Fantastic Four – A Review

While the Uncannies are off watching the new Fantastic Four movie, you can read our review of it. And you know how the movie got a lot of bad reviews? Want to know what we, your most reliable source of reviews, think?

As you’re reading this, about a dozen Uncannies are watching the movie at the cinema. The Uncanny Editorial Staff has seen the movie already, so we’re giving you the review while we’re watching it. Here’s a secret though, the people watching the movie with us, they don’t know of this.

Anyways, our almost Metal Gear Solid like stealth is not what you’re here for. You’re here to know if the reviews are right. You’re here to find out whether or not Fantastic Four, sometimes stylized as Fant4stic, is a good movie. It isn’t. It really, really isn’t. It kind of starts out okay, but then veers off into complete and utter nonsense in the second half.

The Short List: Its Failure as a Movie

So here’s the thing. While the movie starring a lot of talented people such as Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Miles Teller has potential and the occasional moment of goodness, it’s a very unentertaining train wreck. But the fact that it fails as a movie, when you look at movie making as a craft, it’s its least problem. So we’re going to give you a short list where the movie fails in terms of being a movie and get into the bad stuff that bothers people who are genre savvy or comic book fans later. And ultimately, let’s be honest here, there are two or three things that they did right. So we’ll list them too.

  • The acting was wooden at best and horrible at worst
  • The special effects looked like something right out of the 1990s for the most part
  • While the story was rushed, the movie didn’t seem to end
  • In fact, it felt a lot like it never really started
  • There is absolutely no character development in any character that doesn’t feel forced
  • Key concepts are either not explained at all or done via clumsy exposition

Luckily, this abomination of a movie is only 100 minutes long.

«But Dom», you say, «surely, you’re exaggerating.» Hah! You’d think that. No, I’m not. Because here’s a tweet by director Josh Trank that he deleted after a bit.

Josh Trank

A year ago, I had a fantastic version of this. And it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality, though.

And this is from the director of the movie. Who also co-wrote it. Who at least had a hand in casting twenty-five percent of the main cast as Michael B. Jordan is a close friend of his. Sure, there were rumours of Josh Trank showing up drunk and/or high on set and having a nervous breakdown during the making of this film at least once.

Moving on…

We Need to Talk about Sue

Sue Storm is a rather unique comic book character. She’s a mother of two, devoted wife to Reed Richards, she’s smart, courageous, beautiful and dangerously intelligent. She’s a great motivator and someone who can care deeply and screw others over at the blink of an eye. In fact, looking back to Fantastic Four #1 from all the way back in 1961, it was Sue who made the three men who would make up the Fantastic Four, also known as Marvel’s First Family, go on their daring mission to outer space, despite not having researched the devilish cosmic rays enough.

Sue Storm

Sue Storm is one of the most determined and strong-willed women of the Marvel Universe.

In this movie, Sue Storm, played by Kate Mara doesn’t even get to go onto the mission that doesn’t go to outer space anymore but to another planet in another dimension called Planet Zero. She stays home while the rest of the future Fantastic Four and Victor von Doom go off to explore the alternate dimension while drunk. She gets hit by some excess radiation or something and gets super powers.

Even before that, Sue was relegated to making something seemingly crucial for the mission: The environment suits, which is a fancy way of saying the space suits. Only that they’re completely useless. In the grand finale to the movie, the Fantastic Four go over to the other dimension without any suits on. In fact, they’re not even thinking about suits. So, let’s be honest here, Sue never really had anything worthwhile to add to the movie. She’s a pale shadow of her comic book self. As is everyone else, to be honest, but with Sue it’s the most obvious and frankly quite insulting.

What’s so Difficult About Getting Doom Right?

The big bad guy is Doctor Doom, played by Toby Kebbell, because who else. If you have no clue who to pit against the Fantastic Four, just make up some sort of Doom related plot. And even if it’s not Doom related, just insert a panel like the following, taken from the critically panned Ultimates 3, and voilà, the story is immediately awesome.

Doctor Doom

Doctor Doom can be perfectly awesome, even if he’s in a really bad comic book

You know why that is? Because Doctor Doom is a fantastic character. He’s unique in the way that he’s super smart, dabbled in black magic and is proficient in it, manages to rule an entire nation from a gnarly medieval castle, has an army of robots at his disposal and has a gigantic ego. He’s mad for power and has little regard for anyone… except the Fantastic Four. Intellectually, Reed Richards and Sue Storm are his equals and while Doom cares deeply for Sue to the point where he actually helped her give birth to her daughter, Valeria, who ended up being named after Doom’s mother, he doesn’t care for Reed at all. In fact, in many stories, Doom would have succeeded if it weren’t for Reed. Over the years, Doom has learned great respect from Reed and vice versa.

So here’s a suggestion: How about, instead of insisting that Doom was present during the expedition that gave the Fantastic Four their powers, have him claw his way to power. Cut back and forth between the youths of Reed Richards and Doom, showing the many parallels, only that one becomes a good person and the other one the sometimes-benevolent dictator of a small eastern European country where he builds robots, dabbles in the dark arts and often has grand speeches about his superiority. Then you could actually build up an adversary and not have some stupid friend-turned-foe plot.

Also, Doom looks like this:

Doctor Doom

This is Doom. Fear Him!

Not like this

Doctor Doom

This is not Doctor Doom. Seriously. What the hell.

It’s not that hard to build that mask, seriously. A user by the name of Error at the costume building forum The RPF has built a Doom mask without any of the means that Hollywood has at its disposal: Check it out.

