Thursday, June 30, 2016

Fantastic Four (2015)

Another movie off the watchlist via HBO NOW - the 2015 version of Fantastic Four.
No one seemed to like this movie much when it came out, which is one reason I hadn't bothered watching it until now. So I started with low expectations, which I think actually helped. I knew not to expect a faithful comic-series adaptation, or an amazing adventure with stunning special effects.

This version of the Fantastic Four is basically a group of young explorers, working on a way to cross into another dimension. They're working with Franklin Storm (father of the brother-sister Storms in the four) and another young scientist in Victor von Doom. Add in a smarmy corporate executive type and you have pretty much the whole cast.

None of the characters felt like they had much depth. What character development there was seemed to be trying to shoehorn them into the Fantastic Four mold - Reed's friendship with Ben, Sue and Reed growing close, Victor jealous of Reed. It all felt very predictable, even though these characters are different from the traditional comic cast. Seems like there were two different aims here - a different take on the Fantastic Four characters, and keeping familiarity for fans - and the result is that neither is done well.

Notably lacking is any significant attempt at humor, and it's sorely missed. I think the aim was to make a serious, suspenseful movie, but that's hard to do with superheroes. Everyone already knows more or less what will is in trouble, world is saved. The audience stays more engaged with a chance to laugh every once in a while.

Superhero movies rely pretty heavily on special effects and action scenes, and Fantastic Four is at best mediocre in both. It takes half the movie for there to be much in the way of either. The effects are pretty much what I expected, which isn't good...that means nothing was impressive enough to stand out. As for action, it's almost all concentrated into the final battle, which was completely predictable. Bad guy is strong, heroes are in trouble, heroes suddenly realize they can work together, big win. Yawn.

I think this could have been a decent movie if it wasn't about the Fantastic Four. Take the same general plot and tone, but make it about a smaller unfamiliar set of characters/powers, and you'd have a science fiction heroic adventure. You wouldn't need to split screen time trying to develop four different heroes, and their relationships could be a surprise to the viewer. Add in some improved action sequences, and it could be a much better film. Unfortunately, that's not how it worked out.

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