I Watched Fantastic Four and It Was Not That Bad
The 2015 Fantastic Four film scores nine percent on Rotten Tomatoes (as of this writing, January 10, 2016). Nine. Like, out of one hundred. That’s pretty harsh. Look, I know that neither the director nor the studio was happy with the way the film was made or the way it turned out. But for a film about The Fantastic Four, was this really that bad?
I’m generally a pretty positive critic; I usually hang on the good parts of a film, and unless I’m cringing, I can forgive a lot. I had heard that this was to be a “grounded, gritty version” of the Fantastic Four story, and for the most part I thought it was that. Was I cheering to myself the whole time I was watching it? No. Is it the greatest comic book movie I’ve ever seen. No. But, was it a watchable fantasy film, with characters and a story that were believable enough? It was for me. I mean, for anyone who’s complained that other superhero films were too colorful and cartoony, this is definitely an alternative.
I thought that many parts of the film worked well. I liked the way the way the film painted a picture of Reed Richards as a young super-genius. I thought the way the characters came together and their relationships with the powers that be felt pretty true to the day. The initial action sequences before and during when the groups get their powers felt almost appropriately strange – something I find missing from almost every superhero film in which a character has a new power thrust upon them. That would be pretty unsettling, right? I’d love to see a film really spend some time on how weird that would feel. And I thought the styling and effects of The Thing worked well.
I’m not saying it was perfect or that there weren’t some things that I wish had been different. The Ben Grimm character and his story seemed grossly underdeveloped, almost as if his whole storyline had been cut out. And yeah, both the strange energy of the dimension that the crew visits and the way it affects Victor Von Doom just didn’t seem to have enough of an explanation. But anyone that reads comics knows that they aren’t all classics. Some are just OK. I’ll take a so-so superhero movie over another show about doctors or senators any day.
I was a huge fan of director Josh Trank’s Chronicle. What was great about Chronicle is that it had superpowers and visual effects but managed to show us how a film that didn’t sensationalize these things would look and feel. It really helped you think about what might “really” happen if a few people acquired supernatural powers. The characters engage in some harmless mischief at first. But as they test their abilities, some of them are able to hold to their ideals, and others are not. So while Fantastic Four may not have lived up to everyone’s hopes, I don’t feel like like it was completely unsuccessful, and I hope Josh Trank gets a chance to do some more big films. I do feel like in this day and age when it’s so easy for so many people to publish reviews so quickly, that once a few bad comments crop up, that a lot of people tend to “pile on”, especially on popular review sites like Rotten Tomatoes, and that this can exaggerate how good or bad a film is. Even the awful 1997 Batman & Robin (the one with George Clooney) has a rating better than nine percent.