Doctor Doom by Error

A comic book fan calling himself or herself Error built an amazing Doctor Doom mask. With no budget.

The Fantastic Four are not Superheroes

Here’s something that every movie incarnation of the Fantastic Four has gotten wrong. Including this year’s godawful trainwreck of a film. The Fantastic Four are not superheroes. They’re not the type of people who go save the world with their amazing powers and do good for the sake of doing good. Not that the people in this movie would have any kind of discernible motivation to save the world other than the plot says so, but even so.

The Fantastic Four are people who go to explore. They discover strange cultures, hunt for weird artifacts in outer space, and do a lot of mad scientist science. In the past, the family around Reed Richards has built and/or operated devices such as the Ultimate Nullifier that has the power to eliminate and rebuild an entire timeline from beginning to end. Reed has also served on an interdimensional council made up of versions of himself from all dimensions. Hell, they recently had an entire planet from the future appear in an alternate dimension next to ours that ended up needing evacuation.

If anything, the Fantastic Four, also sometimes nicknamed Marvel’s First Family, use their powers to clean up the messes they’re at least partially responsible for. And a key factor with them is the fact that they’re a family. They’re not friends like Ant-Man and his crew of crooks or allies like The Avengers. They don’t fight alongside each other because of some desire to save the world. They don’t fight to win. They stand together because they love each other. Sometimes, they can’t stand each other, but you lay one finger on one member of the Fantastic Four or their children Franklin and Valeria and you have a bunch of super powered aunts and uncles as well as parents on your tail. And – just occasionally – a Eastern European dictator – will join their ranks.

Before the movie Fantastic Four completely derails into some kind of exposition-laden nonsensical fight for nothing we particularly care about against a villain who is a mockery of himself, it gets the part about the science right. Reed isn’t so much out to save the world but to build, to create and to tinker. The problem is that it’s lame. There’s nothing that doesn’t work. Sure, here and there, some fuses blow out, but the actual crazy science like, say, we know from TV-shows like Fringe are not present. It’s straight forward. Teleportation. Things teleport. The end. Where’s the part where Reed can’t get the dimensional doodad to work because he needs a piece of toaster from somewhere?

What They Did Right

I’ve spent a lot of time ranting about the film. But there are a few things that the movie did right. Very few things as I haven’t been this angry at a movie in a long, long time. But still, credit where credit is due.

The soundtrack, more ambient noise than actual music, works quite well. Doctor Doom’s theme is particularly impressive as it would instill fear if it was for a good villain. Listening to it later on reveals that even that was done without any concept, but for the scenes it’s used in, it does work.

Reed Richards and Sue Storm meet. They don’t get together immediately and they don’t engage into romance. There’s some actual spark there, in that kind of nerdy awkward way where there’s a bigger project at home. The later half of the movie throws that angle out as well, so don’t get used to it.

The special effects are also quite good. Ben Grimm aka. The Thing looks pretty damn cool even though after the character transforms, he’s never really seen anymore. He’s there alright, but not front and center. Reed Richards looks absolutely freaky when he’s stretching with special effects worthy of a body horror movie. So that’s good.

It’s a shame that a movie by a director as talented as Josh Trank with characters as interesting as The Fantastic Four turned into one of the worst films of the year. It’s even worse that some of us are currently watching it for the second time.

But hey, it’s what we do for you, dear readers. Because we care about you.

About Dom

Possessing nigh-encyclopaedic knowledge when it comes to comic books and movies, Dom is one of the co-founders of the Uncanny Book-Club. He also enjoys movies, and going to the cinema.

3 Comments

  1. The best thing about this entire movie was going with people I adore, and reading this awesome review. It was so bad. And to be honest, this movie was like a much MUCH shittier version of Big Hero 6.

    Just watch Big Hero 6 instead.

    • Indeed. This trainwreck can only be watched with a bunch of fun people who know how to have a decent rant about things.

      The saddest thing about the movie is that in the beginning, you can almost kind of see where there’s a good movie in it. Only that it never got made. They’re still actually wanting to do a sequel. Let’s hope that that one will be less of a mess.

  2. Bravo! Spot on! Best review of The Fantastic Failure yet!

    As the greatest admirer of Doom, second only to Mr. Lee Himself, I agree with all found posted here. Doom should not EVER be in any 1st movie endeavor featuring the Four. Title the first film, “The Fantastic Four”. Then names the second movie, “The Fantastic Four: Enter Doom”!

    The pathetic buffoons in Follywood should heed advice given and get their chops up by reading the graphic novels, “The Fantastic Four: Books Of Doom” & Doctor Strange And Doctor Doom: Triumph And Tragedy” to witness the true build of this much copied (Darth Vader, Skeletor, etc.) iconic character.

    And since others, “borrow” from Doom, turnabout is… get an actor with a deeply resonating, articulate voice (a la James Earle Jones) to hurl insults at Richards once the mask goes on, and let a 6′ 6″ professional wrestler (think Drax the Destroyer) to do the bodywork.

    … they handed the reins of Doom to the guy who played Phoebe’s boyfriend on, “Charmed” and then to an actor (HA!) who’s never had a starring role as a lead man! THIS IS DOOM WE’RE TALKING ABOUT!

    Just get Doom right, dammit, and he’ll carry the movie! This is a being who solo battles teams of super-types, aliens… gods! All incarnations of Him in film to-date are such an abysmal, insulting embarrassment that, IF Doom really existed… he would KILL any actor who portrayed Him so poorly!

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