- Posted by Giaco Furino
- On August 7, 2015
- 0 Comments
- fantastic four
Human Torch, The Thing, Mr. Fantastic, and Invisible Woman. These four superheroes, created originally by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, are a huge part of the reason we have popular superhero comics today. So everytime they announce a new Fantastic Four movie, I get excited and hopeful, because these are archetypal characters, and telling a fun story with them on screen should be easy. Apparently, it’s not easy… not at all. Apparently making a decent Fantastic Four movie is damn near impossible, and the internet wants to make sure you know all about it.
The consensus is in: people do not like this film. There’s a lot of nastiness floating around the web today, talking about the movie. Director Josh Trank’s been swimming through a miserable sea of bad press for this flick. His young stars have been forced to endure awkward interviews and he now claims there was a cut of the film that “would’ve received great reviews.”
Would this movie be receiving the same level criticism if there had been less drama behind the scenes and in the press junkets? Probably not. I feel bad for Fantastic Four, it had promise and there are things I really like about it. I’ll get to those later.
I’ll be brief about what didn’t work in this movie. Lots of other people are writing novellas about their distaste, but for me the main problem is plot. The entire story is origin story, and it’s painfully slow. We didn’t need this story. When the first Spider-Man movie came out, we spent a lot of time meeting Peter Parker, seeing that he was a dweeb, and reveling in his newfound powers. Here, we spend even more time sans-powers, but the characters are spread so thin that there’s no huge payoff when Ben Grimm turns into The Thing. Why do we care? We don’t. We’re given build up, build up, build up. How could that not all end in a let down?
The actors do their best. It’s a great cast, but there’s just not enough here. We spend almost fifteen minutes watching them build and develop their teleporter machine. Who Cares? How can a bright, pretty, diverse (thank god!) cast develop as characters when the screenwriters are more interested in showing… uh… I don’t know, metal being welded? Computers being tapped on? It’s weird.
Alright, yeah, you get it. It wasn’t great. Now watch me do something revolutionary: Watch me list all the things I liked about Fantastic Four.
First, the world feels lived in. They tried to sell it as “gritty” but it’s not really “gritty,” it’s just “real.” It’s not the shimmering Marvel universe or the Grim-As-Hell DC Universe we’ve grown accustomed to seeing.
Second, Dr. Doom. Dr. Doom’s powers are amazing. He’s essentially just a cold-blooded killer, busting people’s brains because he’s annoyed. He’s been abandoned, and even though his motivation is weak, I buy it because I think his character is the type of asshole who wouldn’t really need much of a motivation to kill people.
Third, Cast Chemistry. People complain that the actors are wooden or stiff, but I think there’s a sense of chemistry between these actors. I wonder if they all knew what was happening around them, and just decided to stick it out together. Their characters don’t have great chemistry, but I sense underneath the dialogue these people really like each other.
So there you go. That’s how I feel. I’m conflicted, of course, but that’s not a bad thing. Does it deserve a 10% on Rotten Tomatoes? No. I’d like to see a sequel, actually. Because these are fun, iconic characters, and the actors playing them are good at their jobs. But studios have got to get past this origin story obsession. They’ve got to trust the intelligence and imagination of the audience. They have to believe that the audience can figure out how, or imagine a situation where, a tough guy turns into a rock monster. If they don’t believe audiences can get through a story without an origin, then why tell stories at all?