“You made it ugly.”
Reed Richards (Miles Teller) says this to some government officials after they took his invention and made it their own. This is what I feel Josh Trank and 20th Century Fox did to the beloved Marvel Comics franchise.
If you listen to Forced Perspective, a proud podcasting partner of this site, you’ll know that I usually have nothing to plug at the end of the show. My full time job is incredibly demanding, which I have to balance with being a new father. This leaves me with little time to write movie reviews for this site, which I used to do frequently. But sometimes, something comes along that makes you so angry, that you need to vent.
Fantastic Four isn’t a piece of shit. No. It’s a steaming puddle of cinematic diarrhea. One of the worst superhero movies of recent history. It makes the previous three films (yes, including the unreleased 1994 one) look like the Dark Knight trilogy.
I’m not interested in production problems. Or if Josh Trank was unprofessional. Or if 20th Century Fox meddled too much. The end result of this film is a joyless, muddy, soulless mess.
Beware: Spoilers ahead. But honestly, I’m doing you a favor so you don’t have to watch it.
I tried to give this film a chance. I really, truly did. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say the first act of the film was fairly solid. I was engaged in the characters and was digging the sci-fi element. But then they go to “PLANET ZERO,” the parallel universe/alternate dimension from which the four (plus Victor Von Doom) gain their powers. After that point, it becomes a clusterfuck. The second and third act are so mushed together and formless that by the time the climactic battle happens you think to yourself “Oh, we’re doing this NOW?”
You want character development? Too bad! Early on we had a nice development of the friendship between Reed and Ben, then Act 2 comes and bye bye character development! It’s hinted at that Victor has a thing for Sue… aaaaaand that’s all you get because they don’t explore it any deeper than that. Oh and speaking of Sue Storm aka The Invisible Woman, you can tell all of the scenes where 20th Century Fox stepped in to do re-shoots after production wrapped because from scene to scene Kate Mara goes from a dirty blonde to wearing a bleach blonde wig.
And Johnny Storm? You mean the guy who’s just there because his character is in the comics yet is of absolutely no consequence or bearing on the story? They tried to have a little bit of a “you have untapped potential” thing going for him, but yeah, they never explored it. For the record, I have no problem with the filmmakers turning Johnny into a black kid at all. Michael B. Jordan is a talented actor. They just gave him fuck-all to do.
And hey, you know Ben is so upset he’s been turned into a monster? Yeah, well, you can forget about that by the end… the filmmakers obviously did. I also hope you don’t have a fondness for his trademark “It’s clobbering time!” line. While he DOES say it, he says it because his abusive brother used to say it to him while he beat him up… so he says as a battle cry now. Yeah, I know, it makes no sense. Also, what happened to his dick? Seriously… where did it go?
The cast is exceptional. Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell are all good actors. They deserve a better comic book movie. But, hey, hope’s not lost. After all, Chris Evans and Ryan Reynolds got second chances at comic book movies. Maybe one of these guys will as well (if the experience of this train wreck didn’t sour them on the process.)
Oh and let’s talk Dr. Doom. You know, the villain? After being just kind of a dick in Act 1, he completely disappears for the rest of the movie and shows up in the last 15 minutes… and is defeated in unspectacular fashion about 10 minutes after that in a CGI-laden planet that looks like a video game cut scene. And actually, that’s a pretty accurate comparison, because the ease of his defeat reminds me of a level 1 boss in a video game. He has no motivation as to why he wants to destroy the world. He doesn’t really pose that much of a threat to the heroes. And he looks really freaking stupid. Also, what are his powers supposed to be? Nevermind the fact that in the comics Doom doesn’t have super powers, he’s a man in a metal suit, much like Iron Man, and his intellect is his greatest power. But they never bother to explain what he can do. He can blow people’s heads up ala Scanners. But he can also turn the Fantastic Four’s powers against them? What power is that exactly? And he certainly seems to know exactly how all of their powers work despite never actually encountering them in their superpowered forms before.
People like to make fun of the 2005 and 2007 films as being cheesy. But at least those films had character development. At least they weren’t devoid of joy. The 1994 unreleased Corman film was made purely to avoid reverting the rights back to Marvel. It had no production value, cheesy acting and terrible special effects. But it had a soul. This movie cost 200 times that one and it’s completely empty. Let’s face it, these are wacky characters! They need to be fun! It can be done. If Marvel can make a talking raccoon and a walking tree work, and to great effect, then ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!
There aren’t many worse films than the Fantastic Four. Superman IV. Those terrible Captain America TV movies from the 70s. The Captain America film from the early 90s. That’s about it. The financial and creative successes of Iron Man and The Dark Knight took the the comic book/superhero genre to new heights. We’ve had the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the multi-billion dollar success of The Dark Knight trilogy, the rebirth of the X-Men franchise… this is the lowest point of the modern superhero era. Worse than Ghost Rider. Worse than Daredevil. Worse than X-Men Origins. Worse than Man of Steel. Maybe it’s on the same level as Catwoman. Maybe.
20th Century Fox, give the rights back to Marvel. You don’t get these characters. Stick to X-Men movies, you’re still good at that. Trank, quit bitching about what the studio did or didn’t do. Your name is on the film. Be a man and take responsibility.
You made it ugly.
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