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REVIEW: Fantastic Four (2015)

Written by Mark Russell

A few months ago, I posted an article asking why there was no interest in the Fantastic Four reboot, expressing my optimism of the film despite the overwhelming negative reactions to the film. Turns out my optimism was mostly misplaced. The third attempt to bring Marvel’s original superhero family can best be described with a light shrug and a quiet “Meh.” That is how this whole film feels. A big, 100-minute long lifeless movie that has no passion, effort, or interest in what it is. At least the 2005 film had some interesting aspects to it even if was dumb and cheesy. But this one is dull, downbeat, dreary, uses plot vagueness and convenience like it is trendy, the story is stretched out, acting is all but invisible, someone must’ve set the script on fire, and any sense of fun or interest is as non-existent as the walking CGI rockpile that is the Thing. This film has no ambition, nor did the tired audiences to see it.

So brace yourselves, fellow readers. IT’S CLOBBERIN’ TIME!

This movie, directed by Josh Trank, was obviously made to try and compete with the Marvel and DC Cinematic Movies, and just about every aspect of the film shows this. But the best place to start is with the writing if you want to call it that. It apparently took three screenwriters to plot out this clichéd thing, but it feels like Fox’s executives pulled a number of random ideas out of a hat and assigned the writers to form a plot around the winning choices. You have the opportunistic government and military men who want to use the superheroes’ powers for war, the good-natured scientists who are cautious and considerate of the world, the generic doomsday villain who wants to destroy Earth because humans are really bad people, etc. But what this film lacks is proper pacing. The first act is overly long, there isn’t a middle act at all, and the third act feels extremely rushed.

Spoiler Alert from this point on. If you don’t want to be spoiled, go watch the movie if you must. I’d recommend watching something a bit more stimulating. Go watch Countdown or Antiques Roadshow. More exciting than this.

The first act isn’t all that bad even if it is a little long. The trailers made the film looks like it was going to be a dramatic sci-fi that took a deconstructive look at superhero films and some body horror when the Fantastic Four get their superpowers. But it is not, but rather a confused, lackluster borefest. Anyway, Reed Richards (Miles Teller) is a young genius who builds a teleportation device alongside his friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell). After not impressing the stuckup teachers at the school science fair (seriously who takes a teleport device to a children’s science fair?), the two are approached by scientist Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) and his adopted daughter Sue (Kate Mara) who have been trying to build their own teleporter as part of a plan to visit a new planet/dimension to harness new energy sources.

Reed gets an instant pass to the Baxter Foundation but Ben is just placed in a corner until he is needed for his rocky makeover. Reed, Sue, and Franklin get to work on the project, funded by Tim Blake Nelson as a government suit who was once meant to be the Mole Man but I guess that was scrapped in the rewrites. Anyway, Franklin summons the project’s original progenitor Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) to help out, but Doom is so boring and inconsequential as a character you wonder later on why and how is given the role as the film’s very late villain. Franklin also forces his rebellious son Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) to help build the teleporter after he trashes his car in a drag race.

The machine is built but when Nelson’s character declares that astronauts rather than Reed and co. will be travelling to the other world, our heroes get hammered and decide to hijack the teleporter and be the first men on Planet Zero (yeah, that’s the world’s name). Ben is summoned as well, while Sue is left oblivious to the test drive til the last moment so she is left behind. Yeah, it’s not like she is an important character or anything. Arriving on the world, the group explore til Doom touches a green lake of lava causing a random giant volcanic eruption. The group flee but Victor is covered in the green stuff and seemingly dies while Reed, Johnny, Ben, and a conveniently placed Sue are effected by cosmic energy and gain superpowers.

