The Cinefessions crew loves sharing their opinions on films, but not every movie can get the attention it deserves with a full review. Enter the Cinefessions’ Capsule Reviews. These capsule reviews cover five of the most important aspects of a film, which allow the crew to deliver their opinions on any movie clearly, decisively, and with brevity. These are not our full thoughts on any film, just a highlighting of the major pros and/or cons.
Title: Fantastic Four (2015)
Director: Josh Trank
Runtime: 119 minutes
Story & Script
It should be noted at the beginning of this capsule review that I know next to nothing about the Fantastic Four. I haven’t read many of their comic books (less than 5, I’d imagine, in total), and have watched all of zero films. It’s important to note that because it may be why I enjoyed this 2015 reboot of Fantastic Four as much as I did. This is definitely an origin story, and whether or not it is consistent with what the comics gave us, well, I can’t say. What I do know is that the story presented here, of four geniuses coming together as friends to create a teleporter is pretty damn interesting. The second half of the film, where one might expect the action to ratchet up, though, is incredibly tame compared most superhero films of today. This is likely why the movie has been received so negatively, and makes the script arguably the weakest point of Fantastic Four.
On the other side of the spectrum from the script is the acting, which is incredibly strong. In fact, the majority of why I actually enjoyed this film is because of the stellar cast of characters. The main four have an excellent chemistry together, and are just a lot of fun to watch. Do I wish they were more fleshed out once they gained their powers? Absolutely. But their charm was enough to keep the weaker second half of the film from falling too flat for me.
I’m guessing that many of Cinefessions’ readers are familiar with Josh Trank’s directorial debut, Chronicle, which is a stellar horror/sci-fi hybrid presented as a found footage film. His second outing, Fantastic Four, is a completely different movie, in style and in feel. Where Chronicle feels almost like an indie film, Fantastic Four is burdened by being a glossy studio blockbuster that went through various rewrites, reshoots, and lots of editing, so much so that Trank has gone on record to say that he is disappointed with the final product that the studio released. Where I can feel Trank’s input, though, is in the character building. Even though the action surrounding these characters is lackluster, Trank keeps the focus on the human aspect of these superheroes, which makes sense seeing as over half the film presents them without superpowers. I would love to see Trunk’s take on this series without so much of the studio involvement, because he’s already proven that he can make a great film when given more control.
Sometimes you just like a group of people, and that’s what happens here. They’re charming, funny, sweet, and genuine, which is a great combination. Doom is clearly the outsider of the group, and his development into the villain of the film is quick, but feels right. It’s how easily – and I guess this is a spoiler, but I imagine everyone knows how a superhero film like this will end – he is taken down that is so lackluster. Watching the movie, I didn’t feel like it was without action, but looking back on it now, it’s really incredible how light on superhero fun this actually was. Even with that in mind, though, I still had a good time watching the film.
I’d watch this again if there ever were a sequel released, but unfortunately I don’t see that happening. Otherwise, I’m not sure I’d pop this in too often, unlike most superhero flicks.
Fantastic Four is arguably one of the most hated films of 2015, and surely the most critically panned superhero film of the past few summers. I had the fortunate experience of knowing this going in, and watching the movie nearly a year after it hit theatres, which meant that my expectations were as low as they could have possibly been. Luckily for me the bar was set so low that Fantastic Four actually surpassed my expectations, and I found it to be a genuinely enjoyable, if lacking, summer blockbuster. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a good origin story, and I feel like this cast of characters would thrive in a sequel, now that we’ve gotten the origins out of the way. It’s a shame that we likely won’t see this story progress any further because of how poorly this film did, but if we ever did get a sequel, I’d definitely be in theatres opening weekend. Light on action and depth, but with characters that are genuinely good – even great at points – Fantastic Four gets a recommendation from me, as long as you keep your expectations in check.
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.