One can see where Josh Trank wanted to go with his reboot of Fantastic Four, 20th Century Fox’s latest large scale investment on maintaining their rights to one of Marvel’s more significant franchises. This is a darker, grittier and significantly better entry way into the F4 universe and for the film’s opening act this is the sort of film that would’ve revitalized the franchise in the same way First Class brought a new depth to the X-Men. Unfortunately the film takes too long in its opening act and winds up having the same profound flaws as the first two films earlier.
That pair of films last decade are usually on most lists of the worst of the genre during its peak years since Iron Man and Batman Begins led the way with comic book films as both great popcorn genre and potentially great movies. The franchise now has been wisely rebooted, mainly so that the comic book group doesn’t wind up back in the hands of Marvel Studios and their ever expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. One imagines that with the rights to the franchise Marvel would’ve had them slotted in instead of the Guardians of the Galaxy as the first major expansion outside of anything directly Avengers related. Now, with perhaps up to a decade before Fox has to make a film or let the rights revert back to Disney, the preeminent comic book group is back but Trank’s version has the same flaws as Tim Story’s films did.
The reboot changes part of the premise behind the group. Reed Richards (Miles Teller) is a mad genius of a child who dreams of creating a teleportation device. He’s aided by his best friend Ben (Jamie Bell) as a youth. When his science fair project by a scientist (Reg E. Cathey) and his daughter Sue (Kate Mara), Reed is brought in to finish up a project long in the gestation: interdimensional travel. Aided by Sue’s brother Johnny (Michael B Jordan) and Sue’s ex boyfriend Victor (Toby Kebbell), they succesfully build a machine capable of just that. Unfortunately interdimensional travel is as dangerous as it sounds and Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben all wind up with superpowers from the accident.
Victor does, as well, and he winds up with an even worse version of Doctor Doom than Julian McMahon was given during the Story series.
The film’s main problem is the one that plagued Story’s first film: it spends entirely too much time on the origin and not enough for everything. This is a film that uses most of its economy up front, during the origin, and we don’t have any progress in the film’s opening act until a wide swath of its run time is already over. At 100 minutes this is a film that takes agonizingly long to get through the origin, with much of what could’ve been interesting about the aftermath of the acquiring of super powers being given minimal screen time.
This is a film that focuses on the origin for far too long of its fairly short running time; this is a film that feels like Josh Trank had it pulled from him when he delivered a two hours plus film and was edited down significantly. There’s a feeling that something brilliant is going to come of this throughout as Trank has a brilliant opening act. For the film’s first hour there feels like this is an hour into something very brilliant … and then the film immediately decides to go the final song and dance quickly and ruthlessly.
It’s reminiscent of 2005’s Fantastic Four in that manner, which is a shame because the opening act of this film is everything that film was supposed to be. Trank’s opening act feels like the beginning of something special as he has the perfect cast to reboot this franchise. This might be the best casted origin film of the modern Marvel era; this is a good, young cast of very good actors who in a better film would grow with the film organically. This feels like a film that could wind up allowing Marvel to recapture the rights to the franchise because Fox clearly wants to change the square peg for its round hole.
Josh Trank has discussed in the run up to this film that he had a much better film given to Fox a year ago that was ruined in the post production and editing processes. I’d like to have seen that film instead of this film. As it is Fantastic Four is merely a recreation of the first 20th Century Fox version with a darker vision and a lot of the same flaws.
Director: Josh Trank Writer: Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater, Josh Trank based on “Fantastic Four” created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby Notable Cast: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey
Scott Sawitz is an Inside Pulse original. He's also been featured on The Ultimate Fighter.com, Fox Sports.com, Nerdcore Movement.com, CagePotato.com, Inside Fights.com and Film Arcade.net (among others). When Scott isn't writing about film he's making his own. Check out Drunk Justice Productions right here.