FANTASTIC FOUR 2015: Not THAT Bad

FANTASTIC FOUR, worst movie of the year for 2015? Not even close.

I understand that the Golden Raspberry Awards are trying to get themselves more attention, so they have to try to hit buttons with people to stir up conversation. In a way, I’m playing into their hand by even writing this paragraph, but so few people seem willing to defend the FANTASTIC FOUR film from 2015 that I feel compelled to do so. Not to play Devil’s advocate, but because I truly don’t believe it was anywhere near the worst film of 2015 like some people would have you to believe.

I actually enjoyed it.

Sure, there were aspects of the film that could’ve been improved. Some areas significantly so, but there were still enough areas that succeeded that I enjoyed my time in the theater.

Yes, I saw it in the theater.

I’m not a huge comic book buyer, either, so it’s not like I have a long history of reading the stories and have become attached to the characters. So from my vantage point, I neither have strong ties to the characters being a certain way, nor is my score inflated because I’m just happy to see them on the screen. I do enjoy the mythology of comic books, though, and I appreciate it when a movie tries to take certain stories seriously and with good intentions they cast actors who should be able to help carry the source material.

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Regardless of whether or not  you think a Fantastic Four movie in 2015 needs to retell the origin story of the characters, the way they told the origin story was a mixed bag of “decent” and “great”.

The early part of the story with Reed Richards and Ben Grimm being friends from school, working together on a decade-long science fair project and accomplishing great things together while featuring their various talents and backgrounds, that part of the film should have given everyone a great emotional hook into the story. If it didn’t, for whatever reason, then you’re being far too critical and your expectations might need to be in check. They did just as good a job here as they did with Guardians Of The Galaxy and Man Of Steel, both of which gave you reasons to care about the protagonist. And when they shifted from the younger actors to Miles Teller and Jamie Bell, they did a great job of taking the hand-off and running with it.

If you have a problem with Johnny Storm being black and Sue Storm being adopted, I have nothing to say to you. By now, with all the changes that have occurred with various characters in the comic books and in movies, you should allow for a little flexibility. I think everyone can admit that Samuel L. Jackson is doing a damn good job with Nick Fury, even though it’s a totally different Nick Fury than the one from the 1980s. Wolverine’s no longer a short grumpy guy who slices people in half. Dr. Octopus has been Spider-Man, so has Gwen Stacy. So has Miles Morales. Nightwing has been Batman, there have been countless guys and gals as Robin, and Lois Lane keeps changing hair color. The idea that Sue Storm was adopted by a non-white family shouldn’t be disturbing, especially when it’s such a small change from the source material.

Comic book fans, you’re better than this. You’re a group of people who rightfully cheer for a talking, gun-wielding racoon and his best friend, a tree monster who can only speak his own name.

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And Hollywood was gracious enough to cast Michael B. Jordan in the role of Johnny Storm, one of the finer actors in his age group, capable of holding his own with any age group currently covered by the Screen Actor’s Guild. See FRUITVALE STATION, or even his seasons of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. The dude’s awesome. He did great work in CREED. To have him as this franchise’s Johnny Storm is a privilege. Take nothing away from Kate Mara, but if there’s cause to have any disappointment in the casting of the four fantastic protagonists, she’s it. Miles Teller is going to win an Academy Award at some point in his career if he decides to act and/or direct for the next forty years. And Jamie Bell might have made some less-fortunate decisions on taking certain roles, but he’s another actor who will give an acceptance speech at an award show in the next couple decades.

This is a talented group.

No, the Doctor Doom aesthetic wasn’t right. His background wasn’t right. The way he got his powers? I don’t have a lot of problem with, though clearly it could have been much better.

His destructive abilities? Spot on.

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The finished product was not as good as it should have been. Some of the problems stemmed from differences the director had with the studio. Some of the problems stemmed from aesthetic / design decisions. Any other criticisms of FANTASTIC FOUR are small things that people should be able to move beyond and not let it so significantly affect their opinion of the film that they gave it a Razzie.

Whether or not you enjoyed FANTASTIC FOUR (2015), you’d have to work really hard to explain how it’s worse than 2015 releases MORTDECAI, or JOE DIRT 2, or SHARKNADO 3, or TRANSPORTER: REFUELED, or HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2.

THE RIDICULOUS 6 should be on that list, but I suppose they might put that on next year’s list.

The final product known as FANTASTIC FOUR (2015) is not a great movie. It’s not as fun as the Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis versions, but in a few ways it’s a far superior movie. With a couple changes here or there, it could have been a good movie, exceeding its rightful place as an above-average film, which 63% of the folks at Half Popped Reviews rated it.

I don’t expect everyone to like it as much as I did, which you’ll see from my score wasn’t nearly as high as it could have been, given the cast, but I fully expect people to see enough potential in the film that they’d consider watching the sequel which seems to have been unjustly shelved in favor of almost certainly another reboot.

My rating: 73 out of 100

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