The trend continues here with "Fantastic 4", another entry in the canon of terribly average to plain bad films this year. Despite initial strong anticipation and hype for the talent originally involved into this production, F4 quickly vanished from the cinematic earth as a rushed production schedule, multiple reshootings, on set fights, and continuous rewrites occurred.
|And people thought that Michael B Jordan's casting was a problem. As if.|
Story: The biggest problem of "Fantastic four" still lies with the story. As another attempt was done to bring in life Marvel's most beloved superhero family, Josh Trank and Co felt it was necessary to change entire storylines aiming to add the much unneeded realism that the superhero genre requires. In a tragic move that some saw initially as an interesting take, the final product is literally a mess. But first things first. This time around we have a 20's max something group with no interaction with each other whatsoever along with muddled motivations and characterizations that do not even go more than one dimensional. Their discovery of the negative zone almost at the end of the film! gives them their powers that we all know and love whereas accidentally Dr Doom is created wanting to wreck havoc and chaos on our world. First and foremost, Doom's origin story is just a joke, an insult to the fans of the comic and despite its alteration, there is nothing new or original on his take - more on that later. The first two thirds of the film are focused on the machine build up to explore the negative zone - I am not making this up - while the third act contains the very fast face off with Doctor Doom. So for almost 90 minutes, we get no relationship exploration, zero character moments, no arcs, just heavy expositionary dialogue that potentially explains scientific mambo jumbo and barely anything else is registered. Ben does not even have a scene with Sue Storm, the siblings barely are seem together, Johnny Storm is not the cocky douche whom you would expect to hate and love at the same time, Dr Doom is just off the rails, Reed Richards is just a dork and frankly there is not even the love interest between Sue and Reed!? For a film that is supposed to be a future family, there is not a single element that binds them together. Ben even leaves the picture along with Doom and they just come back not until they are required at the end for the credits to roll!
Casting: Everyone here is the definition of miscast. Whoever thought that this cast was a brilliant idea, should be fired and never get to work on a movie set ever! Since all the actors can be seen in the lat 20's having them playing such younger versions is weird. It does not help that they bare zero splinter of a character when they are onscreen. What is the motivation of Reed? Why he left Ben? What is Victor doing? Is he in love with Sue (totally and lightly implied)? What is Johnny's problem with authority? Sadly it is not the actor's fault as they all have demonstrated buckets of talent in vastly superior flicks.
|Oh, that third act is just.....|
Villain: Dr Doom is Marvel's by far greatest comic villain of all time, and yet he still remains a complex mystery regarding his big screen adaptation. Victor Von Doom should get the Magneto cinematic treatment by Bryan Singer. He is not as tragic as Magneto but equally determined and way more intelligent. A genius level scientist blinded by his own arrogance with mystic powers and a powerful suit (better than Iron Man's) to hide his scarred body, the ruler of the fictional country Latveria in Europe has a rather large amount of redeeming qualities that are worthy to be explored in a similar if not superior way for the Joker and General Zod. He does not want to end the world. He wants to prove himself fueled by a misguided sense of rivalry with Reed Richards as the intellectually superior and genuinely believes that the world would be a better place if he is in charge. Is there any part of my description in the movie? Not a single thing besides his name and his Latverian. In addition to the above mentioned preposterousness, Dr Doom has no ARC whatsoever, with script changes indicating what could have been a reasonable plot point into a black or white decision involving (again another) a destructive portal with the heroes racing to stop it. And his powers contain the ultimate telekinetic energy that can lift mountains now! wearing a melt/infused with this skin breath mask, resembling nothing whatsoever with the comic book counterpart. Awful.
Action: A tremendous flaw to this film is that the lack of action. There are few action notes towards the derailed face off with Doom, but expect some punches - two or three and nothing more. The final fight in the 2005 film is actually way too better when compared to this one. No matter what otherwordly powers these individuals possess, they are no match for Doom and the scenery of a rocky area is not the best place to pick for your battleground, particularly now that audiences have seen Man of Steel, Avengers, Thor 2 and The Winter Soldier.
|Yep that is Kate Mara doing what she looks will be doing in the entire film - standing.|
Technical values: Another category where the film underperforms in is the special effects, sound design, costumes - the horror. Despite a rather atmospheric cinematography in certain bits, a dosage of body horror during the power discovery, some ok production design, the visual representation of the Thing is exceptionally awesome, F4 has nothing to show off against the other megaliths of the superhero canon. No great performances, no solid script, no sharp action. Just an abyss of blended ideas with the design of Doctor Doom receiving much of my criticism.
Direction: Is this disaster of epic proportions of Josh Trank's fault? Some believe it is so. Others believe it is the studio's arrogane. Whatever the resolution is regarding this question, it feels that this film was directed by a ghost, as there are glimpses of what Trank could have done (or did) but never got past the extent of a playable demo. There is no pace, the tone of dark and gritty is a huge mistake for such a colorful comic adaptation with many nods (including its trailer) to "Intersterllar". This approach can work in characters like Batman (and even to some controversial extent to Superman) but not to Fantastic Four. Trank's decision to glue down the tone with much uneeded realism proves to be a game-changer here in the bad meaning of the word. There is only one scene that almost feels Trank's input but it is rather short and bears a scary factor, surprisingly for a PG-13 film, pushing the boundaries of the rating system when Doom is making his escape. You almost feel you are watching a movie and then you get dragged down to the muddled storyline with aimless characters and weird color palette.
So is F4 the worst film of the year? It comes really close. Was it a torture to sit through? No. But it produces a weird feeling because you can actually understand that there was a movie somewhere between the lines but the extensive reshoots, changes and behind the schedule problems buried it deep down. It does not have bad acting. It does not have particularly bad direction. The script is not horrible. It is just that everything was butchered and placed together with uneven tone, make up!, dressings! as someone said "we need to make a movie and we have shot only this" - let's make the best we can. And unfortunately that affects the final product of being Fantastic Four. A tragedy and a shame. And that line "His biochemistry is off the charts!" - who in the right mind wrote this? Immortal line officially!
+ Thing's design and special effects are actually top notch
+ certain bits of cinematography
+ ok production design
- special effects are all over the place
- old actors playing young versions
- love story between Sue and Reed,does not exist
- no action - what were they thinking????
- scenes paced together
- lack of dramatic material
- one dimensional characters
- Dr Doom is telekinetic
- Dr Doom's mask!
- Dr Doom's plan and logic
- final face off is lame
- practically no story line
- there is only one shot of them being together and that's at the end
- Ben disappears from the film till the end!