I was in Hawaii last week on vacation when 20th Century Fox press-screened the comic book superhero reboot Fantastic Four, so I went opening day Friday to catch up with it. I mean, despite a 10% Rotten Tomatoes score, how bad could it really be? There were about 12 people in the ArcLight Culver City theater at a 4:30 PM show, a warning sign that the ensuing belly flop of this movie at the weekend’s box office already was in progress.
So were the scathing reviews and audience disinterest (only a C- CinemaScore) deserved? I always try to find some level of good in even in the worst movies, but oh hell yes, and then some. As I say in my video review (click the link above), if any good were to come out of this reported $120 million-budget bust, it might be the beginning of the end of the studios’ wholehearted endorsement of these comic book movies that somehow allowed basement-dwelling, Milk Dud-consuming fan boys to hijack the heart of the major studios. Warner Bros, which earlier this year announced 10 comic book movies for its pipeline, might want to look at the reception to this one and learn that content is everything and that no one superhero can save a genre that just thinks it can turn out any level of dreck and still get audiences to respond.
I, for one, am sorta sick of the genre and think studios should give it a rest. But that’s me. And don’t get me wrong. I do love a Guardians Of The Galaxy or the smarts of a Captain America: The Winter Soldier, occasionally even an Ant-Man. But do we really need yet another reboot of Spider-man? Are you listening, Sony? And certainly we didn’t need another reboot or origins regurgitation of Marvel’s less-than-marvelous, not-so-Fantastic Four. At least not this one with the blurred vision of director and co-writer Josh Trank who, in a moment of astounding lack of class, Twitter-trashed his film on the eve of opening. That’s the $120 million film (not including marketing) that 20th Century Fox had the faith to entrust this 29-year-old director with, and he did that to them (his tweet was quickly removed but in cyberspace, the damage was done). As a director he had only done one of those low-budget found-footage films, Chronicle, that somehow got critical and fanboy approval, though I thought it was overrated at the time. There was much reported trouble on the set of this one, and Trank reportedly also got bounced from directing an upcoming Star Wars sequel. On the basis on his work here, Josh Trank will be going to movie jail for a very long time. And he should.
Unfortunately, Fantastic Four represents a trend of taking what might have been a good idea at one time and younging and dumbing it down to oblivion. Certainly the cast here, including Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell and Kate Mara, all have been imported from much smarter indie projects, for I guess what was a paycheck too good to refuse. None of them makes any kind of impression here, so I blame the director on this count too. Of course the script gives them nothing but clichéd dialogue to work with (it’s credited to Trank, Jeremy Slater and Simon Kinberg).
Do you realize you could make 140 Whiplashes for the price of this one film, Miles Teller? Or probably 240 Fruitvale Stations, Michael B. Jordan? What a waste.
Producers were Hutch Parker, Matthew Vaughn, Robert Kulzer, Gregory Goodman and Kinberg. Do you still plan to see Fantastic Four? Let us know what YOU think.