Review: Fantastic Four: The Dramatically Fantastic

So, I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who actually enjoyed Fantastic Four...and that is okay.

I've been looking forward to this film since the castings were announced. Take a look at this stellar talented core cast: Kate Mara as Sue Storm (phenomenal in House of Cards and American Horror Story), Miles Teller as Reed Richards (top-notch in Whiplash and heartbreakingly authentic in The Spectacular Now), Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm (still can't talk about Fruitvale Station without crying and, of course, Friday Night Lights), Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm (I know him mostly from the under-seen action/sci-fi Jumper and his role in Snowpiercer), and Toby Kebbell as Victor Von Doom (who I wasn't previously familiar with, but now want to see more of).

It makes sense why the cast is one of the best parts of the film. From the subtle looks to the banter, you can tell that they really gel together well. Introducing the film with the core Reed and Ben friendship was such a crucial segment and it really worked smoothly in transitioning between the different time sections at the start. Plus, Reed and Ben as kids is just about the cutest thing ever. Sue and Reed's friendship is so sweet and you can read into there being something more there without it ever overshadowing the storyline at hand. They're playful friends and first-and-foremost scientists. Plus, Johnny and Reed's friendship makes me smile. From the almost-fist-bump to the smile and hug after their reunion later in the film, they connect on such a level that isn't expected based on their personalities alone.

The small moments are fantastic in this film. When Ben forgets to bring the toy car to the science fair. When Reed thanks the security guard by name at the Baxter Institute. Victor calling Sue 'Susan.' These moments give such deep insight into these characters without having to say much at all. I want to see the director's cut so, so badly. Even just seeing all of the countless scenes and shots in the trailers and other promotional footage that actually didn't make it into the film makes me wonder about all of the small scenes that are left on the cutting room floor.

It seems that too much was edited out, because the film feels disjointed. The first two-thirds is a clear, grounded, character-driven sci-fi film and the last third is a huge special effects spectacular. I definitely didn't hate the last third, but it certainly felt like it was from a different film. How could there be such a dramatic shift to the literal complete opposite of it being grounded? Going from the understated majority with only two scenes with overt special effects to the completely foreign, it doesn't read true to the heart of the first parts of the film and that makes me sad. Because the majority of the film is so good.

So maybe Fantastic Four didn't live up to your expectations. Maybe the drama surrounding the production or even the promotional tour clouded your judgment. Maybe you just didn't like it for a variety of reasons. That is okay. While there are negatives in this film for me (like the underutilized cast and how the script could've been taken up a few notches), I choose not to focus on those aspects. I'm concentrating on how much I truly adore this cast and how much I want to see their characters continue.

A crossover with X-Men was potentially in the works and I feel like, if anything, a disappointing box office return should encourage Fox even moreso on this venture. Combine the casts, continue exposing the fans to these characters, make them more accessible and desirable, then produce the Fantastic Four sequels. Yeah, the first one has bombed at the box office. The cast is right and the tone is different, but it works. The issues lie in the disagreements in direction and the third act of the movie really showcases that. Find creatives that have the same vision and work well together, utilizing the cast to their full potential, while remaining true to the characters, the tone, and the basics of storytelling and it can work.

Before you write off Fantastic Four completely, give it a watch and recognize all of its potential. Trust me, there's a fun future there and it's blazing.



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