Movie Review: Fantastic Four

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An accident during an experiment involving interdimensional travel leaves a group of young people with supernatural abilities.

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Josh Trank, 2015

Misunderstood teen genius Reed Richards (who hasn’t been there, am I right?) (Miles Teller) wants to be the first person to discover teleportation. He’s been working on a device to make this possible since his childhood, with the help of his best friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell). When he enters the device in a science fair, his teachers are blind to his true genius; only scientist Franklin Storm (Reg E Cathey) can see the potential of the device. It turns out Reed has accidentally figured out interdimensional travel, so he gets a scholarship (where to? who knows? not this movie) and runs off to learn the science. Then he and Storm’s kids, the sometimes blonde, sometimes blonder Sue (Kate Mara) and Johnny (Michael B Jordan), do the science alongside misanthropic also-genius Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell). A drunken decision to test their new machine sees Reed, Johnny, Victor, and Ben (literally only because Reed was drunk) head to another dimension and then get superpowers through a combination of some green goo and whatever’s on them at the time (fire, rocks, their suit…stretching…). Poor Sue gets caught up in the blast and she DIDN’T EVEN GET TO GO SEE THE OTHER WORLD. So then they have to learn to deal with each other and be a team or whatever.

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You guys. If you’re reading this, after everything else you’ve heard about Fantastic Four, thinking ‘maybe it’s not so bad. Maybe, out of everyone, I’ll be that one person who really enjoys it. Maybe people are being unfair’, you are wrong. The thing about Fantastic Four is that there is all this potential for a good movie in there. I think that’s what makes it so bad. For about the first hour, I actually found it enjoyable. Sure, it has its low points, but there’s some charm to the characters, and some seemingly genuine affection in their interactions. The young actors are all really, genuinely talented, and they’re all trying to make this work. Miles Teller actually plays Reed with some dorky charm – he has a naive arrogance about him, but it doesn’t dilute his kind heart. The other three are given much less to work with, but they’re doing what they can. It’s more than can be said for the older actors. Reg E Cathey delivers a lot of gravitas, but no emotion behind it, and Tim Blake Nelson…chews gum. A lot. I wanted to smack the gum out of his mouth several times. So at least he inspired some kind of emotion in me, I suppose. It seems like every time they showed the slightest hint of emotion someone said TOO MUCH! I NEED LESS! until nobody was moving their face when they talked. I almost fell asleep during their board meeting scenes. However, there were also some interesting questions being raised around what it means to have your body so radically warped, and what having these abilities might do to you. Somewhere hidden amongst this movie is a real attempt to make a superhero movie that’s different and fresh. It’s just that it’s buried under layers and layers of awfulness.

None of the elements of this movie work together, and I’m not just talking about the unholy union of Josh Trank and Fox. Firstly, the movie is dark. I’m not talking DC-style grimdark everything is pain; I’m talking literally dark. Its washed-out colour palette and low lighting make it hard to see. On top of that, the special effects are bizarrely terrible for a movie with this kind of budget. Not one of the Four’s powers looks remotely decent (which explains why in all the promo photos released they’re all just kinda standing around). The script is terrible. The dialogue sounds like it was written by a teenage boy in his basement. Still, I don’t think the script can be blamed for the movie’s fatal flaw: it completely falls apart in the third act. I’m not just talking about a poor ending. I’m talking about an ending so forced, so rushed, so incoherent, that I was surprised to find out it was almost over. There was a logical progression that the plot needed in order to make this an actual, finished movie, and it did none of it. It’s almost like they forgot how to movie. Much like in Iron Man 2, the main villain vanishes offscreen for the entire second act, then is brought back in at the eleventh hour almost as an afterthought. Then they threw a terrible action sequence together and called it a day. Which is what I’m going to do now, because I don’t think I can spend any more time on this sad affair.

Fantastic Four on IMDb

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