When I finished watching The Fantastic Four, I thought it was terrible but I didn’t really have the strong hatred others had for it. I left the movie feeling numb and willing to give this movie a solid one out of five stars without thinking of it anymore after this. And then, I approached the writing process for this movie and I hit a roadblock. Of the 3 previous times I’ve tried writing this review, each time I’ve ended up transforming it into a giant rant about a specific area. It’s not just that it’s a rant about the entire film, each time for this I have stumbled upon a new tiny aspect of the film that is so shockingly terrible that I had to write a thousand word explaining what is so wrong about it. It was in having to explain this movie that I realized that there is not a single thing about The Fantastic Four thematically or technically that doesn’t either feel pathetic or a part of an absolute disaster. For my money, this will be the worst movie of 2015 that I’ve paid money to go see in a theater. Paper Towns at least had a few, tiny areas that you could not so much appreciate but you could deal with. Focus at least had the charm of Will Smith. There is nothing I’ve seen this year that has had so much wrong with it in comparison to this dead on arrival visit to the cinema.
The “story” is a mess, but to put it into a brief amount of words, a group of young adults including Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and his friend Ben (Jamie Bell), along with Sue (Kate Mara) and her brother Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) create this machine than transports them to another dimension. In this new world, they receive new powers and must face up against an old colleague gone rogue named Doom (Toby Kebbell).
What is there to be said about this films story? The pacing for the movie is terrible in every meaning of the word. The movie rushes over so many areas that it never really feels like you’re watching an actual film. The actions of the characters are so poorly explained because the movie has no problem skipping over things that would give development to people or any build up as to why something is going on. It’s like The Fantastic Four was a mediocre CBS show that went for ten episodes that someone decided to cut together as an hour and 40 minute movie. There are so many elements here that either aren’t there or feel rushed. You can’t help but wonder if someone, anyone looked at the pieces and actually wondered how they would fit together before they just decided to glue them together haphazardly. That’s what this seems to be, it’s already terrible clips thrown together like a Malick movie in the hopes of producing a story, like a drunk kids half-assed attempt to throw a dart at the center of a dart board. One moment Reed is in some science fair for his…high school maybe? The next, he’s working at some institute for smart young minds. There’s a possible love triangle between Doom, Reed and Sue but you can’t really tell, it’s probably explained better in the TV show they grabbed these scenes out of.
I haven’t even gotten to the cruel and shallow way this flick used the time jump. There is a moment where the gang gets there super powers and they are locked up because of it. This should be the part where we would see them adapting to having new powers or fighting back against the people keeping them locked up. Well, right after they get their powers, we cut to one year later. In one years’ time, we see that characters have changed a lot since we last saw them. Ben has become a weapon for the army and Johnny has gone from being a rebel to this super patriotic guy trying to help the army. Reed is also doing some random science crap in the woods or something but that’s never fully explained or returned to the surface after they show it. It would be like if Iron Man cut out all the scenes where Tony Stark was in the cave or if The Dark Knight Rises cut out all the scenes where Bruce Wayne was exiled from Gotham. There a gigantic chunk of this movie where the audience is supposed to watch their characters change that is just…gone. I look at this and see a solid 30 to 40 minutes of important development that the movie cut out. There are some shows and movies that can use a time jump effectively like Vertigo or Fargo but here it feels like a get out of jail free card for its writers so that they don’t have to work overtime to make sure there movie isn’t borderline unwatchable. This is an example of laziness to the tenth degree. There’s no reason I can think of for them to want to do this other than to further its audience from feeling like they have to care about the transition of our supposed heroes.
And yet, somehow none of that even matches what the film does for its finale. I should first explain maybe the only positive thing in the film, Victor Von Doom. Doom seems like the only person who is sympathetic or even seems like remotely a real person. He’s the stereotype of the lonely intelligent weirdo, but at least that’s better than nothing. On the planet, they accidently leave Doom behind. One year later, he comes back as a goofy, poorly designed bad guy out of a stock Saturday morning cartoon. Of all of the characters, his transition after one year feels the cheapest and most offensively lazy.
Anyways, he shows up in the last 15 minutes and without any real explanation he just wants to destroy the world. In the course of 15 minutes or so, they introduce, fight and kill off their most famous villain. There’s no momentum and then there’s just nothing, the finale is that. The movie suddenly remembers near the end that it’s a superhero movie and it tries to cram all of this stuff in the hopes of wiping clean what you’ve actually been watching for the past hour. Everything from the way it shows characters arcs to the way they explain motives is sloppy. I have no idea how much of this is Josh Trank’s fault or the studios fault but in the end it doesn’t really matter, this is one of the worst stories I’ve ever seen played out on screen and what it does in terms of building and concluding storylines and coming together with something remotely satisfying has no bounds in how awful it is.
And even if the story did make any sense, it sure as hell doesn’t make up for all the other terrible things about it. The characters aren’t helped by dialogue that would seem dead on an ABC sitcom. This movies attempt at humor and charm are so uncomfortably terrible that it bounces back and becomes funny again. Michael B. Jordan has the worst of it as he has to add dimension to such Oscar worthy lines as “that’s what I’m talking about”. It’s the kind of wit that’s created by a sweaty, underpaid team of writers just trying to add something, anything to this story that’s clearly been lost. Besides the comedic angle, all of the lines from the villain and the hero feel copied from far more original superhero films. Every quote you can find from Dr. Doom is exactly like every other clichéd super villain. When the movie needs to pad out its running time, it brings out the overused speech about great responsibility with great power or whatever. Nothing that comes out of a characters mouth in this movie ever comes from a place of sincerity, it all feels fake and manufactured to look exactly like everything else. There is nothing about this movies screenplay that isn’t totally artificial.
Lastly, the film is technically garbage. With a budget as high as this one, you at least expect to see some visual effects with some high quality. Exodus: Gods and Kings was a terrible film, it at least had some impressive visual effects. This movie makes the CGI in early 00’s action films look decent. Every fight scene with Reed Richards stretching his body is laughably fake looking. It doesn’t look realistic; it looks like it was taken from a low budget 90’s animated movie that tried miserably to use 3D animation. As I mentioned earlier, the design for the new Dr. Doom makes the early 00’s Dr. Doom look intimidating. The Dr. Doom in this movie is so poor that you could honestly convince me that it’s actually from the cheap rip off version of The Fantastic Four, The Fabulous Give perhaps. The music for this movie is just like the music from every other dry, bland action movie. The new world they find is void of any imagination and looks just like every other vague new planet. The entire movie looks like it was shot through a dark blue glass so it could look super serious and grim. Even with a great cast and a director who’s done good work in the past, there is not a single compliment I can give this movie.
Taking the time to write about this film was an awful, long exhausting experience and the same can be said about watching The Fantastic Four. I don’t even want to give this movie half a star, I can’t think of a thing I enjoyed about this film. The story, the characters, the comedy, the effects, the performances, the ideas, the editing and the music are all garbage. The Fantastic Four is a terrible movie and it gets the honor of being one of the lowest ratings I’ve ever given for a film on my site.
Release Date: 8/7/2015
Cast: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Toby Kebbell
Directed by: Josh Trank
Screenplay by: Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg and Josh Trank
Based on the Comic Book by: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby