Almost a year ago, I wrote an article that laid out my issues with 2015’s Fantastic Four reboot. Back when I penned that article, I was basing most of my opinions off questionable casting choices, terrible leaked story details, and an overall negative attitude towards Fox. Tonight, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and actually went to see the movie. I went in pessimistic yet still hopeful. I actually LIKE the Fantastic Four comics, and being such an integral part of the Marvel lore, they deserve a proper adaptation. What we have with this recent reboot of Fantastic Four is yet another example of wasted potential.
What is it that made this film so bad? First off, I want to state that the film is not atrocious. I’ve been seeing reviews calling it one of the worst superhero films ever, even worse than Steel. Go to RottenTomatoes.com and you’ll see the rating is lower than Adam Sandler‘s latest film, which is saying A LOT. I don’t think it was that horrendous. If I could compare it to anything, I’d put it at the same quality as the first Ghost Rider. A bad film, but not something that you have to literally force yourself to stay awake and watch.
The biggest problem with the film is the fact that every single cast member sounded bored; I mean, I was bored up until the last ten minutes, but every line was forced by the characters. It’s like they knew it was a bad film and they were just reading cue cards until the paycheck came in. The main exceptions to this are Michael B. Jordan and Tim Blake Nelson.
I find it ironic that Jordan gave the best performance yet he was the single aspect of the film that most people were complaining about. If you haven’t checked an online forum or read a comment thread lately, then you may be surprised (but not really) to hear that people didn’t exactly agree with having a black actor as the Human Torch. And by “didn’t exactly agree” I mean they were absolutely furious. Me personally, I don’t mind if they change the race or gender or orientation of a character as long as it doesn’t impact the way they develop. Jordan is a fantastic actor who can actually play the hot-headed Johnny Storm. I DID mind the way they cast Jamie Bell to play Ben Grimm, who’s supposed to be a short-tempered meat-head. Hahahahahah Jamie Bell hahahahahaha. But I digress…
Actually, speaking of Ben Grimm, they completely botched the Thing in this film. I don’t know what they did to Bell’s voice when he was transformed into the Thing. Reading the Fantastic Four comics, I always heard the Thing’s voice sounding like he had gravel in his lungs. His voice is meant to be rough and rocky like his exterior. In this film, it’s like he’s talking through snorkeling gear. The only time that he somewhat sounded like he should was at the very end. There’s one line where the Thing sounded like the Thing. That’s not cool. At least the CGI looked better than in the trailers, but I still hold onto the notion that the Thing looks like a Rock-Biter.
Oh, and one more thing about the Thing, and I promise I’ll move on. What’s the Thing’s motto? “It’s clobbering time!” It’s cheesy, but it’s part of the character. It’s like when Batman utters “I’m Batman!” or when the Hulk yells “Hulk SMASH!” Don’t worry – the Thing definitely says this line, but you won’t believe the origin. It’s super dark. I read about it in a review prior to seeing the movie, but once I witnessed it happen before my eyes, I was blown away. It’s unbelievable, and not in a good way.
Should we talk about Doom? Let’s talk about Doom.
Doom received his fair share of criticism before the film’s release. I admit I’m not a fan of Toby Kebbell, and I don’t like that they were borrowing the whole “programmer/hacker” element of the Doom character from the Ultimate comics. Can we all just appreciate that they didn’t give this film’s Doom goat legs? Yeah, that’s a legit thing from Ultimate Doom.
Anyway, Doom in this film is… hard to properly explain. He’s not a strong enough villain. His motivation is fine; if I was left behind in a foreign dimension and had my body fused to a space-suit, I’d be pissed too. But the portrayal of Victor Van Doom pre-accident was questionable. I don’t really know what persona Kebbell was going for. We don’t get a real Doom characterization until the last 15 minutes of the film, after he is retrieved from the Negative Zone – sorry, I mean Planet 0.
On a related note, what the hell was with Doom’s image? I’m a little upset that I can’t find a picture online to show you what this disaster looked like. The best description I saw was that he looked like a crash-test-dummy banged a Lite-Brite. They gave him a green cloak to make up for it, but it couldn’t hide that trainwreck of a face. Did they have to give him green Christmas lights for eyes? Well, did they?
Hey, can we at least appreciate that his actual name was Victor Van Doom in this film and not Victor Domashev or whatever they said it would be last year?
Enough nit-picking the characters. The plot itself was just as bad. As I’ve mentioned before, this movie seemed to borrow heavily from the Ultimate Marvel continuity. I wasn’t a fan of how they took the heroes back to high school. I also wasn’t thrilled with how they portrayed the heroes getting their powers.
They were drunk. No, really, that’s the basis. They get super drunk and decide that they’ll take their transporter to the Negative Zone so that they can be the first interdimensional explorers. Apparently there’s no security guarding a multi-million-dollar transporter. What’s the worst that can happen? A bunch of drunk teenagers sneak in and take it to another dimension? That’s preposterous!
Here’s something you’ll love: the team that actually goes to the other dimension consists of Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Johnny Storm, and Victor Van Doom. I’m not good with numbers, but I feel like they’re missing someone…
So the boys accidentally get their powers. That’s as non-spoilery as I can get. Oh, and you’ll love how the film decides to give Kate Mara her powers. No, she doesn’t travel to the Negative Zone at all. It ends up being a boys trip and she gets left behind while the guys go do science. Luckily, plot convenience finds a way to give her powers at the last minute so that she doesn’t feel left out. I guess someone forgot that Sue Storm was part of the Fantastic Four and hurriedly decided to cut in a quick shot for her to get her abilities.
I’m not even sure what the plot was, to be perfectly honest. They don’t get their “powers” until a 30-45 minutes in (mind you, this film is only an hour-and-a-half long). Then, we spend the next 45 minutes with them having existential crises about their abilities. The main conflict doesn’t even happen until the last 20 minutes. Until then, it’s just teen angst and whatnot. Remember all those cool shots they had in the trailer? You know, the one where the Thing is dropping in from a plane and slamming into a military compound? Yeah, that’s not in the film. But don’t worry, they left that really awesome shot of Reed using his stretching powers to avoid going up stairs. Superheroes!
Now, recently, Josh Trank came out and said that it was 20th Century Fox that was responsible for the crappy movie, and that he had a truly great vision for the Fantastic Four. In my previous article where I expressed my distaste with the reboot, I blamed Fox as well. To be fair, it’s usually the movie studios themselves who cause a lot of problems (I’m looking at you, Sony and Spider-Man 3). So for all we know, Trank could be right; it could be Fox’s fault that we got this mess of a film. Or, we could chalk up the fact that Trank himself didn’t know what he was doing.
I’m holding onto the theory that Fantastic Four started out as Trank’s vision of a sequel to his earlier film, Chronicle. I think that he had planned to make a sequel that would explore how the characters got their powers, but Fox must’ve said “Wait, let’s kill two birds with one stone and throw the Fantastic Four title on it so that we can keep the rights!”
I can’t say I was extremely disappointed with the film since I had low expectations to begin with. There were very few redeeming factors such as Michael B. Jordan’s performance and the ending fight scene. However, the film is a dud, and if I wasn’t tasked with writing this review, I would’ve waited until it came out on DVD to actually see it. Don’t go to this movie if you’re expecting superheroes. If you want Chronicle 2, though, then this might be the right film for you.
Did you see the movie yet? What did you think? Was it as bad as they say it is, or did you enjoy it? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!