I’m sure we’ve all had those days. You wake up, tell yourself “today I’m going to smash it”, you stride in to work and power through a full days work in about two hours. The realisation then dawns on you that, somehow, your workload has doubled! You work harder and harder yet things keep going to shit. Halfway through the day you think “Sod it, work can suck my bum cheeks”. The rest of your day you flake out and phone it in.
Fantastic Four is the same. It’s like they really tried at the start of the film but realised they didn’t have a smash hit so they shovelled up some some garbage and lobbed it carelessly at the end of the film. Bollocks to it, I give up, that’ll do.
The film opens with a young Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) helping a young Reed Richards (Miles Teller) build a teleporter. Admittedly the concept of a kid developing a teleportation device when his voice hasn’t even broken is bullshit but opening at an early age helps to develop kinship between a genius and the son of a salvage merchant.
Richards is talent spotted and invited to build a bigger, working version, of his teleporter with the help of Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) and Sue Storm (Kate Mara).
Casting. There’s the first balls up. There’s nothing wrong with any of the above actors but Teller is too goofy to be Reed Richards, Bell is too slender to be Ben Grimm, Mara is too moody to be Sue Storm and Jordan isn’t enough of a playboy to be Johnny Storm.
If you know anything of the comics you will know that Johnny and Sue are, by blood, brother and sister and white. Yet here Johnny is black – OK, fine, whatever – but Sue is white? If you are guessing that Sue was adopted then 10 points to you. Unfortunately the film explores this for all of 5 seconds on screen. When was she adopted? Why? How does Johnny feel about this? Where is Johnny’s mum? none of these are even hinted at. Insert the word adopted into the script and I guess that’s enough back story for one film.
In fact, as the team start to near completion of the machine you could have doubts that they even know each other as they barely speak a word to each other so the chemistry between the “brother and sister” is non-existent.
Up to this point the film has been a bit dull, but not bad, you might even have the feeling that it is building towards something good . The team perfect the machine and decide to take the glory of being the first humans to teleport. The machine actually teleports them to a different dimension, the visual aesthetic dimension which is beautiful yet chaotic. It’s a primordial world where streams of pure energy flow and pulsate into golden green pools reminiscent of a new born planet.
The energy pools erupt and the team scramble to get back home. In the frenzy Victor falls into the goop and the others escape but are fundamentally changed; they have gained their superpowers. You would have thought that this is where the film will get good but no, this is where it goes to shit. It’s bizarre to think that the worst part of a superhero movie is the superheroes. I mean seriously? How is that even a thing?
Well here’s how. Firstly, some of the CGI is shonky. There is scene where Johnny Storm – the human torch – takes down a drone in mid flight which looks like it has been lifted from the year 2002. Some of Reed Richards’ – Mr Fantastic – elastic transformations is questionable as are his fighting abilities. Think more camp adventure film than the dynamic action of Elastagirl from The Incredibles.
Next up is that the team never really do anything. There is a 20-30 section where the team practice their abilities without ever really interacting with anyone. Not even the other Fantastic Four members. Even though the training section is long enough most of the actual action is glossed over by a “1 year later” placeholder. The only good thing that comes out of this isolation is that you get to understand Ben Grimm’s – Thing – feeling of isolation and reflection on his new rock-steady appearance (a key plot point from the comics).
In steps Victor Von Doom – Dr Doom – who, of course, survived the previous disaster and came back with a heap of superpowers including being able to microwave people and make their heads explode yet he inexplicably doesn’t use this insta-kill power to stop the inevitable fight with the Fantastic Four.
Furthermore, all the others came back physically changed but mentally the same. Why then, has Victor gone from being a bit dour but overall a decent guy to becoming psychotic? A year in isolation? Perhaps, but there are no signs of his past humanity. Doom wants to destroy the earth to protect the other world which he has claimed as his home.
The peak of this mountain of crap is the finale. The only way to stop Doom is to go to his world and kill him. The fight scene here is absurd. They somehow get stuck to the floor by Doom’s power of gravity or something? Not really sure why or how this happened. Reed somehow manages to stand up and fight on like he is Rocky Balboa. The four work together in the most basic of ways to fight Doom by boring him to death probably. The acting in this scene is atrocious. The dialogue is rushed, confusing and inane in the rare moments it’s actually audible over the music and sound effects. Doom’s method of destroying Earth isn’t explained either its just some rocks and a laser thing. It an awful, avalanche of shit of an ending.
So how did this end up being so bad? Well, there have been rumblings of studio meddling in artistic vision with director Josh Trank tweeting then deleting the same tweet about how we will never see ‘his’ vision of the film. Other stories surfaced around Trank and how he was isolated and non-communicative during filming. Further rumours swirled of large parts of the movie needing to be re-shot. Perhaps this lead to it’s 3 month delay and critic’s review embargo that only lifts the day before release, which is often a clue to poor quality in films and computer games for that matter.
The Fantastic Four have always had a troubled history in hitting mass market appeal unlike a lot of Marvel’s other intellectual property so if even half the above rumours are true and you factor in the mis-casting of a reboot that steers away from it’s source material then you might find it ironic that this was doomed from the start.
- Builds well
- The other world
- The end scene
- Dodgy CGI in places
- There’s no post credit scene for X-Men Apocalypse 😦