REVIEW: Fantastic Four
If you’ve heard anything about the new Fantastic Four movie then you’re probably not expecting to find out whether this movie is good or bad, more just how bad it really is. The truth is that the reviews that paint the picture of FF being so confused by its own source material and general style that it fails in almost every aspect, are the ones accurately reflecting this film.
The plot is one that would feel generic if it was released in the 2000’s, before the superhero genre had been given any chance to evolve. Yet even films like Bryan Singer’s first X-Men movie released in 2000 had more twists and turns than Josh Trank’s Marvel adaption, which plays out so dull and straight forward it’s as if they just made a film based on the Wikipedia paragraph that describes who the Fantastic Four are.
Every now and then we’re offered a glimmer of something watchable, the four characters being consumed by their powers, or footage of Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) being used as a special ops soldier by the military, yet these are never expanded or shown in any detail. The members of the Fantastic Four having to battle with their powers for control would have made for some more watchable scenes, and offered some scenes for the cast of highly acclaimed actors to actually work with, rather than watching them try to act around seemingly endless bad dialogue. The theme of the human race only acting in the short term seemed to crop up throughout the film, from speeches made my government officials to Victor Von Doom’s (Toby Kebbel) speeches pre-transformation, yet it’s never addressed with any detail. The idea that the military would weaponise the four of them for military purposes is something that felt believable in a real world context and Ben Grimm’s relationship with the military is one that could have easily become the only genuinely emotional conversation in the film. The film almost seems to want to gloss over anything meaningful or interesting.
Instead Trank, for the first half of the film, attempts to create the most hyper-real world for his new Fantastic Four, a world in which people use words “quantum” and “bio-chemistry” as if they’re the norm. Yet at around the one hour mark, he begins to dismantle the realism piece by piece, abandoning the gritty Nolan-esque realism it had aimed for, in favour of jamming as many superhero clichés in as possible. All this does is lead to plot holes ripping what little world building had been successful to pieces. Not all the members of the Fantastic Four go through the portal so why do all of them receive powers? How does Doom survive on the other side once his suits been destroyed? If Reed Richards is the smartest man in the Marvel universe, why is Victor Von Doom correcting his work on a whiteboard? Why is Johnny Storm even building the portal? He’s punished by being given an incredibly important job he doesn’t seem slightly qualified for.
Doom himself is the worst Doctor Doom we’ve ever seen on screen. He’s utterly terrible, before and after he dons the iconic metal mask. Doom is often cited as the best Marvel villain, yet movies seem unwilling to go the distance and place any faith in his character. He’s written as the leader of a technologically advanced Eastern European superpower, who refers to himself in the third person. Instead we’re offered a wannabe anarchist with an attitude problem, who transforms into just about the least interesting villain in any superhero movie to date. His look is horrendous, he resembles a slowly melting mannequin sprayed with cheap chrome paint and dotted with the occasional green LED light. His power is utterly ridiculous in the sense he seems to basically be god, people simply fall down and die around him if he wishes it, accept the Fantastic Four members of course *sigh* yes, even more plot holes. Also after being stranded in another dimension he manages to knit himself a cape, because by this point the movie has basically given up all hope of being realistic or enjoyable.
It’s difficult to know where to place the blame for the mess that Fantastic Four has become, however the ‘talent’ in the director’s chair may be a good place to start. Accused by varying entertainment magazines and blogs of being intoxicated on set, rude and cold to cast and crew, as well as having a documented standoff with Mr Fantastic actor Miles Teller. It seems as if Trank’s career peeked early with Chronicle.
It’s not often I’d recommend simply not going to see a movie, but in the middle of summer blockbuster season, almost anything else is better worth your time. Except Pixels, but that’s a review for another day. Fantastic Four is Marvel’s first attempt at creating a dark world in the essence of its DC counterparts, and although it may have been a failure, both financially and critically, perhaps a sequel could build on some of those tiny areas of promise that Fantastic Four offers glimpses of. But if studios take one thing away from this disaster of a movie, it’s not to involve Josh Trank with anything until he sorts himself out… Oh and don’t worry, he’s no longer attached to the Star Wars spinoff movie he was expected to direct *collective sigh of relief*.