's down? It would be the handling of the film by 20th Century Fox who had no faith in the project or the director and openly admitted to wanting him fired before production even began. Fox only made the film to keep the rights to the franchise which was egregious decision making on all fronts. But even keeping that in mind, this film to me didn't look or feel like a movie that had no vision or passion behind it. It wasn't a total lazy half assed phone it in on the john job like Pixels or Paul Blart 2 were for me. Which are both films that get higher ratings from people on IMDB and other sites by the way. I just thought I would point that out. 20th Century Fox deserves your hate for not giving two shits about the franchise. Trank deserves a little too if he really was as big of an asshole as the press says he was. But at the end of the day? This was not a total failure of a film. There were quite a few things I genuinely liked about this movie. I even liked the film's score by Phillip Glass and Marco Beltrami. I thought it was a nice throwback to Jerry Goldmsith scores of old.
I think quite a bit of the hate this film has gotten is over the top and stems from ill will towards Fox, Trank and Michael B. Jordan for comments they said, things they may or not have done, and for trying to make a quick buck. And to be honest? I share the same ill will towards Fox and I have no problems with this film's lack of financial success. But that being said? I still think the critical backlash this film has gotten lately is a bit extreme. There are much worse superhero films out there than this Fantastic Four and much worse Fox movies to boot. I understand a lot of people want the rights of the Fantastic Four to go back to Marvel, but that by no means is an excuse to destroy a film and pick apart every issue it has and blow them up to ridiculous proportions. Because in the end? There is no guarantee Marvel's version of FF will be fantastic either. It could fail translate to the big screen just like most of the other films did for the majority of movie goers. And due to this film's reputation? Marvel will more than likely choose to not touch this franchise with a ten meter cattle prod. And I wouldn't blame them if they chose to do so. It seems the audience has spoken and what they are saying is that they don't like the Fantastic Four.
For me personally, I thought this was a nice stepping stone for the start of a new franchise, a solid origin with room for improvement and not the steaming pile of excrement so many people say that it is. And that's my opinion and I am sticking to it. And I strongly suggest those of you who haven't seen this film due to bad reviews and bad word of mouth? See it for yourselves and determine for sure whether or not you like it or not. Because the only way you can do that? Is if you actually see the movie. So check it out when it comes out on home video or at the theater for a matinee showing. Who knows? You might be surprised and you might enjoy it. Then again? You might not. But you will never know until you see it.
Rating: ***1/2 out of five stars(Above average entertainment due to a solid cast, an interesting concept, and some fun bits of action as well as shocking violence.)