Slowly but surely, I’m catching up on my movie watching. I’m finally setting aside some time and watching films I’ve been meaning to see for months, and in some cases, years. And recently, I decided to do so with 2015’s Fantastic Four reboot. This, in all honesty, was out of pure curiosity, because I had not heard a single good review about this movie. I simply had to know why! What made it such a disappointment? Why did it fail? Was it really as terrible as everyone said? After finishing the film, I have a clear answer for you.
Directed and written by Josh Trank, this film should have been one of the best superhero movies ever made. This is the same guy who helped create the story for, as well as directed 2012’s Chronicle, a movie about three high school students who gain superpowers and must learn to embrace the darker sides of themselves. It also starred Michael B. Jordan and in my opinion was an absolute masterpiece. I was extremely excited when I found out that he would be at the helm of this reboot, waiting to see the combination of dark and light that he’d bring to the characters. However, what should have been a giant success instead flopped, leaving fans disappointed and wondering where it all went wrong.
I think the film had a solid start. Whenever you’re introducing a new character, let alone a whole new team into a superhero universe, you need to do it with care. You need the audience to form a connection with these characters, and that takes time and background. Trank gave us this. I found myself wondering why everyone hated this film so passionately. I didn’t see anything wrong with it at all! I felt satisfied with the casting choices and thought the chemistry between the main cast was great. It really felt like it was heading in a good direction.
That is, of course, until I decided to pause to get a snack, realizing that there was approximately an hour left of the film, and they still hadn’t gotten their powers.
Reed, Ben, Johnny, and Victor arrive at Planet Zero, and things start to feel a little rushed and forced. Within what feels like only a few moments, the group is running away, trying to get off of the planet, and, supposedly, Victor von Doom dies. They make it back to Earth, and at this point there’s probably around 45 minutes left of the film. Let me put this into perspective. This means that they have 45 minutes to introduce the powers, explain the powers, hint at and explain Victor’s survival, develop a decent plot and threat, have an epic climax, and save the world. 45 minutes. It simply isn’t possible. Trank didn’t give himself enough time or, quite frankly, plot to work with. I think if Fantastic Four had been an hour longer, it could have lived up to its name. We would rather sit for three hours watching an incredible movie than two hours feeling disappointed.
The timing was definitely the biggest problem with the movie. After gaining their powers, Sue, Ben, Reed, and Johnny are taken and kept in a government facility, which Reed quickly escapes from. In a desperate attempt to force the plot along, a caption appears on the screen reading, “1 year later”. This moment feels like the point of no return, in my opinion. We don’t get to see our heroes adapt to their powers or struggle with accepting them, which is an incredibly important part of superhero stories.
Thanks to Reed, a new team is ready to travel to Planet Zero, where they discover an apparently alive Victor von Doom. There’s really no explanation to this, and this is the first we are hearing of him since Ben, Johnny, and Reed left the strange land. Victor has become incredibly power-hungry and wants to rule Planet Zero as well as destroy the Earth. He believes in starting fresh. He escapes and returns to the planet, and the Fantastic Four follow him. What was interesting is that, for me, the battle that ensues somehow feels too long and too short at once.
The problem with the fight is that it feels very thrown together. The team actually admits that Victor is too strong for them to possibly defeat, and yet two minutes later they defeat him. Dr. Doom is one of the most powerful comic villains, and yet you wouldn’t know it from the movie. The extent of his power and danger is really not portrayed well, and therefore the great threat that he posed didn’t feel that great. We love superheroes and love to hate the villains because we want someone to root against. We didn’t know Victor well enough or long enough to really hate him, which was a huge problem. Not to mention that Trank attempted to include the heroes’ catchphrases at really inconvenient times. Ben saying, “It’s clobbering time!” as he is about to pummel Victor doesn’t feel bad ass or funny as much as it does obvious. And earlier in the film when Johnny says, “flame on”, it almost feels like an afterthought and doesn’t get the audience excited as it should.
Don’t get me wrong, the beginning of this film showed all sorts of potential. And perhaps it was meant as nothing more than an introduction. Take DC’s most recent success, Suicide Squad, for example. The film introduced us to many new characters, and as such, the plot suffered. It may have received many negative reviews, but thanks to that film we are now getting a Harley Quinn solo movie! Perhaps there was a similar hope with Fantastic Four, but I think there simply wasn’t enough development and substance to warrant a sequel. I had high hopes but was left with low opinions and a lot of disappointment. Maybe we can just pretend the last hour didn’t happen?
What did you think of the film? Let me know in the comments!