After all, 2005's Fantastic Four may have made money but was hardly the acclaimed hit that fans hoped for and 2007's Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer proved to be both a critical and box office disappointment. That's not even to mention 1994's The Fantastic Four which was, in fact, so terrible, that it was never even released. Heaven knows I've written about these things ad nauseum for several websites and if you've read those articles you also know that I've been a fan of "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine" for most of my life so naturally I was hoping for a great film.
And for a short time, it looked like that dream might come true. Director Josh Trank had television experience and one feature film under his belt. Chronicle (2012) was a small film (made on a budget of $12 million) that managed to get relatively big (earning over $126 million for Fox). Fox invested almost all of those earnings back in Trank when tapping him to relaunch its newest and most hopeful franchise.
Then more plans for the film began to surface. Just as the cast revealed in interviews just how close the film would hew to the source material, other announcements belied these reports gravely. There was to be no journey to space (where the Fantastic Four gained their powers). In fact, almost the entire film would take place indoors or the dreary (and aptly named) “Negative Zone”. Reed Richards/ Mister Fantastic would be less the professorial genius of the comics and instead would be played by Miles Teller, the drummer kid from Whiplash (2014).
Things seemed somewhat promising for Jamie Bell’s The Thing in that the rocky monster would finally be motion-capture-based CGI, but fans were outraged at plans for Doctor Doom. Instead of Victor Von Doom, the learned scientist from Latveria, Trank’s film would replace the character with Victor Domashev (Toby Kebbell), an angry computer hacker who goes by the internet handle of “Doom”. Fan backlash was so strong that the name had to be fixed in post-production. Considering the lukewarm reception the trailers received, the change wouldn’t help much. The film’s dreary poster similarly failed to excite, with all four team members looking so lost that they seemed to be saying “What the hell am I doing in a Fantastic Four film?”
But how bad could it really be? I mean, rounding out the titular Eff-Eff are fan favorites and really good actors Kate Mara as Sue Storm/ The Invisible Woman and Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm/ The Human Torch with support coming from such notable actors as Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson, Dan Castellaneta and Tim Heidecker.
Well, actually, Fantastic Four (2015) is remarkably, horribly bad. Not only is it a dismal, dreary mess with virtually no action whatsoever, but it is also what could generously be called an insult to creators Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. Yes, as hard as it is for me to believe I'm saying this, 2015's Fantastic Four with its $120 million budget is worse than both its predecessor films and is, in fact, worse than that unreleased 1994 abomination that cost every bit of $1 million to make.
Naturally, director/ co-writer Trank would have you believe that this is the fault of the maniacal and diabolical studio 20th Century Fox. Poor little Joshy famously tweeted his grievances about the big bad studio having forced his reshoots and ruined the "fantastic version" Trank claimed to have had. However, let's take a better look at Trank's vision. Trank described Fantastic Four as something of a prequel to the upcoming sequel (which may or may not still be upcoming). Trank announced at Comic-Con that the story revolved around “a group of friends” whose story takes place “before they become the iconic version of [The Fantastic Four].”
That’s right. Instead of focusing on making a good, action packed Superhero movie (in which Superheroes do super things), Trank (and Fox, probably) treated this film as little more than the lackluster foreword or preamble to a potentially exciting film that actually contained what movie fans want to see.
So we aren’t buying tickets to see the characters from The World’s Greatest Comics Magazine, but what they were doing before the Four were, in fact, fantastic? Why should we bother seeing it?
That means Trank’s attitude was that audiences were looking for the Superhero equivalent to The Phantom Menace? Yeah. Imagine if that was the only Star Wars film and tell me if you think that would have been a success.
Couple this horrifying fact with the reports that Trank instructed his cast to deliver their lines with the least emotion as possible and you can just imagine how incredibly boring the end result must be.
Let’s not forget that Fantastic Four is ostensibly a superhero movie and not just a franchise reboot. One of the big issues with the film is the fact that very little truly “super” goes on for much of the runtime. Instead we get long, drawn out expository sequences that retell (once again) the origin story of the team (albeit not the way you might expect). Did we really need this again? Could it have been shortened?
There are some moments of inspiration that can even be interesting. Flashing back to the early days back when Reed and Ben Grimm (the erstwhile Thing) were kids working on science projects together. When they reach high school, one of the projects, a teleportation prototype (not a rocket ship), catches the attention of Dr. Franklin Storm (Cathey) and his adoptive daughter Sue (Mara) who soon bring them into a failed project at which an equally (and inexplicably) youthful "scientist" named Victor Von Doom (Kebbell) has failed miserably.
Then we shoehorn the younger Storm brother into the plot courtesy of Jordan (playing a street racer with no real scientific abilities) and we've got what amounts to a whole hell of a lot of sitting around and talking. Oh, sure, there's a brief moment in which four of the characters go through the big, Corellian teleportation device to explore "Planet Zero" (a lame, filmic version of the comics' "The Negative Zone") but somehow even THAT seems boring.
Notice I said four? Well it's not the four you're thinking of. Seriously. This is supposed to be about The Fantastic Four, but instead, the main scientist, Sue, stays back and Victor goes in her place, joined by non-scientists, Ben and Johnny. Seriously.
Oh, don't worry. She still gets her invisibility powers, just as Ben goes all rocky, Reed starts stretching, Johnny goes totally FLAMING and Victor disappears. Then the sitting around and mumbling with as little inflection as possible continues. Reed chickens out and leaves, even. Yeah. And it goes on like that. Just boring, boring, boring.
Reed can't even decide if he's no good to anyone or if he's the genius who can save everybody. But we do get to sit there and watch while he thinks about it for what seems like about fourteen hours of screentime!
Then right at the bitter (and I do mean bitter) end we actually do see some action as if to set up the sequel with an actual story and then the film ends. Dude, seriously, even this is vaguely silly and hilarious with the whole gang getting sucked into a hole in the sky thanks to this film's clumsy excuse for Doctor Doom, but hey, at least it isn't the snooze-fest that the rest of the movie hangs around our necks, albatross-like.
Strangely, the industry really rallied around Trank at first and he had already been hired to direct a new Star Wars flick. He has since been fired due to erratic behavior on the set of Fant4stic. The end of a promising career or the saving grace that we didn't get a dreary tranquilizer of a Star Wars flick? You decide. Judging from this thing, it would likely have the overall quality of The Star Wars Holiday Special.
Make no mistake, Fantastic Four never satisfies and truly manages only to suck balls. How much does it suck? Let me put it like this... I considered reviewing both Jupiter Ascending and Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and both of them felt a bit too hiqh-quality to be the 2016 Christmas Turkey. Fantastic Four, on the other hand, sucks just enough to qualify. Fuck this noise. Fantastic Four gets a total and complete DOG any time of the year! Yes, there actually IS a worse superhero movie than Batman V. Superman.
Seriously, Fox, give the rights back to Marvel or make a Spiderman Homecoming type deal like Marvel made with Sony. Because you've had your shot and you sucked every time. This movie eats cake sized asses. Cut your losses. Nobody wants your crappy version of this saga and Trank has rightfully never worked again.
Merry Christmas. There's no present less fantastic.
Maybe "DICKtor Doom" Or Dictor Von Doom! Or Ducktor Von Damnit! They'd all be better than DOMASHEV!
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