In Defense of Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four


I’ve said this before, but today it’s more true than ever. We’re bombarded with so much entertainment from movies to TV shows to netflix, that we’ve forgotten how to enjoy bad movies. Even bad movie lovers, people who celebrate 70s and 80s trash LOSE THEIR SHIT when a current movie like Jupiter Ascending or Seventh Son comes out and is bad.

How DARE modern filmmakers waste our time making bad movies when there are SO MANY other options like Michael Bay or Zach Snyder who will fill a screen with 3 hours of CGI explosions so gratuitous that your brain will nearly shut itself off from exertion.

We’re at a point where people just spread hate for a movie they’ve no intention of seeing because of word of mouth. Oh it HAS to be bad because it’s at 10% on Rotten Tomatoes! So what? Some of my favorite movies are so bad and obscure they’re not even listed on Rotten Tomatoes.

Such is the case with Josh Trank’s The Fantastic Four. I’ve seen all of the versions of this movie for some reason. I’m not even really a fan of FF. But I AM a fan of bad movies, which is why I love the Roger Corman version. Ironically, this unreleased movie from 1994 is the most genuine of the now four FF movies floating around. The Two Tim Story versions are boring and forgettable which is the worst crime you can commit as a filmmaker, in my opinion.

This new Josh Trank version has vision and a particular tone to it that brings the FF out of their hokey 60s incarnation into the new world of super hero movies. The whole time I was watching it, I was thinking that I could totally see this particular cast, with this particular tone interact with the X-Men or even the larger Marvel owned MCU. I would absolutely not say that about the Jessica Alba lead cast. The saddest thing that may come from the backlash this movie is getting is that there’s a chance this cast will be dumped for yet another reboot.

Trank has come out and all but said that Fox gutted his edit of the movie, and it shows. The entire middle of Fantastic Four is reduced to a 5 minute training montage. We skip from a somber, slow burn first act right to the third act, with the climax clocking in at around 15 minutes of average, mundane super hero fighting. The Four’s powers are barely utilized in this rushed 100 minute version of the film. We don’t see the characters discovering how to use them outside of that little montage so when they fight Doom, it feels hollow. Like we as the audience didn’t earn this big fight.

Maybe those missing 40 minutes are some of the worst minutes of film ever produced, but what it feels like to me is a studio who completely lost faith in the director’s vision of a dark science fiction version of their property. The studio completely cut out the struggle of the FF as they come to accept that they’re now freaks with incredible powers. My guess is that those 40 minutes are harrowing, not super happy fun time Iron Man jokes and Thor poses, and so the studio dumped the footage, rushed to the climax as fast as possible, and jumped right to the end so maybe the audience would forget that it wasn’t all that fun to be the Fantastic Four at first.

Those people actually using critical thinking skills instead of just blasting the movie for even existing make a big deal out of this new version of Doctor Doom. Again, he’s not my end all be all comic villain, so I can understand some hesitation to accept a green melted plastic version of their favorite bad guy. But even those critical of his look have to have enjoyed that Akira-like head popping scene where he stomped through the hallway and shredded everyone with mind bullets. That was just cool as fuck. Period.

At the end of the day, FF is a bad movie. And maybe those missing 40 minutes don’t help it. But what it is not is a trainwreck of bad dialogue, shitty acting, or horrible plot. It’s simply a different take on The Fantastic Four that ultimately fails because its creators lost faith in it. And this film goer hopes that one day we’ll see the complete edition so we can watch all the cool scenes of Reed falling into a pile of spaghetti trying to get his shit together, and Sue losing herself in a room because she can’t turn visible again. Those scenes are sitting on a studio hard drive right now just begging to be released. Maybe one day.