Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Fantastic Four - Inter-Dimensional Travel Is Rough

Fantastic Four
Josh TrankRated PG-13 - Approx 100 Min
Released August 7, 2015

 - Change is coming.
 - When you change the world, prepare to defend it.
 - Beyond darkness... beyond fear... lies the fantastic.

Alternate TitlesFant4astic
Henry Street (False Working Title)

" I need a heat-resistant workshop, and a big-ass sunroof!"
                                                                                    -Johnny Storm

I'd been putting off watching the Fantastic Four reboot after hearing a multitude of reports that the film was terrible.  Then stories started coming out about the troubled production and the feud between Josh Trank and Fox.  It did not bode well and it was looking like Fantastic Four was not going to be the reboot that I'd been hoping for.

This weekend, I finally caved in after puttering around on Amazon Instant Video.  I had just finished watching Victor Frankenstein (keep your eyes peeled for THAT review coming soon!) and was in the mood for something flashy.

And so with mild trepidation, I hit the 48 hour rental button.  You know what?  I'm glad I did, because Fantastic Four isn't nearly as bad as critics and keyboard cowboys would have you believe.  Is it really, really good?  Nope.  But it also isn't really, really bad.

I think that one of the problems with the film is that it's another origin story.  We already got one in the '05 version.  Sure, I get it.  It's a reboot so we need a new origin tale, but I think that it really should have only taken up maybe the first 20 minutes of the film and then let the heroes do what they do best.

Instead we meet Reed Richards and Ben Grimm when they're in the 5th grade.   Then fast forward to high school and Reed being recruited by Dr. Franklin Storm and his adopted daughter Susan at the high school science fair.  Reed goes to work for Baxter Laboratories and it turns out that he's perfected an inter-dimensional teleportation device that they themselves had been trying to work on for six years.

Victor Von Doom is a brilliant scientist who was formerly working on the project and has some attitude problems.  Franklin brings Victor back in as well as his son, Johnny (who's basically being forced to work for the Doc as punishment for street racing.) and the team is complete.

After successfully sending the inter-dimensional  teleportation shuttle with a chimp passenger to another dimension and bringing it back, the big brass inform the team that they'll be taking over and giving the project to NASA.  This does not sit well with the boys.  Not wanting someone else to take the glory for all their hard work (can't say I really blame them) Reed, Victor and Johnny decide to take the shuttle to the other dimension themselves to at least put the first footprint there.  Reed calls Ben and tells him that he won't go across without his best friend at his side.
As I'm sure you can imagine, shit goes sideways and fast!  There's a strange green energy source the flows through the inter-dimensional planet (is it an alternate Earth?  I dunno...) and the foursome accidentally unleashes the power.  Victor falls down a cliff into a swirly green void of alien power and is presumed dead.  The other three beat feet back to the shuttle as the green energy explodes all around them.

Sue is back in the lab trying to bring them back.  Due to various mishaps occurring simultaneously each of them is imbued (yep, I just used the word IMBUED!) with different powers.  Obviously you know who's who and what's what.

Obviously Victor isn't dead and returns when the team builds a new shuttle to try and find a way to reverse their conditions.  Victor of course isn't Victor anymore, but now just calls himself DOOM.  His design is actually pretty cool and a little on the creepy side.  He's got some pretty wicked powers too...there's a neat scene where he's walking down the hall of the research lab pretty much blowing up peoples heads!

It all comes down to a final showdown in the other dimension.  The Fantastic Four start learning to work as a team and naturally save Earth from a nasty end.

Had they allowed the team more time to coalesce and cut back on the origin stuff, it would have helped the movie out a great deal.  The team is pretty much forced together and immediately go out after Doom after his blood hallway rampage.  It felt very rushed.

Still the visuals were great.  I think that this version of The Human Torch looks absolutely stunning.  The Thing looks a lot better than the '05 version as well (let alone the '94 Roger Corman flick).  It's really too bad that the reception to this film was so piss poor, because I wouldn't mind seeing what these versions of the characters could do as a fully formed team.

So if you've been on the fence about seeing Fantastic Four, take the plunge.  It's far from perfect, but it certainly is not the catastrophe that others would have you believe.

There's actually a bit of red stuff!  The aforementioned head popping hallway scene kinda surprised me.

Nope.  Unless big naked rock monsters is your thing.  In which case, you are a sick puppy.

No real monsters, but we've got some creatures!  The aforementioned Thing is a hulking rock beast and looks pretty badass.  Doom is much more alien looking than previous incarnations with glowing green eyes.

The tone of the film is much, much darker than that of the '05 film.  I think that may have also contributed to the backlash.  It's certainly not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but if you're a fan of superhero or comic book movies then at least give it a shot.

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