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5 reasons why the Fantastic Four Haters are WRONG

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So…Fantastic Four (Fant4stic), it’s like totally rubbish right? Well, no actually. I really enjoyed this film that attempts to subvert the Marvel Universe and treats its viewers as grown ups. Want to believe the hype? Go ahead, see something else, I know a lovely Tom Cruise number you might like, it’s called MI:4, oh no sorry – Freudian slip –  it’s called MI:5.

Want to make your own decision on whether Fantastic Four is for you? Read on.

1) An original origins story

Fantastic Four knows that you like Marvel movies. It also knows that you’ve probably seen Wolverine and The Amazing Spiderman and X Men: Days of Future Past. Fantastic Four is also banking on you wanting something cleaner. Something that calls to mind Back To The Future or The Goonies (although I’ll admit it’s not as good as these two gems). However this film gives us a believable origins story based on the fact that we don’t need spoon-feeding the entire back story. Reed Richards (Miles Teller) is a bright student with parents that don’t understand him. Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) is a loyal friend from a rough neighbourhood. They are in the same class and become friends when Reed needs a part from the Grimm family junk-yard. That’s all I really need to know about their history. I want to know how they came to obtain these special powers, which I later find out. Who cares if one character is black and his sister is white? That’s hardly stretching the boundaries of incredulity. Fantastic Four tells me simply all I need to know when I need to know it.

2) Superhero meat on the bone and no gristle

My favourite thing about Fantastic Four is how no scene is wasted. Every viewer has their own expositionometer and mine is fine-tuned to trigger immediate rage if a movie inserts a needless scene about a background character. About three quarters of the way through Reed’s Mr Fantastic (never named – also awesome) is missing, so the ‘Government’ (possibly NASA, possibly Area 52 wannabes, definitely overlords who I have no interest in) asks Sue Storm (Kate Mara – much better suited to this role than Jessica Alba) to use her powers of pattern finding (a power she had before she could turn invisible) to look for him…and minutes later – NON-EXISTENT SPOILER ALERT – she finds him, the army go and get him and he is forced to work for this shady Governmental order. There is no silly fight scene where he escapes, instead director Josh Trank plays it exactly how it would go down. The entire film is like this, taut and without screen waste.

3) Miles Teller is a nice guy

Miles Teller is a man who could not move for plaudits at the beginning of the year, some saying that he was overlooked for an Oscar forWhiplash. Now he is hack fodder due to apparent rude behaviour, when all I see is a young man enjoying his success. His talent should speak for itself and in this film it does, Fantastic Four’s Reed is a loveable, geeky teen who says one thing and does another and gets drunk when he has built a matter transporter. Teller plays Reed with wit, but not for laughs (not something you can say about Ryan Reynolds), elevating this movie above standard superhero fare (i.e. action ability first, acting as an afterthought). The casting in itself shows how seriously this film takes the plot. Tim Blake Nelson takes his role very seriously, as do Reg E Cathey and Toby Kebbell as Vincent Van Doom, who has a screen presence in a way that Lee Pace (as Guardians of the Galaxy’s Roan) must envy. I didn’t even care that much about the lack of female characters because Sue Storm’s sexuality is never mentioned, Sue Storm is that rare thing, a brainiac first, woman second.

4) Josh Trank did good

He might have distanced himself from this version to stem the backlash but Mr Trank has nothing to apologise for. Fantastic Four comes in at a perfect one hundred minutes, forty three minutes shorter than both Avengers Assemble and Age of Ultron. My legs did not go to sleep. And Josh Trank is only 31, yet already he had found a way to extend the canon of the Marvel Universe to something more than the sum of its parts. Viewers are tiring of all of these movies that follow the same formula (Rule 1: big fight scene must start the movie, Rule 2: wisecracks from central characters at opportune moments, Rule 3: female character has ‘love interest’). We do get a few longing looks, but there are bigger fish to fry in Fantastic Four. Trank is not afraid of the big leagues and this to me is a much better film than his earlier Chronicle, showing great promise. I do hope that he gets to make his Fantastic Four sequel the way he wants to.


5) SSM (Selective Superman Memory)

Finally, I would like to remind everyone about what I call SSM – Selective Superman Memory. The internet nearly ate itself with excitement when Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel was announced, the trailer featuring Henry Cavill and Amy Adams made me so happy. The film was positively reviewed all around and was one of the biggest let-downs of superhero cinema even though it made nearly triple its budget. Box Office shouldn’t trounce ability. Many did not like it at all but had been lured along by glowing reviews. It went too far into an alternative universe where the action happened outside of the Clark Kent/Superman dichotomy. And yet now the internet is going haywire for Dawn of Justice, as if the mea culpa addition of a Gotham City resident has wiped their memories. This proves one thing – reviewers can get it wrong. Fantastic Four went out on a limb, setting the standard for a modern Marvel franchise, allowing the studio to evolve with focus on a sharp story and more carefully chosen action before the rot sets in. Don’t punish a film because it is innovative.

You can read Alan and Mike’s reviews of the film.

Have you seen fantastic Four? Share your thoughts below.

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