Fantastic Four (2015) (aka Fant4stic)

Fantastic Four’s 2015 reboot proves to be less than fantastic and more a victim of directorial and studio disputes, rendering it a completely mute, grey and uninspiring experience.

Reed Richards grew up from being a child science prodigy in his parents’ basement creating a working teleportation device. Hired by Professor Franklin Storm he completes the device and Reed, his best friend Ben, the professor’s son and daughter Johnny and Sue are sent through to another world. But when they do they gain superhuman powers, one’s limbs can stretch, another is now a beast made of rock, another can turn invisible and the final one can fly and turn into fire. While attempting to fix what’s happened to them, their other colleague, Victor, believed to be lost in the other dimension, returns…

This film has a good bit of talent behind it: director Josh Trank made waves with his debut film Chronicle, a gritty superhero found-footage film that graced my top ten of 2012; young actors including Miles Teller (Whiplash) and Michael B Jordan. Unfortunately what we get is not so much a mess, but a film without identity or story, or plot, or even decent editing or direction.

This film has some of the worst editing and continuity blunders I’ve seen in a long time, including example moments such as: Jordan’s Johnny Storm having a broken arm one scene, before he is suddenly welding metal one scene cut later, no broken arm in sight. Or our capital villain, Victor Von Doom, miraculously gaining a green cape from absolutely nowhere.
The list of errors and problems goes on, and this isn’t me nitpicking. The film has no structure; it is an origin story without character arcs, or conclusions. Again take the “Human Torch” Johnny Storm as an example: he is considered a rebel, not a team player, “he doesn’t take orders well”; this trait is established but never followed through, there is no conclusion for him as a character! And replicate that for every, single, character.

So for what happens, as a story, you don’t care a single iota for these characters, there is nothing to care for. The climax is rushed, the film is short at 100 minutes, there simply isn’t anything to hold on to.
The film is getting panned left, right and centre (apart from the seven-year olds) and deservedly so, I don’t suggest you pay money to see this.

But part of me is sad for Fantastic Four in light of the hatred being thrown at it. In my mind, Trank is a good enough director from Chronicle alone. He was even shortlisted to direct a new Star Wars movie because of it! But just recently… coincidentally… he has been pulled from that project. He has even been quoted to have had a better version of Fantastic Four a year ago… suggesting that 20th Century Fox pulled the rug from under him at the last moment and took matters into their own hands. Either that, or Trank simply wanted to mimic his first film and Fox, somehow, didn’t realise this when they took him on board.

It isn’t a good film, it is a disaster, there’s no chemistry and no sense of fun or intelligence, but there is a concept buried beyond recognition under so much rubble like Jamie Bell’s character; Trank had an idea. The only scene that strikes me as unique or even inspired, is the team’s transformation into their superhero personas. Trank was quoted to have used David Cronenberg films as reference, and these scenes are clearly such. These aren’t heroes being born; these are innocent people being turned into freaks, and though (one assumes) Fox twisted the film somehow into the bland, uneventful filler that now remains, that concept is unique and would directly counter the earlier campy Fantastic Four movies. A team of brilliant scientists reduced to monsters and how they can or cannot cope…

But, the film doesn’t do that, it doesn’t do anything, and will be forever remembered like the Amazing Spider-Man films, if not even worse than that. I feel terrible for Trank, if for creative differences he lost this and a Star Wars film, but for you filmgoer: you will want to skip this one.

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