|Fuck the Haters|
Score: 4 out of 5 Limbs That You Can Stretch Impossibly
Review: I think the first thing I have to do is justify my score because I think that's what people are going to bust my balls the most about. I liked this movie, I read a lot of hate about this movie, I read a lot of hate in the months leading up to this movie. In many ways I think people were programmed to hate this movie which lead to a lot of stupid nit picking. I'm not above nit picking but I typically only start nit picking when there is nothing else for my brain to hold on to. If there is nothing of value beneath the surface than I have no choice but to focus on the surface. So I went into this movie as open as I possibly could be, critical but open. When so many people demand that you feel a particular way about something I think it's important to examine why. Alright, the score. The movie, at it's objective core, is well shot, well edited, for the most part well paced and well acted. The scenes are composed well and I can't take anything away from the principal cast because every single one of them did the best job they could and that's obvious and any weakness in the script, I feel, is more than made up for by everything else they did well. Just for those core competencies this movie gets a 3 out of 5. I give it the extra point because it tried for something different. It's success is up for debate but because it tried for something different it gets an automatic point.
It's negatives are, in my opinion, relatively few. I heard people put down Doom, I thought it was a great Doom. Before his transformation he's overbearing and arrogant, afterwards he's threatening and dangerous. Much better than the last Doom but it's sad that the closest literal translation of Doom has been the 1994 Roger Corman version. That Doom was loud and bombastic as Doom should be. Doom should be theatrical, Doom speaks in third person because Doom wants everyone to know who he is and loudly so that everyone can hear him! That being said I liked this Doom, he feels like a good character and a worthy opponent. I did read condemnations of the movies pacing and while I felt the pacing was pretty good throughout I will admit to feeling like the climax was a little rushed. I can't think of a single thing I would cut so I probably would have tried to make this a 2 hour movie, the plot probably would have benefited from the extra 20 minutes. I felt, that while you would struggle to quantify the characters as 3D, they are at least 2D and all things considered that's good enough for me. Probably the closest to 3D we have is Reed who is given the most layers while Miles Teller pulls the most he can in every scene he's in. Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell are given a lot less but do quite a bit with what they have. The friendships they form feel organic and natural and there seems to be a real bond between the characters. However I also liked the Peter/Harry friendship in Amazing Spider-Man 2 so take that how you will. Nit picky things would be the fact that we see Ben Grimm reviewing tape from a mission for the government and there's a kill counter that displays 40+ confirmed kills. It was implied that Grimm had been doing missions like that for a year but we are never confronted with any repercussions due to that revelation. Is he conflicted over the people he's hurt? Is he ever held accountable for that body count? Also Reed escapes the facility right after their transformation and leaves them there for a year, we see that he was working on something in that time but what that was wasn't ever revealed. That sequence is the set up for some really great moments between Ben and Reed but if I were to cut something that whole section would have been it as it leaves a lot open. I wouldn't categorize any of these plot holes as movie breaking and they are no more or less egregious than any other film currently being made. Plot holes are, unfortunately, a by-product of plot and plot is unavoidable.
I think the main issue is that people went into this movie thinking it would be Avengers. This movie is not Avengers. This movie is more like the original Tron, a science fiction character piece with light action elements. This movie is to Avengers what Alien is to Aliens. Two completely different genres. This movie is a Ridley Scott movie where as Avengers is a James Cameron movie. This movie has a focus on character with major body horror elements and an action scene climax. The action is not what defines this movie. Avengers has character elements surrounding action scene set pieces; plot and character are second to action. In every place that you would expect a typical action beat you have moments of body horror. The second act, instead of ending in an action scene, you have detailed views of how these four people have been deformed and that's how the movie treats them, as deformities. Reed with his gross elongated limbs stretched in every direction, the veins bulging and muscles spasming. Sue blinking in and out of visibility, vulnerable, exposed; so exposed that you catch glimpses of her nervous system and organs. Johnny having violent, explosive seizures that result is his room filling with flame. Finally poor Ben crying out for his best friend, panicked, confused, in pain. When Reed sees his best friend through a grate in the ceiling he just sees this partial formed Thing struggling to move. This movie is a downer because what's happening is not a joyful thing. That's the risk this movie takes, it decides to treat the Fantastic Four in the way we would treat them in real life. This is less like Captain America and more like Batman Begins. I appreciated what it tried to do and I would argue that it succeeded in doing it.
I read in my Facebook feed that Sony is reaching out to the fans for what should be next. That's a terrible idea. When you let fanboys decide your movie you get X-Men 3. That movie was helmed by a dispassionate directer taking cues from fanboys. "Have you seen the Juggernaut YouTube video? It would be funny if he said "I'm the Juggernaut bitch!" "Wouldn't it be cool if Magneto hovered a whole bridge?" "I want to see Sentinals! And the Fastball Special!", "Wolverine don't take no orders!". If you put a utility, studio directer in there with a mandate by fans fans will produce shit. It's much better to have someone who appreciates the material, is passionate about making the material into a good movie and then use them as a filter for fan desire. I think they had that with Josh Trank and this cast. My personal opinion is much like Alien or Batman Begins the next movie should just change in tone. Alien when from a tense, body horror space thriller to an intense, fast paced action movie. Batman Begins went from a plodding crusade for one mans redemption against systemic corruption to a much more interesting psychological battle between two extreme ideologies. That's what would benefit Fantastic Four, we've done the body horror now lets dive into what it means to be a hero with these deformities. How do you make space lemonade out of these super science lemons? I liked this movie, it doesn't deserve all the hate and negativity. Give it a real chance and I think you might like it too.