Fantastic Four has not had much luck with critics, the nerd community, or box office numbers in its cinematic universe. This newest incarnation had the potential to right the ship for this franchise. Simon Kinberg, the writer of the amazing comicbook adaptation of Xmen: Days of Future Past was involved in the writing of Fantastic Four. Josh Trank, a rising young director who was coveted for several other projects directed the film. And the cast was composed of some of the most notable rising young stars in Hollywood. The formula was complete, they couldn’t mess this movie up right? While Fantastic Four is not a horrible movie, it is well short of its adjective namesake.
When I think of the word fantastic, I think of excellence, elation, expectation. This film fell well short of my expectations. I was hoping against hope that this movie would turn out to be good. I didn’t even care if it was great. I wasn’t expecting a Days of Future Past or a Captain America Winter Soldier type of quality. Yet this film can be summed up in a single word, disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, not everything about the film is bad. The acting was good. In fact, the actors performed admirably considering what they had to work with.
The first half of the film, while slow, was actually pretty good. I really appreciated what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish. The film does connect with the spirit of the Fantastic Four. The team of scientists originally had darker tales dealing with monsters and alternate realms. This film captures that aspect of the Fantastic Four well. However, the execution seemed flawed. The film may have placated too much to the sci-fi elements of the Fantastic Four and not enough to the comicbook superhero elements. The result was a film that took itself too seriously, was completely dry and dull, and never seemed to provide a connection to the audience.
After viewing the movie, I didn’t even care to see a sequel. Not because the movie disgusted me in anyway, on the contrary the film may be a nice little TBS or TNT flick to play in the background as you finish up some chores around the house. The second half of the film felt completely different then the first. It’s similar to Ang Lee’s Hulk in that it took a slow approach that never really climaxed. The filmmakers tried something different but couldn’t quite get the pacing right and ended up with a rather boring movie that tried to play catch-up in the final sequences.
The plot was bland and slow to develop. The story never really settled into a cohesive plot. The mission was clear in the first couple of sequences. Then it was as if the second half of the film was from another movie. There was no true character development in this movie. Yes there was character motion, characters however seems to be shifting horizontally rather than vertically on a path to maturation.
There were so many subplots that were hinted at and introduced that never got resolved or even developed. I’m not sure if that was bad writing or direction, possibly both. The writing was mediocre at best. There were some nice nuggets in there that had minor payoffs down the chain. But mostly the lack of character development and inability to utilize different dramatic dynamics that were forming amongst the team of five scientists is inexcusable.
The most depressing aspect of the fantastic failure is the wasted opportunity for Fox to finally produce a good Fantastic Four film. There were elements of the story that really had potential. I felt it truly was on the cusp of being good. Yet it will be another wasted opportunity for Fox.
So much was at stake for Fox. If successful, Fox could have developed a join cinematic universe between Xmen and the Fantastic Four. Could it have rivaled the Avengers? We’ll never know now. There is a small chance of that occurring after the box office results of the movie are released. But don’t fret Fantastic Four fans. Fox’s experiment with a Fantastic Four movie franchise is all but finished. Fox will not produce another film, allowing the movie rights to revert back to Marvel who will include the team in its slate by the end of Phase 5.