In 2005, film studio 20th Century Fox and rock star filmmaker Tim Story introduced the movie going audience to the Fantastic Four. Released during a time of superhero movie fiascos such as X2: X-Men United, Batman Begins and Spider-Man 2 there was a lot riding on this film’s success. But Tim Story did not succumb to the pressure and as he is known to do, Story knocked another one out of the park. The film was considered a blockbuster by both critics and fans alike. Audiences clamored for another trip to the Fantastic Four universe with expectations exceeding astronomical heights.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer released to critical acclaim in 2007 with fans regarding it as the pinnacle of superhero filmmaking. Even the phenomenal Ghost Rider and superior Spider-Man 3 were put to shame when compared to this artistic masterpiece. Fans wondered just how long they’d have to wait for the likes of Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, Invisible Woman and Human Torch to grace the silver screen again. But tragedy struck the franchise when the heinous Iron Man and The Dark Knight released to revulsion and superhero films appeared to be on the decline.
Luckily, 20th Century Fox was not easily dismayed and in 2015 a Fantastic Four reboot was released. Though regretfully Story was not available to direct due to other prestigious directorial duties, the film found its director in seasoned filmmaker and visionary Josh Trank. Fresh off the disastrous and critically panned Chronicle, Fox was seen as taking a risk in hiring Trank. But the greater the risks…the greater the rewards and Fant4stic rewarded fans for their patience by delivering the most daring and thought provoking superhero film to date.
The film breaks new ground by changing the Four’s origins and introducing the long overdue loner hacker version of Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell). As with the previous films the Fantastic Four consist of egg-head Reed Richards (Miles Teller), after school bully Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), blonde-haired Susan Storm (Kate Mara) and hotshot bad boy rule breaker street tough Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan). When a trip to an unknown dimension results in the Four gaining never before seen super powers, the team reacts the way any reasonable scientist would, by whining. This is a breath of fresh air, as so many superhero movies concern themselves with existing in a world where disbelief is suspended. Fantastic Four breaks the mold by giving the audience what it has desperately needed, a grounded and realistic take on the dire consequences of being given amazing and…fantastic…abilities.
Unlike previous Marvel flops like The Avengers and Captain America: Civil War, this film takes itself seriously from beginning to end. Fantastic Four deftly weaves a coherent plot and gorgeous visual effects to uproarious praise. The impressively long 1st act seamlessly blends into the moving 2nd act which leads to a no-holds barred fight between the Four and the nefarious von Doom in the exhilarating 5 minute long 3rd act. It is ambitious and it pays off. The stand out is obviously Doom’s updated origin and powers, which will make fans wish the comics would start reflecting the films. And don’t worry, the studio remembered The Thing’s catchphrase!
While a sequel is a no-brainer, here is hoping that Fox and Trank fix the only issue this movie seems to struggle with and recasts its young actors.