Plot: What’s it about?
It’s not unusual for stars to look back on some of their work and admit it was never that great. Heck, even musical artists will admit when they don’t care for one of their albums. Usually, it’s after the fact. Possibly in an interview where they look back on their work. With 2015’s Fantastic Four, however, Director Josh Trank took to twitter to tweet his displeasure with the film. He blamed the studio for chopping the film to bits as well as stating that his original version will never be seen. He soon deleted the tweet, but that’s never a good sign. Trank’s issues aside, the film was always going to have an uphill battle. The 2005 film (and its subsequent sequel) were never big hits with audiences and critics alike. This reboot attempts to take things in another direction. Truthfully, the film probably isn’t as bad as you’ve heard, but it’s still a heavily flawed film that seems to end before it even begins.
We begin with childhood friends Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell). Richards has been working on a teleporter device. As we flash forward to present time, Reed’s device has attracted the attention of Professor Storm (Reg E. Cathey). His son Johnny (Michael B. Jordon) is something of a troublemaker, but also a great technician. He also has an adoptive daughter, Sue (Kate Mara) who is a scientist. These four, along with Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) are assigned a mission to go to a dimension known as “Planet Zero” to study it. Things go wrong, and all five of them are then transformed. Sue Storm has the power to become invisible. Richards can stretch his limbs. Johnny can turn himself into a flame while Grimm has become the thing. Victor is left behind, but he’ll eventually become the villain, Dr. Doom. The four friends are placed in government custody so they can be studied and contained. Reed manages to escape and we flash forward to a year later before he’s eventually found. There’s a great deal of setup here before the all-too-brief climax.
I’ll admit that the film wasn’t quite as bad as many would have you believe, but it’s also heavily flawed. I’ve never found the Fantastic Four to be the most interesting of superheroes. But there’s always potential for a good film to be made. A few of the issues I had was with the tone. I suppose they wanted to veer away from the silly tone of the other films, but this film tries a bit too hard to be dark. Also, the 2005 film at least kept things moving. We’re confined to a single space during a large portion of this film. I just kept waiting for things to move outside the lab and into the world a bit more. The climax also feels rushed. There’s so much buildup here and then the film just sort of ends. Motives become a problem as well. We’re never quite sure what Doom’s plan is as he starts off as their friend, then just sort of becomes evil. We have a talented cast here, but they’re not given a whole lot to do. Ultimately, I think the 2005 film has this one beat simply because it’s more fun. It had more on an identity of its own. I’m not sure if we will ever see the film as it was originally envisioned, but the final film does feel a bit incomplete. The trailers also included several scenes missing from the final cut. I’d advise a rental to check it out for yourself, but it’s hard to recommend more than that. Not terrible, but it ultimately feels like another missed opportunity.
Video: How’s it look?
Though the movie might have been panned, don’t let it deter you from what’s happening visually. This looks, in a word, well…fantastic! The 2.39:1 AVC HD image is a delight to watch and superhero movies are among the very best to watch and see all the little trinkets and such on screen. The flames from the Human Torch, the detail in the Thing’s “skin” and the elasticity of Mr. Fantastic. The film runs the gamut of the color spectrum, though a lot of darker scenes tend to dominate. I saw no evidence of black crush, shadow detail remained solid and strong and flesh tones (putting aside one is rock and the other is on fire part of the time) seemed accurate. Say what you will about the film, but it looks downright amazing.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The included DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack also doesn’t disappoint. I was halfway expecting this to feature a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, then again I don’t own an Atmos decoder so I guess it really wouldn’t mattered. But look – let’s all face it, we know what to expect when watching a superhero movie, especially one with the catchphrase “It’s clobberin’ time!” LFE are very active, providing a depth to the soundtrack that I didn’t really expect. Dialogue is rich and pure, though I do have a hard time seeing Jamie Bell as the Thing. Directional effects are used frequently and with great results as it provides an almost dizzying 360 degree soundstage. For what it’s worth – this is one of the better soundtracks that I’ve heard in a while.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Powering Up: Superpowers of the Fantastic Four – A brief rundown on what it is that makes them so fantastic. I found “The Invisible Girl’s” name a bit difficult, so I’m glad they explained it to us.
- Concept Art
- Planet Zero
- Quantum Gates
- The Quantum Gates – Miles Teller (Mr. Fantastic) explains some of his research into Theoretical Physics to “prepare” for his role and make it seem more authentic. We also get some producers explain the hypothesis of the Quantum Gates (i.e. teleporting to another world).
- Planet Zero – Another all too brief feature in which we get a look at the “creation” of the planet in which our heroes gain their powers.
- The Score
The Bottom Line
I still remain a bit mixed on the film as it’s neither as terrible as most would have you believe, but still far from a great (or even good) film. I do think a rental is in order, but nothing more. Hopefully one day we might get to see a film closer to how Trank originally envisioned it.