Let’s be up front here. Firstly, the recent film releases based on Marvel Comics characters from any movie studio other than Marvel Studios have been a mixed bag at best and the poster child for this train of thought was last years ‘Fantastic Four’. Secondly, I am in no way defending the mixed bag results that the first two 20th Century Fox films based on Marvel’s First Family delivered during the last decade in any way shape or form, but at least they got part of the spirit of the characters right.
That’s the biggest issue I have with the 2015 reboot, but it is not the only issue I have with it. I will say that from a basic plot standpoint, I liked that they had the Fantastic Four being explorers, but the how and the why behind the main characters knowing each other and being a team was never fully fleshed out. This issue arises from the pre-planned sequel and not actually giving us even basic character development as the film went on.
Following up on that, the next massive downfall of ‘Fantastic Four’ was the tone of the film. We all know that audiences went bonkers for a dark and gritty Batman in the Christopher Nolan helmed Dark Knight trilogy, but not every superhero film needs to go that route, and no characters can be further from that thought than here. The Fantastic Four are a family, from the long standing marriage of Reed Richards and Susan Storm, to the playful adolescent pranks between Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm, they have always been a bright, loving and joking group of characters. That is not what we got in this film.
It was dark, it was gritty, there wasn’t a playfulness that we at least got in the original two films that Fox gave us last decade. The fingerprints of Nolan’s Batman were all over this film and it was both out of touch and not needed. Whether this direction was made by director Josh Trank, producer Simon Kinberg or someone higher up at Fox, this was entirely the wrong decision.
The decision to have Victor von Doom be a combination of his physical form and his protective suit resulted in a horrible look that actually makes me long for the black leather of Fox’s X-Men franchise. Tied directly into the dark and gritty, down to earth dynamic of this film, it was really the final straw on the proverbial camel’s back.
In the end, 20th Century Fox has just never gotten the Fantastic Four right, or their main adversary Doctor Doom. It really is a shame because they were Marvel’s first team, one that has some great stories and history but just never been put to film the way we would love to see.
‘Fantastic Four’ is a tough film to rate, but, end of the day, 1 tank-smashing Thing out of 5 seems a little more than fair. I wanted to like the science based explorers, but the forced realism killed that hope quickly.
As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer and check out the archives for older reviews. Cheers all!!!