I was going to write a proper film review of the reboot/re-launch/re-imagining/re-whatever of Fantastic Four. Instead, I’ve decided to just rip this film apart. I’m not being a jerk. This film has it coming. A review can only be written on a film where at least something works. Nothing works in this film. Nothing. It is the most inexplicably terrible piece of cinema I have had the displeasure of watching this year. It’s not often that I advise people not to see a film. Films are subjective, so I always prefer to let people make up their own mind. However, I cannot in good conscience sit back and allow anyone to be unfortunate enough to sit through this piece of tripe, and here are twelve reasons why.
1. It’s a complete bore. Personally, I find the biggest crime a summer blockbuster can ever commit is being boring. I don’t care if the film is silly, illogical, far-fetched, ridiculous, nonsensical etc. As long as you ultimately bring some entertainment factor to the table, you’ve succeeded as a summer film. There is literally no entertainment to be found here. Nothing. Not one shred of anything that will delight you in any way, shape or form.
2. It’s too damn short. 94 minutes? Are you fucking kidding me? If you’re going to limit yourself to such a short running time, at least fill that running time with entertainment. Not 87 minutes of yawns, and 7 minutes of attempted suspenseful action.
3. It can’t seem to figure out its tone. Sometimes it attempts to be dark and gritty. Sometimes it attempts humour and heart. It truly chops and changes every single scene. And sadly, it never manages to achieve any of those tones properly. Just make up your damn mind. Are you a Nolan film or are you a Schumacher film? You cannot try to be both true to both science and fantasy at the same time. Those are polar opposites. It does not make any sense.
4. The villain is missing for 80% of the movie. Once Victor becomes Dr. Doom, we literally don’t see him again until about 10 minutes before the end. I’m not saying a villain has to be in every single scene, but come on. It’s a super-hero movie. The entire point is meant to be our heroes overcoming some giant evil menace. When that menace is non-existent, you lose your audience’s interest very, very quickly.
5. Random plot points are plonked into the storyline but never really explained. For example, The Thing works for the army for some reason, Sue suddenly being able to fly, despite no mention of this previously, Victor evidently has some romantic history with Sue that’s hinted at once and literally never again. The script feels like 35 people wrote it, all at various different stages over the last few years, and none of them bothered to actually make it into something cohesive. The plot is a disjointed mess of ideas that are either never fully explained or just never spoken of again.
6. The “1 Year Later” jump forward. I don’t even know where to begin with this. At one point, the film jumps forward an entire year. Now, in an “origin film” like this, you may expect to see this at the end of the film to jump forward slightly to something of interest/a way to introduce the storyline for the next chapter. No, no. This happens about 1/2 of the way through the film, not long after the group has been given their superpowers. And the really bizarre thing is no one mentions any time has passed. No one makes any reference to 12 months just disappearing. It just happens. And everyone carries on as normal. Maybe an entire chunk of the film was that bad that this was the only way to fix it. I have no idea. It’s the most inexplicably bizarre thing in the film.
7. The film spends an excessive amount of time setting everything up and then entirely fails to deliver any actual pay off. Say what you will about the 2005 version, but at least they got their powers after 20 minutes. It’s honestly about 45 minutes before the new team finally travel to the alternate dimension and are given their superpowers. 45. Fucking. Minutes. And in that 45 minutes, we get a completely unnecessary flashback storyline to Reed Richards’ childhood (he’s a smart young-adult, so I think it’s safe to assume your audience will know that he was a smart kid without his childhood actually agonisingly shown for 20 minutes), mind-numbingly boring scientific research, pointless montages, a dismal attempt at a love triangle that truly comes out of absolutely nowhere and is never touched upon again, and a completely unnecessary drag-racing car sequence (maybe one of the screenwriters had been watching Furious 7 and thought “Hey! I know what this movie is missing – cars!”). It ultimately makes for an exhaustively boring time for the audience before anything remotely interesting begins to happen. And even then, what we get isn’t really that interesting anyway. Here. I’ll fix this for you. Five minutes into the film, Reed Richards discovers the formula for inter-dimensional travel. Five minutes later, they get hit with the cosmic lava or whatever the hell that badly CGI’d green goo was supposed to be. Five minutes later, they’re the Fantastic Four. Boom. Problem solved.
