Josh Trank's Fantastic Four is a much more character-focused reboot, nailing the hard sci-fi tone and becoming one of the most engaging comic book movies ever with little to no action involved, but it fizzles out with a deflating third act that almost ruins everything before it.
Josh Trank‘s Fantastic Four is Fox’s attempt and reviving a failed series of films by taking a much stronger focus on its characters and a darker approach on the tone of the story. And Trank almost succeeds, with a film that sticks to its hard sci-fi roots and rarely bothers with unneeded action, but Fantastic Four crumbles during its last act, which is a rushed batch of mindless CGI spectacle that downplays all of the hard work that came before it. Still, Fantastic Four‘s core cast is strong and Trank’s direction is fun and simple.
Reed Richards (Miles Teller) is a brilliant young scientist that goes to work for Dr. Storm (Reg E. Cathey) alongside Storm’s adopted daughter Sue (Kate Mara) and his son Johnny (Michael B. Jordan).
Together, with the help of a few others; the team manages to crack the secrets of inter-dimensional travel which teleports them to a new universe where they hope to find the answers to life and possibly a way to save our dying planet.
But things go wrong and the team returns altered, with each being given a super power.
Reed has the ability to stretch, while Sue can bend the visible spectrum and Johnny can turn into flames. Also effected is Reed’s childhood friend Ben (Jamie Bell) who now takes the shape of a giant rock known as The Thing.
Together they are the Fantastic Four — one of Marvel’s oldest batch of characters that just can’t seem to be cracked on film, with this version acting as a reboot of the series that spawned a sequel not too long ago and also featured Captain America aka Chris Evans.
Josh Trank‘s Fantastic Four takes a different approach to the characters and source material, grounding itself in hard sci-fi and spending more time focusing on the team and the build up versus the actual action.
There’s almost no action in Trank’s Fantastic Four and that feels beyond refreshing, because the film works so well when it’s focused on its characters and telling their story.
And I think that’s something that Chronicle director Josh Trank should be incredibly proud of. Fantastic Four works so well leading up into the final act, which definitely smells of studio involvement.
Once the final action sequence settles in the film completely fizzles out and everything feels like a giant rush of CGI to the brain.
The film’s villain is almost forgotten and then suddenly comes into full play as Trank’s character-focused drama turns into yet another summer tent pole film.
Fantastic Four‘s simple ideas and strong efforts are all but wasted on one of the quickest team-up fights in recent memory. There’s no escalating action or even a reasoning behind Doom’s (the film’s barely bad buy) sudden craving for world-sized destruction.
But that doesn’t ruin the film completely. Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell coherently form a strong bond between each other and give the film’s team efforts a strong boost.
Teller sticks out as the film’s core focus, but Jordan, Mara and Bell all play their parts in making the entire film feel complete. I will admit that there really isn’t a specific standout performance, with most thinking that Jordan was going to steal the show or that Teller was going to carry the film, instead they all react to each other perfectly and help setup the strong groundwork that is needed when telling a team-based superhero film.
If anything, Bell’s The Thing gets the least amount of emotional weight, but he also packs the biggest punch amongst the group.
Josh Trank‘s Fantastic Four isn’t nearly as bad or as disappointing as most say that it is. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it gets most things right. Trank does a splendid job nailing the sci-fi tone and capturing the team feel, while the core actors give the film its legs.
Unfortunately, the film’s deflating last act fizzles things out rather quickly and the entire film is left feeling like a set up, but no payoff. That being said — I hope Trank gets the opportunity to continue his story, which is sounding less and less likely.
This version of Fantastic Four is definitely the best, despite its somewhat major flaws.
Fantastic Four is a character first, action second type of superhero film that deserves a spot this summer next to the endless roster of other Marvel films. Its simple intentions shouldn’t be mistaken for shallow storytelling and instead act as a reminder that sometimes a bond between characters and a story that thrives on their connections can be better than watching them mindlessly defeat an enemy in a high-stakes battle for the world.
Now if only Trank could have paced this out a little better and actually given us a satisfying conclusion.