EXPECTATIONS: Not as bad as the buzz claims it to be.
REVIEW: Another day, another reboot. And this time, the reboot is for Marvel’s first superhero family, the Fantastic Four. Adapted into a film produced by Roger Corman back in the 90’s in a spectacularly campy fashion, it was then adapted into a Hollywood film (and a sequel) in 2005, starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis and Captain America himself, Chris Evans. While I haven’t seen the Roger Corman version, I have seen the Hollywood versions, and while I never liked them, I never really hated them like other superhero fans. Sure, it was goofy, lighthearted and downright fluffy, but at least it felt warm, inviting and I really enjoyed the chemistry between Evans and Chiklis, as the two provide many amusing moments. Which is unfortunately more than I can say for the reboot, which is by far, in my eyes, the most boring superhero film I have ever seen. At least films like Batman and Robin and Catwoman go by on a fast clip and/or are so hilariously campy, they become fun to laugh at. This reboot has none of that slapdash charm and is just a slog to get through.
Five highly intelligent people (Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Toby Kebbell) are hired to embark on a science project of transporting into an alternate universe, but the experiment backfires, leading one of them to their supposed death and the remaining four stricken with shocking abnormalities that make them superhuman. Learning to adapt their abnormalities and embracing them into gifts, they are thrown into a battle between a super-villain which could lead to the end of Earth.
I have never written any spoilers in my reviews before but to be honest, I have completely revealed the entire plot in the synopsis. And this is one of the many problems of the film. Nothing actually happens in the film. 80% of the film’s running time is set in a lab. That’s an approximate 80 minutes of the film. Watching this movie in the cinema a few months back, I remember wondering what was strange about this film and I realized that there is no complication in this film. Every story must have an orientation, a complication and a conclusion. In other words, three acts. But in Fantastic Four, there is no second act. The first act is 80 minutes and the final act is a middling 10 minutes. So the film is all exposition, very little to no build-up and a so-called climax. And boy, the climax is the most problematic part of the film. The green-screen is glaringly obvious, the dialogue is embarrassing, the fight is incredibly anti-climactic and there is no sense of danger or tension for anyone in this scene, despite the best efforts of the actors at hand.
Speaking of the actors, every single one of them are completely wasted. Nothing in the film helps them whatsoever and they just end up looking like they just had their souls sucked away. Miles Teller looks like he needed a drink (like in his earlier film The Spectacular Now) while making the film. Very little of his charisma (or any person, for that matter) is shown and it makes the supposed camaraderie with his supporting cast look incredibly awkward. Michael B. Jordan looks like he should be in a Fast and Furious movie whilst Kate Mara barely makes any impression and Jamie Bell is absent for long periods of time, making one think that he should have been the invisible one. He makes no impression underneath the Thing persona, that they could’ve cast anyone to play Ben Grimm. But as for Toby Kebbell, I feel sorry for him the most because the way the film-makers portray Dr Doom, it is more embarrassing than the 2005’s portrayal. He looks like a horrible version of an egghead Silver Surfer with glow-in-the-dark jizz all over him and he can apparently blow people’s heads up, but he never attempts to do that on the Fantastic Four themselves, especially at Planet Zero, where he is strongest.
Which leads me to the so-called script-writing and editing of the film. Oh boy, here we go. One of the most iconic quotes spouted by kids and adults everywhere is apparently borne out of a child abuser who happens to be Ben Grimm’s brother. Why does Reed disappear for a year that is shown in a title card? Why doesn’t Reed let Ben tag along for the earned scholarship since they BOTH worked on the teleporter together? Why would Johnny Storm’s father hire his rebellious deadbeat of a son to work on a once-in-a-lifetime science project when he could easily hire someone more equipped for the job? How does Dr Doom get a torn-up rag as a cape when he was stuck in Planet Zero for a year? How is it that Reed can change his appearance as well as his voice? If the blast that came from the teleporter made Susan earn the powers to become invisible, why doesn’t anyone in the blast radius have that power too? There’s a hell of a lot more, but clearly someone was on something when they made this film. Even worse was the dialogue, which suffers from what I call the George Lucas syndrome. Where EVERYTHING is spelt out for us. Every human emotion or action is spelt out for the audience like they are mindless idiots. This happens particularly in the third act, when Reed would explicitly spell out what the audience is seeing. Even the mood of the film is so gloomy that there is no fun to be had out of the experience.
I would’ve went more in to the infinite errors of the film (I haven’t even started on the CGI/green-screen of Miles Teller yet) but I feel like I’m bagging out the film. I really don’t want to but there aren’t that many good things in the film to really point out. Just some good ideas that are not properly explored enough like the use of body horror in portraying the abnormalities of the characters (except Susan, which was just lame) and the music from Marco Beltrami and Phillip Glass. This film was just a disaster to begin with that just goes to show that not every superhero film needs a gritty treatment, but they need an actual script. So in conclusion, I think this film is pure dog–
Some good ideas (incorporation of body horror)
The musical score mildly affects
The writing is atrocious (i.e the origin of one of the comic’s catchphrases is hilariously misguided)
Dr Doom is a
fucking joke (not only does he look wrong, his motivations are almost non-existent)
The green screen/CGI is laughable (Miles Teller is clearly green-screened in the forest scene)
The whole movie is a set-up, leading to nothing
The entire talented cast is wasted
SCORE: 2/10 (Doesn’t even qualify as so-bad-it’s-good entertainment)
Cast: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson, Tim Heidecker
Director: Josh Trank
Screenwriters: Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg, Josh Trank