Well I did it. I went and saw the new Fantastic Four movie.
Directory Josh Trank (Chronicles) did the movie no favors on Thursday when he tweeted, and later deleted, the following (caught via screen grab for your benefit):
The appropriate response to this can only be:
Why would you distance yourself from the movie unless you want to come off as a bitter, petulant child? It’s sour grapes, in my opinion. But maybe that’s how Hollyweird works…try to wash the hands of a negatively-perceived project in hopes of saving face. I just don’t know.
Furthermore, from Trank’s own mouth in a recent episode of Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman, he said he didn’t follow all of the hype around Chronicle as it neared its release. He even had to be told that his movie was Number 1 at the box office.
Now Chronicle and Fantastic Four are two very different beasts. One is an original title. It’s exactly the same in the comic book world. If Trank had written (with Max Landis, btw) Chronicle for Image Comics or IDW, Dark Horse, etc, it falls under the Creator Controlled parameters, and he can do with it as he pleased.
But Fantastic Four is not Chronicle. Fantastic Four is a Marvel-owned entity whose cinematic rights belong to 20th Century Fox. And while a script was submitted and either approved or altered, that script has to meet the overall vision of the studio, much like a comic book has to stay within the guidelines of the publisher’s direction.
I say all of that because there were reports out Friday that indicated Fox made one or several moves, ranging from pre-production cuts of three tent-pole action sequences to keeping Trank away from post-production as the film’s third act was being edited.
So were Trank’s accusations accurate? Possibly. Was this a PR nightmare for a film already struggling to gain ground in a saturated comic book movie world, after two lackluster (not blockbuster) movies set around the same characters? Absolutely.
And here’s the biggest problem – the movie isn’t horrible. Confidence-inspiring, aren’t I? Look, I know it has a lower Rotten Tomatoes score than Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. But this is how I would describe most of the Rotten Tomatoes users, if Bat-ffleck didn’t already beat me to it (around the 20-second mark):
Yeah – I went there. Look – if you’re going to rely on someone from the internet to tell you what to think about movies, you probably don’t listen to my show. I don’t think you’ll ever find me telling you NOT to go watch or read something (well, if you can avoid Twilight…I still recommend doing that).
**POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW – READ AT YOUR OWN RISK**
I thought the movie was well-cast. I thought there was some good chemistry there. And my only concern with the timeline of the movie was that Sue Storm didn’t really know Ben Grimm much at all before the transformation. Victor von Doom was still an angry genius, not a blogger. The Storm family made sense, and you got a bit of feeling of Johnny’s unwillingness to participate. He felt that because he wasn’t a science nerd like Sue, that he didn’t have as much attention as his adoptive sister. So, like many teenagers, he acted out.
I admit I was not put off by the ages of the main characters…the “youth movement” per se. Reed Richards and Ben Grimm being friends since the third grade made plenty of sense. I do wish that there was something for Jamie Bell’s Ben Grimm to do at the Baxter Institute, as I felt maybe his presence in the building of the device may have created some bond between him and Kate Mara’s Sue Storm.
Much like the first Fantastic Four movie in 2005, they can’t complete the project without Doom. But the aspects of the movie and the transformation of the characters are a direct result of Toby Kebbell’s character’s hubris and the curious nature of exploration.
It is the third act that has largely been targeted as a reason for the movie’s negative reviews. I don’t know what changes were made from Trank’s “fantastic version.” I will say that the third act and the climactic battle did seem a bit rushed. It’s odd, as the film is only 100 minutes, and many superhero movies are going two hours and beyond. I felt like there could have been a bit more in that third act. But I digress.
Now – was the movie perfect? No. Was it great? No. Was it better than most of the reviews you’ll see? I think so. Am I an eternal optimist always looking at the sunniest side? Not usually. But I think that this movie has had an uphill battle since it was announced, so I’m not surprised that the reviews coming back have been negative.
If you can save a few bucks by taking in a matinee showing, I say that’s the way to go. And don’t forget that I have a Fantastic Four movie contest going on. If you go to the show, post a picture of your ticket or ticket stubs or e-ticket to the Nerds United Facebook Page and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win one of two prizes. First Prize is an autographed copy of the first volume of Saga. Second place is the first four “issues” of Magicians Must Die autographed by my friend, artist, and Episode 37 guest Jay Peteranetz.
Call them consolation prizes if you want – a little something for sitting through Fantastic Four. But if you have spent time reading all of the other FF reviews, I hope you made it through this one. Thanks for reading. Comment below or on Facebook. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or Pod Directory. And I’ll see you next time in the Nerd Dome.