I finally got around to seeing the new Fantastic Four (20th Century Fox) flick and it was a mixed bag. It had weaknesses, but it also had some surprising strengths. I detest being on anyone’s bandwagon in favor or against a movie or franchise, but I was admittedly put off on seeing this movie initially.
What worked for me
The Cast: Quite frankly, I liked the main cast. I think they all brought a serviceable element to each of the characters that I found somewhat refreshing. Unlike its more cartoonish predecessor, there was more depth to these revisioned characters. For all the whining and moaning some folks did about Michael B. Jordan, he was probably the second best representation of the original Fab 4. I believe the best was actually Ben Grimm (The Thing). Thankfully, they left the orange rubber suit in the shop and made The Thing look like – a thing. Pants or no pants, Jaime Bell brought more intrinsic value to Ben than Michael Chiklis did in two movies. What I found to be also a good knod was the underlying strife between Ben and Reed that is represented occasionally in the comics. Reed, for all his intelligence and resources, can’t put Ben Grimm back together again. Even in the comics, Reed has never been able to permanently reverse the effects on Ben. They’ve been to other worlds, other dimensions, fended off extra-dimensional and other-worldly beings, even created every device he could dream of – but he can’t reverse the effects on his family. Maybe – he secretly doesn’t want to. As a futurist, maybe Reed really sees that value of his family being exactly how they are.
The Origins: I’m not going to go into detail about the classic origin story of our motley crew, but this origin story was decent. Meaning, I sort of get and can appreciate that their powers were derived from an extra-dimensional sentience in another dimension. It’s obvious that their powers were GIVEN to them, and not accidental. It’s obvious that something on that world had other plans and they’re part of it. Even Doom, who ultimately became the avatar of that sentience was kept alive and given his powers for a specific reason. He pretty much said so. If there are future movies (seems 50/50 at this point), then they really should explore this aspect of what they were setting up.
What didn’t work for me
Doom (well, some aspects at least): I was one of many that was sort of turned off by some of the concepts released about Victor and not as thrilled by his overall Doom look. However, PRIOR to becoming the powerful madman, his set up as a character was actually pretty decent. Even his secret love of Sue Storm that has always been present even in the comics (see: Secret War comic series for more details). Again, I think the internet had it half right here. I think he was a much more compelling character prior to him being given his powers and becoming almost a slave to the sentience that gave him his powers. The one thing I always appreciated by the classic Doctor Doom was that he was NO ONE’S slave. No matter how he got his powers, he ALWAYS was a man who created his own destiny – it was never given to him. So when he was turned and it seemed he was more of a lapdog than a leader, I was underwhelmed by this plot point.
The End Battle Scene: Up until the ending, it was a fairly decent, middle of the pack movie. It wasn’t great, but I have seen much worse. I truly didn’t understand what the fuss was about – until the end.
In terms of climatic endings, it started off okay, but devolved quickly – and I mean that in terms of substance and timing. When it became evident that Doom wanted to be brought back to the base so that he could wreak havoc, I was okay with this. Using his telekinetic/psionic powers to explode heads and create wanton destruction – cool. When we finally got to the climatic fight scenes with the Fantastic Four, it was fairly mundane. I mean, his psionic powers don’t work on Reed and crew? I mean, that fight should have been over in mere seconds, but it was dragged out with a character that suddenly didn’t know how to use his powers more effectively when he just decimated a whole military squadron without lifting a finger? Can anyone say, plot-induced stupidity? I mean, they could have at least shown a scene where he tried to explode Reed’s head but for some reason couldn’t. Then you could say that there was something about the shared acquisition of their powers that limit what Doom could do to them, but – no. Either way, the last 10 minutes of the movie went by so quickly, it almost voided all the goodwill developed with me up until that point.
That’s A Wrap: Listen, it’s not a great movie. It just isn’t. It also is not the worst movie in the CBM genre – no. For all its faults, it had some really good strengths as well. If they could really reshoot that last scene and add about another 15-20 minutes… it would have been a decent, in the middle, CBM. Will FOX actually do a sequel? Well, I sort of hope they do because they have the elements and actors to do a really decent FF movie, but they need to get the plotting together to end on a decent note. I appreciate the fact that they stayed away from the clownish tone that the predecessor series took, but they sacrificed some inspiration for the sake of moving the movie along. It worked in some ways, but mostly didn’t in others. Outside of the first 20 minutes Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), the rest of the series is pure schlock and not worth my time. So what I hope the writers do, if given the chance, is take some notes and come back swinging with a stronger product.
I won’t say give this movie a chance, but I think if you’re not one to jump onto bandwagons, you may be more surprised than disappointed.
My overall reaction: