Okay, strap in for a rant. How fucking hard is it to get the Fantastic Four right? Like, seriously? They’re a family with superpowers who go on whacky space adventures. The Human Torch is always messing with the Thing. They have a flying car. The movie practically writes itself. And yet this is the FOURTH, COUNT IT, FOURTH fucking attempt at an FF movie that can only really be described as a hot mess. The first major problem, and the one that I knew would be an issue since the first teaser trailer, is the tone. This is your quintessential “gritty reboot”. Whereas the previous two movies were overly silly and cartoonish, here they overcorrect and the tone fails to mesh at all with the source material. Like, the entire first half of the movie is totally straight, and grounded, and realistic, and they go so far out of their way to make it feel like the real world, and then they’re like “oh yeah, this guy has fire powers now, because science”. It just doesn’t work, and completely fails to walk the line between realism and cheese that the best comicbook movies do.
The next thing that most critics are talking about it what feels like an incredibly out of place and tacked-on ending. And when I say it feels tacked on, I mean literally the studio watched a rough cut of the movie and said “we need a big dumb action movie ending” and so they went back and did reshoots and added the whole sequence. Not only has this been talked about in interviews and stuff, but you can tell it’s all reshoots because Kate Mara’s hair changes to a really obvious wig. Now, director Josh Trank has expressed on twitter that the movies’ poor reviews were due to studio interference, and when so many people have been pointing to that tacked on action ending, it seems like he has a point. But you know what? I think I actually agree with the studio on this. First off, let me say, I do love me a good slow moving science fiction movie. And I actually really enjoyed a lot of the first half of this movie, leading up to them getting their powers, because it did play like a slow moving sci-fi movie with some characters who actually felt like real people. But by the time we were about an hour, hour 15 minutes into the movie, I literally felt like yelling at the screen “SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR FUCKING POWERS!!!” Literally nobody does anything cool with their powers at any point in this movie. We see 20 minutes of Sue Storm practicing her forcefields on some cargo crates, there’s a single one minutes long scene where Mr. Fantastic beats up some military guys with his stretchy arms, the Human Torch just kept walking around on fire for no reason while not doing anything, and we hear all about the Thing going out on these crazy army missions and fighting all these dudes, but we never actually see it. By the time the big dumb ending rolled around I couldn’t wait to see anything even remotely resembling actual action. Then the big final fight is this: Doctor Doom is firing a big blue laser up into the sky, the Fantastic Four all run at him one at a time, and he throws them back with his vague green energy powers, then the Fantastic Four all run at him at the same time, and they manage knock him back into the big blue laser and he dies. Then the government agrees to fund their scientific research/superhero activities in exchange for nothing because of a vague threat from the Thing, they set up their base in a giant bunker in the middle of the forest which they call Central City, even though the FF’s headquarters has always been the Baxter Building in the heart of Manhattan, and Central City is where The Flash lives, then they’re like “what should we call the team” and then the Thing says something about how their new base is “Fantastic” and then Reeds like “Fantastic, eh? That gives me an idea…” and then the movie finally fucking ends. So Josh “I’m never getting another job with a major studio ever again” Trank can sit around all day and bitch about how he’s a great artist and the mean old studio ruined his vision of a “Cronenberg’s The Fly-esque body-horror movie”, but I say to him that you’re no Cronenberg, nobody wanted that from a Fantastic Four movie, you suck at directing action, and your previous movie Chronicle is a bunch of whiny self-indulgent bullcrap that’s found footage for no reason. And if the rumours of him showing up to set super high or sometimes not at all are accurate, then I’m not entirely convinced that they even could have finished the movie without all those extensive studio reshoots.
But I’m not done yet. Here, in no particular order, is a bunch of other shit that pissed me right off: The whole goddamn movie was about Reed Richards, and how he felt guilty about turning his best friend into a rock monster. Now while that is definitely a big part of team dynamic, we got no goddamn characterization from anybody else. The only thing we find out about Sue Storm is that she’s “good with patterns?”, whatever the fuck that means, and I can’t even remember a single memorable thing that the Human Torch said. No good one liners, no back and forth between him and the Thing. It’s called the Fantastic Four, not whiny scientist kid: the movie. In fact, we got almost no interaction between the team at all. I think the final battle sequence was actually the first time they were even all in the same room together. The entire point of the Fantastic Four is how they interact as a team and a family, and it’s literally completely missing from this movie. Next, their suits help them control their powers now. Like the Human Torch has to turn a little thing on his suit to flame on and off, he can’t even do it on his own. And at one point Reeds suit breaks, and he can’t un-stretch himself, but then he can, cause willpower. And fucking Tim Blake Nelson was originally cast as the Mole Man, but in the actual movie he’s just some military douche who fucking dies for no reason. Which is also the second time he got screwed out of being a classic comicbook villain, because if you remember The Incredible Hulk (which no one does), they totally set him up to be The Leader at the end and then never followed through with it. Then there’s the part where we see Ben Grimm as a little kid, and his older brother is beating him up, and he says “it’s clobberin’ time”. Like, really? We’re so far into the realm of dark and gritty-ness that the Thing’s classic catchphrase is used by an abusive family member as opposed to something he yells in battle? And then there’s the part where Victor Von Doom is being really morbid about something, and then Susan actually says “jeez, Doctor Doom over here”. Which not only is really stupid and forced and a total groaner, but actually doesn’t make sense. Because see originally in this movie they were gonna call him “Victor Domishcev”, or something, because Von Doom is a ridiculous comicbook name, so you can kind of see how that joke would have made sense, cause it’s like the first time anyone’s called him that. But then they went back and re-dubbed all the dialogue so that his name actually was Von Doom, but then they left that joke in. So she’s all “Doctor Doom over here” like that’s something she’s calling him because he was talking about doom and shit, but like, that’s his actual name. You’re just calling him his real name. That doesn’t make sense.
Oh, and while we’re on the subject of Doctor Doom, let me point out that this is the SECOND onscreen version of the character that is A) not the dictator of his own country, B) does not wear any high tech armour, and C) has no magical or mystical abilities. Instead, this time he’s an angry teenager with vague green energy powers in a melted plastic face mask. Like, it looks so fucking stupid. It really does. Google it or something. But the explanation for it doesn’t even make any sense. Like they say that his spacesuit like fused with his body, but the spacesuit helmet was like a big helmet thing, with a little face whole, but then after the accident his face is like a perfectly carved out face shape, made of plastic, like over his real face? And also it’s all like rocky and glowing green in parts. Ugh, I can’t even. How do you fuck up Marvel’s most fearsome and badass villain this badly, let alone do it fucking TWICE? And speaking of things that are stupid and made of rock, the fucking Thing, man. First off, the CGI is bad and his voice is all wrong. God help me, I would have preferred Michael Chiklis in the rubber suit. But man, what really bums me out is that he walks around with no pants and you can see that he has no dick. Like, that sucks, right? I mean, I always imagined he had some sort of orange, rocky penis, but now we’re being forced to see that he’s a weird sexless genital-less thing with just a weird flat pubic mound. Like turning into an orange rock monster is one thing, but losing your dick? It’s just sad, and weird, and I can’t help but think about it every time I look at him. How does he go to the bathroom? Does he still have sexual urges? If he ends up getting together with Alisha Masters, how could they possibly have any sort of sex? Does he still identify as male? Do they ever talk about how fucked up it is that he lost his genitals? Goddamnit, I just wanna watch the Thing punch stuff and have cool catchphrases, I don’t want to have to think about his junk, or lack thereof. WHY THE FUCK COULDN’T THEY JUST GIVE HIM PANTS SO I WOULDN’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT IT???!!!! LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE OTHER FANTASTIC FOUR ANYTHING HAS DONE THAT FOR THE LAST 50 YEARS!!!!
So yes, this movie is a complete fucking mess, and is possibly even worse than the 2005 one? I don’t know, it’s hard to say, that movie’s pretty awful. I think the second one is a little better. Maybe the low budget Roger Corman one from the 90’s is the best one. It’s certainly the most fun to watch. But anyway, here are the few things I did like about this movie: the cast was pretty solid. I mean it’s hard to tell what their chemistry as a group is like since we don’t see it at all, but they’re all good actors who fit their characters well. The first 40 minutes or so, before they got their powers, was kind of interesting, and I actually thought the origin itself was handled pretty well, even though it was the version from the Ultimate comics and not the original one. There was also one scene right after they got their powers where Reed Richards is lying in a hospital bed all stretched out and he has to pull himself back together, and that was a pretty cool kind of creepy effect. Yep, that’s it. I guess better luck next time?
Overall Rating: blechh/10