Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four is getting slammed so badly that the director himself has disavowed it. That’s never, ever a good sign. But is it actually that bad, or just a matter of bad press?
10. Yes, it really is that bad. Seriously, folks, do not bother seeing this in the theater. Wait until it’s on cable and experience it, preferably with a drink. If you don’t mind swears, comic artist Ty Templeton nails the biggest issue in a simple cartoon–this Fantastic Four is not very fantastic. Or heroic at all, really. They create a mess due to their own egos, then clean it up a year later, and then use that leverage to essentially blackmail the government. Well done, all. It’s so bad that I will not be using images from the movie, and instead will include panels from the classic comics.
9. The worst part about it is how you see glimmers of the movie it could’ve been. In fact, I’d even argue that the middle segment would be enjoyable as some kind of fan film. The first act crawls and the third is a hot mess, but that middle act is not horrific. And that, kids, is what we call “damning with faint praise.” Still, you really can see that, at some point, there was some effort put into this… and then they gave up and said “OKAY NOW KILL EVERYONE!”
8. About that! There’s a pretty high death toll here. Not quite Man of Steel levels, but there’s a moment in the third act where it goes from suspense to almost comical amounts of death. I guess you’re supposed to feel like the stakes have been raised, but it just feels over the top and silly. Almost as silly as finding out the pants-less Thing is now a covert ops mass murderer. Classy.
7. The casting director deserves a gift basket. Seriously, the actors almost all have decent chemistry and screen presence. Michael B. Jordan feels like Johnny, much like Chris Evans did in the older version. I guess The Human Torch is just an easy character to update to modern sensibilities.
6. With that said, don’t expect this movie to make up for some of the lackluster roles of women in super hero action films. Sue Storm is very much “the girl.” I’m sure Kate Mara is a great actress in some things, but she’s stuck making the same two facial expressions, modeling assorted wigs, and being a potential love interest. How sidelined is she? She doesn’t even get to be part of the exploratory mission–instead she gets her powers while sitting at home, trying to get them to come back. That’s just lame.
5. You can play a drinking game for every time Franklin Storm (father of The Human Torch and Invisible Woman) stressed being a family or working together. Oh my glob, we get it. The theme of family is stressed and name-dropped throughout. Annoyingly, though, we never see anyone acting like one. Victor is apparently on his own; Sue is adopted and Franklin’s favorite, but we rarely see warmth there; Johnny is busy being an angry son; Ben is beaten by his brother (while using his own signature “it’s clobbering time” line); and Reed goes so far as to say he wishes he too had been adopted by another family. For a movie that wants to stress a family theme, they sure do show family as a terrible thing.
4. Can we talk about their powers? The Fantastic Four’s powers are treated like afflictions, which is a somewhat new take (other than The Thing), and have to be controlled via their suits. This would be an interesting take if it were not so dreary. The Fantastic Four should never be dreary, people! Almost all the powers are introduced via an infodump, violating that important movie-making rule “show, don’t tell.” Doom apparently must have somehow heard this info dump, despite not being in the same dimension, because he immediately guesses that a force field is Sue’s doing. Ugh.
3. Doctor Doom was the worst part of the 2005 Fantastic Four and he is yet again here. Tying Doom to the team’s origins is lame, and here they once again lame it up. Doom is basically a god, who has apparently spent the one year between acts one and two learning how to open inter-dimensional rifts with his mind. He decides to destroy the Earth, which is so far removed from any concept of Doom that they may as well have just named him Green Energy Guy.
2. Is there anything you or your kids may enjoy? The almost-cartoonish third act fight scene, got cheers from some of the kids in the audience. Seriously, I cannot stress how much this feels like another film that was tacked onto the rest. As re-shots were done later, this is entirely possible. Such a mishmash.
1. Speaking of, the ending may very well be the most blatant rip-off of Joss Whedon not having Cap actually finish saying “Avengers Assemble” at the end of Age of Ultron. Heck, that entire closing scene felt like an attempt to ape that more popular movie.
Seriously, folks, this is just a waste of time. If you want to see a good take on a team of four heroes that are a family, watch The Incredibles. But if you want to see a good Fantastic Four movie? You’re going to have to wait a while longer.