By: Gere Iverson - MSTv Contributor @mstv01
First off, film director, Josh Trank has nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of regarding this film. Trying to stand and compete in the face of Marvel Studios previous multi-billion dollar grossing films is a daunting task of itself. But all in all, Trank and his film got a bad rap that wasn't entirely deserved.
Apparently, numerous fans, critics and some ticket consumers might have gone into this, entirely different style film, expecting "Avengers Assemble," repulsor rays, or shield-slinging type action, but found only disappointment.
Well, that's usually what you get when you expect too much. From anything.
That being said, realize that this current incarnation of Marvel's first family, isn't nearly as bad as the majority critics would have you believe. Fantastic Four is a film with problems. Sometimes, major problems.. But, its a relatively entertaining film, with promise, that degenerates into more of the Roger Corman film version at its ending.
Like its mainstream Marvel film universe stars, this new film "borrows" a lot of its plot from the Ultimate Marvel Fantastic Four comic series. (IE: The characters are younger and contemporary.) As happens in both cases, the "foursomes" are drawn into a think-tank to work and become "fantastic" due to the consequences of their work.
Its on these ideas and execution, where the film works best. It begins with brilliant nerd Reed Richards discovering partial teleportation and also making a new best friend in the hardened outcast, Ben Grimm. Years later, Richards then refines his work to completion and is discovered by Franklin Storm, administrator of the Baxter Building; a government funded think-tank, who wants to use Reed's findings on a massive scale. Reed meets and befriends the Storm siblings, Sue and Johnny" along with misfit science outcast, Victor Von Doom. This all builds to our science whiz kids first solving the teleportation problems and then wanting be the Neil Armstrongs' of a new dimension.
Three wonder-kids (Reed, Johnny and Victor) make the road trip to Planet Zero and drag Ben Grimm along for who knows what. Then, stuff goes horribly wrong in the new world. Von Doom appears to die there and the other three barely make it back to our earth; although they're badly injured up and "changed." Also, Sue gets a blast of the mutating energy, on the guys arrival back, and goes through changes as well. Tragedy abounds in the Baxter Building..
Now, this film's major reason for being is this build up and its aftermath. Yet strangely enough, its at this point where the movie starts to fail.
We're given a nice linear generic, yet entertaining story in the first 2/3rds of the film. Then we get both tragic and action sequences that go nowhere and have you asking questions that are never answered.
The ending portions are littered with weak plot points like Richards deciding to run away, rather than help cure or understand the other mutated three. Or Von Doom being alive, then brought back to Earth seemingly all-powerful; yet now wishing to destroy his home planet. And a final showdown that just looked "Corman version" crappy with bad special effects and Reed (Miles Teller) badly posturing, trying to look like a leader. These few things alone just took away all the steam this movie had in its beginnings. And In the end, I think it truly was its endings that help damage this film.
But, as I said before, Fantastic Four isn't horrible by a longshot. Its just different. It took risks that many objected to, but they worked nicely anyway. And it gave the fans and critics another view of a Marvel film universe with concepts the Marvel universe proper has difficulty portraying: family and unity. Remember, everybody fights everybody at Marvel.
And despite a very weak ending and a spotty plot on the whole, this new cinematic version of the Fantastic Four tries to convey the principals that made its characters Marvel comics launching pad over 50 years ago. And while this film didn't do a great job of equaling that feat, it didn't horribly dishonor it either.
So stop being swayed by the hype and go see this, slightly above a Sci-Fi channel movie, without expectations. A good effort at a decent movie deserves that much at least. And, Mr Trank did make a good effort.