THREE GUYS AND… A MOVIE
series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson
“FANTASTIC FOUR” (2015)
written by Dominick Cappello
I can’t wait until 2035 when we’ll get “The Death of Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four: What Happened?” documentary. In the past year, I’ve been of the opinion that some critics (not all) are way too happy to trash blockbusters (unless it’s the MCU). More interested in notoriety, spending more time trying to get you to subscribe to their YouTube channel and to follow them on Twitter than they actually do analyzing the film. Was Josh Trank’s film deserving of all the hate? Well, even he disowned the film on social media the day before it was released, so where there’s smoke, there must be fire.
Josh Trank took inspiration from the work of David Cronenberg. Having our protagonists get sloshed before testing their teleportation device on themselves was an obvious nod to “The Fly” (1986) and Dr. Doom exploding people’s heads telepathically was reminiscent of “Scanners” (1981). The Fantastic Four are cheesy characters, but Josh Trank was obsessed with body horror. Mr. Fantastic is a bookish rubber man. It’s hard to make that dark and grim. Fox Studios panicked and reshot half the film so to make it more of a fun, popcorn adventure, like the MCU. The theatrical cut of the film is perplexing. Not totally unwatchable as some have said, but still underwhelming.
Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm has so little screen time before he transforms into The Thing that it’s almost unfair to critique his performance. It seems that he was the biggest causality of the major reshoots and restructuring of the film. Almost every key shot of Ben Grimm / The Thing from the trailers ended up on the cutting room floor. Toby Kebbell as Victor Von Doom was the most fully realized character (believe it or not) despite him looking like a plutonium sex doll in the final act of the film. I understood him resenting Reed Richards and him wanting to be the first man to step foot onto Planet Zero. Too bad they didn’t go to Planet X, where they could have watched Godzilla and Rodan fight King Ghidorah. On the other hand, no one can justify how imbecilic Reed Richards is no matter how drunk he was supposed to be. He never should have been as reckless as Victor Von Doom. Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm were the voices of reason that Reed Richards should have been. Victor should have gone to Planet Zero on his own and then the others (including Sue Storm) try to mount a rescue mission. That’s when they’d get bombarded by cosmic rays and acquire their fantastic superpowers.
Josh Trank’s intended for his film to be well over two hours long, but what was released in theaters was only an hour and forty minutes long. Hmm… Almost sounds like “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” (1987) syndrome to me. The Fantastic Four gain their powers about forty-five minutes into the film. It was like watching the first part of a two-part pilot episode of a new superhero TV series. I was almost expecting a title card which reads “To be continued…” to pop up. Fifty-five minutes into the film is when the story skips ahead an entire year. Wow, that’s so peculiar. Since there have been so many superhero films in the past several years, I guess I can see omitting the whole them getting use to their powers portion of story because we’ve seen it a zillion times, but then it has to happen much earlier in the film. Have the accident which creates The Fantastic Four occur in a James Bond pre-title sequence. Then, after the title sequence, resume the story years later with a seasoned team of superheroes. But, after the one-year time jump, Sue and Johnny are still trying to master their abilities. So, what was the point? It could have been a month later. The government has been using The Thing as an operative, but those scenes were almost all cut from the film, so the time jump served little to no purpose.
Reed abandons his friends after they’ve been turned into monstrosities (for some reason) and never returns (for some reason). He claimed that he was of no use to them, but then he easily solves all of the problems with the teleportation devices in a matter minutes, so he probably should have come back sooner. The film is virtually in fast forward after his return. Victor returns as Dr. Doom and now he’s like a radioactive alien or something. He’s starts killing everyone at Area 57, which is totally different than Area 51 I’m sure, and then returns to Planet Zero to create a black hole that will destroy the Earth. Whoever was in charge of this film at this point seemed to be scrambling for an action-packed climax that would compensate for everything else that was lacking. The Fantastic Four unite and destroy Dr. Doom. They return to Earth and are given their own covert superhero headquarters. The end.
I don’t think we’ll see a sequel or even a director’s cut anytime soon. The franchise is dead in the water. Placing the blame should be its own separate article, so I won’t rant about that now. Overall, “Fantastic Four” (2015) was fine to sit through once (or twice for this article) but I just can’t imagine that I’ll watch it again. It wasn’t quite as bad as everyone says. It wasn’t awful. It was subpar. Everyone make way for The Subpar Four. Not coming to a theater near you.
– Dr. Rochester