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.


7 Days in Strangeville: Day 1


Welcome to day 1 of 7 Days in Strangeville! This will be a little retrospective series for those of us who lived through the heady days of the Hack Movies era, while it also serves as a primer, or introduction to the world of Strangeville for those of you who only know me through the literary world. For years I made movie after movie with the most dedicated, loyal and trustworthy crew on planet Earth. We made anything we set our minds to with no money, little skill, but a fucking metric ton of heart. So here we go. Day 1 in Strangeville:

Before the feature length films, endless convention tour screenings and probably the worst online reviews you’ll find from any one single filmmaker not named Uwe Boll, there were the infamous Hack Shorts. These little guys were talked about for years, but only recently, through the help of Hack Movies Super Minion Adam Troutt have resurfaced online for mass consumption.


Way back in 2004 I shot this little guy. At the time, I didn’t realize how ambitious it actually was. I was just a young dumb kid who was tired of hearing the people at my video store talk about being filmmakers. So my buddy Jonny and I bought a 250 dollar camcorder from Walmart and got to work. I wrote the script in about 20 minutes, and filming took about 4 hours. Since I had no idea how to make movies, it would end up being the second film I released after it sat on a hard drive for over a year waiting for someone to edit it. After asking around and trying to get people to help, I ended up just teaching myself how to use the Windows Movie Maker software and the rest is history:


The Pumpkin MenaceĀ 

After shooting Zombage! I had the bug. This was also around the time Star Wars Episode 3 came out. I was collecting a lot of Star Wars comics and my roommate at the time was obsessed with one of the Star Wars video games. So we decided to do a Star Wars parody film with a monster I’d created for an aborted mocumentary we’d given up on a month or so prior. The Pumpkin Monster would go on to become the Hack Movies mascot and appeared in sketches, at conventions, and even in our final feature length film NIXON AND HOGAN SMOKE CHRISTMAS. Again, I edited this one on Movie Maker and uploaded it to the brand new Youtube video sharing website.


Fight Night

Winding up a very productive 2005, I wrote, shot and edited this one in the span of about 3 hours. By now I was a wiz with movie maker and my acting and directing chops were starting to grow. This would be the last short film I would make before launching Hack Movies as a feature length film production company and beginning to tour the country selling DVDs at conventions. It was also the last film I made before meeting the primary crew who would work with me for the rest of my filmmaking career. Bonus fact: This is the first appearance of Joshitsuo Montoya (Nixon from the Nixon and Hogan Movies) who would go on to star in every movie I made thereafter. He plays the Pumpkin Monster.

That’s it, folks! I hope you liked this little blast from the past! We’ll be back tomorrow for a look at my very first feature length film. DREAM REAPER!