Allow me to start this review with a simple question: what is this worst kind of movie to review? I’m sure many of you might say something along the lines of “the movies that are so bad they make you want to drink molten uranium”. After all, nobody wants to watch a shitty movie, right?
Well, while that may be true, tearing apart awful movies like Movie 43 or I Know Who Killed me is remarkably cathartic. When a movie gives you so many awful things to talk about, the experience may not be fun, but the review certainly will be.
No, the worst kinds of movies to review aren’t the horrendously bad movies, but the boringly bad. So, let’s talk about Fantastic Four (2015), the most boring superhero movie ever made.
The first five or so minutes of this film are deceptively charming. It features a very young Reed Richard and Ben Grimm, who seem to bond as Reed attempts to create a teleportation device. In this scene, the two child actors are actually pretty good, correctly establish the two characters’ personalities, manage to interact in a fairly interesting way, and thus completely upstage the adult actors who we’re stuck with for the rest of the movie.
I hope these two get better roles in the future, I really do.
As soon as these two grow up, all charisma is lost. The characters speak in a moderately paced monotone, free of any charm or energy. This continues throughout the first half of the movie. Admittedly I’m not that surprised this boring charisma-free delivery continues throughout this period, because so, so little happens of note.
And that brings me to the second main problem of this movie outside of the boring, phoned in acting. That being: the pacing.
While the Last Airbender had the problem that it tried to cram in too much story into too little screentime, this movie has the exact opposite problem. It takes so long for anything truly of note to happen. The first half of this movie is just the build up to the moment the characters teleport to Planet Zero, and gain their powers. All that build up should have occurred in the first quarter. I wouldn’t mind so much if this was focusing on character development and relationships between the characters, but every single interaction is so phoned in and uninteresting that I honestly couldn’t care less. The characters are barely established at all. The most we get in terms of character traits is that Johnny Storm is determined and reckless, and Victor Von Doom is a pretentious fuckwad. That’s about it.
So, when they finally get their powers, that’s when it gets interesting, right? Actually, no. We see vague glimpses of them fighting through a video that’s shown through a projector, but that’s it. We don’t get an exciting montage of them learning about their powers, but instead just boring footage, and some brief scenes of them practising.
Now, I’m well aware that there is more to superhero movies than just action and fight scenes, but those two things are usually supposed to make up a good chunk of the movie. Those things are a primary reason why a lot of people go to see superhero movies.We want to see some real action, especially when it’s fight sequences that involve a whole bunch of people with unique powers. And with the amount of superhero movies nowadays, you need to give us something that will really wow us.
Fantastic Four contains about two fight scenes. One involving
Mr Fantastic Reed Richards fighting off a bunch of soldiers with stretchy powered punches…which lasts about two minutes because The Thing Ben Grimm shows up and then just lightly headbutts him. End scene. No awesome battle between super strength rock man and super stretchy man, just one headbutt.
Oh and he punches a tree too, I guess.
The second fight scene is between the
Fantastic Four unnamed team and Dr Doom. But, of course, before we get into that, let’s talk about Doom. Considering this is a big budget movie with all kinds of SFX, one would assume they could have hired someone to make a better costume than the one that appears on screen. The one that amounts to “crash test dummy made of tin foil and glow sticks”.
That is not hyperbole
Now I’ve never read a Fantastic Four comic, and never have been a fan of the series, but even I know Dr Doom should look like a great menacing man in a metal suit,and should be an evil genius. This version on the other hand could be best described as budget Apocalypse. In fact while X-Men Apocalypse wasn’t great, at the very least Apocalypse had some mysticism and aura of intimidation about him. This guy on the other hand starts off as a mouthy jerkass, then gets turned into a boring as hell generic doomsday villain that can’t open his mouth, and bears no resemblance to the original.
The similarities are uncanny.
So, how does the fight with Doom go? Doom kicks their asses, and I don’t care because I’m not interested in any of the characters. Then Reed somehow inexplicably breaks free of Doom’s control, and just hits him. Doom falls into a ravine, gets back up, then eventually gets punched out by Ben. All that waiting for an interesting fight scene, and it’s over in just a few anti climactic minutes.
So, is Fan4stic really the worst superhero movie ever made? Maybe not. But my god, if it isn’t the dullest. This movie has so little charm or energy. Any sign of creativity or good storytelling I’m certain came purely from the comics it was based on.
In a world where superhero movies rule the box office, I cannot fathom just why this movie is so ashamed of its origins as a superhero comic book. I realise it’s likely trying to take after the seriousness of The Dark Knight, but The Dark Knight still had cool action scenes, good storytelling, and some amazing acting from Heath Ledger. Fantastic Four features next to none of these things. No action, little story to fill an hour and a half movie, and well and truly sub par acting.
The most interesting thing about this movie is well and truly the story behind its production. Young director Josh Trank was brought onto the project after his work on Chronicle, a movie with a far lower budget. According to what has been said behind the scenes, giving him full creative control seemed to have a Heaven’s Gate effect, as he clearly wasn’t experienced enough to work on a big budget blockbuster, but became convinced the movie could be his masterpiece (until executives realise he was fucking things up, and tried rather pitifully to save the movie through meddling).
In this day and age, superhero movies have risen so much in quality and popularity that yes, some can in fact be considered masterpieces. But the primary goal behind a superhero action blockbuster should be to make it fun. Most of the classics of the modern era are exactly that.
And, incidentally, many of these fun classics were Marvel movies. In other words, if Fox could just give them the rights to this franchise back, that would be great.