Fantastic Four (2015) Review: Fanta-Stick A Needle In Both My Eyes.
Superhero movies have come a long way in the last ten years, since the release of the original ‘Fantastic Four’. Since then Batman has become the dark knight he was always meant to be and the galaxy is now sufficiently guarded. The genre has evolved past its origin of cringe-worthy dialogue and now garners the attention of everyone from Robert Redford to Jeremy Irons. Aside from its credibility, the genre has expanded its storytelling horizons.
Each one these days corners a different sub-genre. You have a conspiracy thriller in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, a fantasy epic in ‘Thor: The Dark World’ and most recently, a heist film in ‘Ant-Man’. If superheroes are going to be dominating the release schedules of the next decade or two, it’s a comfort to know they’ll at least be interesting.The most recent of superhero cinema, Fantastic Four, seems to completely ignore all that goodwill and innovation.
The movie starts out with Reed Richards, established as a misunderstood boy genius. While every other kid says they want to grow up to be firemen, he says he wants to instantaneously travel across space. A bit of an overachiever right? His teacher mocks him, his parents dismiss him. The only respite he can find is through his friend and partner Ben Grimm. Together the two work over the next 7 years to perfect Reed’s plans of teleportation. Eventually, this perfection catches the eye of Franklin Storm and his daughter Sue. They offer him a chance to work on an already existing teleportation project, except instead of moving across the planet, he’ll be moving across dimensions…
There’s a bit more to the plot but essentially, Reed fixes the machine and rather than leave the glory to an astronaut with no idea how the thing works, one night, while drunk, he, Johnny Storm, and Victor Von Doom decide to take the machine for a spin. If that sounds like a pretty radical move for a scientist to make, that doesn’t translate very well for the character that’s because it is, and it doesn’t.
Not to mention, the only one in the scene who has any reservations about the whole thing, is Johnny, the one who’s been established, literally by Victor, as a guy who “has problems with authority”. Yes, the decision to go on the expedition which gave the Fantastic Four their powers is made with the same amount of zeal and intelligence as when you and your friends decide to get 24 hour drive through at 3 in the morning in your dad’s car without asking.
The dissonance of character is a major problem with this movie, especially with the case of Reed Richards. Reed is presented as a misunderstood kid with a penchant for arrogance like any major scientist. The problem is he never comes off as likable in any of his scenes. His dismissive condescension makes it impossible to understand why anyone would want to be around him. This makes it all the more difficult to buy into the relationships we see him form in the movie.
Not to mention Miles Teller is completely dead in the role. After his performance in ‘Whiplash’ I can’t say that he’s a bad actor, he just wasn’t doing much of anything in this film. In fact, the only one out of the main cast that wasn’t doing a “speak in a low voice and emote as little as possible” was Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm. Despite the controversy of his casting, I was grateful for his presence just so the movie didn’t feel so monotonous.
Going back to the characters, not a lot of what happens in the movie makes sense. It’s always clear what’s going to happen because, I’ve seen a movie before, but the motivations behind the scenes are non-existent. There’s a scene where Reed Richards has gone missing and needs to be tracked down. Sue Storm is an expert on finding patterns so she is the only one who can find him. She’s currently angry at Richards for leaving the team behind, so naturally, she should want him found.
However, when asked to do so, she exhibits reluctance, because she doesn’t want Reed to be found for…reasons? There’s no rhyme or reason to any one character’s actions. Any semblance of anyone’s arc in this film is shattered by nonsensical plot development. It never manifests itself in a way that is in any way organic. Everything feels half-baked and put out to serve while the inside is still mush.
Aside from the characters, which are broken, and the acting, which is deplorable, ‘Fant4stic’ doesn’t even follow the basics of film-making at times. Sue Storm is a bleach blonde with gold white hair in some scenes, and in others, she’s a dirty blonde. It’s as if she went through the meticulous process of changing the hue of her hair constantly, sometimes in the same day! This no doubt stems from an irregular shooting schedule, but mistakes like that only serve to take you out of the movie. However, I’m not sure I mind that especially since the movie is so ugly to look at.
With film being a visual medium, it’s not wise to have your set design range between gray and silver lab environment, and brown and green space environment. There’s a brief break between those two settings in the form of a Panama forest, but it’s so brief that it doesn’t justify the prolonged sense of walking through what feels like the drabbest psychiatric hospital in the world. I firmly believe that the reason this film is not in 3D is that it would be impossible to see with darkened 3D glasses.
Taking all this into consideration I suppose I should say something favorable about the film, and that’s probably the effects. The scenes where the four show their abilities are handled well, especially in the case of the Thing. His rocky exterior detaches any sense of humanism to him and his design convey’s not just the alien origin of his form, but also the pain inherent in being the Thing himself.
While these effects are good, they’re put to little to no use. The film includes a total of two action sequences, both taking place in the second act. The first scene shows off a stretching effect for Mr. Fantastic that hasn’t evolved much since the days of the 2005 version, the second is…the final battle. Yes, the final battle for this film occurs at the end of the second act, as there is no third act to speak of in this 100-minute film. By the time the film is finished you’re left with the same sensation one gets when they’ve eaten a meal too quickly, and they’re still hungry. Except the meal is tasty. This isn’t.
I wish I could find something else to tell you worth saying but the truth is this movie is nothing. It’s 100 minutes of 100% pure, unadulterated mess that just keeps getting more and more complex as it meanders on. None of the dialogue is particularly gripping and in fact, contains a good amount of gripes at the film’s expense. That line I mentioned about Johnny having a problem with authority, is mocked in the film for sounding like something no one would say. Franklin Storm makes speeches about how the youth are there to save the planet ruined by an older generation, but this unintentionally comes off as a parody of inspiring speeches in movies.
Despite everything that’s been said I still get the sense that you’re reading this and thinking “It can’t be that bad”, “There must be something worth seeing”, “No one would spend time and money into making that”, “Damian sure does use a lot of run-on sentences”. Listen very carefully: It is that bad, there is nothing worth seeing, a lot of money and but not a lot of time went into making this pile of fecal cinema.
‘Fant4stic’, is the worst film to feature the titular team. While word of mouth had confirmed that this would be yet another waste of time and money, my dedication to this blog is so strong, I forced myself to sit through the trainwreck that was this moving picture. I say moving picture because technically that’s what it was, however, a movie is a term used for entertainment. Actually, no, I shouldn’t go that far, because no matter how bad ‘Fant4stic’ was, I can’t say I wasn’t entertained. Its bad moments are hysterical with the right environment, like a bottle of jack and a few good friends, but it absolutely is not worth the price of admission.
Rating: Read A Book