In reviewing films and shows– I think it is easy to forget how easy it is to pick apart flaws of a film. It is easy to sit on a pedestal and say “Here is what was wrong”…but it is another thing entirely to take it a step further and discuss not just the missteps, but what specifically could have been executed better so that the final project wasn’t terrible.
This is how I would like to view FantasticFour today. Given what we know about the film and what we are left to infer, what elements could have been expanded or removed to make a better film. We have already explored in my previous post below what went wrong. Far too many time skips, lackluster performances, terrible boss fight and more. What I want to look at here is how fox could have made it better.
The first, and biggest flaw that I noticed was the time skips in the film. Its as if they ran out of budget for certain scenes so Josh Tran(the director) basically thought : “eh…. the audience can read between the lines”.. which is fine if only done once in a film, but not when it is used 3-4 times for what could have been pivotal and awesome moments in the film.
Take for instance Ben Grimm’s relationship with Reed Richards… the first third of the movie centers around their bonds and best friend-ship. I think you were supposed to feel some emotional heart break when Reed moves away or when Grimm is angry and Reed and says that they aren’t friends anymore, but since their friendship was basically glossed over in the first place this doesn’t land for the audience.
The same mistake was made when trying to show that the Fantastic Four crew form bonds over their time of building a teleportation device. Instead of all-out time skipping here, we are treated to a Rocky-esque montage. Just like Ben and Reeds boyhood we are left to assume that bonds are made, alliances and trust was forged. Ultimately, Reed’s alleged betrayal of the group might have been felt by the audience and the building blocks of trust and friendship been in place.
And if these time skips were not enough to piss you off, the simple fact that they time skipped HOW the Fantastic Four crew learned to control their powers will throughly anger you. We spent roughly an hour waiting for them to get their powers only to have them jump a year in the future when their powers and attitudes are already established. This made me sad! This is something that wouldn’t have even taken all that long… 10 minutes of total film maybe? Instead we get a weird Johnny Storm that is pathetically pandering to the military staff, a Sue Storm that is arguing that they military personnel are not their allies and not to trust them, but is still being overly cooperative, and a Ben Grimm who is just a pissed of mercenary. We don’t get to see any of their hardships or funny times where Johnny Storm maybe blew up a lab when he got too excited or had to be fire-extinguished–nothing. This would have added a bit more charm to the film and would have made you connect with the characters as well as lightening the films core.
The time skips themselves seem to suggest that maybe too many hands were in the pot? Because each time skip feels like a distinctly different film. It feels disjointed and unfocused… So how could these skips have been explored further to give us a better film? While I like the Ben and Reed friendship arc, this should have been either explored and developed further or left out entirely. If explored, we could possible see a few more scenes with them growing up together, maybe been protecting Reed from bully’s and Reed helping Ben with school or his home life… we could have seen them GROW up together. This would have depended the audiences dependence on their bond and the ultimate Ben/Reed hatred would have hurt that much more.
And if you’re going to spend and hour of the film with the Fantastic Four crew in pre-powerups, you need to make that first hour interesting and cool. They could have gone the science route– where they wow’d us by showing the kid’s intelligence, or they could have showed how the kids all bonded over time and became a team. This could have also been used as a time to flesh out Sue, Johnny and Dr. Doom more deeply. Sue could have emoted at some point, we could see more of why Johnny seemed to hate his dad and rebel so much… and more importantly we could have dived deeper into Doom’s past and see his motivations more clearly. Since we ultimately know close to zero about him… his motivations end up seeming more like a spoiled child who had his toy taken away rather than an ultimate being with an evil plan in mind.
So, we time skipped– to save time right? For what? More focus on awesome characters right? Wrong! Hmmm…. how to I want to explore this…. Lets take it character by character?
- Sue Storm
I am not sure if this was intentional, bad acting or poor writing, but Sue’s character was probably the most awkward in this film… she is standoffish, cold and distant. She is supposed to connect to Reed, as they will eventually be a thing but she seems uncaring. Although I am not surprised, she claims that people are predictable– everyone has a “pattern” so she finds them boring and, as a result, we find her boring. Honestly, if her character wasn’t in the film– i’m not entirely sure it would have made a huge impact.
Her character could have been improved if they gave her a personality. She has a few moments where she plays the responsible or motherly type to Johnny Storm, but this just feels like a cheap archetype of the girl thats arrogantly above everyone else. Her idea of patterns is both not unique and boring… like the moment she said that I knew she was going to be boring as hell. Maybe have her throw in a few jokes? or get angry… or anything…
2. Johnny Storm
Okay, honestly… why would you make Johnny Storm an angry teen? And sort of a whimpy one at that. When you first meet him, he crashes his crappy Honda and is arguing with his dad about how he is always too busy and hinting that he probably loves Sue Storm more. He is then blackmailed into helping being the teleportation device because he can “build anything”. We are told that he “doesn’t take orders well”– which is standard Human Torch M.O….. but doesn’t he? Sure he was blackmailed into helping– but he seems to have a can-do attitude about it. And when he finally gets his powers he is basically pandering to the military the whole time.
Like, he is literally disapointed at one point because he could have completed this obstacle 1 second faster. He apologizes as meekly tells the military personnel that he can do better next time. Sure he isn’t taking orders from his father– but he is certainly taking orders from the military– worse still he’s trying to go out of his way to please them. I think they meant this to feel like he was being a hotshot– just showing off, but it feels pathetic.
They made the character care too much, thats not what the Human Torch does. What they should have done was make him the comedic relief in the film a bit more as the movie is pretty dry here. Johnny Storm should have been the one doing the most shananigans, he is the daredevil… but when he gets to Planet Zero he is the one to stay behind because he is scared… they should have made him more bold!
3. The Thing
He was probably the best character in the film– I wouldn’t change too much about his character…maybe have him in the film more? Also they didn’t need to have him be the stereotypical all brains–no braun, they sort of imply he is good with building stuff since he works at a junkyard, so maybe have him be a solid engineer? Finally, why would you have his catchphrase originate from his abusive brother? Nice message.
4. Reed Richards
I think his character flaws stem from writing… I don’t mind his character, but they didn’t do a good job of making him seem like a genius. It just wasn’t something that was portrayed well in the film. I think time skips were to blame for this also.
This also could have been fixed if the writers didn’t insist on making the characters all 18 or so. They tried to balance genius and stupid teen but what we got was a stupid teen only… then when he finally shifts to being a genius– hiding from the military successfully for a year, he seems like an entirely different and unexplored character.
5. Dr. Victor Von Doom
This was the biggest character misstep they could have possibly made! We know nothing about his motivations, his past or anything. We just know that he seems anti-establishment and thinks the world might “have what it is coming to them” because the world is run by assholes. Then he is left behind on planet zero where the chip on his shoulder becomes a spacesuit (he looks terrible), and he decides to destroy the world….
The issue is there is nothing that allows you to get behind his character. From the moment he is on screen, he is an unlikable asshole. Which might be justified, but we don’t know that. If they would have shown more of his backstory or make it so his character slowly becomes more deranged in the film– hell even if they cut to scenes of him on planet zero slowly going insane, his character would have been much better.
Worst boss battle of all time…. Honestly…I’m not even sure what to fix to make this better– I just know that it is bad. It feels as if the studio just wanted to finish the film.