8. Major characters vanish for inexplicable amounts of time throughout the film. First of all, we don’t actually meet Johnny until a good half hour into the film. Sue is there. So is his father. And yet, neither ever mention him. Okay. Then, after Reed scores his scholarship with the Baxter Institute, Ben Grimm vanishes for a good chunk of time. And finally, Reed disappears for a bunch of scenes and then is gone for what is technically an entire year, thanks to the ridiculous flash forward. And of course Victor is non-existent after he becomes Dr. Doom, until he pops back again for the pointless finale sequence. This is meant to be a film about four people learning to become an powerful foursome to ultimately face off against a mighty villain. I’m pretty sure the five main characters are only in the same room for a total of 8 minutes of screen time by the end of the film.
9. Ben Grimm aka The Thing. What a monumental disaster. The CGI may be more “visually impressive” than the physical make-up seen in the 2005 film, but it loses all possibility of any emotion being seen from behind the CGI rocks. At least Michael Chiklis was able to deliver some emotion in his performance. Jamie Bell is basically just a voice-over here, even before he becomes The Thing. We’ve seen evidence that motion-capture can deliver truly stunning performances in films like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and King Kong. Sadly, this does not continue that tradition. It’s basically like someone using a pet rock as a ventriloquist dummy. It gets old very quickly. And his introduction into the science experiment, aka how he becomes The Thing, is utter nonsense. In a nutshell, he was Reed’s friend as a child when he was tinkering with the idea of teleportation, so when Reed finally achieves his goal as a young adult, he sneaks Ben into the laboratory so he can come along for the ride. Oh, okay. That’s basically like Neil Armstrong sitting in Apollo 11 and deciding to ring an old school pal to say “Heya buddy, I’m off to the moon today! You wanna join me?”. Oh, and in this incarnation, we learn that the origin of The Thing’s infamous catchphrase “It’s clobberin’ time” is from his childhood when his brother would say it to him before he would physically abuse him. How charming.
10. It attempts to be young and hip, but just ends up sounding completely ridiculous. Case in point – when Johnny first teleports to the alternate dimension planet thing, essentially becoming one of the first human beings in history to travel to another dimension, the first words out of his mouth are “I’m definitely gonna put this on Instagram”. Yep.
11. It wastes a truly wonderful cast. Miles Teller is one of the brightest talents around. His work in Whiplash last year was sublime. Kate Mara did some glorious work on House of Cards. Jamie Bell has been doing wonderful things since Billy Elliot. Michael B. Jordan should have been Oscar-nominated for his work in Fruitvale Station. Toby Kebbell was the stand-out in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Clearly they have managed to assemble some of the best young talent you could ever ask for. And they’ve wasted every single one of them. No one is given anything to do but deliver dull cliché lines. They’re trying their best, but sadly, if the script is a complete piece of tripe, it does not matter how wonderful the actors are.
12. The finale is so ridiculously rushed and poorly explained that it ends up being a complete and utter mess. I don’t even really know what the hell Dr. Doom was trying to do or what he was pissed off about. There wasn’t really an explanation to why he was suddenly a villain. Yeah, he was all fucked up by the green lava goo, but I don’t know how he jumped to suddenly wanting to end Earth’s existent so quickly. He’s just really mad and really hell bent on destroying things. I honestly can’t even tell you what the hell was going on in the supposedly epic set-piece that is the film’s conclusion. It was something about Dr. Doom making a black hole from the alternate dimension that somehow comes to Earth and starts sucking up some trees and a few cars or something. In all this supposed chaos, I don’t even think any civilians lose their lives. Or are even injured. Or slightly perturbed by these events at all. He basically attacks a forest. Take that, Mother Nature. When compared to other superhero film finales like The Battle of New York in The Avengers or the destruction of Metropolis in Man of Steel, this shit just looks utterly dull and subpar. Ultimately, there’s no real sense of dread when the heroes manage to dispose of the villain in literally 3 and a half minutes. Oh, sorry. SPOILER ALERT.
This reboot is so bad, it makes the 2005 version look like a masterpiece. See it at your own peril.