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    Friday, December 18, 2015

    My Fantastic Four Thoughts

    I love the Fantastic Four. The first Marvel comics I got were Fantastic Four comics, and those early issues are still among the pride of my comic collection. I came to this movie completely invested in these characters. I also came to this movie fully aware of the reaction to it.

    The first 60-70 minutes of this film are good. Really good. Not good in a ‘better than expected’ way, but good. It’s not necessarily my Fantastic Four, but it is legitimately A Fantastic Four. (My main complaint with Man of Steel is that it isn’t a Superman movie. It’s a movie featuring some character with powers like Superman.) Yes, there are some things I would change – more Ben Grimm between the time he takes Reed to the Baxter Building and the time Reed calls him to take part in the experiment; make Susan an active participant in the trip instead of removing her agency from her; and for God’s sake, while you need to have Reed and Doom linked, you don’t need to have Doom get his powers at the same time as the Four. But that’s the difference between the first two acts of the film being really good and the first two acts of the film being great.

    Unfortunately, the film has three acts.

    The last act of the film is as bad as the first two acts are good. As with anything, it doesn’t matter how good it opens – it matters how good it closes. And this, well, this does not close well. There’s final act is an extended generic action sequence, except most of the action has been replaced with bad exposition. The action that is there is basically bad CGI. Any sense that these four characters are a family (and that is the element that sets the Fantastic Four apart) is lost. Yes, the narrative is about how they’ve moved apart and then they come back together as part of the final battle, but that’s told to you, it isn’t shown.

    It’s hard to say who owns this failure. The first two acts seem to clearly be Trank’s film. The final act seems to be the studio stepping in because they didn’t get what Trank was doing. Or maybe it’s just that Trank’s script fell apart at the end. Maybe he didn’t know how to end it so the studio jumped in. It will be a nice story to read when it eventually all comes out.

    I liked this film, far more than I thought I would. I liked the beginning a lot, enough to make me really dislike the wasted potential. This could have been a great film. Even with the ending, I would have been willing to watch another Fantastic Four movie with these characters. 

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