Under government observation, Reed discovers he can extend his limbs, Sue can turn invisible or create forcefields, Johnny can set himself on fire and fly, and Ben has become a walking pile of rocks. However, rather than help his friends deal with their trauma and take some responsibility, Reed busts out of the bunker and goes into hiding out of guilt. So rather than develop their characters in an interpersonal, engaging drama, we jump cut to a year later where Johnny and Ben now work as special agents for the US military while Sue and Franklin are rebuilding the teleporter with help from Nelson’s character. Meanwhile, weedy Reed has gone all Bruce Banner, hiding out in a shack doing something that may or not be an attempt to replicate the teleporter to fix Ben – which is rendered pointless when Ben himself appears to retrieve Reed. Despite everyone apparently hating Reed, no one ever emotionally expresses their disgust as his abandonment and wussiness.

With only about half an hour to go in the runtime, Doom is found miraculously alive on the other world, but now he is a psychotic superhuman who wants to destroy humanity because plot demands it. Before I fly into an epic nerd rage-induced rant that would make Comic Book Guy faint, I’ll just ask why it is so difficult to get Doctor Doom’s character right. He is one of the greatest comic book villains ever, but it seems Fox either make him extremely boring or Doom in name only. Here, he is a boring cut-out for the first half, and a boring sudden supervillain for no reason who has psychic powers that can do whatever is needed for the plot – like graphically making people’s brains explode like he is from Scanners. He is Doctor Doom, not Sylar! And this film is rated 12A which eight-year old kids were watching right next to me!

And why in the name of Jack Kirby does Doctor Doom look so dumb. He looks like someone fused Superman’s enemy Metallo, an animatronic off Five Nights at Freddy’s, and a character from ReBoot, and then forced him into a faulty sun bed for twenty-four hours. And they couldn’t even get his iconic hooded cloak right, making big and poofy, making him look like Ra from Stargate in long-distance shots. It’s like they were trying as hard as possible to deviate from the comic books. I am only thankful they kept in Doom’s proper name than replace it with that cringe worthy Domanov or whatever it was. At least they didn’t turn him into a giant space cloud like they did with Galactus.

Little to no effort or passion is visible in the film. According to news reports everyone from Trank to the cast members had interest in the Fantastic Four, with Trank specifically telling the cast not to read the comics or do any research into their characters. Acting is like watching a petrified forest. Aside from Kate Mara and Reg Cathy, everyone else seems either numb or just bored out of their skulls. Jordan who is a very good actor is given nothing to do as the Human Torch, Teller makes Mr. Fantastic the most boring superhero ever, the Thing’s computer-animated body is okay but the character’s personality is strangely missing, and this film’s portrayal of Doctor Doom is even more boring than the 2005 version.

Character chemistry, personalities, relationships are hollow, there are only about three moments of light comedy, and the plot is just one big empty mess where everyone acts like idiots. The whole movie is as dull as dishwater, feels very rushed, and poorly executed. On the rare positives, I liked the costumes, Kate Mara is a much better Sue in comparison to Jessica Alba, and the Thing was alright even if he wasn’t wearing any pants for some reason. Oh, and they turned his catchphrase into something he inherited from his thuggish brother. Hurrah. Hur-blinking-rah! I could just go on and on, but it is emotionally draining me.

This film feels like it was made with zero enthusiasm and simply to cash-in on the franchise in a feeble and frankly pathetic attempt to compete against Marvel. Look what happened to poor Spider-Man because that kind of backwards thinking. Films are meant to be wonderful pieces of drama and emotion to make out think and invoke ideas of imagination, bring about memorable characters and stories, and forever cement themselves in the minds of the public for years to come. Why do you think lists of films are always from pre-1999. Because somewhere along the line, Hollywood studios forgot they made movies for those reasons, to go the distance, defy the odds, and make wonderful things – not for cheap profits and cash grabs. And not only has the nerve to enforce an embargo on film critics from trashing this movie, but declared they would make a sequel back in March.

This film is an insult to the franchise, the characters, and their respective creators, not to mention to the audiences. Someone force Fox to hand over the license back to Marvel so they can finally give the Fantastic Four some proper justice on the silver screen. And Someone get me a flamethrower, I want to barbecue the script and the paycheques of every moron involved in this garbage tip of a movie!

Have you seen the movie and what are your thoughts on it? Should Fox finally give the rights back to Marvel? Sound off below in the comments or leave a message on our Twitter feed.

About the author

Mark Russell