Fantastic Four (2015) — not seen yet

(No, it’s not actually titled “Fant4stic”, though that’s what’s on the posters.)

It was the indie superhero film Chronicle that broke director Josh Trank into the big time, and it was pretty good. But the consensus on this new F4 film is that it’s pretty bad. It’s probably worth noting that Chronicle was not written by Trank, but by Max Landis (son of director John).

One issue is, after three preceding Fantastic Four movies all left a bad taste in people’s memories while sticking to the colorful comic-book look, they’ve apparently decided that they need to mix it up, and give us something dark and drab. Apparently some people think this makes comic book movies more grown-up. And since it worked for Nolan’s Batman trilogy, DC/Warner has now been betting quite heavily on this approach. But the Four aren’t DC. Unfortunately, neither are they Marvel, at least not in movie-land, as Marvel Comics sold off their rights before they got Marvel Studios underway.

Rumor has it that Josh Trank has pretty much disowned the film, saying he wasn’t permitted to make what he wanted and the result is made mostly of studio interference. Opposing rumors say Trank was in over his head and had to be pushed aside just to get the film done — that Hollywood’s habit of embracing slightly talented young indie directors (as long as they’re white males), and promptly throwing them into the deep end of the pool, completely bit them in the ass this time. Either way, it doesn’t sound like anyone’s taking much pride in the result.

There may be a good reason for that. It turns out that the only reason this movie got made at all was the same reason that the craptastic Roger Corman version got made twenty years earlier: because of a contract which said that if they didn’t make something by a certain date, they’d lose the rights. Such contracts are apparently getting more common, and the deadlines are getting shorter, so brace yourselves for more lame drecky reboots like this when studios fumble on developing stuff properly. (I’ve heard that such a contract was part of the reason for the messy Spider-Man reboot too.)

As befits something made for such poor reasons, rumor has it that the result is pretty cheap looking. But the estimated budget is fairly sizeable — certainly enough that its poor boxoffice performance counts as a hard flop. (The 2005 version looked cheap too, but made decent profits.)

It doesn’t help matters that Marvel Comics has ceased publishing Fantastic Four books, and has apparently started writing them out of history, just to avoid promoting characters whose movie rights are owned by another studio.

I am not looking forward to seeing this.