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Movie Review: Fantastic Four (2015) *Very minor spoilers*

I will be the first to admit that until I saw the first trailers for Josh Trank's Fantastic Four I wasn't that excited for the film. Like most people, even the announcement of the principle cast didn't add anything much of a spark.

Johnny Storm being played by Michael B. Jordan didn't really raise an eyebrow for me. I mean, sure a previously white character is now black but it's no great stretch of the imagination to see how that might be possible. The rest of the main actors I wasn't that familiar with, despite seeing some of their other work prior to this film. No one particularly stood out.

The trailers turned all that apathy around, making the Fantastic Four look far more interesting and inspired than their previous movie franchise from 2005 and 2007.

However, I think rumors of too many issues on the set and people's general lack of interest in the film's development, took its toll and set people up to just pan the film regardless of it's merits. If you read the reviews you'd think this movie was worse than Batman and Robin or even Green Lantern. It's not.



Where I agree with other reviews is that there is obviously a problem with the second half of the film. So much so that Josh Trank tweeted (briefly before deleting his comment) that the studio ruined his film. I'm inclined to believe that's at least half true. There's clearly big chunks missing, causing the second half to feel rushed. However that doesn't ruin film.

I definitely enjoyed this movie and feel it's the best live action Fantastic Four movie we've seen to date. Some people might say that's not saying a lot since the previous two movies aren't considered to be great either (for a long time I couldn't sit through the first of the previous two films but have since grown to like it despite its problems).

Josh Trank's Fantastic Four sets up a much stronger and more believable origin story for the team and Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) - well more believable within the realm's of suspending disbelief. We get glimpses into Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and Ben Grimm's (Jamie Bell) childhood that sets up their friendship and is more of a window into who they are and how they got to being a part of the Four.

We get less background on Sue (Kate Mara) and Johnny Storm but learn that Sue is adopted (did anyone not work out one of them would be adopted?) but it's enough as by this point we're pretty invested in Reed  and Ben and we learn more about Sue and Johnny as the film progresses.

I was impressed the team's story leading up to the accident that cause's their transformation. Most critics agree that that much of the film is pretty engaging. I do feel the relationship between Victor, Reed and Sue wasn't really developed enough. We got just enough to get that there was some kind of love triangle there. A triangle that Sue barely seemed to acknowledge but was probably aware of.

Victor, in particular seemed like some of his pre-transformation story was missing as his motivation later in the film seems far more extreme than his general unwillingness to be part of the teams project (which he started).

Post accident, I particularly like how the team were all spirited away and quarantined. The effects of the accident are treated deadly seriously, like they should be, by those responsible for cleaning up the damage. No glib, "Now we've got powers, let's use them for good" moment here. Personally I thought this was one of the strongest ideas of the new film, with everybody seemingly having different ideas about what should be done with their new found abilities.

Unfortunately the film then jumps a year forward. Not bad, in its self but it is the start of things beginning to feel rushed. Before you know it Doom is back and he want's to destroy the Earth for reasons best known to himself. Maybe he's just mad at not being referenced in any way for over a year in movie time?

To me, that's what lets the movie down a little. Suddenly Doom is back and we're barreling straight into the final battle. No second act, "you've beaten me this time but I'll be back", or "how will the Fantastic Four get out of Dr Doom's clutches and save the day?". Nope, just straight into "I'm going to destroy the Earth" and the Fantastic Four, who don't even know they are a superhero team yet have to work out how to stop him.

That said, this version of Dr Doom is seriously God-like with his power. The MCU is often criticized for not having very strong villains. With a bit more of a fleshed out backstory, Dr Doom, with the power displayed in this film, would be more bad ass than Loki, Ronan and Ultron all rolled into one. If Marvel ever gets back the license to Fantastic Four, I hope they take some inspiration from this version of Doom, maybe even keep Toby Kebbell but redesign his post accident look.

The lack of time Dr Doom is in the film, along with his very gruesome powers, leads me to believe that this part of the movie took some severe cuts to make things a bit more family friendly.

That said, you do get to see all the team members in combat, displaying their abilities better than ever before on film. Even Mr Fantastic looks cool in one on many combat, using his stretching ability to good effect. One could argue he is the hardest to translate to live action but it's done so well here.

Don't let the critics put you off seeing this in theater. It may not be a perfect film but there are so many good moments and ideas that it's still worth your money and time. I came out of the theater thinking that, despite the rushed second half, I'd really love to see this Fantastic Four get another movie. Even if the final line was cheesy as hell. It's a solid origin story with many ideas that could be explored further in future films.

I say give it a chance. Even if you don't see it in a theater, definitely support it when it comes to VOD, Blu-ray or DVD. At which time, I really hope they will release the directors cut that Josh Trank says was there before the studio 'ruined his film'.

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